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Item - The 4-D Funhouse


Series: Amazing Stories — no. 1
Authors: Emery, Clayton
Wajenberg, Earl
Illustrator: Easley, Jeff (cover)
Date: September, 1985
ISBN: 0880382554 / 9780880382557
Length: 219 pages (16 sections)
Number of Endings: 5
User Summary: A young man sets out to visit his eccentric, amusement-park-designing uncle and ends up running across the remains of an experiment which lead him to adventures involving dimensions beyond the usual three.
Demian's Thoughts: This book features a somewhat unusual format; it has named chapters (with choices directing the reader to specific page numbers rather than section numbers), and it's written in the first person, past tense. Content-wise, it's very much a good-news/bad-news kind of book. The good news is that it features some of the best writing I've encountered in a gamebook -- the story is original, enjoyable, exciting and clever, the characters are developed and endearing, and even the concepts behind the science fiction elements are handled well. It works as a sort of tribute to Flatland and Dr. Seuss (to whom the book is dedicated), and various pop culture references manage to add flavor without being too jarring. The bad news is that this isn't really much of a gamebook. There's no real game to it -- at times, several dozen pages go by between choices, and there really only are a handful of choices in the book anyway. The choices are of no consequence to the momentum of the plot, with all choices either leading immediately to endings or reconverging at the same point. Only the last decision, which branches off to three different lengthy happy endings, leads to dramatic plot divergence, and since this is at the very end, it doesn't give the book anything that could be described as "gameplay." This is well worth a read, but its interactive elements are superfluous. It's a shame, too, because this could have made quite an intriguing "real" gamebook. I'm also a little sad that no sequels were written -- there's more potential here than was used up in just one tale.

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Related Documents

Structure Diagram

Amazing Stories #1 Diagram