Fahrenheit 451

Jeff Pack, Brown University '99 (English 112, 1996)

I'm probably one of the only people around who discovered Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 through Telarium's computer game adaptation. Telarium was a small software line, owned by Spinnaker, that produced text/graphic adventures (games like Zork, but with static graphics from time to time) based on preexisting fiction. They were by no means the only group to do this (Epyx released a text-adventure version of Asimov's The Robots of Dawn, and Interplay made an adventure game based on William Gibson's Neuromancer), but they did it exlusively. In addition to Fahrenheit 451, Telarium's line of games also introduced me to Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama and Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber.

The Telarium game bears the same resemblance to the Bradbury novel that Scarlett does to Gone With the Wind: it's a sequel that never should have been written. In the computer game, Guy Montag returns as a member of the Underground, communicating with other members by code phrases lifted from literature and avoiding Firemen and Mechanical Hounds. Eventually, if the player is victorious, Montag is reunited with Clarisse (the girl who first seduced him) and overthrows the system by broadcasting the contents of a library.

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