The Ice Man (CD-ROM)

by Hugh Noble

Format: CD-ROM

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This is an experimental interactive novel which is read from a CD using a computer. It is a hybrid between a conventional novel and a computer game. The reader is invited to explore an empty house, to delve into drawers and cabinets, unlock old boxes, find and examine collections of documents, diaries, letters and old photographs. He (or she - the gender of the reader is never revealed) can also choose to travel elsewhere, to interview witnesses. The sequence in which the evidence is examined, however, is dictated by reader-choice and as a consequence each 'solution' is, to some extent, unique. As each choice is made, a short narrative is provided and further choices are offered. All that is known at the outset, is that more than 50 years ago, on the 13th of August 1957, one of Britain's Antarctic research stations became radio silent. August is a winter month in Antarctica and since the base was one of the most southerly, no further contact was thought to be possible until the seas opened in spring. Two months later however, while the area was still ice-locked, one man from the base arrived at another some two hundred miles further north. The man was in distress. He had travelled, with sledge and dogs, across territory which had not (at that time) been explored and mapped. He had also made the journey at the worst possible time of year when rising temperatures were weakening the crevasse coverings and when spring storms were converting the sea-ice, (normally the favoured option for the polar traveller) into a death trap. He was exhausted and starving. He had a dislocated shoulder and was badly frost-bitten. He was also, (and somewhat mysteriously) reluctant to give more than the briefest of explanations about what had happened. It was established, however, that when he had started on this journey, he had not been alone. This is the story of that journey and why it was undertaken. It is not a clear and simple narrative however. It is several - each told through the clouded vision and uncertain memories of a person who was involved in some way. So you, the reader, must also undertake a journey. It is a journey with many branches and wrong turnings. Your destination, moreover, is not simply an explanation of what happened. You must also try to reach an understanding of the man himself and what drove him to this extraordinary effort. You feel there is a story to be told. But first you must do the research, find the letters, reports and eyewitness accounts that will help you piece it together. And you have another reason to be particularly interested in this man. He was your father. And that generates a vague awareness that there is a gap somewhere in your own past and that a full understanding of this man might be the only way to fill it. Various help facilities are offered and (if patience runs out), a 'cheat facility' provides a short cut to solution - but not necessarily, the solution. At various points in the narrative there are short pieces of sound-track - background music and a memorable recording of some 60 sledge dogs in a full-voice wolf-howl. Hugh Noble, the author writes from personal experience having spent some 18 months in Antarctica doing research on glaciers as a contribution to the International Geo-physical year on behalf of what is now The British Antarctic Survey.

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Tartan Hen Publications


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