Text Club 10 — The Gostak, Counterfeit Monkey, Library of Babel

Welcome to the tenth month of Text Club!

Our games this month are …

The Gostak

“Finally, here you are. At the delcot of tondam, where doshes deave. But the doshery lutt is crenned with glauds.

Glauds! How rorm it would be to pell back to the bewl and distunk them, distunk the whole delcot, let the drokes uncren them.

But you are the gostak. The gostak distims the doshes. And no glaud will vorl them from you.”

by Carl Muckenhoupt, 2001, ifdb

Play The Gostak in your browser. (Or download the story file from the ifdb page & play it in an interpreter such as Lectrote.)

Counterfeit Monkey

Anglophone Atlantis has been an independent nation since an April day in 1822, when a well-aimed shot from their depluralizing cannon reduced the British colonizing fleet to one ship.

Since then, Atlantis has been the world’s greatest center for linguistic manipulation, designing letter inserters, word synthesizers, the diminutive affixer, and a host of other tools for converting one thing to another. Inventors worldwide pay heavily for that technology, which is where a smuggler and industrial espionage agent such as yourself can really clean up.

Unfortunately, the Bureau of Orthography has taken a serious interest in your activities lately. Your face has been recorded and your cover is blown.

Your remaining assets: about eight more hours of a national holiday that’s spreading the police thin; the most inconvenient damn disguise you’ve ever worn in your life; and one full-alphabet letter remover.

Good luck getting off the island.

by Emily Short, 2012, ifdb

Play Counterfeit Monkey in your browser.  (Or download the story file from the ifdb page & play it in an interpreter such as Lectrote.)

Library of Babel

The Library of Babel is a place for scholars to do research, for artists and writers to seek inspiration, for anyone with curiosity or a sense of humor to reflect on the weirdness of existence – in short, it’s just like any other library. If completed, it would contain every possible combination of 1,312,000 characters, including lower case letters, space, comma, and period. Thus, it would contain every book that ever has been written, and every book that ever could be – including every play, every song, every scientific paper, every legal decision, every constitution, every piece of scripture, and so on. At present it contains all possible pages of 3200 characters, about 104677 books.

by Jonathan Basile, 2015

Explore the Library of Babel in your browser.

Our podcast discussion guest this month will be the charismatic Ian Snyder. Looking forward! Meanwhile, do feel free to share your thoughts & feelings in the comment zone below, either on this post or on the podcast post at the end of the month.

I think this is going to be our best month yet!

2 thoughts on “Text Club 10 — The Gostak, Counterfeit Monkey, Library of Babel”

  1. this particular IF-newbie came through to casually post some SPOILERy appreciative bits after getting through 75% of Counterfeit Monkey, all in a plane ride–and to thank y’all for recommending this month’s selections…

    how nice and efficient a hook it is to start a 1st-person science fiction mystery synthesized to another person? and then to immediately introduce a (to me at least) very novel letter-removing mechanic? which is then part of an extremely-fleshed-out conceit of a linguistically powered universe? I was crushing hard on this game, its characters, and its tricks, pretty fast. i was into how different the two yous are. also for how quickly you can accumulate body parts, and be rewarded for doing so: “Achievement accomplished: Igor Rosehip award for creating at least five body parts in one playthrough!” I propped open the trap door with an arm.

    I appreciated how real-time events like bumping into your father and dodging the inspector on the docks mixes up the pace. other little details I loved: you can turn a tarot card into a car–the tarot card’s driver is having trouble with his horses; and so of course the car you manifest is broken.

    As for reifying abstracts and how you are ability to do so later–when games reveal a false bottom lurking underneath, revealing a whole new possibility space underneath, I’m thrilled. if (like here) I don’t see it coming, even better! did these gradual reveals work their magic on you too?

    And wow, there’s just so many interesting little fictional details that flesh out the world–a depluralization cannon, an anti-foreign-language policy, homonym cocktails, an etymological reversing chamber, britishizing goggles, “the dove blinks,” the way you can kill yourself by trying to make “all,” or how you can carry around a rap that spouts verses. The crucial thing for me that its all penned with enough wit that going down these silly rabbit holes which may not necessarily be pertinent to the main task at hand are nonetheless winsome and worthwhile and often funny-as-heck and so I. was. on. board.

    I didn’t love how by the time you’re where I am your inventory is full of junk and (if you’re like me) you’re not quite sure where to procede. do you think a mid-game event emptying your inventory and changing the locale might have been a welcome change of pace? but…I can’t bring myself to cheat–i’ll be poking at it for awhile i suppose, trying to find any linguistically productive trinkets I might have missed…if only to get more sexy brock scenes, and to see what happens to “us.”



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