|" * * *
* * , * * "
|* * * *||Weather: State of exigency|
|VOL. V. ... No. 4||-- SPRING 1986 --||INTERVERNAL EDITION|
Trinity begins in London, where you are a tourist determined to enjoy the last day of your $599 vacation, despite ominous rumblings from the superpowers. But the peaceful ambience of a summer morning quickly turns to horror as air raid sirens fill the air and a hydrogen bomb threatens the city with instant annihilation.
If you're clever, you'll escape through a mysterious white door into a magical garden filled with curious artifacts and overgrown with gigantic toadstools. But this hauntingly beautiful landscape is only the starting point of your journey. You've discovered a twilight world in which every atomic explosion that has ever occured is inexplicably connected; and you'll need to explore every inch of it, crisscrossing time and space, before you can understand and control its power.
Your quest will lead you from the Siberian tundra to a tropical island, from deep underground to the depths of outer space. The chilling climax takes place in the New Mexico desert, where you'll arrive minutes before the most fateful experiment of all time: the world's first atomic explosion, code-named Trinity.
Trinity blends fantasy and realism to bring you an otherworldly experience somewhere between Alice in Wonderland and The Twilight Zone. Although author Brian Moriarty conducted extensive research to ensure the accuracy of locations and events, at no time are you completely in reality. Even at the Trinity site, magical things can happen.
As the first puzzle-oriented game to be written with Infocom's Interactive Fiction Plus development system, Trinity has more of all the things Infocom fans have grown to know and love. There are dozens of challenges, nearly 600 objects and locations, and a vocabulary of over 2100 words. Interactive Fiction Plus doubles the potential size of a program, allowing for larger, richer stories and more sophisticated user interfaces.
To get you started, the Trinity package includes a copy of The Illustrated Story of the Atom Bomb. This historical comic book fills you in on the facts behind the fantasy, as well as providing valuable clues to the puzzles in the story. Also included are an intricately decorated punch-out sundial, a detailed map of the Trinity site, and instructions for folding a paper bird.
Trinity is Brian Moriarty's second work of interactive fiction, following the record-breaking bestseller Wishbringer. Geared to the standard-level player, Trinity will be available in June for most personal computers with at least 128K of memory. It will carry a suggested retail price of $39.95.
So, we're looking for a new name for * * * . If you have a suggestion (The New Zork Post is right out), send it to * * * , Infocom, Inc., 125 CambridgePark Drive, Cambridge, MA 02140.
The winner will receive a subscription to The New York Times or the newspaper of his or her choice. Now that you know the difference, we're sure that your choice will be * * * . We apologize to the millions of people who bought The New York Times hoping to receive * * * . Entries must be received by August 15, 1986, and become the property of Infocom, Inc. (We reserve the right to come up with our own name, if we think yours are all terrible, but we'll award the prize to the least bad entry if that happens.)
You might be asking: Why do I need a database? Well, sometimes you want to file the same information in more than one way. That's when a relational database can save you time, effort, and a lot of headaches.
For example, in the Public Relations office here at Infocom, we keep a copy of every article published about the company or our products. These are filed by publication in several large file cabinets. It's easy to learn what Time magazine has said about Infocom, but finding every review of Planetfall involves hours of searching through file folders. Setting up an articles file on Cornerstone, with each article listed by title, author, subject, publication, and date, lets us easily access every review of Planetfall, every article by a given freelance author, or even articles we remember only by title or date of publication. Cornerstone tells us exactly where to find what we want, so it's easy to go back into the file cabinet and pull it out.
In Pittsburgh, Congregation Beth Shalom has found a very different use for Cornerstone: it keeps track of the Congregation members and their 80,000 gravesite cemetery. Quite recently, the records for the cemetery alone filled an entire wall of filing cabinets. To give you an idea of what Cornerstone can do with the information on thousands of pieces of paper, here's how Bruce Weimer, man of many talents in the Congregation office, arranged his.
Bruce took full advantage of Cornerstone's relational abilities when setting up Beth Shalom's database. He filed names, addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, and other general information (including membership in Beth Shalom's many organizations) for each member of the congregation, so it's easy to produce mailing labels for general or specific purposes. High holiday appeals and billings and building fund pledges and payments are recorded, using Cornerstone both to produce mailing labels and to track contributions. Beth Shalom's Cornerstone also maintains listings and billing for the Book of Remembrance, a memorial book.
Here's but one example of how this wealth of information can be used. Since marital status is also recorded, Cornerstone's data arithmetic could calculate the ages of all single members, pulling out the names of those between 21 and 30. Mailing labels could then be printed out for invitations to a Young Singles Dance. It's a matchmaker's delight!
For those at the other end of life's journey, the cemetery part of Beth Shalom's database tracks cemetery sections and costs, plot owners, and individual gravesites. Using Cornerstone, information is readily available on the owner of a given plot; when it was purchased and paid for; who is buried there and when the burials took place; whether reservations have been made for other family members; which company installed the monument and when; and what types of plantings or floral arrangements have been ordered and paid for, and the care they need.
Again, this information can be used in many different ways. For example, it would be easy to find out how many gravesites are still available and where they are located, as well as to categorize them by cost. This information could then be sent to current owners, as well as to Congregation members who have not yet reserved a gravesite. And Cornerstone's "tickler" file can be used to remind the Beth Shalom office when to expect a monument installation, and send out a second billing, or order a floral arrangement for a perpetual-care plot.
Maybe you don't manage a Public Relations office or a cemetery. But almost everyone manages information of some sort, whether at home or at work. Do you ever find yourself making 6 copies of the company report on snack machine vendors in order to file it in 6 different places? Or looking through hundreds of index cards for your 1983 Phalaenopsis germination records? Or wishing that you had some way of cataloging your stamp collection as well as the names, addresses, and trustworthiness of your rare stamp suppliers? Or trying to figure out which of the 700 members of your Zippy the Pinhead fan club haven't yet paid their dues? If any of these aggravations sound familiar, then you need Cornerstone.
Berez read a tone poem drawn from the purple prose of several Interactive Fiction stories, and Levy responded with a (clean) limerick.
The bride wore a veil made from five yards of nylon net, and carried artificial flowers. Both bride and groom wore looks of bemused surprise.
After a honeymoon at Aragain Falls, the newly merged couple will maintain their separate product development and marketing facilities in Mountain View, CA, and Cambridge, MA. (i.e. We'll still be the Infocom you know and love.)
Queried about graphics in Interactive Fiction stories, or better parsers in Little Computer People, the happy couple declined comment, but smiled enigmatically.
In the past, victims of this crippling condition have been unable to enjoy all the pleasures and treasures that life has to offer -- namely, Fooblitzky. Fooblitzky, Infocom's unique graphic strategy game, has been available only through mail order. If postaphobics attempt to purchase anything via mail order, they are sent into a terrifying tailspin. Their anxiety attack is of such great proportion that nothing short of a frontal lobotomy will relieve their condition. Therefore, they have been forced to lead empty lives, devoid of the wondrous experience of Fooblitzky ownership.
And what a wondrous experience it is! We asked people who were fortunate enough to be capable of buying Fooblitzky to express their feelings about it. Here's just a sampling of their responses:
It's the best multi-player game ever to come around! It's fun, exciting, enjoyable, enthralling, fantastic, and great. --Jeff, age 15Basically, people's experiences with Fooblitzky confirmed what we have always believed: Fooblitzky is a great game. It reminds people of classic board games like Clue® and Mastermind. It's a challenging strategy game with fun graphics. It's a competitive game which promotes social interaction between players. It's a perfect family game, one that young and old can play together. It's enjoyed by males and females alike. It's a game that even computer-haters can love!
Even my wife likes this game, and she hates my computer. --Carl, age 26
My brother and I played this today for about 2½ hours -- we laughed, cried, and generally had a great time!! The graphics are fabulous. Keep up the great work!! --Sarah-Ann, age 41
Good family involvement game -- favorite of my 11-year-old daughter. --Edward, age 38
Having confirmed our belief in its greatness, we knew we must embark on a crusade to make Fooblitzky available to every man, woman, and child in the free world who owns or has access to an IBM PC/XT/AT (with 128K, graphics card, and preferably a composite monitor), or an Atari XL/XE (with 48K and 810 or 1050 disk drive), or an Apple II plus/IIe/IIc (with 128K), and at least $39.95 of disposable income. As part of this crusade, we are now making Fooblitzky available through retail channels, thereby ending one of the greatest discomforts that postaphobics have had to suffer. With Fooblitzky painlessly available at their local software dealer, victims of postaphobia need no longer be deprived of the joys of Fooblitzky ownership.
Bringing Fooblitzky to the postaphobics is just the beginning of a long, long crusade. There are still many more computer owners that need to be united with this unique game. For example, people who do not subscribe to * * * * might not be aware of Fooblitzky. Or this might be the perfect Infocom game for the few lost souls who don't care for interactive fiction. So please join us in our crusade. We need your help. Spread the news of Fooblitzky -- because a thing of beauty is meant to be shared.
ENIAC's anniversary has gotten tremendous amounts of attention from the computer-related press. Ignored in all the hoopla, however, are some other great machines of the late 1940s that helped usher in the computer age:
MAINEEAC. A powerful computer, but given to odd, unexplainable errors. Here's a typical example. Programmer: "MAINEEAC, what is the sum of 3 and 5?" MAINEEAC: "I'm going to butcher your entire family, starting with your baby sister."
EENIE-MEENIE-MYNIE-MOENIAC. Designed to use simple algorithms to make choices between equally good possibilities, this computer never performed satisfactorily. Its selections always seemed to be random, or based on algorithms beyond the understanding of its programmers. Also, it was prone to holler "Ollie Ollie Oxen Free" for no apparent reason.
KADILAC. The classiest of computers, more powerful than any of its contemporaries. Occupying fifteen floors of an office building in Detroit, KADILAC could go from 0 to 60 instructions in just seven seconds, but used an extraordinary amount of electricity to operate. A smaller version of the machine, PONTIAC, was also a disappointment.
CATARAC. An early artificial intelligence experiment, CATARAC was the first computer designed to "see." Its built-in camera would analyze objects in attempt to identify them. Unfortunately, the lens was prone to fog, causing wildly erroneous identifications. A military-sponsored program, CATARAC was dismantled in 1967 after it identified a visiting Five Star General as Leon Trotsky.
BIGMAC. The first of the big computers built for practical purpose, BIGMAC was designed to plan the menu at several government cafeterias. Too many programmer-cooks spoiled the brew; BIGMAC formulated meals consisting entirely of carbohydrates, and the project was eventually scrapped amidst a flurry of finger-pointing.
NEKROFILIAC, NYMFOMANIAC, and AFRODEEZIAC. This trio of computers were funded jointly by Masters and Johnson, the U.S. Air Force, and Paramount Pictures. No results from this experimental project were ever published, but whispered rumors indicated that the interactions between the three machines were "intriguing."
CULDESAC. The research leading up to this computer seemed promising, but turned out to be a dead end.
These are just a handful of the electronic marvels built by the pioneers of the computer revolution. Many others have also carved their niche into silicon history: TARMAC, LILAC, BIVOUAC, KARDIAC, BRIKABRAC, ZODIAC, HEMOFILIAC, and INSOMNIAC.
Yes, in paving the way toward the computers of today, ENIAC was definitely an important paving stone -- but let us not forget the other stones that also line that road.
Did you notice dramatic competition of bold black against the wash of white? The soothing flow of the lines that lend, if you will, an almost musical quality? The hypnotic play of light glinting from the whetted edge of the axe blade? And ah -- the face! What drama lies therein! Intense emotion emits from the eyes, their gaze searing the onlooker like fiery embers. The twisted mouth, while baring its lethal fangs, seems to form yet a whispered plea for sympathy, understanding, perhaps even love.... Truly a noteworthy objet d'art -- tasteful, and yes, beautiful in its simplicity, yet poetic and equally beautiful in its emotional complexity.
Look, I'm talking about that dude in the lower left-hand corner. Yeah, that stick thing. And quit calling him Mr. Salty, the pretzel man! It's a troll -- okay?! If you think you can do a better job, then go ahead!
Come on -- I mean it! Let's see what you can do. In fact, if you can do a better job than I -- or anyone else -- then I'll put your design on the next * * * envelope. Yeah, that's it! I'll even give you a free Infocom story of your choice. Yeah, we'll have a contest!
So this is what you do: Come up with a design that will fit on an 8½" x 5½" envelope, allowing enough room for an address and postage (and Infocom's return address if it's not part of your design). Draw it in black ink on a clean, unfolded sheet of white paper. Then send it along with your name, your address, the title and computer compatibility of the Infocom game you'd like to win, to:
Infocom, Inc.The best design will appear on the next * * * envelope, and the artist will win the Infocom game of his or her choice. Sorry, but artwork will not be returned. All artwork becomes the property of The Frobozz Gallery of Art.
125 CambridgePark Drive
Cambridge, MA 02140
* * * * Reader Poll #1
Name: _____________________________________________________________ Address: __________________________________________________________ City: _______________________________________ State: _____________ Zip: _____________ Phone: (______)________________________________ Age: _______ Sex: _______ Occupation: ___________________________ Computer brand and model: _________________________________________
|On the average, how many hours
per month do you use your
computer for entertainment?
|On the average, how many hours
per month do you play Infocom
Title Completed? Title Completed? 1. ______________________ ____ 11. ______________________ ____ 2. ______________________ ____ 12. ______________________ ____ 3. ______________________ ____ 13. ______________________ ____ 4. ______________________ ____ 14. ______________________ ____ 5. ______________________ ____ 15. ______________________ ____ 6. ______________________ ____ 16. ______________________ ____ 7. ______________________ ____ 17. ______________________ ____ 8. ______________________ ____ 18. ______________________ ____ 9. ______________________ ____ 19. ______________________ ____ 10. ______________________ ____ 20. ______________________ ____In order, which 3 Infocom games were ...
... your favorite? ... your least favorite? 1. _____________________________ 1. _____________________________ 2. _____________________________ 2. _____________________________ 3. _____________________________ 3. _____________________________ ... the most difficult? ... the easiest? 1. _____________________________ 1. _____________________________ 2. _____________________________ 2. _____________________________ 3. _____________________________ 3. _____________________________Listed below are various aspects of an Infocom interactive fiction game. By circling the appropriate number, please indicate how important each aspect is to your enjoyment of the game.
Very Not Important Important Puzzles ........................... 1 2 3 4 5 Character interaction ............. 1 2 3 4 5 Exploration and mapping ........... 1 2 3 4 5 Descriptive prose ................. 1 2 3 4 5 Humor ............................. 1 2 3 4 5 Storyline ......................... 1 2 3 4 5 Packaging ......................... 1 2 3 4 5 Attention to detail ............... 1 2 3 4 5Below is a list of current and potential categories of Infocom interactive fiction stories. Please indicate your level of interest in each.
Very Not Interested Interested Fantasy ........................... 1 2 3 4 5 Science Fiction ................... 1 2 3 4 5 Mystery ........................... 1 2 3 4 5 Tales of Adventure ................ 1 2 3 4 5 Comedy ............................ 1 2 3 4 5 Romance ........................... 1 2 3 4 5 Western ........................... 1 2 3 4 5 Intrigue (Spy) .................... 1 2 3 4 5 Horror ............................ 1 2 3 4 5 Historical ........................ 1 2 3 4 5 Any others? ______________________________________________________What are your favorite non-Infocom adventure games?
1. _______________________________________________________________ 2. _______________________________________________________________ 3. _______________________________________________________________Please use the space below to tell us how you think we could improve our games. Is there anything we should change or add to our games -- perhaps some aspect from one of the non-Infocom games you mentioned above? Your comments are greatly appreciated. Use additional pages if needed.
__________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________Please clip out or photocopy this form and mail to:
* * * Reader Poll #1
125 CambridgePark Drive
Cambridge, MA 02140
Help, I think I'm possessed! I used to be a nice suburban housewife, mother of three, PTA president, you know the type. Now, I'm an INFO-MANIAC.
How bad is it? All right, I'll tell you how bad it is. The other day I was in a computer store watching a salesperson demonstrate the new Atari 520 ST. Big deal, you say; well, read on. "Impressive machine," I remarked, "but what about software?" The salesperson hesitatingly pointed to a small glass cabinet nearby. I casually walked over to the case. "Oh, Infocom games, how nice," I said. Just then, it caught my eye: a strange new title called A Mind Forever Voyaging. A rush of excitement came over me. But alas, after reading the packaging, I realized that this new Infocom game could only be played on machines with 128K like that new computer over there, and not on my old klunker at home. Which up until now, by the way, was my pride and joy. "I'll take it!" I shouted. Out came my checkbook, and within moments I was on my way home with my new computer and, best of all, my new Infocom game. WAIT...
There I was, all set up and ready to boot, when my husband walked in the door. "Oh, look, dear," I said lovingly. "I bought a new Infocom game." He eyed the huge mass sitting on the kitchen table and said, "Infocom really outdid themselves on packaging this time. By the way, hon, did you remember the bread?" * DARK *
P.S. I was disappointed to see that your new game, Fooblitzky, isn't available for the Atari ST. I really did buy it, you know. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to play it on the old klunker.
Dear Sirs [sic]:
Just a quick note to let you know that you at Infocom have among other things inspired romance. We are newlyweds who are spending our honeymoon playing Spellbreaker. This is in keeping with the fact that we were just lone Zorkers until we accidentally met in the G.U.E. while trying to vanquish the cyclops.
After Zork® I we tackled the rest of the series, and Enchanter® and Sorcerer. When Wishbringer arrived we were engaged. Spellbreaker is keeping us busy and is much better than a boring trip across Flathead Ocean.
By the way, 2 copies of the * * * now reach our room. Perhaps you could speak to the delivery boy. He only comes at night when it is very dark. (Is he a grue?) Thank you for giving us a chance to share our common goals (how to get past the cyclops, open the egg, etc.) and having something great develop from it all as well.
Scott and Darbi Henderson,
Los Angeles, CA
To whom it may concern:
I am an avid (rabid?) fan of your games, and have been trying (unsuccessfully) to get my trembling hands on a copy of the new game Spellbreaker. This poem expresses my frustration of not being able to get one.
What? No Spellbreaker?
The Zorks are great, Deadline®'s neat;
Planetfall's Floyd just can't be beat.
Infidel®'s rat pits are a pain,
And Cutthroats' treasure is hard to gain.
Enchanter's fun and really cool,
For Sorcerer I was glad to go to Magic School.
But when I feel I can be no greater
I hear a new test -- Spellbreaker!
In anticipation, my robe I don
To the software store my body's drawn.
I search the aisles, search the walls,
For any hope it's in these walls.
With cash in hand I hope to pay
Only to find out (gasp!) they're out this day!
Jake M. Wark,
I started my quest
Deciding to go north, south, east, and west.
I made it past the troll with the axe,
Who tried to kill me with pretty big hacks.
I know I'm one of the few
Who didn't get eaten by a grue.
Despite all my pleasures
I got all the treasures
And even killed the crook
Because I bought the hint book.
Los Angeles, CA
I felt that your game A Mind Forever Voyaging was quite a disappointment, primarily because it was much too easy for an advanced-level game.
A Mind Forever Voyaging had hardly any challenge. There were only one or two real puzzles, and the rest of the game seemed to be devoted only to exploration. The overall plot, the puzzle in Part III, and the prose were all very well done, but the rest of the game seemed to be somewhat meaningless. I fondly recall the old days of Zork and Deadline, in which the player's brain could really get a workout.
Your rating system also seems to have a few serious flaws. A Mind Forever Voyaging is only one example of this. How could you rate Zork I to be easier than both Zork II and Zork III? I feel that it was by far the hardest of the three.
Although I was let down by A Mind Forever Voyaging, I have enjoyed most of your other games. I am looking forward to Spellbreaker, and hope that it will live up to its level.
Chapel Hill, NC
You're right: A Mind Forever Voyaging has only a few puzzles, and most of the game is devoted to exploration. We decided to call AMFV advanced-level because we didn't think it was a good game for a first-timer. The concept of AMFV is more complicated than in most games. For instance, sometimes you simulate a human being, other times you're a computer (and when you're a computer, you have specialized commands unique to AMFV); you travel forward in time, but only in your "computer imagination." In short, we felt someone who had already "experienced" interactive fiction would appreciate AMFV more than a novice. It wasn't intended to be a brain teaser like most of our other games, but rather a thought-provoking exploration of a sobering future world. We're glad you enjoyed the plot and prose, anyway.
As for the "other" flaws in our rating system, we admit a certain imprecision. Surely you recognize how subjective ratings must be. Even though you found Zork I harder than Zork II or Zork III, you're in the minority. (That doesn't mean you're "wrong" and we're "right.") The rating system is meant merely as a guideline. If you want to know more about a game, read the synopsis on the back of the package. It should give you a pretty good idea whether the game has lots of puzzles, or has other characters in it, or is "story-like." --Ed.
Every cartoonist whose work is printed in * * * * receives a free Infocom game of his or her choice. If you'd like to try winning a game, send us your cartoon drawn in black ink on white, unlined paper. No pencil or colors, and please don't fold your cartoon! All submissions become the property of Infocom, Inc. Send your entries to * * * Cartoons, Infocom, Inc., 125 CambridgePark Drive, Cambridge, MA 02140. Include a separate sheet of paper with your name and address, as well as the title of the game you'd like to win, and the computer system it should run on.
"You want to go where?"
"Albuquerque." I hoped this would be easy. "Halfway between Los Alamos and White Sands. The National Atomic Museum is there, and I've been talking to this professor at UNM who -- "
"Great. Go." Marc Blank was never one to mince words.
A month later I was easing a brand new T-Bird out of the Hertz lot at Albuquerque International Airport, ready to start researching my next interactive fiction title, Trinity. Those long, empty roads I'd seen from the window of my jet made me insist on something with cruise control. Air conditioning isn't optional in New Mexico, especially around mid-July.
I drove north for two hours on 25, New Mexico's central artery. It winds between the blue mountains and brown arroyos, past quiet Indian reservations and the shopping malls of Santa Fe, to the foothills of the Jemez mountains. From there I began to climb west.
How can I describe the landscape? The colorful mesas, rugged hills and forests are profoundly old and silent; there is nothing in New England to compare with them. I drove for miles without seeing another car, house, or any sign of human habitation. Just when I was certain I'd missed a turn and lost myself in Colorado, a McDonald's flashed by.
"New in town?" The girl ringing up my postcards sounded like she really wanted to know. New Mexicans take small talk very seriously.
"Just visiting," I replied, fighting to suppress my Boston accent. "Isn't there supposed to be a museum around here?"
"There's a big one down at the Lab," she drawled, gesturing through the window of the drug store. "Just follow the signs."
"The Lab" is Los Alamos National Laboratory, announced by a sign that stretches like a CinemaScope logo along the fortified entrance. One of the nation's leading centers of nuclear weapons research. The birthplace of the atomic bomb.
The Bradbury Museum occupies a tiny corner in the acres of buildings, parking lots, and barbed wire fences that comprise the Laboratory. Its collection includes scale models of the very latest in nuclear warheads and guided missiles. You can watch on a computer as animated neutrons blast heavy isotopes to smithereens. The walls are adorned with spectacular color photographs of fireballs and mushroom clouds, each respectfully mounted and individually titled, like great works of art.
I watched a teacher explain a neutron bomb exhibit to a group of schoolchildren. The exhibit consists of a diagram with two circles. One circle represents the blast radius of a conventional nuclear weapon; a shaded ring in the middle shows the zone of lethal radiation. The other circle shows the relative effects of a neutron bomb. The teacher did her best to point out that the neutron bomb's "blast" radius is smaller, but its "lethal" radius is proportionately much larger. The benefit of this innovation was not explained, but the kids listened politely.
It isn't clear whether visitors are allowed to visit the adjoining Oppenheimer Library or not. The building stands behind a high fence with signs hinting an awful fate for unauthorized personnel. But the gate was open, and the Lab employees eating lunch under the trees were unarmed. So I stepped inside and roamed the stacks for hours. Nobody questioned my presence, and I drove away from Los Alamos without being shot.
Albuquerque's National Atomic Museum is a different story. It's right in the middle of Kirtland Air Force Base. You have to stop at a security shack and persuade a very young man with a crewcut to issue a visitor's permit. This valuable document gives you the right to proceed to the Museum by the most direct route possible, but with no stopping on the way. Cameras are forbidden outside the Museum grounds, and they can search you or your car if they decide they don't like you. I didn't bother locking the T-Bird as I went in.
A third of the exhibit space is devoted to "Energy Horizons," featuring a solar TV set and other equally arresting wonders. The rest of the Museum looks a lot like its counterpart at Los Alamos, except that the missiles are even bigger and more numerous. One of the four H-bombs they accidentally dropped over Spain in the 1960s is on display, still wrapped in its silk parachute like a naughty baby.
After the Museum closed I took Ferenc Szasz and his family out to dinner. Professor Szasz teaches history at the University of New Mexico, and had just published a book about the testing of the first atomic bomb. As we shook hands he grinned at me mischievously. "Ever had real Mexican food?"
We drove to a place in Old Town, Albuquerque's historic district near the river's edge. I ordered an obscure chicken dish, and the waiter asked me if I wanted it served Mild, Medium, or Hot. Szasz grinned again.
The waiter looked up from his pad. "Have you eaten here before?"
I cleared my throat, determined to know the worst. "Hot."
It wasn't too bad. I had to eat very slowly, and convince myself that I was savoring the food instead of tolerating it. But I think the Professor was impressed. He'd ordered his Medium.
The alarm in my Albuquerque hotel room went off at 5:00 AM on Tuesday, the 16th of July. I wanted to go outside and learn what the desert air felt like at that time of day. The sun was still behind the mountains to the east; the sky was gray and lightly overcast, much as it had been on that same morning in 1945. At 5:29:45 I turned my eyes to the south, across the airport, and wondered what I might have seen at that precise instant 40 years earlier.
Trinity Site is located in Jornada del Muerto, "the Journey of Death," a barren stretch of high desert that lies within the jurisdiction of White Sands Missile Range. The Site is normally open to the public only one day each year, the first Saturday in October. But in May I got a hot tip from a White Sands official, who told me they were planning to open the Site for five hours on July 16th to commemorate the 40th anniversary.
The drive from Albuquerque to White Sands takes a couple of hours. At nine o'clock sharp the Army opened the Stallion Gate on the northern boundary of the Missile Range. I was near the beginning of the caravan of cars that began to snake down the paved road, into the desert. Twenty miles later, I caught my first glimpse of Ground Zero.
There is no crater to speak of. The bomb was fired from the top of a hundred-foot tower, too high to dig much of a hole. Instead, there's a shallow depression, a quarter mile across, where the desert floor caved in under thousands of tons of pressure. Slap your palm hard on a piece of styrofoam. Whack! That's what it looks like.
The whole area is enclosed by a chain link fence. Yellow signs warn of radioactivity ten to fifteen times higher than normal. I left the T-Bird in the dusty parking area and joined a growing retinue of sightseers for the last, long walk across the sand.
What monument could do justice to that fateful experiment? Events and people of far less significance are commemorated by mighty pyramids and heroic statues. Yet the simple stone obelisk at Ground Zero is effective in its understatement. When you look around at the vast, timeless desert that stretches away in every direction, it's easy to imagine the hopes of all generations, past and future, balanced on that spot. To visit Trinity is to stand at the fulcrum of history.
The reaction of the crowd was mixed. Many felt ripped off; I think they expected a glowing, smoke-filled canyon, inhabited by mutated jackrabbits the size of buffalo. Others, myself among them, just stood looking at the monument, lost in thought. A few actually wept.
All the major networks were running around with TV cameras, interviewing anyone who looked interesting. Children combed the ground for bits of "trinitite," a green, glassy substance composed of sand that was fused in the stellar heat of the blast. A man kept running a Geiger counter around the base of the obelisk, and turned up the volume so that everyone could hear the steady tick, tick, tick.
The Army ran shuttle buses from Ground Zero to a small ranch house about two miles southeast. Once it was a private home, owned by the McDonald family, until it was appropriated (ahem) by the Manhattan Project for the final assembly of the bomb. The people who felt ripped off at Ground Zero got really annoyed at the ranch, as there is nothing to see except a cluster of small rooms, all alike, and all completely empty.
My last morning in New Mexico was spent at the Rio Grande Zoo. Very tasteful. The shady walkways almost make you forget the heat of the surrounding city.
I wandered slowly past the monkey houses and prairie dogs, lingering at the seal pool and the yak pen, until I came at last to a big cage filled with cacti. A gray bird was perched inside, sleek and fast-looking, with sharp eyes and a long tail splashed with color.
"I'm gonna make you a star," I whispered.
The roadrunner blinked at me, and pretended not to understand.
OPEN 1,8,15,"U0>M0"(Note that 0 = zero.)
Derived_attrib = Attrib_1 + Attrib_2 + Attrib_3Derived_attrib will only be computed if there is a value in Attrib_1 and Attrib_2 and Attrib_3; if any one of these attributes is blank, then Derived_attrib will be blank. If you don't want this to occur, a possible way to prevent it is to define an initial value for all attributes that will be used in the derivation expression. This initial value could be zero if it's being used in addition derivations, or a one if it's being used in multiplication derivations.
We received millions, maybe billions (actually dozens) of adventurous tall tales, all claiming to be "true." As we read the tales, the word "truth" kept coming to mind (as in "There's not one shred of truth here" or "Doesn't anyone tell the truth anymore?"). Space (and credibility) considerations prevent us from printing the winning tales in their entirety, but here are some excerpts:
"Dr. Kreigschmidt had built rocket engines in one side of the planet Mars so that at 12:01 a.m. on the 12th of April, he could crash Mars into earth!"
"He grabs m' shirt an' says, 'Wanna hear a good frog joke?'"
"The creature fell dead in my foyer. I went to my study, and left the butler to clean up the mess."
"The monk offered me some of his dry crackers and some thin chocolate milk, but as a true adventurer I stayed on a staple of gazelle jerky and plover eggs."
"I came out into a strange world. The people have two arms, but only one head. Cows eat grass. How can I get home?"
"A warrior hurled a spear at me. I grabbed it and hurled it back, killing the chief. I rowed to the other side of the island and climbed up a mountain. The tribe came after me, but I started an avalanche which killed them all."
"I found a secret entrance. I knew it was a secret entrance because of my quick eyes, and the sign that said 'Secret Entrance.'"
"Rain is sort of like boredom liquefied."
"The catfish shot three miles downriver in four seconds; the wave obliterated several towns. Around hairpin loops roared the maddened mudsucker, plowing through sandbars, ripping down bridges. Cities flashed by like bugs on the highway."
Congratulations to the 10 winners of the True Tales of Adventure contest, who have each won the Infocom game of his or her choice. The winners are: H. Goodman, New York, NY; Nina Karp, Needham, MA; Monte Mitzelfelt, Knoxville, TN; Richard Nathan, Los Angeles, CA; Rhett Newman, Charlestown, Australia; Nafiz Rahman, Norwell, MA; David Thornley, St. Paul, MN; Robert Uyeyama, San Jose, CA; Douglas Wellington, Glen Rock, NJ; and Joshua N. Winn, Deerfield, IL.
The Cornerstone Book, written by Laura Buddine and published by Addison-Wesley, will be available in August. It contains twenty Cornerstone applications in over 250 pages, and costs $14.95. Look for it in your local computer or book store, or order it from Infocom. The Cornerstone Book contains the Official Infocom Softball Team Statistics application, as well as more prosaic (or even useful) items: everything from a Personnel system to a Time and Billing system.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy won the Family Computing award for Best Text-Only Adventure.
A Mind Forever Voyaging and Trinity (our two Interactive Fiction Plus games) are now available on the Commodore 128.
Many more titles are now available on the Tandy Color Computer, including Zork I, Zork II, and Ballyhoo.
Zork I is again available for the TRS-80 Model III!
Two Infocom products have been nominated for Software Publishing Association awards: Cornerstone for Best Packaging and A Mind Forever Voyaging for Best New World.
Playboy named Zork I the best computer game (February 1986).
Antic magazine's "Outstanding Product Award" was won by Infocom, for the whole Interactive Fiction line (May 1986).
Hot off the wire: Huey Lewis and the Gnus will be giving a special concert at the Gazebo in the Formal Garden. Their warm-up band is rumored to be a surprise reunion of The Animals.
Pepsi, in response to Coke's recent marketing ploy, is announcing Gnu Pepsi. Copies of the secret formula were leaked to this reporter, and among the ingredients will be gnu's milk (not grue's milk as previously reported by our Witchville reporter).
Did you know that:
Until now I wasn't crazy enough to even think of cutting out the middleman (Infocom) and selling direct to the public. But now I'm just crazy enough to do it. Yes, my lawyers and accountants are calling me insane, and maybe that's the defense I'll use when Infocom hauls me into court; but now, for a limited time only, while our excessive supplies last, here's what I have to sell:
As seen on the cover of Wishbringer, this poster shows the hands of an excessively over-paid male model cupping the purple glowing Wishbringer stone. This unusual and striking piece of art is the perfect addition to any home. Imagine the imagined warmth you'll feel staring at its serene purple glow. This 22 x 26-inch masterwork is available for the demented low price of only $5.95. Buy two!
Here is a poster with a bang. This 16 x 20-inch poster is the original artwork for the cover of the Trinity package. It features a sundial backlit by a nuclear explosion. This one's my favorite because I just love excessively large explosions. You could even order the poster the same time you order the game, and enjoy them at the same time. These posters are only $5.95 each! Be really excessive and buy three!
Some other common mistakes: for number 2, omitting Rick's last name. For number 4, James Bond, Doctor Who, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers. For number 7, Godzilla and Mighty Joe Young.
An interesting new statistic is the number of entries submitted on photocopies of the entry form. A lot of people must save their issues, because 184 entries (44%) were photocopied. Correct entries were more likely to be photocopied than incorrect entries (52% versus 34%).
We decided to allow photocopied entries because people complained that they were being forced to cut up their issues. However, a small number of people seem to be taking advantage of the new rule by sending in large numbers of photocopied entries for the spouses, children, second cousins, and pets. Therefore, we're adding another puzzle rule to help limit this practice: each entry must be mailed separately.
Overall, people seem to enjoy this puzzle quite a bit. We'll probably do a slightly harder version of the same concept in a future puzzle.
The 25 T-shirt winners were randomly chosen from the 228 correct entrants. They are:
I am pleased to find that Infocom is not perfect. In Puzzle Number 9, question number 2, you had the name Louis Renaut. In fact it is actually Renaud who is portrayed by Claude Rains in Casablanca. Thank you for your time.
Lake Havasu City, AZ
The * * * stands by its spelling. --Ed.
Dear Sirs [sic]:
I have enjoyed this puzzle [number 9] more than others I have seen in the * * * , because I have not yet had a chance to get ALL the Infocom games, and thus am at a decided disadvantage in that respect.
However, I have greatly enjoyed all the ones I have seen, both for their wit and their logic (or lack thereof).
Based on the popularity of Puzzle 9, there will certainly be more puzzles in the future that aren't dependent on knowledge of Infocom's interactive fiction. --Ed.
Alas! I didn't receive my latest * * * until Monday, February 24th (our mail is delivered by yak). Thus the tardiness of my contest entry. I hope you will accept it anyhow.
P.S. Thanks for the change of pace. I suspect there are many of us who would lose our jobs if we took the time to play ALL the Infocom games. The * * * puzzles seem to have been getting more encyclopedic and less fun as the number of games has grown.
Your mail is tardy because it's delivered by yaks? But according to a recent yak fact I saw somewhere, yaks can travel over 7000 miles in a single day. That seems considerably faster than the average U.S. mail carrier! --Ed.
Puzzle Research Dept.:
The situation described in question 7 of Puzzle Number 9 is incorrect. When Kong destroyed the subway train, he had not yet located Ann Darrow, and so he could not be carrying her.
Ah, but that's the wonder of interactive fiction! In countless showings of the movie version of King Kong, poor Kong had no choice; time after time he would escape from the theatre, then knock a few subway cars around, then grab Ann Darrow, then climb the Empire State Building... However, in our hypothetical interactive fiction version of King Kong, you (as Kong) can do whatever you want, in any order you choose, because (all together, class) "what happens next is up to you!" --Ed.
This puzzle is a reprise of one of the most popular puzzles we've done, * * * Puzzle Number Six. However, that puzzle was based on Zork I, and this puzzle is based on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Below are thirteen alleged responses from Hitchhiker's. Actually, only eleven of them are really in the game; two of them are fakes. Imposters. To win, simply write down the letters corresponding to the two false responses. There are no tricks; for example, the fake responses are not simply real responses with one word changed.
There's another rule this month. A number of people took advantage of our new photocopy rule by sending huge numbers of photocopied entries in the same envelope, often with many different names but the same address. To prevent this, the new rule states that all entries must be mailed separately. We apologize for the inconvenience to those who legitimately send in their entries together.
ANSWER: ______ ______ Name: ___________________________________________________ Address: ________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ T-Shirt Size (S, M, L, XL): ______CONTEST RULES:
* * * Puzzle
125 CambridgePark Drive
Cambridge, MA 02140
|Writers||Gary Brennan, Mike Dornbrook,
Elizabeth Langosy, Dave Lebling, Steve
Meretzky, Brian Moriarty, Jonathan
Palace, Gayle Syska
|Production||Dave Anderson, Cynthia Curtis,
|Special thanks to||Andrea, Barry, Brian, Chris, Craig, Dave,
Elizabeth, George, Gina, Joe, John, Ken,
Linda, Mike, Nancy, Paul, Renata,
Richard, Rob, Ron, Stuart, Tara, Tim,
This issue is dedicated to our friend Phil Trabucco.
Zork, Enchanter, Deadline, The Witness, Starcross, Suspended, Planetfall, Infidel, and Seastalker are registered trademarks of Infocom, Inc. Trinity, Ballyhoo, Wishbringer, Sorcerer, Spellbreaker, Suspect, A Mind Forever Voyaging, Cutthroats, Fooblitzky, Cornerstone, Tales of Adventure, Interactive Fiction Plus, and InvisiClues are trademarks of Infocom, Inc. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a trademark of Douglas Adams. Clue is a registered trademark of Parker Bros. Mastermind is a trademark of Invicta Plastics.
Thanks to André St-Aubin for transcribing and HTML-izing this issue.