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(based on 18 ratings)
About the Story
A hole-based economy and a venison-based diet. You and your dog. And a turnip.
79th Place - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)
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Number of Reviews: 8
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An odd little piece of flash fiction, probably under 2000 words.
I doubt many English-language IF players know the name Yuri Mamleev, or a book of very strange short fiction collected in English under the title The Sky Above Hell and Other Stories. It is one of the few places I've seen fiction with a similar blur of realism and the grotesque, even in some places a similar tone. When these grotesque stories are executed correctly, they may not be "great" literature--but I tend to find them interesting, enjoyable, and above all memorable. For the length of this particular work, it is certainly worthwhile.
This is not a great work of IF. It is very light on the interactivity. As a piece of fiction, it is also not great. But IS certainly readable, and certainly more interesting than a lot of what can be found published in dozens of literary journals. It is a little sad this piece went unpublished as a regular story, but it is to the benefit of the IF community. Even with an IF Competition field of 100+ games, I imagine I'll remember this strange little story more than many longer and more interactive works of IF.
Anyone who likes the weird/strange/grotesque covered by a thin and warped veneer of realism should make a point of playing through this work.
I appreciate the effort put into this entry's presentation ó the technical choices made to select fonts and colors, but also the information that is shared and withheld.
It's the terse story of an ominous turnip discovery: you play as someone with a job digging holes in a field, and the story is delivered in a fitting tone. The story advances one link at a time, but you can take detours to examine different things along the way.
Those detours make The Turnip stand out. Something is not quite right even before the turnip appears, and the narrator's world-weary tone conceals oddities that would only be present in a world much different from our own. When you click to examine something closer, you might get the bland description of something dismissed as commonplace, or it could be the wild perspective of someone seeing the world as a swirling, colorful omelet.
I enjoyed this storyís skill and restraint. It didnít get bogged down with excess description, and it didnít trip over itself trying to deliver an in-depth examination of a world that is Not Like Our Own. A measured amount alienating details did a nice job of keeping me off balance while methodically trudging along an assigned path.
The Turnip takes place in a world almost like our own, but just different enough that it seems impossible to fully grasp the nature of the setting or the motivations of the characters. Thereís a dog that acts almost, but not quite, like a dog would act. You have a job that seems almost, but not quite, like a job that a person would have. Thereís a turnip that acts almost, but not quite, like youíd expect from a turnip. The whole thing feels kind of like what would happen if an alien from some other planet were asked to write a short story about life on Earth, having heard a little bit about it but not having studied it in any detail.
Itís a piece that provokes a bit of thought. The world of The Turnip may seem weird to us. To the eyes of folks in a hypothetical alternate world like this one, presumably our society would seem equally as weird. It might seem odd that the society in this story attaches economic value to a dirt field full of holes, but who are we to judge? To them, maybe it would seem odd that we attach economic value to a field full ofÖ Christmas trees, for example. This, I think, is the strong point of The Turnip: it invites us to question our frame of reference.
Itís also totally linear (apart from your choice of whether to read certain brief descriptions along the way), and reading everything from start to finish takes a few minutes at most, so thereís not much to it. Itís an efficient story, in that it packs a fairly high degree of interesting content relative to its tiny size. Worth the time to check it out.
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