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You Will Select A Decision
February 8, 2013 1:12 PM   Subscribe

"In 1987, an anonymous team of computer scientists from the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic wrote a series of children's books based on the popular Choose Your Own Adventure series. The books were hastily translated into English and a small number were exported to America, but the CIA, fearing a possible Soviet mind control scheme, confiscated them all before they could be sold. Now declassified, the books have been lovingly converted to a digital hypertext format and put online for the English-speaking world to enjoy."
posted by Iridic (72 comments total) 123 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Suddenly your expert cow eye (used to rapidly count cows for your cow farming duties, and to locate truant cows, and to locate danger from natural cow predatures aproaching,) spots some movement behind a rock formations."

YES
posted by griphus at 1:19 PM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I like this set of choices:
"If you follow the bear immediately, turn to page 35.
If you follow the bear after some hesitation, wait for ten seconds and then turn to page 35."
posted by zachlipton at 1:20 PM on February 8, 2013 [69 favorites]


"Are you still reading this page? Naturally, it is because you continue to contemplate the choice. While you are in contemplation you find yourself jostled by the body of a man, which bumps into you. This type of jostling could well be the start of a brawl."

THE GREATEST THING
posted by Erasmouse at 1:20 PM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


"If you say yes, turn to page 18
I will not permit you to say no. Turn to page 18."

In Soviet Russia, Adventure Chooses YOU!
posted by Erasmouse at 1:22 PM on February 8, 2013 [45 favorites]


"You are a young girl from the Kyrgyz village of Tash-Bashat. You live your life in the traditional style of a Tash-Bashat child, which needs no introduction."

YES
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:24 PM on February 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


"It's been a while since anything and your horse is in the range of thirsty to dead. What?"

They got that last part right...
posted by Increase at 1:26 PM on February 8, 2013


I really couldn't discern Metafilter's parody from what is actually in the books. Which is AWESOME.
posted by Twain Device at 1:27 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Suddenly your expert cow eye (used to rapidly count cows for your cow farming duties, and to locate truant cows, and to locate danger from natural cow predatures aproaching,) spots some movement behind a rock formations.

ALL HAIL THE GLORIOUS PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION. DOWN WITH THE BOURGEOIS IMPERIALIST REGIME!

Wow, those KGB thought-control guys were good.

ALSO, MOOOO!

Hmmm. Still some kinks in the system, it would seem.
posted by yoink at 1:27 PM on February 8, 2013


I was all prepared to say that the description of this post was my favorite block of text this year, then I got to this point in the actual content

...
As you crackle at these and other things you draw the attention of overhead bats, that loop-de-loop around your forehead etc. They make patterns like the rotations of famed ballerina Bubusara Beyshenalieva.

You think to yourself, "Bats in woods, bats in woods. Where have I heard this before!"

If you have heard this in school, turn to page 8.
If you have heard this from village crone, turn to page 29.
If you have heard this from local chums, turn to page 23.


Tickled, I am.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:28 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the despair of everything causes you leap down towards your death, turn to page 5.

These are way darker than I remember Choose Your Own Adventure being...
posted by General Malaise at 1:29 PM on February 8, 2013


DEATH END
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:30 PM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had a similar fear about reading Battlefield Earth. I may be a covert Scientology Manchurian Candidate. However, I have probably foiled their plan by not amounting to much.
posted by srboisvert at 1:30 PM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's Art, I take it, not a real Soviet thing? But I like the writer's style in his other projects very much as well.
posted by Erasmouse at 1:30 PM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hmm, I thought that origin story was a bit fishy, and then found this:
You grab your cellular telephone with global positioning, trusty friend through thick and thing. You launch the mapping application and hold it to the sky. Aha, a great signal! "Phone," you say, "plot the quickest path out of woods."
I daresay we're being put on here, chaps.
posted by Malor at 1:31 PM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


You tread upstaircase, carefully toeing around the female prostitutes strewn about. One lady, the largest and presumably greatest in power, approaches you with a wink and a proposition: If you give her the money she will sell you a bit of some sex and make you a paramour.

You calmly hold up hand, "No thank you friend. I am a heterosexual female or homosexual male. I do not interest in your advances."


CHOOSE YOUR OWN GENDER AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION
posted by Kabanos at 1:31 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I will assault you openly" is your warcry, and you cry it witchward. Naturally, the witch (being the off-spring of a human and a spider) sticks you with a spider web. You are all caught inside of it.

"A dumb but noble child caught in a spiderweb," the witch observes/says. "What a metaphor for the history of Central Asia in the 1930s."

Like Central Asia in the 1930s you have a limited time to exist. You suspect, however, that your limit is somewhat lower than ten years.


This is the greatest thing.
posted by davidjmcgee at 1:32 PM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Speaking of CYOA, Tim Coe (MeFi's own shakespeherian) has been writing Choose Your Own Adventure By Committee stories. He just finished the most recent one and is looking for more readers/committee members! Jooooooooin ussssssss.

I've also been reading his older stories. They're gripping, I tells ya, even without the aspect of choice.
posted by Elsa at 1:35 PM on February 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I cannot mark "Favorite" enough times for this. It is because I work on Western computer that prevents me from expressing my true nature, which is deformed under capitalism.
posted by scody at 1:35 PM on February 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


Oh, Erasmouse, next thing you will be saying there is no Santa Claus!
posted by rocketpup at 1:35 PM on February 8, 2013


I can't wait for him to finish translating №6 - It Is Very Good To Be The World Skateboard Champion
posted by Copronymus at 1:36 PM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Spoiler: You are allergic to the tree.
posted by purpleclover at 1:37 PM on February 8, 2013


+Tim Coe is shakespherian?

I need to readjust my filters.
posted by notyou at 1:38 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


You wisely adhere to parental strictures. No doom befalls you and you go on to live healthily.

VICTORY END

You have completed this story in the optimal number of page turns. To claim your merit badge, write "I have done this" on a 76x127mm index card and post it to:

Building 34
7th Microdistrict
Bishkek, Kyrgyz SSR
Soviet Union

(Limit of first four hundred children to request merit badge.)


Awesome.
posted by lineofsight at 1:39 PM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


You ask the gentleman to take you to the location of "TOWN". He genuflects deeply before you and leads you on. This is the famed "American Politeness", whereby one stranger is indebted to another by virtue of having run across them in an area.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:42 PM on February 8, 2013


The writer has an ear for strange English.

On the street, or rather next to it, is a building. It is wearing a sign that reads "THIS IS THE OLD SALON" with an arrow that points to itself.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:44 PM on February 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


You are so overcome with grief that you just gotta say goodbye to every little thing. What a turn around from the confident swagger of a previous page. Perhaps in another life you could be tested for an illness of the brain, which could be treated with electroconvulsive therapy and/or herbal remedies.

But that is not to be your life. Your life is the one that goes all the way down a cliff ledge and then into the river below, which proceeds to break 1. your fall and 2. your neck (via significant rocks layer). You are quite dead because of all this.

DEATH END


:(
posted by decathexis at 1:45 PM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


In some corner a mysterious piano dimly moves its own keys, as if an invisible man is pressing notes for his best invisible friends. The played song is that of a good time being had in the nostalgic past, and you imagine for one third of a second that you are back in the days when you ate salad.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:47 PM on February 8, 2013


Oh, for goodness sake! I managed to paste in the wrong link for shakespeherian's profile, which makes it clear he's our intrepid author of CYOABC stories. So. Gooooood.
posted by Elsa at 1:47 PM on February 8, 2013


One particularly large, bearded, and deep-voiced teen says, "Would you say that the moral of this story is to participate unconditionally with police?"

"I would," you reply.

"Including secret police?" asks the large teen.

"Sure," you say.

The large teen writes something down on a notepad. "Very good," he says. "Just checking."

VICTORY END
posted by Xenophon Fenderson at 1:57 PM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


You do battle with human priests in bison costume and summoned bison demons wearing human masks.

I say forget the rest of The Hobbit and film this!
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:02 PM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


"All the money in the world couldn't buy him a lack of being shot in the head."
posted by Iridic at 2:07 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I found myself in capitalist tabulating utopia on my first try. Fantastic mind control, that.
posted by wierdo at 2:11 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


You try to find a path for a lot of time, but the only thing you find is a leopard.

DEATH END

(To be clear — the leopard eats you, leading to death.)


I have no clever comment, only love.
posted by awesomiste at 2:12 PM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I want to be a space marine too!" says one teen.

You chuckle. "That future won't come to pass until at least the year 1950 or later."

"Oh," says the teen. "Then I will pursue plan B: becoming governor of Wyoming!"

Surprise! The teen was Fenimore Chatterton, who would grow up to become the sixth governor of Wyoming. You have inspired a great political figure to greatness, which makes you also great.

VICTORY END
I also love how every single one of the scary stories ends with your character saying either "Victory end." or "Death end." as appropriate.
posted by Copronymus at 2:17 PM on February 8, 2013


I also love how every single one of the scary stories ends with your character saying either "Victory end." or "Death end." as appropriate.

Indeed. I was expecting "GAMES WORKSHOP CEASE AND DESIST ENDING" for this one.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:25 PM on February 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: You decide if you're going to die it might as well be right away. You lie down on the sand ground and raise your shin above your torso and allow the venom to slosh more quickly into your heart. Once it's there it makes itself at home and causes an attack.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:45 PM on February 8, 2013


the CIA, fearing a possible Soviet mind control scheme

Hah! And yet, they didn't worry about me playing Tetris day-after-day!
posted by Twang at 2:53 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


You gratefully except the offered job. You are seated at a desk and taught how to do tabulations. Soon you tabulate without the assitance of others. Days of fulfilling tabulation pass. Your birthday comes and is celebrated with the passing around of slices of pie. Men in suits firmly shake your hand.

Years later you retire with a hefty savings and a lifetime of tabulation experiences to look back on fondly.

VICTORY END

posted by MonkeyToes at 2:55 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is not sufficiently funny to someone who was actually born in the 80s in a central asian soviet republic (i.e. me), alas.
posted by anateus at 3:16 PM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


These are way darker than I remember Choose Your Own Adventure being...

I remember some pretty dark Choose Your Own Adventures. Most of the endings involved death in most of them, as I recall.
posted by eviemath at 3:19 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


this is beautiful and i love it. thanks iridic.
posted by tealsocks at 3:25 PM on February 8, 2013


This is amazing.
PAGE 1.
You are a young girl from the Kyrgyz village of Tash-Bashat. You live your life in the traditional style of a Tash-Bashat child, which needs no introduction.

It is the night of a gibbous moon and your parents have wisely cautioned against entrance into the nearby woods. How do you proceed?

If you enter woods, turn to page 17.
If you remain quiety in bounds of homestead, turn to page 3.

PAGE 3.
You wisely adhere to parental strictures. No doom befalls you and you go on to live healthily.

VICTORY END

You have completed this story in the optimal number of page turns. To claim your merit badge, write "I have done this" on a 76x127mm index card and post it to:

Building 34
7th Microdistrict
Bishkek, Kyrgyz SSR
Soviet Union

(Limit of first four hundred children to request merit badge.)
Considering that I usually made the wrong choice and DIED in Choose Your Own Adventure novels, I am glad to have achieved VICTORY END with only a single decision.
posted by asnider at 3:25 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even more amazing:
As a foolish child, it seems like the ultimate joy for you to depart from the path. It is so dark that you walk into trees! What fun! But enough collisions leaves you disoriented.

You try to find a path for a lot of time, but the only thing you find is a leopard.

DEATH END

(To be clear — the leopard eats you, leading to death.)
posted by asnider at 3:26 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Far off in the distance, 100 lightning bolts strike out in rapid succession, presumably murdering 100 people that you have never encountered. You go to sleep right there in the woods, confident that you have made an unimpeachable choice.

VICTORY END
posted by porpoise at 3:27 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


On preview, awesomiste beat me to it with the leopard death.
posted by asnider at 3:28 PM on February 8, 2013


Also: I suspect that these are satire, but I choose to believe that they are legitimate Kyrgyz CYOA stories.
posted by asnider at 3:35 PM on February 8, 2013


Also: I suspect that these are satire, but I choose to believe that they are legitimate Kyrgyz CYOA stories.

An instance of doublethink that shows the mind control is working.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:41 PM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


You gratefully except the offered job. You are seated at a desk and taught how to do tabulations. Soon you tabulate without the assitance of others. Days of fulfilling tabulation pass. Your birthday comes and is celebrated with the passing around of slices of pie. Men in suits firmly shake your hand.

Years later you retire with a hefty savings and a lifetime of tabulation experiences to look back on fondly.

VICTORY END

posted by benito.strauss at 3:46 PM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Actually my mother was one of the first computer programmers in Kyrgyz USSR (in 1970s and 1980s), and she was born in Tash-Kumyr, Kyrgyz USSR (small 30k populatoin city with 3 coal mines and 2 hydroelectric plants).
I wonder who was his consultant (if he had any). Didn't start reading the book yet, it feels so weird.

Also, the right address would be:
Building 34 + apartment number //microdistrict = bunch of multilevel soviet style buildings)
7th Microdistrict
Frunze, Kyrgyz SSR // Frunze was renamed to Bishkek after collapse of USSR
Soviet Union
720000 Post index is missing, so easiest guess is 720000 (central poststation)
posted by usertm at 3:55 PM on February 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


This thing is awesome.
posted by usertm at 4:01 PM on February 8, 2013


It's funny, because my biggest complaint with most CYOA books is that they don't make it clear when the leopard eats you.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 4:47 PM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


What's the toy exactly? It is imprecisely described and only for the imagination of children to think about. This is what happens when there's an allegory about.
posted by oulipian at 5:17 PM on February 8, 2013


but the CIA, fearing a possible Soviet mind control scheme,

Almost everything you need to know about the Cold War is contained in that one, amazingly ridiculous yet absolutely true, phrase.
posted by straight at 5:27 PM on February 8, 2013


The CIA was less afraid of us being brainwashed by these books than they were of us finding them so goddamn charming that some citizen somewhere would be able to look past McCarthy's long nose and find actual human beings standing on the other side of the world.

These are really adorable. Thanks for posting!
posted by dubusadus at 5:33 PM on February 8, 2013


Yes, dubusadus, except they would have included such empathy in the concept of mind control.
posted by straight at 5:42 PM on February 8, 2013


The CIA was less afraid of us being brainwashed by these books than they were of us finding them so goddamn charming that some citizen somewhere would be able to look past McCarthy's long nose and find actual human beings standing on the other side of the world.

I find it comforting that, from the Soviet Union to ancient Greece, humans, as a species, love humor that is both very smart and deeply stupid. In a perfect world, Aristophanes would have lived long enough to make some Zork-related boner jokes.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 6:00 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This... this isn't real, right? This is a joke. Right?
posted by Scientist at 6:44 PM on February 8, 2013


Yes, it's a joke, Scientist.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:45 PM on February 8, 2013


The last thing you see before death is a sign glimpsed through half-closed bear trap: "BEAR TRAP STORAGE. USE CAUTION."

DEATH END


Awesome!
posted by Green With You at 6:56 PM on February 8, 2013


Check your character statistics. If your skill in CHARM GHOST is 3 or higher turn to page 203. Otherwise turn to page 202.

Obviously my Ghost Charm skill is way higher than 3.
posted by Green With You at 7:07 PM on February 8, 2013


Anyone else read this in Borat‘s voice, or was that just me?
posted by Jughead at 7:39 PM on February 8, 2013


"This, my darling, is the Decision Box."

Elf flips open the lid revealing a red shiny button with the label "Decision" on it.

"If you press button here, you will instantly receive a new toy." Here is when it takes out the toy to show you how great it is. It certainly is very desirable and echanting, that much is certain. "BUT, as a direct consequence of this: 100 people you have never met will certainly die. Oh what a choice, what a choice, my kingdom for a choice! You've got to pick now."

If you presz the button with no regret, turn to page 61.
If you say "Elf, kill the people but do not give me the toy," turn to page 56.


Oh, decisions, decisions!
posted by JHarris at 7:51 PM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


The witch lets out a catastrophic explosion all over the place. The rupturing sound wave causes the walls of the cottage to plummette. Her deadly acidic guts spew out everywhere, including on to your face and eyes and vital organs. You won a pyrrhic victory, but at what cost? The cost is your own death due to acid and collapsing structure.

DEATH END


At what cost, indeed? The horror, the horror!
posted by awesomiste at 8:15 PM on February 8, 2013


"At the age of eleven, you imagined for yourself the life of a photojournalist. You think now what would do in a second universe where this life was yours. You would surely use the adjective "bleak" and take photographs of dwellings during the most overcast weather. You would have people stand and look at empty areas. You would see to it that things become metaphors for other things. In conclusion, you would receive medals and garlands for your behaviour. Yes, fine living in every way."

Something about the deadpan, stilted English that often results from translation I find hilarious when applied to comedy.
posted by jyc at 8:24 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best deus ex machina ever:

"Quest done, you go south into the Wyoming once more. The familiar colour scheme of your home governorate fills you with joy. It is a relatively easy jourey back to the mine, where you place the five ORBS on the sacred altar. Their serene humming summons an ancient god, who solves the poverty of the mine community by providing better education and new economic opportunities which aren't based on resource extraction."
posted by mmoncur at 1:15 AM on February 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's probably too late to amend the post, but, a surprisingly high number of comments above suggest many are not understanding this is spot-on parody.

The author of these texts is Brendan Patrick Hennessy:

You Will Select a Decision (2013) – A pair of knock-off Choose Your Own Adventure books from Soviet-era Kyrgyzstan.
posted by noway at 2:25 AM on February 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hah, I just found this ending:
You have had enough play time with this book. Now it is time to feel shame over your senseless behaviour. Consider the virtues of not putting so many gun attacks into the world. Consider also the virtues of co-operating unquestoningly with the police no matter what they say or do.

In sum: 1) Be obedient; 2) Do no murder. Go to sleep now and tomorrow put these two principles in your day today life.
posted by Malor at 4:48 AM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


These are the best CYOA games since Roy Orbison In Clingfilm.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:45 AM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's probably too late to amend the post, but, a surprisingly high number of comments above suggest many are not understanding this is spot-on parody.

The author of these texts is Brendan Patrick Hennessy:

You Will Select a Decision (2013) – A pair of knock-off Choose Your Own Adventure books from Soviet-era Kyrgyzstan.
posted by noway at 2:25 AM on February 9


Aw. You just ruined half the fun! But the remaing half-fun is still pretty awesome!
posted by Vindaloo at 6:21 PM on February 9, 2013


(MeFi's own shakespeherian)

HI MAKE ME FAMOUS NOW PLEEZE
posted by shakespeherian at 10:57 PM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was excited last week when I found a bunch of classic CYOA books available on the Kindle at $6 a pop. Free for those with Prime. Here's one, Return to Atlantis. Plus if you just search the Kindle store for CYOA, it looks like many people are writing books in this style now.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:55 PM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Suddenly, the witch turns to you! With open mouth! Seems like she's going to use her mouth to eat you!

You back up like a coward, which is what you indeed are.


Love it.
posted by Paragon at 7:19 PM on February 12, 2013


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