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The Boston Globe


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‘The Silent History’ invites readers to become active participants

Participating in a fictional world feels very unnerving. To try it, get “The Silent History” for your iPhone, stand under the awning of the Leader Bank in Central Square, and click the glowing green dot on the map. The text that overtakes the screen begins with an interrogative: “See that window with the metal shade over it?” You find the window, and suddenly feel different, like someone is watching you. It feels revolutionary.

“The Silent History,” an exquisitely designed serialized work of literary fiction, is ostensibly an e-book, but it’s wholly unlike any you’ve seen before. For starters, it’s sold as an app, makes use of geolocation technology, and requires a touch screen. What’s more, it’s uniquely beautiful, employing a muted palette that integrates photos and illustration. Set in a world in which an unknown epidemic causes great numbers of children to be born without the ability to speak, the story, written by Matthew Derby, author of the experimental short story collection “Super Flat Times,” and Kevin Moffett, who wrote the recent collection “Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events,” is told in first-person accounts — the better to draw you in. The structure also allows for easy serialization; each 1,500-word chapter will be meted out on weekdays by means of an automatic download over the course of a year.

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