It’s taken a lot longer than expected (the original plan was to have the entire thing wrapped up by the end of November 2015), but the first (or arguably left-hand) half of Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure is now complete!
Provided you choose to sit around moping at the at the very beginning of the story, rather than going off and doing something interesting, you can explore every single possible option leading off from that point, and follow along all the way to every possible ending: 256 in all!
I’ll be starting work on the second (or right-hand) half of the Adventure pretty much immediately, but it might be a while before I make the new content available just so that there aren’t too many dead ends for readers to stumble into. If you haven’t taken a look at this yet, now’s a great time: you’ve got absolutely masses of options and I can guarantee that any storyline you can start, you can also finish.
At the time of writing, the story is 78,629 words in length altogether, making it the single longest work I’ve ever released by a reasonable margin (the next longest is currently Face of Glass, at 55,550). Despite that, this novel-length interactive story is completely free to explore. If you’d like to chuck some money my way, however, please consider pledging to support Ten Little Astronauts, my crowdfunded novella. You’ll get a book that wouldn’t have existed any other way, every copy will have your name recorded in the back as one of its patrons, and you’ll be helping me achieve my dream of having my best work to date distributed by Penguin Random House. It’s a win-win-win!
Happy Halloween, everybody! I would have liked to write a brand new horror story for the occasion, but things have been a little busy recently so I never got around to it. Instead, here’s an audio version of Failing That…
If you’ve enjoyed this, you might also like to pledge for a copy of Ten Little Astronauts. The story revolves around a series of murders on board an interstellar spacecraft, everybody who supports it gets access to (among other things) an audio version of the opening chapter, and if you’re really quick you’ll be in the running to get a signed copy of my 2016 flash fiction anthology, Robocopout, which isn’t even on sale yet.
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 25
Challenge #11: Write a work of interactive fiction beginning with a knock on a door.
You knock on the door.
There is no answer.
Knock again: 2
You knock again.
“Who’s there?” calls a voice from inside.
Kick down the door: 4
“This is Inquisitor Kostov of the Empress’ Hand!” you bellow through the wood. “Open the door immediately!”
“A moment, please!” calls the voice from inside.
Senator Vye is a prominent figure in the City, and a crowd is beginning to form.
Grant him this mercy: 5
Kick down the door: 4
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 1
Challenge #10*: Write an allegorical horror story in collaboration with at least one other writer. The story must use each of the five senses at least twice, and include an element of foreshadowing.
Once upon a time there was a great nation, and ruling that nation there was a great king. Yet the king grew old, and his senses began to fail him. When he gazed across the palace gardens, the pleasant sight was but a pleasant haze, and when he surveyed his kingdom, his eyes were greeted by mere clouds, where his advisors could plainly see smoke on the horizon.
Thus, though this great king was wise and his rule just, his court grew divided and his realm insecure. Bandits roamed the highways like wolves, while barbarians tore through villages like a ravenous inferno. Panic and fear spread like contagion, and soon flagellants became a common sight upon the streets of the capital, proclaiming this the end of days.
Had the king produced an heir, he would have passed on the throne. But he had not, and he could see that to force a new ruler upon the people in these dark times would only make their panic more dangerous still. The king would have despaired then, had his chief advisor not—quite loudly, of necessity—announced a visitor to his court.
This visitor came wreathed in a cloak that rustled like silk, and the cloak came wreathed in a peculiar scent: like woodland earth in rain.
“Your majesty,” began the visitor, his voice the whisper of the scythe through the corn. “Long have I lived in your great nation, and long has its plight moved me. I am but a humble scholar, yet in my studies I have discovered hidden words of unfathomable power. I believe I can restore your youth—and more—if you will be content to pay the price.”
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 15
Challenge #7*: Write a story that takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting. It must include both situational irony and a tone shift, but these things must be kept separate. It must also include fifteen colours that are also things, and elements from at least four different mythologies, only two of which may be well known.
It took fifteen seconds for Gilgamesh to descend into the underworld. Thirty seconds to wrap the paquet congo—ebony, ochre, lavender—in the hopes that it would bring the loa to his aid. It will take him fifteen seconds to draw his sword, but his sword is missing.
It took fifteen seconds for Gilgamesh to descend into the underworld. Thirty seconds to wrap the paquet congo—ebony, ochre, mint—in the hopes that it would bring the loa to his aid. It will take him fifteen seconds to draw his sword, but his sword is missing.
It took fifteen seconds for Gilgamesh to descend into the underworld. Thirty seconds to wrap the paquet congo—ebony, ochre, nutmeg—in the hopes that it would bring the loa to his aid. It will take him fifteen seconds to draw his sword, but his sword is missing.
It took fifteen seconds for Gilgamesh to descend into the underworld. Thirty seconds to wrap the paquet congo—ebony, ochre, orange—in the hopes that it would bring the loa to his aid. It will take him fifteen seconds to draw his sword, but his sword is missing.
It took fifteen seconds for Gilgamesh to descend into the underworld. Thirty seconds to wrap the paquet congo—ebony, ochre, periwinkle—in the hopes that it would bring the loa to his aid. It will take him fifteen seconds to draw his sword, but his sword is missing.
Corn-teeth Hal and Big Myrtle stared at the gaping hollow in the ground, a low beacon of black in the ashen, Fimbulvetr snow. There had been surface structures here at one point, but their walls had been reduced to knee-high shin-stubbers by whatever had formed the crater that the pair had just spent the morning traversing. Only the entryway remained intact.
Hal spotted something emblazoned on the concrete, and used his glove to scrape away the snow: Medusa’s Gaze Tactical Facility. It was not written in paint. It was written in the ivory of paint long gone, the rest of the wall seared to a charcoal hue.
It’s that time of year once again! Every single day this month, I will be writing and posting a brand new story between 55 and 1,000 words in length. If you’ve been following me for a while now, you’ll know the drill: this is now the fifth year in a row I’ll be participating.
Last year I was lucky enough to win one of the weekly challenge prizes, and I got this lovely mug, designed by Neurotype. I’m drinking coffee out of it as I write this! If you’ve been following me for a while now, you’ll also know that “Size isn’t everything” paired a Lovecraftian flasher is about my level of humour.
The mug design for 2016 (this one by Joe Wright) looks super cool as well, though.
Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re already set up to get notifications whenever I post a new story: I’ll be sharing them on this very blog, on deviantART (home of Flash Fiction Month), on Wattpad, and I’ll be linking to those various places through Facebook and Twitter. I’ll also be sending out weekly digests to anyone subscribed to my newsletter and notifications; people who are just subscribed to the newsletter will get a list of the complete 31 stories once the month is over.
If you somehow manage to miss all those opportunities to catch the stories as they’re released, I’ll be collecting them together into an anthology, as I have done every year since I first took on this challenge in 2012. If you want to catch up on my work from previous years, the first three ebooks are permanently free to download:
The fourth ebook usually costs a token amount, as will number five when it’s available, but as Flash Fiction Month 2016 coincides with a site-wide sale at Smashwords, you can now get it free with promo code SFREE. As an added bonus, my prehistoric fantasy novel, Face of Glass, is also currently 50% off with code SSW50.
Clicking the cover of any one of those books will take you to its page over on Smashwords. The books are DRM free, and come in a variety of formats, so you should have no trouble copying them to any number of devices you might want to read on. You’re also welcome to pass them on to friends and family. On the flipside, if you have got your book for free (either from a friend or through this promotion), please consider helping me out by leaving a review (on Smashwords or anywhere else) and maybe buying a copy of something down the line. Alternatively, send a copy to someone else. That’s good too.
For anyone who was suspicious about the fact that my Project Proteus competition coincided precisely with April Fools’ Day, you were on to something. At this point, having put together an online April Fools’ prank every year since 2013, I’d be a little disappointed if nobody was expecting one! For anyone who actually entered that competition, though, you may have had a tougher time spotting this year’s than most, effectively because it’s you who’s been pulling the prank this year!
Played just once, on just one device, Project Proteus appears to be a perfectly ordinary interactive story. If played again, it appears exactly the same. You can load the game up as many times as you like, and you will always have the same range of options to click through and explore.
However, the story experienced by another player on another device is probably not the same as yours.
The following is a transcript of a radio programme which aired on 14th July [CENSORED], transmitted from channel [CENSORED], presented for the attention of [CENSORED] in relation to PROJECT PROTEUS.
I was recently granted the sort of once-in-a-lifetime chance that most journalists can only ever dream about: the opportunity for an interview with a person so unique, so unusual, that everything about them shakes the very foundation of all that we have so long accepted to be true.
Hey, you have to check these guys out!
“Project Proteus”? Sounds like some crappy prog-rock group! Isn’t their singer like some sort of newspaper reporter or something?
Despite the really short window for submissions, I’m going to have a tough time choosing a winner: I’ll be announcing the results tomorrow. In the meantime, please enjoy the fantastic entries above and, if you haven’t already, explore Project Proteus for yourself.
I’ve always felt that less is more when it comes to horror. In films or in fiction, a monster is always scariest when it’s not around: or you think it’s not around. The moment it pops out at you, you know where it is, and in many ways that makes it a lot less frightening.
This is even more true in games. It’s always seemed to me that the strongest section of any game in the Resident Evil franchise is the opening, even though the most hideous monsters tend to pop up towards the end. The reason for this is simple: it’s far scarier to inch your way through a dark room knowing there might be something inside than it is to rush through a place that’s already swarming with zombies. Typically there’s a trade-off in terms of gameplay because more zombies mean more action, but for pure scare-power nothing quite matches up to that tense first hour or so.
This is not the case with Five Nights at Freddy’s which, if anything, gets scarier as it goes on. Personally, I loaded it up the first time around just because I was curious. At this point, I’m not sure I’ll ever finish the thing. Continue reading
Gone Home is a game that, to be honest, I don’t think I can really review. The main appeal of it is bound to be discovering the story for yourself, and there’s very little gameplay as such wrapped around that story. However, that in itself is interesting enough that I think it’s worth looking into.
I’ve heard Gone Home described as interactive fiction, but really I don’t think it’s even that. To me, interactive fiction offers players (or readers: I’m not sure anyone’s ever sorted out the terminology for this) an opportunity to influence the story for themselves. In Gone Home, the story is set in stone–it’s already happened–and you’re just piecing it together. Put like that this all sounds kind of negative, but in practice the game is really quite effective. Linear stories, free from having to take into account every possible sequence of actions the player might perform, tend to be the strongest, and Gone Home‘s story is a strong one indeed. The actual process of unravelling it is also hugely satisfying. You’re free to pick up and examine virtually any object–which in itself is a rare feature of a game–and even the ones that don’t contribute directly to the story can shine an interesting light on the characters. Continue reading