The Bryant Collection

The Bryant Collection is an interactive anthology: a collection of ‘story worlds’ by Laura Bryant. They were found at a yard sale in an old strongbox. Five pieces of interactive fiction written by someone who never used a computer. It is interactive fiction, which means that the player types commands in text, and the game responds with text descriptions.

From my introductory post:

A few months ago, I found an old strongbox at a garage sale. It was part of the effects of a dead and long-forgotten relative of the folks holding the sale. It was weird enough that I felt I had to buy it. But I didn’t expect what I found when I got it home and managed to force it open.

The box was full of papers written by a woman named Laura Bryant. Through some letters in the box, I was able to figure out that she was born in the early 1940s. She worked as a middle-school English teacher, enjoyed Elvis, and wrote poetry. The majority of the stuff in the box, though, was a collection of what she called “story worlds.”

These story worlds are akin to interactive fiction or roleplaying games; they’re designed for one player and one mediator who serves as the parser or the game master. The earliest date on a story world in the box is 1964, which means these works predate Crowther and Woods’s Adventure, Dungeons & Dragons, or Wesely’s Braunstein. There’s no sign that Bryant ever got into computers, or was aware of her works’ similarities to interactive fiction, RPGs, and video games.

The Bryant Collection contains the five stories that I found the most interesting and feasible to convert to IF:

  • “The End of the World” is a story about lunch.
  • “Morning in the Garden” is a story about dealing with annoying people.
  • “Tower of Hanoi” is a rather interesting little puzzle, but not what you think. It came with a sort of feelie in the strongbox, which is included as an IF object.
  • “Going Home Again” is a story about growing up.
  • “Undelivered Love Letter” is a story about airports.

Download The Bryant Collection.

To play the .zblorb file, you will need a Z-machine interpreter, which is like a media player for interactive fiction. If you use Windows, I recommend Windows Frotz. If you use Mac OS X, I recommend Zoom. If you use Linux, I recommend the Linux version of Zoom.

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