Chris Crawford
This is the only standard book on the topic so far. Interactive Storytelling is the art to create a complex artificial world, in which a human (player) can unfold an interesting and/or dramatic story by interacting with it. It's the complex level on which interactivity is taking place that makes this field so difficult. Mostly the medium to transport this complex interactions would be some sort of human language, which is horribly complex on its own.

Chris Crawford is one of the few pioneers in the field who is thinking about this for 15 years. In 2004, he squeezed his results in this book (he also founded a company to develop his erasmatron-technology, a tool to build interactive storyworlds).

The book covers the following topics:

-From Story To Interactive Storytelling
-Styles Of Thinking
-Strategies For Interactive Storytelling
-Core Technologies For Interactive Storytelling

This gives you a hint what to expect.
The first two chapters will introduce how to think about Interactive Storytelling in the first place: What is different about it? What level of abstraction do you need? How can Geeks and Storytellers work on this together? Also, it tells you what is so "hot" about this topic.
The third chapter lists some basic approaches (of which some won't work for sure, according to the author) and the fourth chapter goes through all the components you'll probably have to implement.
The fifth chapter is a devastating list of work in the field, all but one (Facade) dismissed by Crawford as no real progress.

I think this book is well-written and to the point. Speaking to people who actually try to implement something interesting in this area, it's always an inspiration to me when I pick it up. It is not one of those programming books that lies right beside you while you are working and whenever you have a problem, you look it up. This is due to the fact that this field is totally unexplored (I think everyone is saying this all the time, so I'll soon stop) and no one (or just half a dozen people) have done what you are trying to do. It explains the problem, you get a feeling for what you have to do, and you're basically on your own then.
If you lose inspiration though, pick it up and read a bit.
If you're a writer and for some reason about to conceptualize a storyworld, this book is really helpful for you also. The language is non-techy and you'll understand the medium your work is for. 
Simon Conway Morris
This book has two hypotheses:
1. Evolution is convergent (it tends to converge on specific traits rather than wander through all possibilities like a headless chicken) to the extent that human-like intelligence has not evolved by random chance. This is a fascinating idea on its own and therefore explored at length in this book, but it also has implications for the idea to find extraterrestrial intelligence.
2. The chemical, physical and astronomical constellations to create life on earth are unlikely in such a manner that we indeed might be alone in the universe.

To explore these premises, Simon Conway Morris goes through a wide variety of scientific topics: The chemicals that might lead to DNA and life, the computational elegance of the DNA code, astronomical considerations for life on planets and lots of paleoanthropological and biological examples from evolution that are convergent: camera and compound eyes, eusocial and/or agricultural life forms like certain ants or moles, dolphin intelligence     and many more.

By reading this sentences, I get the feeling that I would not pick it up because it sounds like some heap of backdoor-arguments to darwinian evolution. It's not. This is no basic attack on Darwin, but rather scientific. Somewhere it deals with the topic of fundamental darwinism, though.

There's a lot in this book. I recommend it. The only thing I might object is that for the sake of getting the scientific argument founded, there are some examples of convergence too much, but it's not too bad and apparently, he rather added too much than too little.
Douglas Adams
I was a late entrepreneur in Geekland. There are always a lot of insider jokes around when you enter a new world, so I tried to laugh when I heard them the second time, just to be with the crowd. I mean, imagine being with  a couple of guys laughing about this book and going "Hey, I never read it. What is it about?" Seriously, it's not gonna work. (Besides, most of those remarks fell when I couldn't ask - for example, in internet discussion forums or in the computer science lecture: the first variable would be initialized with the value 42... Why is half of the class laughing?)

No, you'd better go and look that stuff up yourself (that holds especially for Geekland). So now, here I went, I did it. I finally read the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. Now I can stop fakelaughing at all those insider jokes.

And I do have real reasons to laugh. The book is great. Really. All this maybe-existence-is-not-as-holy-as-we-thought humor... It feels good to laugh about people who claim to know the sense that the world is making.
Also, Adams really knows how to build big characters by only narrating the little meaningless streams of thoughts they have. You feel close to them, even if they have two heads. Or are made of metal. For instance, there is Marvin, the depressive robot... brilliant.
I will read the other three Hitchhiker-books. In fact, I am just now reading "The long dark tea-time of the soul" by Douglas Adams.

There were only two things bothering me:
First, I knew the computer would say "42". Dammit. And there were several such occasions. I felt like having read that book before, but only when I was drunk and on Parties, so I forgot all but the cheery parts.
Second, Adams is one of the proclaimers of atheism. I just read an interview with him on atheism.org or whereever. No misunderstanding, I am one myself, but the utter meaninglessness of our existence, which might actually be real - that is something you'd better be prepared for when you know such thoughts might stick in your head pretty well (that theme gets repeated quite a lot).

Well, after all, it's a long journey to accept the beauty of designlessness (yep, just coined that term!) and laugh about it - so of you're going there, this book might be a great help on the way.
Douglas Adams
Dirk Gently is a great detective. Great to read, that is. He starts by oversleeping the first meeting with his new client, who was frightened of some green-eyed guy the day before and is now dead, killed while Dirk was still sleeping.

Eventually he will solve his case, but never proceeds with any logical considerations. For example, he only drives his car following other cars that seem to know where they are going. A whole chapter is spent following our hero on a desperate search for a pack of cigarettes at one o' clock in the morning.
All these stuff leads him to encounters that help him solve the case. Call it chaos or coincidence, but don't be too sure that Adams is trying to say something important here, like, for example, everything is connected blah blah.

Well, Dirk Gently is saying that ("If I could interrogate this table-leg in a way that made sense to me, or the table leg, then it could provide me with the answer to any question about the universe."), but Adams MIGHT only be satirical here (admittedly, I chose a passage strongly suggesting that, but there are also others, like that old butterfly-causes-hurricane-theory which I don't want to repeat here).
There are even the ancient gods (Odin, Thor ...) appearing as main characters in the book and Adams is not trying to making a serious hint about his religious beliefs here, either.

But this the-universe-is-chaoticly-interconnected-theory might really attract a lot of esoteric believers.
I think, when a skilled, atheistic AND funny writer is being satirical, this is what you get. Adams just can't take anything serious. There might be people who will understand him the wrong way, though...

Let me end by sharing my favorite passage: "(...), and there emerged from the car a pair of the sort of legs which soundtrack editors are unable to see without needing to slap a smoky saxophone solo all over, for reasons which no one besides soundtrack editors has ever been able to understand."
That would fit right besides "the worst analogies ever in high school essays", starring " The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't. ". I love it, though.
# lastedited 06 Nov 2006
Stephen Fry
Mein Freund, ein Germanistik-Student, sagte mir, es sei modern geworden, in Romanen und dergleichen mit dem "Was-Wäre-Wenn"-Gedanken zu spielen. Will sagen, Geschichte braucht nicht als gegeben angenommen zu werden, jedenfalls nicht in der Phantasie, allen Unkenrufen über Komplexität von Voraussagen zum Trotz natürlich.
Warum dieses Sujet nur den Science-Fiction Autoren überlassen, die sich mit Zukunft beschäftigen, fragte sich Stephen Fry und schrieb diesen Roman. Darin verändern der Geschichtsstudent Michael und sein Physikprofessor Leo, dessen Vater Arzt in Auschwitz war, die Geschichte: Sie verhindern Hitlers Geburt, indem sie seinen Vater Alois Hitler unfruchtbar machen.
Michael findet sich daraufhin in den USA wieder statt in England. Seine Eltern sind ausgewandert, da Deutschland den Krieg gewonnen hatte und sich jetzt mit den USA im Kalten Krieg befindet. Statt Hitler hatte Deutschland eben einen sympathischen Führer. Er war so schlau, die jüdischen Wissenschaftler nicht zu vergraulen, und direkt nachdem er 1937 den Friedensnobelpreis bekam, warf er die Atombombe auf Moskau. Während Michael ausserdem merkt, dass die USA in einer Welt mit Hitler doch liberaler geworden waren (Homosexualität ist dort illegal), muss Leo erkennen, dass sein Vater auch in der veränderten Welt in Auschwitz tätig war. Ein interessantes Gedankenexperiment: Manche Dinge hängen mit bestimmten Ereignissen oder Personen zusammen, andere würden sich vielleicht nie verändern lassen.

Schwachstellen: Gut, die Zeitmaschine ist recht unglaubwürdig, aber darum geht es ja hier auch nicht. Trotzdem wäre ein Dialog wie dieser (ungenau wiedergegeben) unnötig:
Michael: "Wenn man mit dem Apparat empfangen kann, dann können Sie doch sicher auch senden?"
Leo: "Klar, warum nicht?"
Auch dass manche Stellen im Buch als Drehbuch geschrieben sind und dass ich mich durch viele persönliche Details der Charaktere schleppen mußte, gibt leichte Abzüge.
# lastedited 12 Jul 2006
Graham Greene
Ich habe die -weitaus bekanntere- Verfilmung dieses nur ca. 100 Seiten langen Romans nicht gesehen. Aufgrund des aufschlussreichen Vorwortes von Greene selbst denke ich, es lohnen sich beide.
Von Beginn an als Film über das von allen Alliierten verwaltete Wien der Nachkriegszeit geplant, ist dieser Roman "lediglich" ein Entwurf gewesen, um Stoff zu sammeln. Es spricht für Greene als Romancier, dass der Roman es dennoch in die jüngst von der Süddeutschen Zeitung zusammengestellte Reihe "50 große Romane des 20. Jahrhunderts" geschafft hat.
Hintergrund des Romans ist die Besatzungszeit nach dem zweiten Weltkrieg, in der tragische Schwarzmarktgeschäfte wie der Penicillinhandel blühen. Greene zeichnet vor dieser Kulisse einen wunderbar schnörkellosen Krimi. Dessen Hauptfigur Rollo Martins, ein drittklassiger Western-Autor kommt nach Wien, wo er feststellt, dass sein Freund aus Kindheitstagen des Penicillinhandels verdächtig und außerdem tot, vielleicht ermordet, ist.

Vorteile des Buchs gegenüber dem Film? Da wäre zunächst Greenes wirklich witziger Stil. Der Witz der Story reicht natürlich nicht an "Unser Mann in Havanna" heran, aber der Witz des Erzählers Greene kommt klar durch. Zudem fehlen dem Film (laut Greene) witzige Szenen, wie die Verwechslung Martins mit einem hochkulturell angesagten britischen Lyriker, die in einem Vortrag Martins vor des Lyrikers Anhängern mündet.
Und Vorteile des Films? Greene selbst sagt, dass er das Endprodukt sei, inszeniert von einem grossartigen Regisseur und Freund (Carol Reed).
Also sollte man sich wohl ruhig beides zu Gemüte führen, Film und Buch.
Daniel Kehlmann

Es muss das erste Mal sein, dass ich ein Buch aus der aktuellen SPIEGEL-Bestsellerliste lese, naja musste wohl mal passieren. Mehr noch als der SPIEGEL verdiente dieses Buch das Prädikat "cultainment" - wenn es das denn gäbe.
Dieses Buch zu lesen kostete mich nur zwei Abende und die waren äußerst kurzweilig. Wir tauchen ein, per Kopfsprung, in das Leben zweier Größen der entstehenden deutschen/europäischen Wissenschaft Anfang des 19. Jahrhunderts.
Das mathematische Genie Carl Friedrich Gauss und der rastlose Entdecker Alexander von Humboldt, einer der frühen deutschen Humanisten, imponieren in diesem Buch nicht nur durch ihre Taten. Sie faszinieren den Leser auch durch ihre offensichtliche Gegensätzlichkeit und amüsieren, ganz klar, mit ihrer typisch deutschen Verbissenheit, ja Sturheit und auch Arroganz. Kehlmann arrangiert es, zwei Biographien fantasievoll ausgeschmückt und augenzwinkernd nebeneinander laufen zu lassen. Er erzählt ausserdem mit lockerem Faden eine Geschichte dabei, indem er ein fiktives Treffen der beiden im jeweils hohen Alter vorkommen lässt.
Zurück bleibt ein griffigeres Verständnis der wissenschaftlichen Elite Deutschlands jener (und damit auch heutiger) Zeit. Es bleibt ausserdem die Verantwortung beim Leser, von Kehlmann erfundene Fakten nicht unbedingt für tatsächliche zu halten. Das ist der Preis für so manche gute Geschichte sein, trotzdem gibt es deswegen einen Punkt Abzug.
Ein feines Stilmittel sei noch erwähnt: Dass Kehlmann nie einen wirklichen Dialog, sondern nur indirekte Rede verwendet (z.B. "er sagte, das könne nicht sein"), erhält dem Leser die Freiheit, sich die Dialoge selbst auszuschmücken. Sehr elegant.

# lastedited 10 Apr 2013
Henry Miller
I didn't make it through. Although I really loved "Tropic of cancer", this book, describing Millers childhood and the years before he moved to Paris, just didn't make me feel as good.
Maybe it's because I am in another stage of my life now, but maybe it is because it is more depressing. Miller always describes how he was yearning for something else than his ordinary life in the New York of 1900/1910. He is always miserable, cheating on people and his wife, but always insists of being good-hearded.
When, in "Tropic of cancer", he finally is in Paris, living the boheme, all that is positive and not negative. It's a whole other view on life.
Yes, I think, that is the reason I didn't make it through.
# lastedited 04 Aug 2006
Andre Kostolany
# lastedited 05 Jan 2014
You are seeing a selection of all entries on this page. See all there are.