The Evolution of Sugarcane Island


 Sugarcane Island is one of the most significant works of interactive fiction, not because its content is all that exceptional, but because it is the first published work of Edward Packard, creator of the vastly successful Choose Your Own Adventure series. The book is also remarkable for its series-hopping. It was originally published as part of the Adventures of You series, and it later joined the Which Way books. Finally, after many years, it was revised and allowed to officially join its descendents as a genuine Choose Your Own Adventure book.

I've long been curious about the extent of the revisions that went into this final version of the book. At last, I've found the time to sit down and compare them section by section. I used the Archway Adventures of You paperback version of the unrevised book and a first printing of the Choose Your Own Adventure revision for the comparison. As it turns out, there's no change to the books' essential structure; no new choices are added, and no outcomes are changed. There are mostly minor style changes which show either growth on Edward Packard's part or the presence of a better editor (or, most likely, both of these things). There's a vast increase in dialogue and a fair amount of additional description. The revision is definitely better than the original, but it's still not a brilliant book... just an interesting bit of history.

The Map

In order to ensure that my exploration of the book was complete, I drew a map of how the sections all interconnect. Since the two books are numbered very differently (the original is in mostly chronological order, with most endings in the very back of the book, while the revision is more randomly scattered), I decided to make up my own numbering scheme. Actual page numbers are provided below the map in the discussion of what has changed in each part. It's not really all that important that you examine the map, but I figured some people might be interested in seeing how a complete gamebook map looks.

The Changes

1. (pages: 3-4 old, 1-3 new) Revision explains in greater detail why the boat trip is fun and removes the word "foaming" from the last paragraph.

2. (pages: 5 old, 5 new) Revision replaces "like the last" with "like the one before." The clam meat description is also made a bit more disgusting.

3. (pages: 6 old, 21 new) "You watch carefully for snakes." is replaced with an actual encounter with a snake, and more descriptive material is added.

4. (pages: 7 old, 8 new) This section is vastly expanded and improved, adding both description and character motivation.

5. (pages: 8 old, 24 new) "You know you could never make it up the rocky hill." is replaced with a scene in which you twist your ankle. "It is" is replaced with a contraction -- in fact, the revision contains a lot more contractions than the original. Additionally, the order of the choices is reversed in the revised version.

6. (pages: 9 old, 4 new) The revision makes the uphill climb in this section more dramatic, expands the description and makes explicit the presence of a volcano -- the original doesn't mention the source of the smoke described here.

7. (pages: 10 old, 27 new) This section is unchanged (apart from a change involving a comma), and its choices are reversed.

8. (pages: 11 old, 12 new) The revised version of the book mentions that the water you drink in this section is salty. It also removes the word "any" from the phrase "tiger without any stripes."

9. (pages: 12 old, 35 new) This section is unchanged, but the choices are listed in reverse order.

10. (pages: 13 old, 109 new) The revision changes the location of your bite from "leg" to "calf" and removes "away" from the phrase "run away." It also expands upon your collapse and adds details to the subsequent encounter with a native woman.

11. (pages: 15 old, 19 new) The revision adds "And the walls are too steep to climb." and gives the ape-men some dialogue.

12. (pages: 16 old, 16 new) The description of the sugarcane is improved in the revision, and the volcano imagery started in section 6 is reinforced here.

13. (pages: 17 old, 40 new) The revision removes "so as" from one sentence and makes the villagers seem more threatening.

14. (pages: 18 old, 110-111 new) This is mostly unchanged, though a comma is removed, the word "very" is inserted, and the order of choices is reversed.

15. (pages: 19 old, 41 new) The flow of the early part of this section is made smoother in the revised edition.

16. (pages: 20 old, 6 new) The phrase "swing up" is expanded to "swing yourself up" in the revision, and the original edition's final sentence is turned into a whole new paragraph.

17. (pages: 21 old, 25 new) The revision inserts "to" into the phrase "hardly dare breathe" and expands upon the quicksand encounter.

18. (pages: 22 old, 97 new) This section is unchanged (apart from the reversal of the choices), but it really could have used some revision -- that pirate is way too cheesy for my tastes.

19. (pages: 23-24 old, 26 new) Absolutely nothing is changed here.

20. (pages: 25 old, 14 new) The original text of this section is unchanged, but the revision inserts a whole new paragraph describing the old man encountered here.

21. (pages: 26-27 old, 28 new) The word "mountains" is changed to "mountain" in the early part of this section, and at the end there are many changes, making the warrior's sudden attack seem less random in the revision than in the original.

22. (pages: 28 old, 9 new) The sentence "They urge you on to the raft." is replaced with expository dialogue.

23. (pages: 29-30 old, 30 new) The revision replaces "on which to sleep" with "to sleep on" and expands upon the description of life in Abagun.

24. (pages: 31 old, 38 new) This section is among the worst-written in the original edition ("mean people?!?!"), but the revision improves it dramatically through added description and dialogue.

25. (pages: 32 old, 54 new) The revised version changes "You turn back." to "You back away from the bones."

26. (pages: 33-34 old, 36 new) The improbable mention of lemonade in the original edition is revised to read "a drink that tastes a lot like lemonade." There's also a bit more dialogue at the end of the section.

27. (pages: 35 old, 45 new) The sentence "It is good." is expanded upon in the revision, and your discovery of a treasure chest is made less abrupt.

28. (pages: 36 old, 107 new) The revision changes "run after" to "chase," removes "along" and expands the description of the witches you encounter.

29. (pages: 37 old, 102 new) Only minor changes here -- the second sentence is slightly rephrased.

30. (pages: 38, 72 old, 23 new) The original edition has a pointless page jump in the middle of this section, but the revision crams it all onto a single page. There are lots of minor changes and a few cuts, but the most dramatic revision is the fact that the sentence "It is paradise, and therefore it is death." is changed to "It is paradise, but paradise can become boring." Quite an attitude shift, really!

31. (pages: 39 old, 47 new) This section is unchanged.

32. (pages: 40 old, 48 new) This section is expanded somewhat, with the people you encounter being more clearly defined.

33. (pages: 41 old, 60 new) The second paragraph is rephrased slightly in the revised edition.

34. (pages: 42 old, 45 new) No changes here apart from the use of the contraction "it's."

35. (pages: 43-44 old, 64 new) The revision expands the summary of your situation into full dialogue and adds the threat of a waterfall to make the raft trip option sound rather less desirable than it otherwise might.

36. (pages: 45 old, 115 new) This section is unchanged.

37. (pages: 46 old, 69 new) The pirate's death is described in more graphic detail in the revised edition.

38. (pages: 47 old, 51 new) The revision replaces "evidently" with "apparently."

39. (pages: 48-49 old, 53 new) The first sentence is rephrased and the last paragraph is expanded.

40. (pages: 50 old, 114 new) The last paragraph of this section is revised to flow more smoothly and to provide more information.

41. (pages: 51 old, 112 new) Lots of changes here -- the first two sentences are combined into one, the sentence "They are Australians" is prefaced with "You learn that..." and the dialogue is changed and expanded.

42. (pages: 52 old, 56 new) The ascent in this section is made much quicker in the revision, and the warrior's fear of snow is described in a less blatant manner and made more surprising to the protagonist.

43. (pages: 53 old, 71 new) This section is unchanged.

44. (pages: 54 old, 59 new) The revision describes the waterfall in more detail and removes the cruel laughter of the onlooking islanders. The choices are also in reverse order.

45. (pages: 55 old, 75 new) The first paragraph here is split in two and reformatted in the revision, which also expands the sentence "They think you have magic powers because you did not drown." into expository dialogue and rephrases the last paragraph.

46. (pages: 56 old, 43 new) The revision changes "which" to "that" and "will not dare" to "dare not." It also reverses the order of choices, rephrasing one in the process.

47. (pages: 58-59 old, 72 new) "...then whispers something in his ear" is appended onto the end of the first paragraph of this section in the revision, which also reverses the order of the choices.

48. (pages: 60 old, 117 new) This section remains unchanged in the revision, though it could still have used a bit of work. It is worth noting that it is now accompanied by a gory Ted Enik picture.

49. (pages: 61, 98 old, 42 new) Like section 30, the original edition of the book featured a gratuitous page jump here. The revision adds "The islanders cluster around you." to the second paragraph, changes "The islanders think you are a 'Storm God.'" into dialogue, expands upon the villagers' suspicion of you and rephrases the final paragraph of the section.

50. (pages: 62-63 old, 95 new) The wreck's description is expanded into two sentences and the second paragraph is given a bit more general detail.

51. (pages: 64 old, 50 new) The revision changes "ideas" to "thoughts" (presumably to avoid redundancy with later sentences) and also replaces "them" with "it," a change which makes the modified sentence seem a bit more awkward to me (I'd rather catch a tribe off guard than a village).

52. (pages: 65 old, 70 new) This section is one lousy sentence in the original edition, but it is expanded with dialogue and description in the revision.

53. (pages: 66 old, 57 new) Apart from reversed choices and the replacement of "have" with "has," this section is unchanged.

54. (pages: 67 old, 87 new) The revision changes "...scream some of the wild people." to "...the people scream for your blood." It also reverses the order of the choices, which is pretty dumb since this means the first choice in the revised edition is "If you choose the second offer...."

55. (pages: 68 old, 66 new) Only minor changes here -- the contraction "hadn't," the removal of the phrase "seem to" and the insertion of a new paragraph break.

56. (pages: 69, 94 old, 76, 103 new) Both versions of the book feature an unnecessary page jump in this section. There are lots of minor word changes ("refuse" to "say you won't," "are" to "become," "which" to "that," "magic" to "magical") plus some cheesy dialogue inserted to replace the original's mention of a curse.

57. (pages: 70 old, 86 new) Nothing new here but the contraction "he's."

58. (pages: 116 old, 80 new) There are several minor changes ("by" to "near," "A month later" to "After a month at sea," "that grows only" to "that can grow only") but only one major one -- a ship originally described as being from "the States" is now said to be from Vancouver. This appears to be one of several changes aimed to make the book more internationally friendly (the reader is more explicitly an American in the original).

59. (pages: 117 old, 33 new) The only change is the use of the word "don't" instead of "do not."

60. (pages: 73 old, 74 new) The revision removes the word "some" and changes "stops by" to "docks at."

61. (pages: 74 old, 81 new) This section is unchanged.

62. (pages: 75 old, 83 new) Same here.

63. (pages: 76 old, 68 new) The text of this section remains the same in the revision as in the original apart from the removal of the word "away" and the fact that "Space God" is no longer capitalized.

64. (pages: 77 old, 82 new) This is yet another unchanged section.

65. (pages: 78 old, 11 new) The revision replaces "animals" with the more specific "small game." when describing what you've been taught to trap.

66. (pages: 79 old, 99 new) Only minor changes here -- "nicely" is replaced with "smoothly" and the second paragraph's dialogue is shifted around a bit.

67. (pages: 80 old, 101 new) This section is unchanged.

68. (pages: 81 old, 88 new) There's a new contraction and some combined sentences in the revision, but the biggest change is the replacement of "dark" with "pitch black."

69. (pages: 82-83 old, 104 new) Your need for more diverse food is made more blatant in the revision, which also replaces "strange man" with "bald-headed white man" and replaces the section's final paragraph with dialogue.

70. (pages: 84 old, 90 new) The dialogue is slightly revised here, but surprisingly the urge to replace "cannot" with "can't" was resisted.

71. (pages: 85 old, 106 new) ...and today's contraction is "you're!"

72. (pages: 86 old, 92 new) This is probably the most-changed section in the whole revision, with the details and dialogue both being quite different from edition to edition; the end result is the same, however.

73. (pages: 87 old, 61 new) Not satisfied at being glorified in section 71, the word "you're" crops up again here.

74. (pages: 88 old, 91 new) This section is slightly reformatted, blessed with a contraction and expanded in the final paragraph.

75. (pages: 89 old, 96 new) Your reunion with Dr. Frisbee in this section is completely different in the revision.

76. (pages: 90 old, 84 new) The revised version of this section is a bit shorter than the original, mainly due to the removal of the highly redundant "You are cold and tired."

77. (pages: 91 old, 100 new) This section is definitely not improved in the revision -- in the original, you escape "down to the village and to safety," but this phrase is replaced with "down to the village to safety," making it a bit more awkward than before. Perhaps this is a typo.

78. (pages: 92 old, 85 new) This section is unchanged.

79. (pages: 93 old, 37 new) Here's another unchanged bit.

80. (pages: 96 old, 89 new) The revision changes "by" to "near" and makes the book's scope more personal by removing the unnecessary sentence "You do not know it, but the village of Abagun now lies buried under molten lava."

81. (pages: 97 old, 17 new) There are a whole lot of changes here, but they're all minor rewordings.

82. (pages: 71 old, 98 new) The revision drops an unnecessary "and" from the second sentence.

83. (pages: 57 old, 63 new) In addition to making some minor word changes, the revision actually cuts back the original's entire first paragraph into a single sentence.

84. (pages: 99 old, 94 new) This section is unchanged.

85. (pages: 100 old, 13 new) The only change here is in the ordering of the second sentence.

86. (pages: 101 old, 93 new) This section is unchanged.

87. (pages: 102 old, 62 new) Some of the last few sentences of this section have been combined in the revision, but the content is pretty much the same.

88. (pages: 103-104 old, 32 new) This section is unchanged apart from the addition of "I mean a million thanks!" to the final dialogue.

89. (pages: 105 old, 22 new) The changes here are no more exciting than a new paragraph break and the replacement of "ever will" with "will ever."

90. (pages: 106 old, 20 new) Hooray! The contraction "you're" returns! Oh, and "their" is changed to "its."

91. (pages: 107 old, 55 new) This section is unchanged.

92. (pages: 108 old, 49 new) The revised edition of the book seems to have inadvertantly dropped some words. The sentence "With it you find your way to a little fishing shelter." should probably actually read "With it you find your way to a little fishing village, where you are given food and shelter."

93. (pages: 109 old, 78-79 new) A redundant "you" is removed from the second sentence, the contraction "don't" is introduced, and your loss of your treasure is expanded upon.

94. (pages: 110-111 old, 31 new) In another move to make the book more internationally appealing (see also section 58), the phrase "back to America" is changed simply to "home."

95. (pages: 112 old, 52 new) This section changes the phrase "take you with them" to "lead you."

96. (pages: 113 old, 65 new) The last couple of sentences of this section are expanded slightly in the revision.

97. (pages: 114 old, 77 new) This section is somewhat abbreviated in the revision -- "suddenly dives" is reduced to "dives," and "finished his dinner -- of you!" is changed to the simpler "finished dinner."

98. (pages: 95 old, 103 new) This section, rather brief in the original, is more than doubled in size in the revision thanks to the addition of your thoughts and some more descriptive material.

99. (pages: 115 old, 118 new) I'll end on the word upon which so many Monty Python episodes begin... that classic contraction: "it's!"

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