I read this some time between 8 years ago and 2-3 years ago; hard to narrow it more exactly. I recall it was written by a well-known author (or at least not an obscure author), and that I was surprised to see that this author had written such a story. I don't recall if I read it online or in a printed book, but I think it was printed (not sure).

I don't recall the precise beginning of the story, but I had to choose from several items to bring—and most of the items were hilariously impractical. But all turned out to be relevant on one or another of the story paths.

(Edit: One item was a puppet or sock puppet; I think it was "A sock puppet of the Cyrano de Bergerac." But I would have thought that would make it easy to find via search engine, and it doesn't seem to.)

The quest was to rescue the sweetheart (the fair maiden, princess, whatever). Pretty generic so far.

The story had several bizarre twists. For example, in one path you wound up wearing a skintight blue wetsuit (or something very similar, definitely skintight and blue). Then at another juncture in the story (which you could arrive at multiple ways), the choice at the bottom said, "If you are wearing a skintight blue suit, go to ____; otherwise go to ____."

I believe there was a fishmonger. There was a boat which could be arrived at in a couple of different ways, one of which involved climbing onto it out of the water. There was at least one path in which something caught fire; I'm pretty sure it was the boat that burned. And I think there was a carnival in it somewhere, also.

The prose of the whole story was deliberately over-the-top and full of cliches and exaggerated tongue-in-cheek versions of the standard Hero's Journey trope. Very enjoyable reading, actually.

At one point early on there is a guard who hails you or challenges you, and you have several options on how to respond—one of which is to give him a humorously worded greeting, another of which is to attack him (never mind that you might not have any weapon). For some reason I keep thinking of The Three Musketeers in connection with this book; I think there was a reference to them around this point in the story.

At the "successful" end when you do "rescue" the fair maiden, she turns out to be a bit of a prima donna and rather obnoxious. But oh well, you succeeded!

I don't know if I'm doing a great job recalling the details (other than the blue skintight suit—or was it silver?—which really stuck out), but hopefully someone else has read this and recognizes it. I would really enjoy rereading it.

  • 1
    Good description so far. Do you remember any element that makes this sci-fi or fantasy genre, such as spaceships or monsters? Are there any illustrations, and if so, what style?
    – b_jonas
    Feb 25, 2018 at 10:53
  • @b_jonas the author is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy author, and there are at least minor fantasy elements in the story. Now that someone has found it, I can reread! :)
    – Wildcard
    Feb 25, 2018 at 19:36

1 Answer 1


This seems to be “Down to the Scum Quarter: A Farcical Fantasy Solo Adventure ” by Garth Nix.

The 2005 Allen & Unwin edition (4th printing) of Across the Wall states © 1987. It also states "First published in the magazine, Myths and Legends (1987) and Breakout! (1988)". The introduction to the story explains that these are two Australian gaming magazines and that the piece is a "loving parody" of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" format.

The abstract of the AustLit web page about this work says:

'Down to the Scum Quarter' is a fantasy genre parody presented as an elaborate 'choose your own adventure' format. The story, set up in a prologue section, concerns the kidnapping of the beautiful Lady Oiseaux. The reader is given a choice of five objects/weapons to take on his or her rescue quest, with the storyline path being made by a combiantion of dice or preference.

  • Yes!!! Thank you!!! Paragraph 80 has the humorous responses I mentioned, by the way. This is great; now I can reread! :)
    – Wildcard
    Feb 25, 2018 at 19:50

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