Life's Lottery

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This book, first released in hardback by Simon & Schuster and then reprinted in paperback by Pocket Books, is presently available only in England, although there is some hope for an American edition since the author's other books are available in the U.S. The book is no more complicated than a Choose Your Own Adventure book in terms of gameplay, but its story is among the most intricate and unusual works of interactive fiction I've encountered. Because of its complexity (and some of its subject matter), this is definitely a book meant for a mature audience.

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  Life's Lottery
Author: Kim Newman
Illustrator: Ian Miller (hardback cover)
First Published: 1999
ISBN: 0-684-84016-2 (hardback), 0-671-01597-4 (paperback)
Length: 488 pages (300 sections) (hardback), 615 pages (300 sections) (paperback)
Number of Endings: 120 (I think; it's a bit hard to count)
Plot Summary: You live the life of Keith Marion, an Englishman born in 1959, from birth until death.
My Thoughts: This is an amazing book. It contains more possibilities than you could possibly expect, and the paths through it run from funny and touching to grim and disturbing. The more you read it, the more the paths rebound off of one another, increasing the meaningfulness of all that happens. The depth of the book is further enhanced by reading The Quorum, an interesting novel (reviewed on the Gamebook-Related Products page) set in the same world. Even the mechanics of the book are somewhat innovative. The book uses the "go to x, then y" instruction, which requires the reader to read two sections in a row -- this means that events that happen in the middle of several different paths don't have to be pasted repeatedly into different parts of the book. A nice space-saver. Even more interesting is the fact that the book works if you ignore the instructions and simply read it from cover to cover -- there are intermediate sections which can only be found if you read it this way and which give meaning to the proceedings. In my opinion, this is a book that everyone (gamebook fan or not) should read. It shows the remarkable power of the interactive format, and it's more than just a little bit thought-provoking. The only points which may go against it for some people are its frequent references to British culture (which I love, but which may confuse some international readers) and its subject matter (there's quite a bit of sex, violence and profanity in here). Still, I just can't recommend this book enough. should be able to hook you up with a copy if you can't find one elsewhere.

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