Summer Night City

It took me a while to figure out what was going on in this story, and not because we were dropped into a mysterious situation or anything like that. The opening prose is a bit on the dense and introspective side; it reminded me a bit of Edgar Allan Poe in the way it went on about the effect of the situation on the protagonist. It eventually emerges that we're a political prisoner after having been in the wrong place at the wrong time, that we've had our sight taken away, and that, for reasons we're suspicious of, we're being made to serve as a bartender at a public bar.

Once we get that straightened out, the story's pace picks up a little and the introspective nature of the prose becomes more about mulling over the mystery and looking for a way out.

So anyway, I thought it was a good story. As the author points out in the opening, a lot of people are doing quite well in this world: it's not a dystopia where everyone is ground down under the heel of tyranny, but rather a fledgling dictatorship where the interests of the dictator have yet to come into any major conflict with the interests of the people. Expressions of dictatorial tyranny are limited to surgical extractions of threats both real and theoretical, using methods that the government can either deny or explain away. Still, some people are beginning to take notice of what's going on, and there's a rebel cell that can help us -- if we want to be helped, and if we're smart enough to even notice the offer.

The introspective tone of the story was not really to my taste, but it lends itself to cogitation and speculation, which some people might enjoy. There is one place where I think it shot itself in the foot, though. Our protagonist spends some time considering a plausible reason for his predicament, which rather takes away all the shock later on when it is revealed that this is, in fact, the real reason for his predicament. Though our protagonist reacts as though it's just turned his world upside-down, my own thought was that we already knew this.

In terms of mechanics, I liked the way hypertext was used in the mixing of drinks, which figured into the final puzzle. Perhaps it's fair to say that that was the only actual puzzle, the rest of the story's interactivity being a matter of choice rather than puzzle.

As a breakfast, this might be beignets dusted with powdered sugar, and one of the more fragrant teas -- either Earl Grey or Jasmine -- with lots of milk, all of it now lukewarm as we've taken the meal at a leisurely and unhurried pace. It all seems very rarefied and civilised.