Saturday, October 19, 2013

IFcomp 2013 Reviews-- "Our Boys in Uniform"

IFComp is an annual competition for short works of interactive fiction. "Our Boys in Uniform" is a story with a hypertext-like interface written by Megan Stevens. This is one of two games in this years competition which appears (from the blurb) to explore an anti-war theme. I am interested to read what Megan Stevens has to say on this theme.

"Our Boys in Uniform" is written from the perspective of a soldier who served in WWII, despite his personal objections to the war. Clicking on the various links in this narrative brings up the narrator's thoughts on other topics related to the war, politics and American society.

The tone, theme and writing style in "Our Boys in Uniform" all made me think of Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite 20th century authors. Indeed, I think if Kurt Vonnegut had been born fifty years later, he might have enjoyed writing in hypertext.  The characterization is so well done in this story, I wanted to follow every possible link and read the narrator's every word, something I don't always feel compelled to do in this format.

I reached an ending, eventually, where the author posts a disclaimer that she is not a holocaust denier. I think that disclaimer was unnecessary and detracts from the story. First, I got no impression that the character was a holocaust denier. Second, even if the character was a holocaust denier, that is no reflection on the author. (Tess Gerritsen need not disclaim that she is not a serial killer, even though she writes about serial killers).  Third, the disclaimer weakens the message of the narrative, that society must allow there will be honest opposition for even the most popular wars. "Holocaust denialism" represents a sort of dishonest opposition to a popular war, and one that ended long ago.

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