Sunday, November 17, 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure #8: Deadwood City

I'm heading back into the wild west, perhaps because I still had several Westworld jokes I wanted to make but didn't get a chance to because of an abrupt and lame "it was all a dream!" variant ending. No, I'm not falling into the horrible "theme" abyss where you eventually end up with "it's the 2nd of July, here's a book with a flag in it" and so on. Honest, that isn't happening.

Anyway, "Deadwood City" is unique for a few reasons. It's the first Choose Your Own Adventure book featuring an entirely historic setting with your character native to that setting and it's the first time the "you" avatar is depicted as female. Well, it is if you don't believe one reviewer who insists that you're actually a long-haired young male with feminine features, sort of like the guys in Nelson. Frankly this theory has about as much credibility as claiming Space and Beyond is anything but a pile of red-blanket baby space puke.

Almost as bad as the awful truth behind the "Look What the Cat Dragged In" album cover.

It's a single digit entry, so back-story is minimal. I'm a former cow-puncher who grew disillusioned with all the politics and HR betrayals and am now seeking fame and fortune in Deadwood City. Upon arriving, I notice the streets are empty, which suggests either a ruined economy that President Hayes blames on the polices of his predecessor or that there's going to be a showdown. Knowing the general themes found in this sort of story I doubt we're going to be discussing the ramifications of RutherfordCare, aka the Affordable Miracle Elixir Act.

Featuring the No Forehead Kid.

Since we're leaving no cliche unturned I decide to hit the saloon. I'm invited to a card game, but the loser must take on Kurt Malloy, the "King of the Outlaws" who seems pretty dangerous, even considering his total absence of frontal lobes. I'm gonna lose, it's for fools, but that's the way I like it. I'm given the choice to break up a pair of eights to draw for a flush, but since I just need  to avoid getting the worst hand I decline and some other guy loses and must commit proxy suicide via the criminal royalty descending on the town.

  The only card I need is...another eight???

With the loser presumably bleeding out a few dozen yards from the table, the game continues as if we haven't just condemned a man to die for no good reason and the "stakes" keep getting higher. No, this doesn't mean the next loser will be slowly tortured to death, instead it's big money, which, in fairness, is a much lower stake, really. Either way, I could "make a fortune!" or lose one. All right, all in.

I get a pair of Jacks and decide to bluff with it. Thanks to the "Too rich for my blood!" behavior of the other players I win big, but decide to quit instead of going "double or nothing." I was expecting righteous wild west adventures and not a poker simulator, after all.

"Welcome to Poker World, where nothing can possibly go wrong."

Everyone is jealous of my success, but all they're willing to do about it is mumble. Hate the game, not the player, guys. I decide to leave town and continue my tour of America's beautiful wastelands, sort of like a Clint Eastwood character but with no awesome violence, whip-murder dreams or failed hanging scars. So in other words, nothing like one. That's how the story ends, just wandering. Will I get a bib or go back to momma? The book doesn't say.

Not much else to say about this one. I managed to avoid all the interesting plot lines the author seemed to be setting up and did a lot of gambling. Since I still lack that particular addiction (one of the only ones I need to complete the full set, actually) it came off as rather lackluster. The historical setting was nice though, especially since it didn't appeal to supernatural forces or something dreary like that.

 "I'm comin' for you, Moses!"

Shill Section  

Aaron Zehner is the author of "Posts from the Underground," now available in paperback and e-book. Read a free excerpt here.

His first novel The Foolchild Invention is also available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

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