There are thousands of timeless historical novels available for human consumption in your nearest library, but in today’s world even the most intuitive and studious of the younger generation can find themselves skimming past the intricate details of historical fiction/non-fiction due to the distractions of new age technology. In short people will gladly pick up an iPad before a good book. The question lies, should one resist the increasing visual importance of our society or rather incorporate it to create something even more extravagant then history constrained to pages of text?
The new application for the critically acclaimed novel “For The Term Of His Natural Life” seems to understand the advantage of technological integration and creates a tool that not only recreates, but also strengthens the way in which this amazing 1870 historical account is read and experienced. For those unaware of the book-turned-mini-series, “For The Term Of His Natural Life” written by Marcus Clarke follows the misfortune of Rufus Dawes, a wrongfully convicted felon of murder who was sent to endure the extreme misconduct and abuse found in Australian prisons at that time. Although semi-fictional, the novel tells a very truthful and graphic account of the atrocious treatment of prisoners, some of which were incarcerated for miniscule crimes. Although Dawes wits are tested at every turn his quest for freedom never hinders. It’s a novel so well written and articulated; Mark Twain himself called it “literary genius…such a work…so brilliant and fascinating.”
The creator of the app and co-writer of the Australian mini-series, Patricia Payne is thrilled at the effect modern day technology will have on the novel. “This novel has lasted over 130 years of publication and never been out of print. The app platform provides a terrific opportunity to present this timeless tale for the tablet audience today. The user gets a truly engrossing experience interacting with the variety of multimedia forms.”
The interactive enhanced e-book for the iPad condenses the lengthy work into 300 pages and includes 40 interactive footnotes, 19 video notes, bios, and over 100 photos, maps and historical documents. While most applications attempt to create value and breadth to their product with rarely used bonus features, the added content in this application is not “bonus” but rather necessary to reading the novel. It is presented in a linear fashion and woven into the text along with appropriate clips from the mini-series and the silent movie based on the novel to create a seamless narrative from front to back. Some examples of the documents that can be found in the application include government prison forms and manifests of that time period, charts further explaining some of the lesser important characters and their connections to the point of the narrative and even charts showing detailed imagery of the many different war ships at the time. With these offerings “For The Term Of His Natural Life” can fully be understood by the most casual of readers offering a much more pleasurable experience.
For those who are worried about navigating through the massive amount of content, don’t be alarmed; there is an excellent App Tutorial when you first load the application. The dashboard upon start up presents image gallery, maps, individually controlled video notes, text notes, sound effects to cater to the readers preferences and make the content easily available if the reader wants to go back to review a document. What could possibly be even more impressive then all of this is the low price point on the application. For three dollars more than your standard e-book at $13.99 you get something far more substantial.
As a people we continuously reinvent ourselves for fear of becoming quickly predictable or outdated and works of literature are no different. It isn’t about phasing out books but rather reminding everyone that reading can still have a place among this technology driven world. Although not everyone has jumped on this bandwagon yet, “For The Term Of His Natural Life” is an early example of the benefits.