We begin as Charlie, a mountain climber trapped on a ledge by a rope hanging taut over our arm. The other end of the rope is attached to our girlfriend, Judith, who is hanging a short, safe distance over a pile of snow below. This all happens as a prologue before the title; once the that's out of the way ... well, we fall immediately into spoiler territory.

Before we go to the spoilers, let me just say from the perspective of someone who's written IF, that the business with the rope was pretty darn cool.






The first puzzle involves figuring out that we're actually Judith, not Charlie. At least, it was a puzzle for me. I kept trying to go "down", thinking I was Charlie up on the side of the mountain, and not Judith buried in a pile of snow. I figured out which way was up and which way was down pretty quickly, and after that it was all about exploring a cave system even as hypothermia and exhaustion set in.

It pays to examine ourselves from time to time. Later, when we find ourselves as Charlier puttering around the house, we might think we're still Judith but hallucinating. Or we might notice that this Charlie is twice the age of the one from the prologue....

Yeah, it's a bit sad. I don't know that it's effective, though. The conclusion seems to be a statement about the bonds that connect us to people, but I never really saw much about the bond between Charlie and Judith. Rather, it seemed to be set up as something we should simply accept as given: a background detail rather than an important thematic point. It almost seemed as though the author figured out a clever story involving a rope and then tacked on the "surviving loss and trauma" ending because they didn't really know where else to go with it ... though the last part of the story seems complex enough that I'm probably being unjust here.

As a breakfast, I think this might be a breakfast sandwich: English muffin, ham, and egg, all sealed together with a dab of Hollandaise sauce ... er, was this originally supposed to be Eggs Benedict? I mean, it still works, but there's got to be a better way to use the Hollandaise after you've gone through the trouble of making it. Finish it off with black tea with maybe a bit of lemon to mask the tannin.