Friday, June 2, 2017

Zero Sum Game by Sl Huang

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Zero Sum Game by SL Huang

This book is CC By-NC-SA.

Hat tip to deejf for turning me on to it at unglue.it

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter.

Chapter 1

I trusted one person in the entire world.

He was currently punching me in the face.

Overlapping numbers scuttled across Rio’s fist as it rocketed toward me, their values scrambling madly, the calculations doing themselves before my eyes. He wasn’t pulling his punch at all, the bastard. I saw exactly how it would hit and that the force would fracture my jaw.

Well. If I allowed it to.

Angles and forces. Vector sums. Easy. I pressed myself back against the chair I was tied to, bracing my wrists against the ropes, and tilted my head a hair less than the distance I needed to turn the punch into a love tap. Instead of letting Rio break my jaw, I let him split my lip open.

The impact snapped my head back, and blood poured into my mouth, choking me. I coughed and spat on the cement floor. Goddammit.

“Sixteen men,” said a contemptuous voice in accented English from a few paces in front of me, “against one ugly little girl. How? Who are you?”

“Nineteen,” I corrected, the word hitching as I choked on my own blood. I was already regretting going for the split lip. “Check your perimeter again. I killed nineteen of your men.” And it would have been a lot more if Rio hadn’t appeared out of nowhere and clotheslined me while I was distracted by the Colombians. Fucking son of a bitch. He was the one who’d gotten me this job; why hadn’t he told me he was undercover with the drug cartel?

The Colombian interrogating me inhaled sharply and jerked his head at one of his subordinates, who turned and loped out of the room. The remaining three drug runners stayed where they were, fingering Micro-Uzis with what they plainly thought were intimidating expressions.

Dumbasses. I worked my wrists against the rough cord behind my back—Rio had been the one to tie me up, and he had left me just enough play to squeeze out, if I had half a second. Numbers and vectors shot in all directions—from me, to the Colombian in front of me, to his three lackwit subordinates, to Rio—a sixth sense of mathematical interplay that existed somewhere between sight and feeling, masking the world with constant calculations and threatening to drown me in a sensory overload of data.

And telling me how to kill.

[Read More…]

Monday, January 30, 2017

Mr. Spaceship by Philip K. Dick

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This is the original image with the story - public domain

A human brain-controlled spacecraft would mean mechanical
perfection. This was accomplished, and something unforeseen: a
strange entity called–

Mr. Spaceship by Philip K. Dick

Kramer leaned back. “You can see the situation. How can we deal with a
factor like this? The perfect variable.”

“Perfect? Prediction should still be possible. A living thing still
acts from necessity, the same as inanimate material. But the
cause-effect chain is more subtle; there are more factors to be
considered. The difference is quantitative, I think. The reaction of
the living organism parallels natural causation, but with greater
complexity.”

Gross and Kramer looked up at the board plates, suspended on the wall,
still dripping, the images hardening into place. Kramer traced a line
with his pencil.

“See that? It’s a pseudopodium. They’re alive, and so far, a weapon we
can’t beat. No mechanical system can compete with that, simple or
intricate. We’ll have to scrap the Johnson Control and find something
else.”

“Meanwhile the war continues as it is. Stalemate. Checkmate. They
can’t get to us, and we can’t get through their living minefield.”

Kramer nodded. “It’s a perfect defense, for them. But there still
might be one answer.”

“What’s that?”

“Wait a minute.” Kramer turned to his rocket expert, sitting with the
charts and files. “The heavy cruiser that returned this week. It
didn’t actually touch, did it? It came close but there was no
contact.”

“Correct.” The expert nodded. “The mine was twenty miles off. The
cruiser was in space-drive, moving directly toward Proxima,
line-straight, using the Johnson Control, of course. It had deflected
a quarter of an hour earlier for reasons unknown. Later it resumed its
course. That was when they got it.”

“It shifted,” Kramer said. “But not enough. The mine was coming along
after it, trailing it. It’s the same old story, but I wonder about the
contact.”

“Here’s our theory,” the expert said. “We keep looking for contact, a
trigger in the pseudopodium. But more likely we’re witnessing a
psychological phenomena, a decision without any physical correlative.
We’re watching for something that isn’t there. The mine decides to
blow up. It sees our ship, approaches, and then decides.”

“Thanks.” Kramer turned to Gross. “Well, that confirms what I’m
saying. How can a ship guided by automatic relays escape a mine that
decides to explode? The whole theory of mine penetration is that you
must avoid tripping the trigger. But here the trigger is a state of
mind in a complicated, developed life-form.”

“The belt is fifty thousand miles deep,” Gross added. “It solves
another problem for them, repair and maintenance. The damn things
reproduce, fill up the spaces by spawning into them. I wonder what
they feed on?”

“Probably the remains of our first-line. The big cruisers must be a
delicacy. It’s a game of wits, between a living creature and a ship
piloted by automatic relays. The ship always loses.” Kramer opened a
folder. “I’ll tell you what I suggest.”

“Go on,” Gross said. “I’ve already heard ten solutions today. What’s
yours?”

“Mine is very simple. These creatures are superior to any mechanical
system, but only because they’re alive. Almost any other life-form
could compete with them, any higher life-form. If the yuks can put out
living mines to protect their planets, we ought to be able to harness
some of our own life-forms in a similar way. Let’s make use of the
same weapon ourselves.”

“Which life-form do you propose to use?”

“I think the human brain is the most agile of known living forms. Do
you know of any better?”

“But no human being can withstand outspace travel. A human pilot would
be dead of heart failure long before the ship got anywhere near
Proxima.”

“But we don’t need the whole body,” Kramer said. “We need only the
brain.”

“What?”

“The problem is to find a person of high intelligence who would
contribute, in the same manner that eyes and arms are volunteered.”

“But a brain….”

“Technically, it could be done. Brains have been transferred several
times, when body destruction made it necessary. Of course, to a
spaceship, to a heavy outspace cruiser, instead of an artificial body,
that’s new.”

The room was silent.

“It’s quite an idea,” Gross said slowly. His heavy square face
twisted. “But even supposing it might work, the big question is
whose brain?”

[Read More…]

Friday, January 20, 2017

10 Brilliant Hard Science Fiction Novels

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From NASA’s Unsplash Collection - public domain

10 Brilliant Hard Science Fiction Novels
For those who take their science fiction with a side of accuracy…

From The Portalist here’s 10 mini reviews of Science Fiction novels. Stephen Lovely is the reviewer. Here’s a bit from his intro.

If you’ve ever rolled your eyes at a science fiction novel’s description of light-speed travel or told a friend that the Death Star wouldn’t really have made a sound when it blew up in space, then you’ll appreciate these hard science fiction novels. The term “hard science fiction” doesn’t mean sci-fi that’s tough to read, of course; it means sci-fi that really values scientific accuracy.

Now I wouldn’t call all of these novels hard science fiction and John W. Campbell probably wouldn’t either. But it’s a different world than it was in the golden age and if you are looking for some real science fiction that’s real good here you go. I haven’t read all of them but the ones I have read I would recommend. I would guess that you can’t go wrong with any of these picks.

Also the feature image above the reviews is from Nasa’s Unsplash collection. 34 images you definitely can’t go wrong with and they are all public domain.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Thorns

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Photo by Alexey Yakovlev CC BY-SA

Thorns
by Martha Wells
CC BY-NC-ND

Coming down the stairs to dinner, I found the governess engaged in battle with my great great grandnephew. The disgusting little boy was wrestling with the poor woman, apparently trying to thrust her over the bannister.

“An application of the birch rod would settle that, Miss,” I said.

“I would dearly love to, Madame,” the governess answered, breathless and more sharply than her wont. Perhaps the struggle to preserve her life — we were on the third landing, and the stone-flagged floor of the Hall was far below — had overcome her usual reticence. “But I’ve been instructed to use only modern methods of disciplining the children… ”

The unruly creature’s mother, my great grand-niece Electra, was hurrying up the stairs toward them, her satin skirts rustling like storm wind. She dithered near the struggle, waving her plump soft hands. “Oh, Malcolm, you mustn’t treat Miss Grey so!”

I smiled grimly. Modern ideas. Such notions had succeeded in making the already over-indulged children a terror to the servants and the rest of the household. But Electra has always had a soft heart.

The boy obligingly released his governess, and with a triumphant grin stooped to seize her workbag which had fallen to the carpet. I had no doubt he meant to thrust it over the bannister in her place. I lost patience, and seized the creature by the ear. He desisted with an alarmed shriek — I’m old, but my fingers are strong. It was an effort not to squeeze too hard. We have cousins who are maddened by the scent of a child’s blood in the air, or the sight of the dew of perspiration on a downy cheek. It makes them inconvenient guests at family gatherings. Of course, one can’t eat one’s own great grandnephews, however deliberate the provocation.

Electra simpered and said, “Oh, dear, Malcolm, you must learn not to be naughty. Naughty boys die and are sent to Hell.”

“Some more precipitously than others,” I added, thinking of the deep well at the bottom of the garden.

Taking my action as tacit permission to apply mild force, the governess seized the creature’s other ear as I released my grip, and herded her charge up the stairs.

We continued down, Electra fluttering at my side. “Auntie, you know Malcolm is really a little dear… ”

“I know nothing of the kind.” Electra is a small woman, for our family, her wispy blond head reaching only to my shoulder. Her figure is plump, and requires a corset to keep its shape, and her eyes are mild and her face cherubic. An odd pair we would seem to outsiders’ eyes, for I am grown thin and cadaverous with the long passage of years, and my features were always rather sharp.

“Now, Auntie… ”

We reached the landing above the Hall. Below, Electra’s husband, Mr. John Dearing, was personally receiving a guest, a young man in the act of handing his greatcoat to the butler.

There were no guests expected, and just before the dinner hour is not considered an appropriate time for casual calls, yet Dearing was greeting this presumptuous fellow as a prodigal son.

He was a striking figure. (The guest, I mean. Dearing is a stout bewhiskered muskrat of a man, a fit mate for Electra.) Blond curls, broad shoulders, a chiseled profile. I felt a feather of unease travel down my spine; old instincts rousing, perhaps. His garments, though somewhat the worse for travel at this rainy time of year, were of fashionable cut and fine cloth.

Frowning, Electra caught the attention of one of the footmen stationed at the bottom of the stairs, and called him up to her to ask, “Why, William, whoever is that?”

“Madame, they say it’s a foreign Duke, the son of the King of Armantia.”

“I see,” Electra dismissed the man and looked to me, her mild dove eyes vaguely troubled. “Oh, dear. A prince.”

“It has been a long time,” I said. But I’ve dealt with such before.

[Read More…]

Friday, January 6, 2017

So You Want to Read Epic Fantasy: Here’s Where to Start

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Stories of Beowulf fighting the dragon Public Domain

So You Want to Read Epic Fantasy: Here’s Where to Start

I love reading and writing super shorts. Of course I spend more time reading epic fantasy. It’s got where trilogies aren’t enough. The stories are huge. Vast in scale and imagination. I will never write epic fantasy. But I do read it.

Link on over for these recommendations by Shawn Speakman. The ones he mentions that I have read or am reading are definitely good. I’ll bet they all are.

In his intro Speakman says:

Epic fantasy once meant large books with an everyman-type of lead character against a dark lord. But to me, the epic fantasy that has been written in the last three decades are not only large in size and scale of story but also feature numerous point of view characters and several storylines that are separate but are also intertwined.

To talk about and recommend epic fantasy, it requires an epic list. These are the books I recommend people start with if they want a truly epic reading experience.

I can’t really add to that. So get epic. And enjoy!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Galaxy Science Fiction Novels Collection

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Galaxy Science Fiction Novels Collection

DESCRIPTION

Galaxy novels, sometimes titled Galaxy Science Fiction Novels, were a series of mostly reprint American science fiction novels published between 1950 and 1961.

The series was started by H.L. Gold, the editor of Galaxy Science Fiction, in 1950 as a companion to the main Galaxy magazine. There was one (often abridged) novel per issue, which appeared in digest size format, which made the books in the series look like digest magazines.

In 1959, after 35 issues, the series was sold to Beacon Books, which changed the format to mass-market (small size) paperback and introduced its own numbering scheme, continuing the series for another 11 issues. They also had the contents of some books revised to add mild sexual content and changed their titles accordingly.

RIGHTS
All items are placed into the Public Domain under a Creative Commons Non-Attribution License. No restrictions under any copyright statutes which may exist now or in the future; in the local, global, intergalactic, or Universe-wide realms (if present government corruption extends that far).

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Knights of Arthur by Frederik Pohl

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The Knights of Arthur, by Frederik Pohl

* * *
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Knights of Arthur, by Frederik Pohl This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

Title: The Knights of Arthur
Author: Frederik Pohl
Illustrator: Martin
Produced by Greg Weeks, Barbara Tozier and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
* * *
This etext was produced from Galaxy Science Fiction January 1958. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.
* * *

The Knights of Arthur
By FREDERIK POHL
Illustrated by MARTIN

With one suitcase as his domain, Arthur was desperately in need of armed henchmen … for his keys to a kingdom were typewriter keys!

I

There was three of us–I mean if you count Arthur. We split up to avoid attracting attention. Engdahl just came in over the big bridge, but I had Arthur with me so I had to come the long way around.

When I registered at the desk, I said I was from Chicago. You know how it is. If you say you’re from Philadelphia, it’s like saying you’re from St. Louis or Detroit–I mean nobody lives in Philadelphia any more. Shows how things change. A couple years ago, Philadelphia was all the fashion. But not now, and I wanted to make a good impression.

I even tipped the bellboy a hundred and fifty dollars. I said: “Do me a favor. I’ve got my baggage booby-trapped–”

“Natch,” he said, only mildly impressed by the bill and a half, even less impressed by me.

“I mean really booby-trapped. Not just a burglar alarm. Besides the alarm, there’s a little surprise on a short fuse. So what I want you to do, if you hear the alarm go off, is come running. Right?”

“And get my head blown off?” He slammed my bags onto the floor. “Mister, you can take your damn money and–”

“Wait a minute, friend.” I passed over another hundred. “Please? It’s only a shaped charge. It won’t hurt anything except anybody who messes around, see? But I don’t want it to go off. So you come running when you hear the alarm and scare him away and–”

“No!” But he was less positive. I gave him two hundred more and he said grudgingly: “All right. If I hear it. Say, what’s in there that’s worth all that trouble?”

“Papers,” I lied.

He leered. “Sure.”

“No fooling, it’s just personal stuff. Not worth a penny to anybody but me, understand? So don’t get any ideas–”

He said in an injured tone: “Mister, naturally the staff won’t bother your stuff. What kind of a hotel do you think this is?”

“Of course, of course,” I said. But I knew he was lying, because I knew what kind of hotel it was. The staff was there only because being there gave them a chance to knock down more money than they could make any other way. What other kind of hotel was there?

Anyway, the way to keep the staff on my side was by bribery, and when he left I figured I had him at least temporarily bought. He promised to keep an eye on the room and he would be on duty for four more hours–which gave me plenty of time for my errands.

[Read More…]

Saturday, December 24, 2016

/r/FreeEBOOKS

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Available for free on Amazon

A subreddit for free ebooks. Lots of Science Fiction and Fantasy. New recommendations all the time. To Gutenberg and beyond.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Runaway Cyclone

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Public Domain image by kai Stachowiak from publicdomainpictures.net

Runaway Cyclone by Jagadish Chandra Bose

Translated by Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay

Part I—A Scientific Mystery

A few years ago a supernatural event was observed which rocked the scientific communities of America and Europe. A number of articles were published in various scientific journals to explain the phenomenon. But till now no explanation of the event has been found satisfactory.

On 28 September the leading English daily of Calcutta(1) published the following news received from Shimla: Shimla Meteorological Office, 27 September: A cyclone in the Bay of Bengal is imminent.(2)

On 29 September the aforementioned daily published the following news: Meteorological Office, Alipore: A tremendous cyclone is about to strike Bengal in two days. A Danger-Signal has been put up on Diamond Harbour.

On the 30th the news was extremely frightening: The Barometer fell two inches in the last half hour.

By ten o’clock tomorrow Calcutta will face the worst and most dangerous cyclone in years.(3)

No one slept that night in Calcutta. The timorous souls stayed awake in fear of their uncertain future.

On 1 October the sky remained cloudy, and a few drops of rain fell during the day. It remained dark throughout the day, but about four in the evening the sky suddenly became clear without a trace of the cyclone.

The next day the Meteorological Department sent the following news to the newspaper office: The cyclone that was to strike Calcutta has left the Bay of Bengal and has probably gone off in another direction in the Indian Ocean.

However, despite the attempts of many scientists to follow the trail of the cyclone, no one was able to discover the cyclone’s new direction.

The leading English daily(4) published the following news: Now it is certain that scientific knowledge is completely false.

Another daily(5) published the following: If science is false then why should the taxpayers be burdened by the totally unreliable Meteorological department?

Various other dailies(6) joined as chorus: Let it go! Scrap it!

The government was in a fix. A few days ago new equipment worth over one lakh Rupees had been purchased for the Meteorological Department. Now those items would not even sell for the price of broken glass bottles. Besides, where would one transfer the Chief Officer of the Meteorological Department?

[Read More…]

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Linux Setup - Piers Anthony, Author

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The Linux Setup - Piers Anthony, Author

He uses Libre Office. For more details click on the link.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Snake Eyes

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Image from Pixabay, public domain.

Snake Eyes by Tom Maddox
Published: 1996

This work is released under a Creative Commons License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/1.0/

Dark meat in the can—brown, oily, and flecked with mucus—gave off a repellent, fishy smell, and the taste of it rose in his throat, putrid and bitter, like something from a dead man’s stomach. George Jordan sat on the kitchen floor and vomited, then pushed himself away from the shining pool, which looked very much like what remained in the can.

He thought, No, this won’t do: I have wires in my head, and they make me eat cat food. The snake likes cat food

He needed help but know there was little point in calling the Air Force. He’d tried them, and there was no way they were going to admit responsibility for the monster in his head. What George called the snake, the Air Force called Effective Human Interface Technology and didn’t want to hear about any postdischarge problems with it. They had their own problems with congressional committees investigating “the conduct of the war in Thailand.”

He lay for a while with his cheek on the cold linoleum, got up and rinsed his mouth in the sink, then stuck his head under the faucet and ran cold water over it, thinking, Call the goddamned multicomp, then call SenTrax and say, “Is it true you can do something about this incubus that wants to take possession of my soul?” And if they ask you, “What’s your problem?” you say “cat food,” and maybe they’ll say, “Hell, it just wants to take possession of your lunch”

A chair covered in brown corduroy stood in the middle of the barren living room, a white telephone on the floor beside it, a television flat against the opposite wall—that was the whole thing, what might have been home, if it weren’t for the snake.

He picked up the phone, called up the directory on its screen, and keyed TELECOM SENTRAX.

The Orlando Holiday Inn stood next to the airport terminal, where tourists flowed in eager for the delights of Disney World. But for me, George thought, there are no cute, smiling ducks and rodents. Here as everywhere, it’s Snake city

From the window of his motel room, he watched gray sheets of rain cascade across the pavement. He had been waiting two days for a launch. At Canaveral a shuttle sat on its pad, and when the weather cleared, a helicopter would pick him up and drop him there, a package for delivery to SenTrax, Inc., at Athena Station, over thirty thousand kilometers above the equator

Behind him, under the laser light of a Blaupunkt holostage, people a foot high chattered about the war in Thailand and how lucky the United States had been to escape another Vietnam.

Lucky? Maybe … he had been wired up and ready for combat training, already accustomed to the form-fitting contours in the rear couch of the black, tiber-bodied General Dynamics A-230. The A-230 flew on the deadly edge of instability, every control surface monitored by its own bank of micro-computers, all hooked into the snakebrain flight-and-tire assistant with the twin black miloprene cables running from either side of his esophagus—getting off, oh yes, when the cables snapped home, and the airframe resonated through his nerves, his body singing with that identity, that power.

Then Congress pulled the plug on the war, the Air Force pulled the plug on George, and when his discharge came, there he was, left with technological blue balls and this hardware in his head that had since taken on a life of its own.

Lightning walked across the purpled sky, ripping it, crazing it into a giant, upturned bowl of shattered glass. Another foot-high man on the hostage said the tropical storm would pass in the next two hours.

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Hamilton Innis was tall and heavy—six four and about two hundred and fifty pounds. Wearing a powder-blue jump-suit with SENTRY in red letters down its left breast, and soft black slippers, he floated in a brightly lit white corridor, held gingerly to a wall by one of the jumpsuit’s Velcro patches. A view-screen above the airlock entry showed the shuttle fitting its nose into the docking tube. He waited for it to mate to the airlock hatches and send in the newest candidate.

This one was six months out of the service and slowly losing what the Air Force doctors had made of his mind. Former tech sergeant George Jordan—two years’ community college in Oakland, California, followed by enlistment in the Air Force, aircrew training, the WHIT program. According to the profile Aleph had put together from Air Force records and the National Data Bank, a man with slightly above-average aptitudes and intelligence, a distinctly above-average taste for the bizarre—thus his volunteering for WHIT and combat. In his file pictures, he looked nondescript—five ten, a hundred and seventy-six pounds, brown hair and eyes, neither handsome nor ugly. But it was an old picture and could not show the snake and the fear that came with it. You don’f know it, buddy, Innis thought, but you sin’t seen nothing yet.

The man came tumbling through the hatch, more or less helpless in free fall, but Innis could see him figuring it out, willing the muscles to quit struggling, quit trying to cope with a gravity that simply wans’t there. “What the hell do I do now?” George Jordan asked, hanging in midair, one arm holding on to the hatch coaming.

“Relax. I’ll get you.” Innis pushed off and swooped across, grabbing the man as he passed, taking them both to the opposite wall and kicking to carom them outward.

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[Read More…]

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Adventure In Time

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Public Domain photo by Thomas Wolter on Pixabay.

Adventure In Time
by Larry Heyl CC BY-SA

1. You are sitting at the time machine. You can see a needle fluctuating behind a circular piece of glass. Next to that is a red button.
- Hit the button. - Go to to 2.
- Don’t hit the button. - Go to 1.

2. You are disoriented. You are in the corridor outside the lab. Looking up at the clock you can see that it’s five minutes earlier than it should be. Maybe the time machine works! You walk down the corridor and enter the lab. You sit at the time machine. Everything looks like before. You feel an urgent need to do something before the five minutes is up and your earlier self walks through the door.
- Hit the button - Go to 3.
- Don’t hit the button - Go to 1.

3. You are no longer in the lab. In fact you are at your grandfather’s house. But your grandfather died 5 years ago. Your grandfather is a mean old curmudgeon. You never liked him much. Your grandfather walks through the door.
- Jump out and startle your grandfather. - Go to 4.
- Hide in the closet. - Go to 5.

4. Your grandfather is startled. He says, “But you’re in California.” He looks pale. He grabs his heart. Falling on the floor he dies. You are disoriented. The floor shifts under you.
- You stand there staring at your dead grandfather. - Go to 1.
- You get down on your knees and try to resuscitate your grandfather. - Go to 6.

5. Your grandfather comes straight to the closet. He opens the door and grabs his coat. He doesn’t even see you hiding. He stomps out of the house. You feel disoriented. The floor shifts under you.
- You stay hidden in the closet. Go to 1.
- You follow your grandfather out of the house. Go to 6.

6. You are in a World War II German army barracks. There is fighting all around you. You are wearing an American uniform and you’re carrying a gun. You turn the corner and see your grandfather about to shoot Hitler.
- You shoot Hitler. - Go to 7.
- You shoot your grandfather. - Go to 8.

7. With Hitler dead Goebbels takes over as Supreme Leader. The Axis rallies. The Germans win the war and perpetrate atrocities all over the world. You feel terrible guilt.
- You regret shooting Hitler. - Go to 6.
- You decide you are going to try to shoot Goebbels. - Go to 1.

8. The end.