January 31, 2019

How to use the Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch at your library

Written by:
Lindsey Dunn


From the moment the Netflix interactive film Black Mirror Bandersnatch dropped at the end of December, viewers have been discussing, watching, re-watching, analyzing, and dishing about the film. For those unfamiliar with the deal, Bandersnatch is a choose-your-own adventure style viewing experience that blends the genres of psychological thriller, science fiction, horror, and metafiction. What genre dominates depends largely on the choices the viewer makes during the game.

As viewers watch Stefan Butler, a programmer who is adapting his favorite novel, Bandersnatch by Jerome F. Davies (both novel and author are fictional), into a video game, the audience makes choices that directly impact the story. Some are seemingly pointless, such as which sugary cereal Stefan will eat for breakfast or which record he will listen to on the bus. Others are weightier and have more apparent results, such as if he should accept the offer to work at an office or stay true to his vision of working at home by himself.

When the choices appear on the screen, viewers have 10 seconds to choose between the two options and see what happens to Stefan. The show has gone viral with many reviews and analysis videos from which fans can choose.

All of this conversation leads to plenty of opportunities for libraries to capitalize on this trend.

Six ways to connect with Bandersnatch fans:

  • NoveList subscribers can find a newly created For Fans of Bandersnatch Recommended Reads list in the database (search UI 448207).

  • Use NoveList story elements (appeals, genres, and themes) to lead patrons to more great read-alikes. Here are some good ones for Bandersnatch (you can find all the Story Elements in the Learn Section of the Idea Center).

Genres: Plot-your-own stories, Alternative histories, Experimental fiction, Metafiction

Themes: Fixing history, Time loop, Unreliable narrator

Appeals: Intricately plotted, Unconventional, Stylistically complex

  • If your library circulates or has access to video games made by such groups as TellTale Games, consider a display for such games or host a program where attendees can play the games live and compare results.
  • Create an RL choose-your-own adventure game where teams can go through choices and have a chance to do over. Such a program could work for many age ranges, but keep in mind most Bandersnatch fans will be older teens and up.
  • Many libraries have reported that patrons have come into the library looking for the made-up novel Bandersnatch. Use the opportunity to make a clever display: We don't have Bandersnatch (it's not real), but we have these" with read-alike books that include the themes, appeals, and genres mentioned above.
  • Create a list of interactive story apps you can hand to patrons. (Choices and Episode are two examples).

Pop-culture is a great way to connect with some of those hard to connect with patrons and Bandersnatch is a great example. For more ideas, check out our webinar Unlocking Pop Culture to Improve Your Readers’ Advisory.

Lindsey Dunn is a Readers' Advisory Librarian for NoveList and also a member of the Book Squad

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