Mask of the Plague Doctor is an interactive fiction text adventure by Peter Parrish, released under Choice of Games on the 23rd of April. You play as a doctor sent into the quarantined town of Thornback Hollow. Working with an army surgeon and an idealistic new medic, you have to work to eradicate the plague while unrest and religious conflict erupt in the town. And you’re on a time limit – if you can’t cure the disease, Baron Morlond waits outside the walls to purge the contagion by the sword.
Money saving expert Martin Lewis begins Thrifty Ways for Modern Days by explaining that this is a crowd sourced book. He gives all credit to his resourceful forumites, on the Old Style Board.
He explains he himself is not an old-styler, as it is a lifestyle, not just an adjustment. He recommends it for people who *need* to do it, due to debt or unemployment, and for people who want to live a greener, thriftier lifestyle. The book is divided into cleaning, shopping, fashion, DIY, special occasions, presents, growing your own and recipes.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was a 1968 novel by Philip K Dick. The novel’s protagonist is Rick Deckard, a man who hunts sentient androids for profit on a ruined, irradiated earth where the majority of the population have emigrated to Mars. Animals are mostly extinct, and extremely valuable; Rick can only afford an electric sheep, not the real thing. The book explores the nature of the soul, the value of animals, and what constitutes a human being.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster, by OneOOne Games and Daedalic Entertainment, is another work of interactive fiction. It centres around a woman called Nicole. She has returned to her family’s dilapidated, abandoned hotel to discharge her parents’ estate, and becomes trapped by a snowstorm. She is contacted by Irving on an old, modified cell phone. He claims to be a FEMA agent, on the line to look out for people trapped by the ‘atypical storm’.
Some Distant Memory, by Galvanic Games and Way Down Deep, is an interactive story about a professor who is desperately searching for the Sunken City of Houston. She is accompanied by ARORA, an AI who can rebuilt memories from notes, letters and photographs. Throughout the game you are also in touch with your companion Commander Ti, from a nearby colony. Earth has been subsumed by the Bloom, an ecological disaster accompanied by terrible earthquakes.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters (Edith Mary Pargeter OBE BEM). The Rose Rent is a classic. It is a medieval mystery novel set in the summer of 1142, as the battle between King Stephen and Empress Maud rages on. This is the thirteenth novel in The Cadfael Chronicles, first published in 1986. It charts a wealthy young widow who donates a house to the Abbey for a symbolic rent of a single white rose a year.
An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro, is a beautiful, hazy portrait of life in post war Japan. It explores generational tension, changing social mores, guilt and atonement. It is also another excellent example of the unreliable narrator, a trope of Ishiguro’s work.
Ragle Gumm is an ordinary man lives with his sister’s family in a sleepy suburban 1950s town. He makes a living by winning a newspaper contest over and over again. He dallies with his neighbour and plots where the Little Green Man will be Next, but starts to realise all is not well. This is how Time out of Joint, by Philip K Dick, begins.
An interweaving tale of two entrapped women; a suicidal noblewoman with no purpose and an imprisoned spiritualist claiming innocence. Reality, voice and oppression – not to mention manipulation – are the key themes in this stunning lesbian Victorian ghost story. A rich, beautiful, haunting novel by an excellent author, set in the late 19th century.