I’ve played 30 of the 58 games in the competition this year. I hope to play and rate all of them. These are my personal favourites so far:


Stuff and Nonsense

The Little Lifeform That Could

Thaxted Havershill And the Golden Wombat

Cactus Blue Motel

16 Ways to Kill a Vampire at McDonalds


Color the Truth

The Game of Worlds TOURNAMENT!

Hill Ridge Lost & Found

Zigamus: Zombies at Vigamus

Ariadne in Aeaea


Dear IFComp voter:

Thank you very much for helping to judge the 2015 IFComp! I have discovered a problem with the software behind the ballot, and I’d like your help in confirming that your votes look like you expect.

Thanks to the observant efforts of two judges (who I won’t name here, since ratings are publicly anonymous), I’ve discovered that the ballot has been quietly ignoring ratings of “1″ (and only “1”) since late October. Today, to the best of my knowledge, I have isolated and repaired this problem.

So: If you have given a rating of “1” to any of this year’s games, please revisit the ballot page to confirm that these ratings are present. If they are not, please re-cast them. If you wish, you may then reload the page to confirm that they “stick”.

The ballot page will remain open for your examination until 11:59 PM Eastern time on Sunday, November 15, per the usual competition schedule. Naturally, all judges may feel free to visit the ballot page and double-check the numbers there no matter what ratings they have cast so far.

I apologize for this inconvenience. I very much appreciate your helping to rate the competition entries this year, and I thank you for your further help in making sure that your registered votes match your expectations.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions about this, or any other aspect of the comp.

Jason McIntosh


I picked up a paperback from my library’s new books shelf. Turns out this is a teen/middle-grade adventure story compendium. 331 pages. Several science fiction stories. There is a promo for Guys Read, a library of books to help guys read at the end. Each story is about short novella length, with a drawn greyscale illustration at the start. Most feature boy protagonists (BtGG has a girl protagonist).

Percy Jackson and the Singer of Apollo by Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson is a demigod. His father is Poseidon, god of the sea. Having supernatural powers seems cool but Percy’s life is full of god-sized egos and recalcitrant monsters.

Bouncing the Grinning Goat by Shannon Hale – At home Spark spends all her time doing chores and looking after the younger children. But she longs to escape boring domestic work for adventure. One day she borrows her brother’s sword and armour and runs away from home.

The Scout by D.J. MacHale – A longer story (52 pages). Scouts wear uniform. Scouts follow the leader. Scouts get to travel in rocket ships to explore far away planets. It seems like Kit, a trainee scout, is on a wilderness survival course but there is a twist. In the ending there is a parallel between the protagonist’s world and tribal regions of Pakistan. For readers who draw the parallel, the Scout condones drone attacks and condones killing children (families are erased from the Scout).

Rise of the RoboShoesTM by Tom Angleberger – Short funny with comical illustrations about walking aids that get an idea for world domination! Unable to walk, the fall of humans is assured! But there could be another sartorial contender on the horizon.

The Dirt on Our Shoes by Neal Shusterman – Funny and gross story of colonising a new planet, by one means or another.

Plan B by Rebecca Stead – Amusing story from the perspective of an alien family masquerading as people to spy on Earth. The aliens aren’t perfect at pretending to be humans so they sometimes make mistakes and have to remind each other to breath.

A Day in the Life by Shaun Tan – a short graphic story, each page is a line-shaded fantastic life scene with a caption.

The Klack Bros. Museum by Kenneth Oppel – Ghost story. When young Luke is delayed between stops on a railway journey, his father suggests that they visit a creepy museum.

The Warlords of Recess by Eric Nylund – Charming children’s story about an alien invasion of an elementary school. A rule-bound Alien Empire set their sights on Earth. Conquest rule 39 requires that alien warriors win three battles against the Eathlings before the Aliens may conquer Earth. Mistaking 12-year-old pupils outside at recess in an Elementary School for trained combat warriors, the alien warriors land and begin gunking kids with sticky green slime. The fate of the Earth depends on Josh and Tony, two geeky kids watching from the sidelines – do the aliens have a weakness that they can exploit to save the Earth?

Frost and Fire by Rad Bradbury – The longest novella. A stunning imaginative portrayal of a quickened life on an alien planet. Some stretching vocabulary.

My top 10 Interactive Fiction Competition entries so far, in alphabetical order. There are a couple of weeks until the judging deadline so you still have time to try the games and vote if you haven’t done so already.

Autumn’s Daughter, by Devolution Games
Captain Verdeterre’s Plunder, by Ryan Veeder
Coloratura, by Lynnea Glasser
Dad vs. Unicorn, by PaperBlurt
Further, by Will Hines
Ollie Ollie Oxen Free, by Carolyn VanEseltine
The Paper Bag Princess, by Adri
Saving John, by Josephine Tsay
Vulse, by Rob Parker
The Wizard’s Apprentice, by Alex Freeman

I still have five works to try, so there could be changes.

Bell Park, Youth Detective, by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
Blood on the Heather, by T. Orisney
The Challenge, by ViRALiTY
Robin & Orchid, by Ryan Veeder & Emily Boegheim
Threediopolis, by Andrew Schultz

A male polar bear

A polar bear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wild beasts are the improbable instruments of Nature’s wrath in this sensational eco-horror graphic novel (written by Emilio Ruiz and illustrated by Ana Miralles) of polar bears driven to attack man by melting ice caps and loss of food resources. In one dramatic scene, Alaskans huddle in fear as an articulated restaurant car is overturned and looted by massed monsters. Some dialogue didn’t seem apt for an Arctic setting.

In the West, mature children are expected to leave the family home and make their own way in the world; without their mothers providing food for them like infants. Westerners don’t think of this as mothers abandoning children; westerners think of it has children becoming adults. In this story, the analogous (apparently) common practice of polar bear mothers leaving home so that polar bear children can grow into their own lives is portrayed as abandonment by the mother – a misogynistic slant. It’s understandable that a newly separated child can feel lonely or abandoned, but while many talking polar bears are depicted, the work never takes the opportunity to give the opinion of a polar bear mother.

I read a review copy from the publisher.