End of Dayz by Soljo Publishing (2007)

The Electric Stapler, one of the hundred or so textfiles making up the End of Dayz compilation, opens with a rather profound statement: This is my first article for SOL, the author writes, and the main reason Im writing it is because no-one in the real world will listen to me.

As dependant on mathematics as computers are, it is amazing the amount of art people have been able to produce with them, both as a medium and a vehicle. In the early days of home computing, for a few hundred dollars budding artists could create pictures, music, poetry and literature electronically in their own homes and later, thanks to the proliferation of modems, they began sharing their creations with other kindred souls. What eventually grew out of this online artistic culture were scenes, the most eclectic of the bunch being what was referred to as the textfile scene.

There exists a misnomer that the text scene consisted of less talented individuals than perhaps the art or music scenes. This error rose from the fact that since writing was probably the most accessible of all the arts, a lot of people participated in it; everyone from literary geniuses down to kids who wrote, well, because no one in the real world would listen to them. During the height of the scenes popularity, poets, fiction writers, hackers, anarchists, humorists, reviewers, and anyone else who had the desire to express his or herself began turning on their computers, jotting down their thoughts, and sharing them as files for the world to read. So while the textfile scene may have had a higher signal-to-noise ratio than the other scenes, there was definitely a lot of good work being produced. As a writer, a former sysop, and the founder of multiple lit groups, I have an affinity for old textfiles each one represents a sliver of my own history. And End of Dayz, a compilation of textfiles released over a fourteen-year span by the group The Syndicate of London, serves as a time capsule, giving readers a priceless look into the life and minds of scene writers, and the text scene as a whole.

The individual texts that comprise End of Dayz cover such topics as religion, sex and everything in between. There are serious essays, comedic pieces, fictional stories and even poems and songs. The articles vary in quality as much as they do in subject and style; some offer apologies for how bad they are, while others (particularly many in the Culture section) are so good that they truly deserve a wider audience than this books target audience. Some of the files made me think, I guess you had to be there, while others made me feel as though I had been. The differences between authors keep the book from presenting a single voice; then again, the emerging cacophony of voices does, in fact, encapsulates the anarchic online existence as a whole.

The tome is mighty. Just shy of 500 pages, End of Dayz has enough variety to offer readers bit of everything. But dont let the size intimidate you; the majority of the texts are ten pages or less in length, short enough to be read in one (bathroom) sitting, and the variety of subjects keep the book continually fresh. As a single body of work the book may seem somewhat confusing, but when viewed as a historical compendium, the compilations true merit shines through. Recommended to all sceners and BBS aficionados alike.

End of Dayz is available through Lulu.

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