Wednesday, June 17, 2009

StarText People: Stephen Benoit

"Hi Gerry

"A friend forwarded me your blog about Startext. Just wanted to drop a quick note and say thanks for posting all of that old history. I was an early subscriber as a pre-teenager, with my Commodore Vic-20 and 300 baud modem (later followed by a C-64 with 300/1200 B modems). Because I was so young, I barely remember any of the early history but your blog has given me a great insight into a larger group of folks of which I was only partially aware. I especially appreciated the sections detailing the pre-history of Startext and it's possible competitors. Good work.

"I was about 12-13 years old when I joined the Startext community in 1983. I can't recall when I first connected or even my user number, but I know that I was online before 1984. Evetually, I wrote a subscriber-column with a young friend named Bruce Appelt. I believe it was called TEENTALK.

"I also participated as a writer in the first subscriber-written chain-novel. I wasn't able to even remember the name of that chain-novel, but found it in your history of Startext, Friday the 13th – The Final Chapter.

"Of course, I was very intimidated at the next subscriber meeting/user-author meeting. I'd almost forgotten about that history and my early involvement with Startext. A great many thanks for the wonderful old stories on your site! Keep up the great work!"

Stephen C. Benoit, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
University of Cincinnati
Genome Research Institue
Cincinnati, OH USA

Stephen -- I really appreciate that you found the blog and shared your personal history with StarText. I remember both you and Bruce quite well, and TEENTALK. You were our youngest subscriber columnists as I recall.

Speaking of the chain novel, Stephen shared another tid-bit from that experience in an email:

"I recall that I made several people very annoyed for changing the story line with my part. I seem to recall I wrote that a main character died in sudden childbirth or something... perhaps something about a vampire baby... (Like I said, I was 13)."

That was actually one of the more interesting outcomes of "group writing." Subscribers volunteered to write the chapters and each one had literary license to move the story along in whatever way they thought best. You could never be sure if the character you introduced was going to survive to the end of the story.

If anyone out there still has a copy of that novel on a disk or hard drive somewhere, please send it along. Stephen would love to know whatever happened to the vampire baby. Frankly, I would, too.