Monday, February 21, 2011

Great links: Analysis of Choose Your Own Adventure books

Hat tip to Matt Kinnear (a former co-worker who authors the In That Quiet Earth blog about vinyl records) for alerting me to a tremendous online project.

"One Book, Many Readings" by Christian Swinehart is an in-depth analysis of the Choose Your Own Adventure genre of interactive fiction that swept the nation after the 1979 publication of "The Cave of Time" by Edward Packard.1

Swinehart's essay touches on childhood library memories, the history of how we interact with books, and Infocom games, among other topics, before diving into an amazing graphics-based analysis of the branching story lines within CYOA books. There's also a fully "playable" online version of the "Zork: The Cavern of Doom" by Steve Meretzky.2

You should definitely take some time and check it out.

And be sure to read the entire essay so you don't miss the Ultimate easter egg.

1. I started out as a voracious reader of the CYOA books and then gravitated toward the Endless Quest series in the early 1980s.
2. Meretzky is far more famous as the designer/author of Infocom games such as Planetfall, Sorcerer, A Mind Forever Voyaging, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, and Stationfall. He has a website.

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