1998 was a banner year for interactive fiction, especially notable for three extraordinary works for adults, Spider and Web by Andrew Plotkin, Once and Future by Kevin Wilson, and “Photopia” by Adam Cadre. Plotkin had already established himself as one of the most brilliant of contemporary IF writers, but, with Spider and Web, he produced a story that many readers found more accessible than his earlier works, without sacrificing the complexity of his other stories. Wilson’s interactive novel, the first major commercial work of text-based IF in many years, told a richly detailed story, based on a compelling synthesis of the Arthurian legends and the Vietnam War. And “Photopia” won a major interactive fiction competition, pushing the notion of “puzzle-free” interactive fiction to a new level, and deeply moving practically everyone who read it.
But fortunately for kids, the good news didn’t stop there. Bonnie Montogmery’s The Firebird, a great story for young and old, appeared in the same year.
The Firebird retells a famous Russian folk tale –the same tale that Stravinski used in his ballet–in an adventurous and often hilarious way. It offers puzzles that are fair, enjoyable, and not too difficult; and it gives the reader several possible ways to a favorable ending. In addition, it develops some memorable characters, especially the Firebird herself; raises interesting questions about the roles of women in fairy tales; and, perhaps, broadens our cultural horizons a bit.
You can download The Firebird and learn about running it on your local computer at the Interactive Fiction Database. You can learn more about downloading files and using interpreters in another part of this website, the part called “Acquiring Interactive Fiction.”
If you’d like to send email to Bonnie Montogomery, she would be glad to read your comments or answer your questions. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find a walkthrough and maps for The Firebird, using this link.