Help Kickstart an Interactive Fiction Game

So as you may know, for the past almost 2 years I've been involved in interactive fiction (IF), aka text adventures. I'm the organizer for a monthly meetup (next meeting is Monday, feel free to come if you want to see what this is all about), where we usually get 8-12 people showing up to talk about this topic for a while. We even host a place where you can play some of these games for free online.

In fact, you can play most IF games for free, and many of those online. The IF community that I've recently become a part of has mostly been a hobbyist community for the past 20 years, with people releasing games and creation tools completely for free. One of the most well-known people in this community is Andrew Plotkin, aka Zarf, who has not only made some awesome games but who has contributed a lot to the community in terms of various infrastructure for making and playing IF games. Well, Zarf has decided that he'd like to take a stab at working on IF games and tools full time, so he started a Kickstarter campaign for an iPhone IF game. He met his modest goal of $8000 almost immediately, so he is going to quit his job in a few weeks and start at the beginning of the year as a full-time IF author. He's currently got more than $27,000 pledged, and there is still an opportunity to give more until Monday, December 6. Why give more? Well, for one thing, you get rewards for donating. For $3, you'll get a copy of the game when it comes out (which will cost $5). For $25 you'll get a copy that you can play on your PC/Mac/Linux machine (basically any machine that can run an IF interpreter). And there are other cool rewards for higher levels. Also, the more money he gets, the longer he can continue to give this experiment a try. You can check out the games he's already made, and there's a teaser for his new game up, too.

And finally, if anyone is interested in IF but isn't sure how to get started, I'd be happy to get together in person and play some games (I did it for my father-in-law over the weekend).

Books to Give Away

We're paring down some of our book collections. Please comment here to claim any or all of these books. Paperback unless otherwise specified. HC = hardcover, ARC = advance reading copy. First come, first served (unless any of these books used to belong, in whole or in part, to someone else, in which case that someone else gets first dibs on those books).

Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger
Tar Baby, Toni Morrison (HC)
Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl (HC)
A Family Daughter, Maile Meloy (HC)
Confessions of a Slacker Wife, Muffy Mead-Ferro (ARC)
Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther
The Magus, John Fowles
The Magus, John Fowles (yes, two copies, and we're keeping one)
A Thousand Splendind Suns, Khaled Hosseini (HC)
The Rainmaker, John Grisham (HC)
The Summons, John Grisham (HC)
Daniel MArtin, John Fowles (HC)
Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck
Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk
The Reader, Bernhard Schlink
Big Cats, Holiday Reinhorn (ARC)
She's Come Undone, Wally Lamb
Ironweed, William Kennedy
Three Famous Short Novels (Spotted Horses, Old Man, The Bear), William Faulkner
Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
The Devil's Mode, Anthony Burgess
For One More Day, Mitch Albom (HC)
The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman
The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman (HC)
The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Tom Robbins
Another Roadside Attraction, Tom Robbins
Bluebeard, Kurt Vonnegut (HC)
Jailbird, Kurt Vonnegut (HC)
Isaac Asimov Presents Great Science Fiction Stories of 1940
Leviathan 4: Cities, edited by Forrest Aguirre (ARC)
Miss Marple The Complete Short Stories, Agatha Christie (HC)
Wilderness: The Lost Writing of Jim Morrison, Volume 1 (some corner damage)
Science Fiction from China (HC) (some jacket chewage by birds who shall not be named)
The Gospel according to the Simpsons, Mark I. Pinsky
West of Eden, Harry Harrison
Winter in Eden, Harry Harrison
Return to Eden, Harry Harrison
Native Tongue, Carl Hiassen
God's Other Son, Don Imus
Moving Pictures, Terry Pratchett
Jingo, Terry Pratchett
Pyramids, Terry Pratchett
Lord of the Isles, David Drake
Shade of the Tree, Piers Anthony
Ghost, Piers Anthony
Kane & Abel, Jeffrey Archer
Isle of Woman, Piers Anthony (no front cover)
Gridlock, Matt Gaffney
The Once and Future King, T. H. White
Quozl, Alan Dean Foster
The Little Country, Charles de Lint
Impossible Places, Alan Dean Foster
Decision at Doona, Anne McCaffrey
Gloriana, Michael Moorcock
Hocus Pocus, Kurt Vonnegut
The Last Defender of Camelot, Roger Zelazny
Hearts in Atlantis, Stephen King
Insomnia, Stephen King
Phantom, Susan Kay
Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
Rising Sun, Michael Crichton
Airframe, Michael Crichton
The Web of the Chozen, Jack L. Chalker
Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
The Mind Game, Norman Spinrad
My Brother's Keeper, Charles Sheffield
Pictures at 11, Norman Spinrad
Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (missing front cover)
Street Magic, Michael Reaves
Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
Stalking the Unicorn, Mike Resnick
The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
The Misenchanted Sword, Lawrence Watt-Evans
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Bonecrack, Dick Francis
Whip Hand, Dick Francis
Rat Race Dick Francis
The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
Curious Lives, Richard Bach
Greek Island Hopping 2008
The Dwarf, Par Lagerkvist (edges a bit chewed by one who shall remain nameless)
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitgerald (HC)
The Fatherland Files, Alan N. Clifford (HC)
Cygnet, PAtricia A. McKillip
An Incomplete Eucation: 3, 864 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't (HC)
The ABC's of Bridge, William S. Root
Your Heart Belongs to Me, Dean Koontz
Brother Odd, Dean Koontz (HC)
Getting Over It, Anna Maxted
Mystic Warrior: Book One of the Bronze Canticles, Tracy and Laura Hickman (HC)
Predator, Patricia Cornwell (HC)
Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks (HC)
Virtual Light, William Gibson (HC)
Sick Puppy, Carl Hiaasen (HC)
Absolute Values, Andrew Menard (HC)
Stalker, Faye Kellerman
ETA some cookbooks:
Cooking for Two
Fresh Ways with Chicken
Fresh Ways with Pasta
Quick and Simple Cooking for Two


Quick note to say that PAX was very good. I spent almost all of my time at the Interactive Fiction (IF) Hospitality Suite. Lots of people talking about IF, lots of ideas and energy generated, and I even made an IF game. I hope that a lot will come out of the IF community because of this, and I'm also personally more motivated to start working on a "real" IF game, possibly for one of a couple of competitions coming up later this year.

And I get to continue this a bit with some IF readings tonight at Purple Blurb, where I'll be the designated "interactor" for one of the presenters.


Got an email from NSTAR, and we've now signed up to get 100% of our electricity from wind power. There's a surcharge, but it comes out to around $2 per month. I'm not sure how much this does for the environment or for our "dependence on foreign oil", but it at least feels like something.

Invincible comic books

Did I lend these comics out to anyone? It's a set of 3 hardbound books, the story of this superhero kid and his superhero dad. I had the first three hardbound omnibus collections, and I recently bought the fourth one, but then discovered that I couldn't find the first three. I checked with two people I might have loaned them to wihtout any luck.


Back home from 2 weeks in Russia with my bride. We hung out with her family, saw Moscow, and spent some time at the dacha (country house). It's good to be home, but it's a little weird. I'm not used to being away so long (I'm not sure when the last time was that I was away for this long). Everything is familiar, but it will take some getting used to again, even simple things like "This is where the light switches are".

And, man, Moscow is far less humid than Boston. I'm going to have to get used to this weather, too.