I’ve been looking for a worthy enough occasion to start a blog for a while, and now here one is: the IF Theory Reader has been published and can be ordered from today. It’s free to download as a PDF, and costs around $12 or £10 from the US or UK to have printed and delivered as a paperback.
My own article, Thinking Into the Box: On the Use and Deployment of Puzzles, was quite a late addition, despite being written nearly 10 years ago when the idea of the book was first put forward. Kevin Jackson-Mead revived the project last autumn and emailed all the original authors, but real life got in the way and by the time I finally replied in January, it was to apologise, as I assumed I was too late.
To my surprise, Kevin gave me 24 hours to revise and update the text for inclusion. It sounded easy enough, but I found to my dismay that the original draft, written when I was twenty (around the time of The Mulldoon Murders, I think), was not quite as sharp and insightful as I might have hoped. It was enthusiastic, sure, and peppered with some good ideas, but overall it didn’t entirely make sense.
I spent a happy five hours arguing with my younger self over classifications, causality and whether a pun justified an entire paragraph of set-up. Kevin then did an even-more-impressively-quick proofread. The result is a new version that stays true to the spirit of the old, but is hopefully tighter, more practical, and closer to being true.
It was an interesting task in light of how little puzzle-related work I’ve done recently; the Undum-based hypertexts I’ve been experimenting with have no puzzles at all. I’m sure my 20-year-old self would be appalled, but it did get me wondering about how to apply some of the puzzle methodology to a “visible-options” framework. I have a few demos as a result, half-finished, that show puzzles in play. I hope to tidy a few up and release them soon.
At any rate, it’s a pleasure to have something in the book, and be featured alongside 25 other articles by some greats of the IF community.