Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"It is pitch black.
You are likely to be eaten by a grue."


This nifty advertising postcard was mailed to me recently by Kevin M. Savetz, who is generously sending some out to help promote a podcast that he co-hosts, Eaten By A Grue. On that podcast, which started in December 2016 and has 14 episodes thus far, Savetz and Carrington Vanston are enthusiastically playing their way through all of Infocom's interactive-fiction computer games, which were originally published throughout the 1980s.

It's a great podcast, especially for someone my age, who has plenty of nostalgia for and memories of playing Infocom games such as Zork, Planetfall and The Lurking Horror back in the day. These were all-text computer games — no graphics! — that touted their great prose, captivating puzzles, and power to unleash your imagination. As one vintage advertisement stated:
"Instead of putting funny little creatures on your screen, we put you inside our stories. And we confront you with startlingly realistic environments alive with situations, personalities, and logical puzzles the like of which you won't find elsewhere. The secret? We've found the way to plug our prose right into your imagination, and catapult you into a whole new dimension. ... Step up to Infocom. All words. No pictures. The secret reaches of your mind are beckoning. A whole new dimension is in there waiting for you."
Also waiting in there were grues. If your character wandered into a room with no light source, you would likely received the message...

IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE.

So if you like podcasts and 1980s computer games, I highly recommend that you listen to Savetz's and Vanston's "Eaten By A Grue" podcast, hosted by Monster Feet. And follow them on Twitter @kevinsavetz and @carrington. ... BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE ... As this is an ephemera and history blog, I should note that Savetz is also involved in an amazing project to scan and document Ted Nelson's Junk Mail. That's is exactly what it sounds like. Nelson accumulated and stored decades worth of "junk mail" in disciplines ranging from computers to aerospace to engineering, and now it is all, slowly but surely, being scanned for preservation in the Internet archives. You can read more about it in this Motherboard article and follow the Twitter hashtag #TedNelsonMail for peeks at the latest gems that have been scanned and preserved.

My Infocom history
  • Completed games: Zork I, Zork II, Enchanter, Planetfall, Suspect.
  • Played but did not complete: Zork III, Beyond Zork, Zork Zero, Sorcerer, Cutthroats, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, The Lurking Horror, Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It

Related posts

Note: I cannot believe it took me until Post #2,421 to use the word "grue" on this blog

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