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Fatal Guidance


Fatal Guidance, illustration

You will never be able to find me, so don't even try. I do not think I murdered Mycroft Christie, and you will never prove I did. Yes, I was responsible for creating NOVELS, the New Online Virtually Excellent Literature System, and, to profit from it, I published personalized mysteries. But I never anticipated how it would be misused, with the loss of thousands of lives, and accept no responsibility for that unintended consequence.

My fundamental idea was not entirely new, but how I developed it was revolutionary. Interactive novels had existed since at least the 1970s, originally published as paper books, then online as trees of webpages. At the end of each scene, the reader would have a choice. Standing before the dead body of, say, a rich baron, do you accuse his butler or his wife? If the butler, does he have an alibi or not? If the wife, what was her motive? Some of the most recent role-playing computer games used the same crude method to add complexity to the stories, with the added feature that the player could select a name for the main character. My innovation was taking this method to its logical extreme.


 

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