Monday, June 11, 2018






Neverworld Wake is a great read! It is also a model for the kind of novel that is perfect material for adaptation as a feature-length VR (3D 360) video!!!

-- update: 6/16/2018 --


Marisha Pessl is on a book tour. ( .  On Thursday (6/14) she spoke at BUILD.  (Build is a new TV studio, apparently run by AOL, that broadcasts on the web, live and on demand ( They have fine interviewers, interesting guests, new programs in development, and tickets to watch live in the studio are free.) Marisha was fresh, even tho' just back from a whirlwind trip to Florida and Texas. She was friendly, eloquent and interesting.  Here's a video of her interview. (Note: that's me, asking the second question about her characters.  I just started reading her first novel "Special Topics in Calamity Physics"; I've finished Part I. The book's about 600 pages long, funny, interesting, and a tour-de-force of style, craft, and content!)

I enjoyed prize-winning novelist Marisha Pessl’s  two most recent novels, NIGHT FILM and NEVERWORLD WAKE. She seems to be a writer who excels – through meticulous planning, preparation, and skillful plotting -- at creating a supernatural mood, while providing the possibility of a rational and natural logic.  She shows great style in using words and creating sentences, and employs a plethora of similes and metaphors. Marisha also displays a keen sense of humor, with sharp observations that made me laugh.

NEVERWORLD WAKE is her new, fine novel about five friends, one year after High School, who try to understand each other, while probing the mystery of a sixth friend's death and competing to stay alive.

Marisha has a penchant for “meta-fiction,” and using famous tropes: for example, the characters comment on features of the story’s architecture that recall other works. (Of a repetitive experience, one character calls for tweets from the public with the hashtag “Groundhog Day is real”. Another character muses on Peter Pan’s “Neverland,” implicitly suggesting a relation to the “Neverworld” of the title. And a dark and stormy night plays an important role.)

* * *

I try to say very little about the plot in this article,
but the remainder may contain spoilers, nevertheless.

I suggest that you read the book first before continuing to read the rest of this article.

Note: Marisha Pessl will be at B&N in New York
signing books on Wed 6/14
 if you’d like a personal copy!

Here’s a schedule for the whole book tour:

* * *

NIGHT FILM, Marisha's second novel, is for adults, and has transmedia elements: (Note: Transmedia is the extension of a story from a single media type to many. It is as old as humans: Religion is the earliest example, telling stories, myths, using music, art, costuming … And live ceremonies -- services, rites of passage like marriages and burials, and more -- all to tell a collection of related stories.) Marisha seems to have investigated the lives and world of her characters so thoroughly she could (and sometimes does) create all types of ancillary media around their stories.

NEVERWORLD WAKE, her latest novel, also evokes the feeling of being fully imagined, but has a different audience than NIGHT FILM. NEVERWORLD directly targets teens, basically females. The main character is female. The primary secondary characters are female. Males mostly play smaller roles. All these characters are a year out of being the “cool” “beautiful” kids at a rich-people’s boarding high school. The story opens with an invitation to a reunion at the seaside estate where they used to gather. And evolves into a mystery about Jim who, though central to the story, is a mystery we get to know almost entirely through the other characters.

It seems to me that the environment and story of NEVERWORLD WAKE, and more generally, Marisha Pessl’s writing technique, lend themselves especially well to the requirements of VR video. (Beyond VR, her use of real-world locations also allows for AR and MR extensions of the story, with the possibility of viewers interacting with aspects of the story at the locations where they happen.) 

I am particularly interested in the narrative structure of Virtual Reality (VR) dramatic fiction (as well as all eXtended Reality video).  Recall that eXtended Reality (XR) is the collection of all the new technologies being enabled by the continuing exponential explosion of digital processing power. 

XR includes the visual technologies of Virtual Reality, where a headset (often called a Head Mounted Display, or HMD) immerses the viewer in a completely enveloping world of sight and sound that excludes whatever is happening outside. VR videos are both 3D and panoramic – they include the full 360x180 sphere around the camera position.  To the viewer, the position of the camera becomes their own position in the scene. 

Augmented and Mixed Reality (AR and MR) use a smart-phone or headset to show a view of the real world to the viewer, mixing it with computer generated images and information.

The essential new feature of VR dramatic videos that makes them so special is the fact that, in addition to effects that can be achieved with ordinary 2D film, VR can seem real.  It is as if you, the viewer, is there in the middle of the action.  It feels like you are in the presence of the characters, that you are immersed in their environment. 

There are several reasons why Marisha Pessl's work and her story NEVERWORLD WAKE are so well adaptable to VR:
As a vehicle for VR video narrative structure, I think NEVERWORLD WAKE is a perfect example. It has many attributes that make it an exceptional prospect for adaptation as a VR feature. 

It’s also (especially) a really good book! I hope many people read and enjoy it!

I hope it becomes a great VR feature length video!









Finally, here’s a Q & A with Marisha about 

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