Megawatt is based on passages from Samuel Beckett’s novel Watt, first published in 1953 but written much earlier, when Beckett was aiding the French Resistance during World War II. The novel Megawatt leaves aside all of the more intelligible language of Beckett’s novel and is based, instead, on that which is most systematic and inscrutable. It does not just recreate these passages, although with minor changes the Megawatt code can be used to do so. In the new novel, rather, they are intensified by generating, using the same methods that Beckett used, significantly more text than is found in the already excessive Watt. The novel concludes with a listing of the code that was used to generate it.
Megawatt was written/generated for the second NaNoGenMo (National Novel Generation Month) in November 2014. The 350-line program is free software, and generates a novel deterministically: Each time it is run, the same novel will result.
Nick Montfort develops literary generators and other computational art and poetry, and has participated in dozens of literary and academic collaborations. He is associate professor of digital media at MIT and faculty advisor for the Electronic Literature Organization, whose Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1 he co-edited. Montfort wrote the books of poems #! and Riddle & Bind and co-wrote 2002: A Palindrome Story. The MIT Press has published four of his collaborative and individually-authored books: The New Media Reader, Twisty Little Passages, Racing the Beam, and most recently 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, a collaboration with nine other authors that Montfort organized. His entry for the first NaNoGenMo was World Clock, also available from the Harvard Book Store, which The Verge called that year’s “breakout hit.”
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Excellent piece of generative literature. It takes a while to understand, but the code is well commented, and it pays off to look at it.
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