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Item - Culture Shock


Series: Earth 2 Choose Your Own Journey — no. 1
Author: Neman, Douglas
Date: May, 1999
Length: 135 pages (plus introduction and info about the author)
Number of Endings: 1
User Summary: You've just started a new job at Timeron Engineering Solutions, and it turns out that the company isn't quite what you originally thought... (and yes, in the long run, this does have something to do with Earth 2).
Demian's Thoughts: Having only one ending, this is obviously a fairly linear book, though the journey from the start to the finish can definitely vary quite a bit on each reading, making it worth playing a couple of times to try all the different paths. Unfortunately, the choices become less and less meaningful the farther you get into the book, with the last major decision (allowing you to wander off in the company of the character of your choice) being a rather disappointing example of the cut-and-paste feature of the author's word processor (though page 130 is kind of amusing, even if it does bring horrifying memories of Find Your Fate Junior - The Transformers #2. Beyond this, the book's main innovation is the fact that a few choices ask what you feel rather than what you want to do, a device which I feel has great potential for making a unique gamebook experience (though it's not used as extensively here as it could have been). The writing does remind the reader that this is fan fiction (there's just a certain feel to fan fiction), but I found it more enjoyable than the (if memory serves) rather disappointing official novels based on the show.

My biggest complaint about the book (other than the increasing pointlessness of its choices) is one which the author is obviously aware of, as he mentions it in both the foreward and afterward, and this is the fact that the book covers much of the first season of the show, but skims over major events at high speed in order to meet time and space requirements. This is obviously necessary within the scope of this book, and I don't object to reducing major events to minor paragraphs; it's simply the way that it's done that bothers me. At a certain point, the book stops involving the reader and seems to turn into a second-person episode guide to the series. Each story is summarized in a paragraph or two, and it gets terribly boring. To someone unfamiliar with the show, it would be incomprehensible, and to a fan like myself, it's old news, and thus not very interesting to read. If all this stuff had to be skimmed over, I would rather have had the story jump a few months into the future and refer back to these events within the text only when it was relevant to the storyline. Instead, the book overloads the reader with facts that don't necessarily have much bearing on anything -- they may be important parts of the series, but they're not necessarily important parts of this book's particular storyline. Referring to them more subtly would have served the same purpose but in a more reader-friendly manner. Still, I can at least say that it was nice to be reminded of the series (which has faded out of my memory over the past few years) and that I look forward to finding new adventures in the next volume....

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