With Ewan McGregor’s recent Christopher Robin film, it seems all the rage to wonder what happened to the boy-with-a-bear after the stories were over. The real Christopher Robin Milne famously had a poor relationship with his father, blaming him for commercializing his childhood and causing him embarrassment in his later years. Of course, that didn’t stop Disney from producing hundreds of hours of additional stories. My son has recently gone through a “Winnie the Pooh” phase, spurred on in part by our recent trip to the “real” Hundred Acre Wood in the Ashdown Forest, and I’ve been reading him Pooh stories before bed. It is in that spirit that I have now read the two official sequels to the Milne originals. But before we talk about that, I suppose that I have to explain how a series that has a dozen or more movies and television series could have only “two” sequels. Read on!
A few months ago, I examined the first two of the “Sergeant Duffy” mysteries from Infocom: Deadline and The Witness. Both of these games were in service to the Infocom marathon that I have been working my way through over on The Adventure Gamer. Since those games already had reviews there, I discussed my experiences here. It’s time to do the same with the third and final game in that series: Suspect.
With the first game in the series being designed by Marc Blank, and the second by Stu Galley, I was surprised to find that this one was the brainchild of Dave Lebling. Lebling had been Blank’s collaborator on the original Zork series (starting with the mainframe version) and was one of the most well-regarded of the implementers at Infocom. I do not know whether he wanted to take a crack at the interactive mystery genre or whether he was pushed into it by market pressures, but he was a great choice for the role especially given his past history with Marc Blank. Immediately, it seems that Lebling shifted his game closer to Blank’s original: he moved the setting back to modern day (after a brief stint in the 1930s, film noir style) and brought the crime into a situation where there could be many possible suspects. He moved away from the previous games in one major respect: this time, we do not play as the detective but rather a reporter who is being framed for murder. So did he succeed? Let’s take a look.
(This is 2018 Reading Challenge Book #9.)
I’ve never hid my obsessions with Doctor Who: I started this blog as a place to talk about the show, as long forgotten as that idea seems now. Douglas Adams was one of the humorists that inspired me, and sometimes kept me sane, as a young man. Combine the two, and I’m in nerd-heaven. That doesn’t excuse the fact that Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen is my fourth DW book this year and that I might end up reading at least two more. On the bright side, it will be the last book that I try to shoehorn into my playing of the Infocom Hitchhiker’s Guide game as I have completed it now (over on The Adventure Gamer) and will be posting the final rating in a day or two.
Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen is the third posthumous collaboration between James Goss and Douglas Adams, based on his archived papers and notes. The history of this book alone is worth the price of admission: Douglas Adams first wrote a treatment for Krikkitmen back in 1976, during the Fourth Doctor’s tenure with Sarah Jane Smith. The treatment wasn’t accepted for one reason or another, although they clearly liked Mr. Adams’s work enough to bring him onboard. Adams left on it the back-burner, at one point even considering it for a possible theatrical film. Never one to leave a good idea behind, aspects of Krikkitmen made their way into Shada and eventually the main thrust of the book was transposed into the third Hitchhiker’s book, Life, the Universe, and Everything. The Doctor and companion became Arthur and Ford, but otherwise many of the fundamentals remained: a terrible race of white-outfitted robots wielding cricket bats fought a war millions of years ago for the fate of the galaxy. It is the distant racial memory of this terrible war that inspired the game of cricket, although only the English could possibly make a game out of the slaughter of millions. The Doctor ultimately fights this scourge and protects the universe and at one point nearly blows it up by accident himself.