Shaenon: Long before we started writing “Choose,” among the many wonderful gifts Jeff gave me was his synopses, with ratings, of every possible ending in Choose Your Own Adventure #51, The Magic of the Unicorn.  Now I will share the magic with you.


p.24 After gaining the gift of beast tongues, you talk to a bunch of woodland creatures to try and get them to lead you to a unicorn that you already know is hornless, on the logic that it knows other unicorns that *haven’t* had their horns lopped off, or, failing that, has all sorts of other ideas about how you can clean water.  Yeah, um, because they’ve probably spent long hours researching alternate means of doing what they can already do just by dunking their head in.  So, dubious reasoning, but it doesn’t matter anyway, because the furry woodland creatures lead you to a clearing where you find that THE UNICORN IS DEAD.  And that’s the end, you can’t go looking around any more despite the fact that you’re still alive, healthy, and can fucking talk to animals.  Boo. 1/10, and it only avoids a 0 because the last line is “‘You’re too late,’ says a squirrel.  ‘The unicorn is dead.'”  Which is pretty great.

p.34 Following the cryptic riddle from the beginning of the book, instructing you to “watch which way the bat doth go”, you decide to take matters into your own hands and preemptively *find* a bat, leading you to the idea of rushing willy-nilly into a dark cave.  You fall down a deep pit and subsequently die.  Modern geologists later find your body and go WTF.  Two points for aiding researchers of the future, but all in all, boo.  2/10.

p.38 Find underground stream, save village.  Yay, I guess, but no unicorns are ever found or even seen along this path, so, pretty lame.  6/10.  Technically I suppose it has to go above five since it’s a hooray-you-won ending, but um.

p.56 Following the damn bat riddle, you chuck yourself off the steeple of your local church and break both your legs.  Presumably everyone in your village dies after that because you’re the only one who’s “smart” enough to find the unicorn and you ain’t going nowhere.  Boo.  0/10.

p.57 While hunting through the woods for traces of shed unicorn hair, you find an escaped kidnapped princess who offers to give you the spare unicorn horn she has lying around, presumably in a junk drawer or something, in exchange for saving her.  Which is goofy, because she had already escaped and was just wandering around and your actions to “save” her consist, in their entirety, of offering to “hide” her in your village.  5/10.  You win, I guess, but it really isn’t because of anything you actually did.

p.61 Using an enchanted net, you set a unicorn trap but you trap a fire-breathing dragon instead, and when you go to try and get your net back the dragon burns you up.  3/10.  Being burned to a crisp sucks but it’s a fairly rational outcome of the choices you made and it’s at least appropriately final.

p.63 You weave a magic tapestry with a picture of a unicorn on it, and it magically fixes your well.  7/10.  You win, and the story features at least an *image* of a unicorn.  So it’s unicorn-related, see  Which is more than I can say for certain other endings.  I’m looking at you, page 38.

p.65 A magic faerie-circle has turned you into a unicorn; is this awesome? (Y/N)  EMPHATIC YES.  You’re immortal, immune to disease, and now you get to be a pretty pretty unicorn to boot.  Some nitpickers may mention that you are now cursed to see all your loved ones wither and die while you remain forever young, and some other nitpickers might mention your lack of opposable digits, and to each of these camps I say, respectively:  (a) your family is already dead *anyway*, and (b) horse lips are pretty manipulative in a pinch.  And, oh yeah, you save your damn village too.  Fucking aye.  11/10.

p.69. Find magic ever-flowing water goblet in steeple of local church.  6/10, much like page 38.  What bonus points this ending earns from the awesome power of a magic ever-flowing water goblet are subtracted because the power of the artifact will inspire covetousness in simple-minded townsfolk and wandering rogues alike, and your “solution” is not likely to last long.  At least the underground stream can’t be tucked under the greatcloak of the next black-clad scoundrel (or perhaps “knave”) to come down the pike.

p.70 Turned into fir tree by wood-witch.  You’re still alive, after a fashion, and even though your village dies, it is — like being burned up — appropriately final.  But dag, trees must get bored and stuff.  Plus, the memory of your failure will haunt you the remainder of your days, which are likely to be many (barring wood beetles or enterprising Christmas tree harvesters.)  3/10.

p.73 You wuss out in the wishing-circle, get turned into a big-ass rain shower instead.  You save your village but are promptly obliterated thereafter.  5/10, and I’m tempted to rate it lower because you were one choice away from page 65 and you blew it.  Chump.

p.76 Attacked by giant spider in cave accessed via church crawlspace and, *and*, subsequently buried alive by cave-in.  While it kind of bites to get your face sucked on by a spider and then suffocated by tons of loose earth, it’s also kind of awesome.  Though, let’s face it, that sort of thing is only awesome when it happens to other people.  4/10.

p. 78 Trade your lucky charm for potion from horn-stealing warlock, save village, hooray.  7/10, pretty basic good-class ending.

p. 80 Fight horn-stealing warlock, get put to sleep for five hundred years.  5/10; yeah, your village dies, but what other sixteenth-century peasant gets a chance to have her own cell phone?  No other sixteenth-century peasant in the world.

p. 83 After doing the *sensible* thing and refusing to trade your unicorn horn for magic wishing opals, you are forced to trade your good-luck charm for a magic flying horse, which promptly rockets up to the stratosphere and then you fall off and die.  Boo.  0/10, mostly because I hate these things when they railroad you like that.

p. 86 Sorceress uses youth potion on hornless adult unicorn, which inexplicably turns it into a horn’ed baby unicorn who saves you village and then is your pet.  D’aww.  8/10.

p.88 Become apprentice alchemist, fail to save village and fail to ever create gold from lead, but you do get the power to do a bunch of other awesome things, so it kind of balances out.  5/10 for helping to advance the state of thaumaturgic science, even though everyone you know or love dies as a result.

p.89 Become apprentice weaver after shipping your magic unicorn tapestry back to the village without you (see p. 63).  You save the village *and* learn a useful trade, and they decide to re-name the village after you.  Did you ever wonder how the little town of Age-Indeterminate-Gender-Neutral-Annoying-Young-Hero-Type-Person got its name?  Now you know.  9/10.

p.94 After being thrown in jail for stealing the duchess’s unicorn horn, a real live living Unicorn springs you out of jail with magical unicorn magic, then you go back and save everybody.  7/10.

p.95 Okay, get this, the good luck charm that the village wise-woman gave you — the one you’ve been carrying this entire book — is actually a magic water-purifying talisman.  Um, okay.  5/10, and only because you save the village; all other points are lost in a cloud of what-the-fuck.

p.98 Okay, so, you *trade away* the unicorn horn you already have for three magic “wishing opals”, and you wish that your parents were alive, that your village will forgive you for visiting the leper colony on page 8 and accept you back, and, yes, that your stupid water supply will get all purified and stuff.  You “feel certain” that all these things have come true, and you skip happily home.  There are so many problems with this ending, but the only other alternative is to get dumped off a flying horse and fall to your death (see p. 83) so whatever, book.  5/10, because I guess we’re supposed to take the book’s word on all this.

p.101 Eaten by gryphon.  ‘Nuff said.  3/10.

p.102 You fail to find a unicorn at all, but discover magic water-purifying seeds that eventually “replace unicorn horns as the most highly regarded method of purifying water”.  Hooray, but, um, no unicorn.  6/10.

p.104 Stay by the side of dying hornless unicorn.  Horned unicorn, who is hornless unicorn’s sibling comes along, is touched by the gesture, and you both ride back to the village and save their peasant asses.  8/10; contains not one, but *two* actual unicorns.

p.111 Imprisoned by duchess for stealing her unicorn horn.  Your one friend, a kindly jailor, is so distraught when you try and bribe him with a piece of the broken horn because, oh, lordy, he thought you were innocent, turns out you were guilty as sin all along.  You rot in prison, I guess.  Kind of a downer.  2/10.

p.113 You restore hornless unicorn’s horn by crying the Rainbow of Tears with the help of a bunch of birds you caught in your magical net, and together you go home and purify the hell out of your water supply.  This is probably the “best” ending that does not involve becoming a pretty pretty unicorn yourself, because the riddle you were presented with at the beginning gets solved correctly, you save your village and, um, there’s like a rainbow and shit.  10/10.

p. 114 The sorceress’s plan to turn you both into birds so you can deliver the horn-restoring healing potion to the hornless unicorn goes horribly awry when a fox leaps out and eats the sorceress, leaving you trapped as a bird for the rest of your life.  4/10; your village dies, true, but at least you don’t have to be a damn tree.

Channing:Later presented as actually being the work of Jonah Yu himself in a brief series of blog drabbles I wrote about these characters.  Jonah’s style is a lot like mine when we get hyper-analytical.  Plus, the part in Jonah’s story where he talks about going on an epic quest to find a place that would recycle his batteries, accidentally visiting a brothel on the way?  Totally happened.

I really did think “Geisha House” meant that it was a Chinese restaurant or something.  Honest.