Comments

Please feel welcome to type comments below. (I reserve the right to moderate at will.)

I also welcome comments posted on the Interactive Fiction Database. Here are excerpts from some posted so far:

  1. “You play as a woman about to be burned at the stake for witchcraft. She is lashed to it when the story starts. It is being lit. But she doesn’t burn just yet. She has been apprenticed to an alchemist, and has gleaned the art of memory. This allows her to retreat into her own mind and escape the fire — temporarily.”A single moment expands to encompass days, weeks, years, lifetimes as she plunges deeper and deeper into her memories. But they aren’t only her memories. Her perception is sharp enough, her empathy keen enough, her imagination wild enough, perhaps, this close to death, that she can share her consciousness with other people. She can look, from the stake, across the city and know what’s happening in distant towers. She can remember stories that her cellmates told her, before she was convicted, and relive their lives through those remembered tales.”Time obviously goes out the window. Anachronism isn’t a mistake: it is the truth. The more time decomposes, the more we understand as we come to learn the circumstances surrounding the present moment. It’s a complex little plot, with conspiracies and double-crosses. Bit players enlarge to take central roles as our protagonist’s focus sharpens. Structurally, this means that the story is based around increasingly dense telescopic descriptions. We have a scene, we concentrate on a detail, that detail becomes another scene, we concentrate on another detail in that scene…”More than any other interactive fiction I’ve played, this feels like a novel. It’s very long for a Twine game. It took me a few days to finish, and probably around ten hours total. My reading speed, granted, is slow as a slug, but still. If you plan to play it, treat it more like a book than a game.

“I faced the hardest decision I’ve had to make in a choice-based game in this story. At multiple points, you can break your concentration and return to focusing on the stake, the rising fire. I didn’t do that. I stayed in the protagonist’s head (or maybe the protagonists’ heads). And finally I reached a point where I had been reading for hours, for days, while the stake was still burning, and the game confronted me: what was I accomplishing by living in my memories? Shouldn’t I focus on the fire, what’s actually happening?

“I didn’t know what to do. After playing for so long, I really felt as though I was avoiding the story’s reality. I had stretched out my time on the stake in real time by reading the text. It was absurd. I should’ve been burnt to a crisp. Here was the story’s most glaring anachronism, and I was the anachronist enabling it.

“What I chose to do next doesn’t matter as much as the fact that the game created this situation in the first place. This isn’t a story whose strength rests on making the ‘right’ choices. Its strength comes from how its themes are reflected in the reader’s own experience, which can only happen because it’s interactive.

“In this sense, it’s some of the strongest interactive work I’ve seen. I was tempted to give it five stars for the concept alone.”

2. “The Anachronist demands quite a bit of the reader. Long passages require patience, and one must be prepared to treat this more as a book than a game. Not recommended to play in one sitting. However, Levine is a skilled and knowledgeable writer, and the experience is rewarding.”

“The Anachronist is set in the 16th century, and Levine provides plenty of illustrations and quotations to immerse the reader in that world. Levine does an excellent job of thinking in the 16th century logic of his characters.”

3. “The amount of time and effort that must have gone into this is staggering. Although this is considerably more involved than what I typically look for, I feel I must give credit where credit is due for the good of others who might come across this review. This is a great story stemming from a possibly even greater concept, and a good choice for those who don’t mind taking breaks and coming back for more.”

 

7 thoughts on “Comments”

  1. A remarkable piece of fiction, interactive or otherwise. Thank you.

    Towards the end, the story did seem to loop back on itself a few times. Not sure if that is a bug or a feature.

  2. Peter, thanks very much for The Anachronist – having just finished I found it a well-written and absorbing journey through many fascinating minds. There was so much content I’ve been reading all week and a bit sad to be finished; I hope you continue to write more IF like this in the future!

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