As most of us know by now, being stranded on a desert island these days means becoming instantly embroiled in adventures involving mysterious hatches, smoke monsters and electromagnetic anomalies. You wouldn’t even have the time to listen to your favourite CD ever, or settle down with a good book.
The silent voids of deep space, however? Now there’s a desolace worthy of a castaway from the 21st century! And so, if you were left drifting through space, and could have one book, one album, one game (or film), and a luxury item, what would you choose?
1. Book – The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
As a young’un I was a rather voracious reader – a bit like Mathilda, but without the domestic abuse and psychic powers. However, for all my word-munching, I didn’t know what comedy writing truly was until I stumbled across The Guide. Obvious thematic practicalities aside, I chose this book as my papery space companion for a few reasons. Firstly, it is emminently re-readable; there are a wealth of clever little details to pick up on, and the humour hits home on so many levels that it demands just a little bit more effort from the reader than they might be used to. And that was what attracted me so much as a child, and has kept me coming back. Secondly, this particular version of the book is comprised of all five parts to the story, so once I’d read the first three books, I would go about trying to rewrite the last two so that they were better, keeping me well occupied between bouts of space-snoozing. This leads on to the third point, which is that on reflection, the appreciation of Mr. Adams’ writing style served me well as a diving board into my own scribblings.
2. Album – Appetite for Destruction (Guns N’ Roses)
There are more complex compositions out there, sure. And those which perhaps invoke a fuller spectrum of emotions across their tracklist, but to me, if I was lost in the universe with no sign of rescue, nothing beats Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction for sheer energy and bravado. The guitar licks in this raw monstrosity could melt suns, and there’s not a single duff* track in there. Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City and Sweet Child of Mine are the well-knowns, but it’s the dynamic riffs of tracks like Nightrain and You’re Crazy that would keep my spirits burning long into the endless night.
3. Game – Planescape: Torment
This is a rare beauty of the gaming world. The experience offered by Planescape: Torment transcends simply being something to ‘play’. You take on the role of The Nameless One, a man who, for one reason or another, cannot truly die. He has lived thousands of lives, but each time he dies, he loses part of his memory. By the time we pick up his story he is waking up on a mortuary slab, covered in tattoos, with absolutely no knowledge of where, when, why, or who he is.
‘What can change the nature of a man?’
Along The Nameless One’s journey, it is you, as the player, who addresses that question, exploring his past and present, and forging his future. It’s a role playing game, with a script of 800,000 words. Yep. And the number of different decisions and choices you can make are astonishing, as you explore Sigil, a city of doorways to every other plane of existence. And those doors could be anything – a word, a feeling, an object…
Aside from its thoughtful reflections of the decisions we make, and what makes people tick, PS:T is also highly replayable due to the number of different paths it is possible to take through the game. So off it goes with me into space!
4. Luxury Item
Pens and paper for writing. Technically multiple items, I suppose, but it’s my catastrophe – I’ll let myself off. And who knows, with all that time I might actually get something finished. And, er, be the only person to read it…