So I had this dream... no, no, come back. This isn’t about the dream. (Well, except for how it totally is. But it isn’t the important part.) Anyway, in this dream I’m in a vast old-fashioned library-style chamber, with huge faux antique mahogany tables and low lighting and less bookshelves than you’d think. The whole dream feels aged slightly – like it’s tinged yellow and has crisped edges and smells like a second hand bookstore.
About twenty people, including me, have just entered the room. We’re following a tour guide – a middle aged woman dressed as Professor McGonagall, or who perhaps just resembles Minerva in long black robes. We crowd around an empty table and our guide says a few words, but I’m not listening or at least not remembering.
There’s a book on the table. Like everything else, it’s pretending to be old – the cover is moulded to give the impression of leather and the title is stamped into it. The paper is darkened at the corners, like it had been printed decades ago or like some aspiring publisher thought it could do with some extra authenticity.
Maybe it could. It’s Harry Potter - one of them, anyway - and it would be a bit disquieting to learn my subconscious has HP on my brain if it wasn’t the most logical choice.
I open the book to a random page. It’s a new illustrated version, but movement catches my eye – the detailed black-inked sketches are animated. It’s very exciting. Some pages are plain text, of course, but towards the middle I flip to a double page spread of a moment from a Quidditch game. Harry Potter swerves near the binding a few times. It’s the same general action, but his mannerisms are slightly different each time. Ink blobs in the stands below move and shake banners, too small to read.
The guide is talking about how many hours were spent designing the pictures to look alive, not just like short cartoons on an infinite loop. She talks about how the book knows which page is being viewed – and why they had decided on crafting an actual *book* instead of just having a couple paper sheets that would load any page one might desire. (At least, I recall her saying these things. Who knows what I really filled in myself, after.)
There’s more functionality as well. I call up the Marauder’s Map, and it ‘opens’ over my page. The little names are moving around, interacting with each other (They will have the same behaviours on every reading, but their script itself was decided by a few key events in the story and a computer program. I’m left with the impression it works a lot like The Sims, or the soldier program they used for the LoTR movies). There are cross-references, and one might look at the Herbology text, and there was some debate over having scenes from the movies, but it was decided against including them (It would date the book, the guide explains, and make it difficult to ever remake the films for legal reasons).
It is, without argument, the Greatest Book Ever in the History of the World (one might not think it’s the greatest story, but this is book porn people).
And that’s about the end of the dream. You can tell, because it was becoming oddly detailed, so at least part of my mind must have been awake. When my mind was more awake, it wondered about things like my priorities for technological advance. I mean, I never have dreams about spaceships or medical nanites, but I get one going into the possibilities of electronic paper?
But you know, that was a damn cool book. Maybe the question should be why no one else gets excited about the possibilities? (Like, possibly, after the HP epaper book makes billions of dollars, they’ll put out a LoTR one…)