The Silent History for iPad and iPhone (free to download, full content available via in-app purchase) is a brilliant marriage of story, electronic publishing, geo-location and the huge number of mobile devices in people’s hands. I’ve had more fun with this book over the last few days than I’ve experienced with any other ebook. Hopefully, my first attempt at a contribution will be accepted. Here’s why you ought to be reading The Silent History.
The Silent History is a serialized novel about the sudden, international spike in births of children who never develop spoken language. These children aren’t deaf or mute, nor are they on the autism spectrum or physically impaired. They simply never begin speaking. The “Silents,” as they’re referred to, confound parents, teachers, caregivers and the rest of the speaking population. Especially after they begin displaying other unusual behaviors.
The story is told via “testimonials” and “field reports.” The testimonials come from a variety of sources, including nannies, teachers and parents who’ve interacted with Silents. They’re very short — between 500 and 1,000 words — and written in a casual, conversational tone. Time and place varies from testimonial to testimonial (many are set in the future, as Silent births began to rise in 2011), which makes the narrative fun. However, the real fun is in the field reports.
These are location-based, and can only be accessed when physically standing at specific geographic coordinates. I’m lucky enough to have one not far from my house, so I went to check it out. The app let me to the scene above — a twenty-foot post standing bolt upright out of the sand of a Cape Cod beach. The field report itself was written from the perspective of a man who was visiting the beach with his wife. After a time, a group of Silents appeared, obviously a field trip from a local summer camp. Several of them splashed in the surf, and eventually found this piece of driftwood. Without speaking, the group began digging a hole in the sand and inserted the post. Then they simply stood, staring at it.
For me, the act of physically standing in that spot, touching the post and hearing the surf while reading the story was eerie and delightful. The story described “dark sand where a cave used to be” that I found easily. It was just so much fun and truly enhanced the story. Plus, I never knew that post was on this beach, despite having lived on Cape Cod for 18 years. Thanks to this book, I’ve visited a beach I’ve never seen before.
There are field reports all over the globe. Note that if you can’t visit them, you needn’t worry. They don’t change the story, only add to it. You can contribute a field report, too. I’m currently scouting for a setting that will elicit a good story from me.
The Silent History is a winner. The story is compelling and the execution ingenious. Download it now and get hooked.