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And bounces off.

Actually no. Let's try again shall we, because much as I'd like to bounce off this hopelessness and never see it again, I can't.

Is another bandwagon-jumping attempt by three women who collectively refer to themselves as Helena S. Paige and are all Bridget Jones' target audience between themselves. The bandwagon is, of course, the fucking interminable Fifty Shades of Grey one. Only these people do it DIFFERENTLY.

No, not good. Differently.

Here's why.

Executive Summary

If you want to read a good erotic novel, turn to Fanny Hill, otherwise keep reading.

A bit more detail if you don't mind?

Yes, that's right, boys and girls, it's interactive erotic fiction! Or, as it calls itself, "Choose your own erotic destiny." I personally think that "Fucking Fantasy" would be a better term for the series (yes, series, there is already a whole raft of these planned, worse luck). Trips off the tongue far more readily and stands out in a crowd. But I digress.

See, when I was a wee nut, still yet to fall off the blisstwig of childhood into the grass verge of acne-riddled pubescence, I was a great fan of those Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. You know, the ones that allowed the unpopular boys and girls to, armed with two dice, and pencil, and a rubber (No, not that sort of rubber! The one you rub out pencil marks with!) cease being unpopular kids and for a while be heroic adventurers, slayers of dragons, evil wizards, and general all around good eggs. I was a massive fan. Had hordes of the wee green-spined buggers. The appeal wasn't just the childish wish fulfilment, and battling through to glorious victory, but also the gooshy bits as well. Because they were gooshy. It was not uncommon for your painful demise to be expounded upon at some length, always ending with an ominous "Your adventure ends here." My personal favourite was the one where you were knocked off a ledge and became "a spreading stain on the floor." If you must know. Anyhow. When a teenager I kinda got back into it on a nostalgia trip with a kid called Chris who resembled for all the world a priapic gnome. We got to shootin' the shit about these and then a third bloke, a lanky chap called Paul, weighed in with his experience and then broached the idea that we should all, working together, write a slightly more, erm, adult, fantasy gamebook. It was to be about Miss Buchanan the rather tasty young English teacher. Now, even aged 15 and thus by definition an indomitable horndog, what was my response to this?

"No, let's not. That is a fuck-stupid idea."

This response got me branded Gay for some reason but they didn't make good on their threat and write it. See, even then I was well aware that writing a sexy choose your own adventure was one step above erotic furry fan fiction on the inability-to-show-face-in-civilised-society meter. And I still stand by that. Because it is a fuck-stupid idea, and this novel proves it. Not only because of the concept, but because of the execution, which shows conclusively that the authors haven't got the whole idea of how interactive fiction works.

Okay. Right. A Girl Walks Into A Bar. You, the reader, are the nameless female protagonist. You live in a large city and have a friend called Melissa. You're going out on the tiles with her. But first, a dilemma, and one which shows exactly the problem, mechanically, with this at least. What undercrackers do you put on? You have a choice of granny panties, control top knickers, a purple G-string, or none whatsoever.

So, I picked none whatsoever. I was told that actually I wasn't that daring and put on the purple G-string anyhow.

I then went back and picked the control top knickers. I was told that while it flattered my figure, it was insufficiently accessible in case I get lucky, and put on the purple G-string anyhow.

I then went back and picked the granny pants. I was told that it would impede my chances of getting lucky, and put on the purple G-string anyhow.

See what I mean? The idea of choosing my own adventure has already, a few junctures in, to be proven to be lies, all lies!

Anyhow, the player character then trolls off to this bar and spots a few likely gents. This is basically an excuse to allow you to decide which incredibly boringly written sex scene you'd like to read next. I picked drinking tequila with a 1970s rockstar. After having done a body shot off him (Christ almighty have you seen 70s rockers nowadays? They look like they've been left in the washing machine for far too long. Ick. I'm not putting my tongue on that!) I was told that "Your knickers are instantly wet at the thought of licking his body." I then went back to his place for an initial knee-trembler before taking a shower with him. This seemed to be going fairly well, despite that "your body is still sensitive after your enormous orgasm" and suchlike, and then he asked if I could urinate on him. But before I could decide whether or not I wanted to tap a kidney onto the drummer of The Space Cowboys the book chose for me and I went to see my friend Melissa and called him a "freak." I mean, come on. This is totally unacceptable. Why wasn't there the opportunity to urinate on him and then the subsequent opportunity to film it and threaten to e-mail the film to the Daily Mail unless he gave me free tickets to his gigs forever? Or similar? I thought this was supposed to be choosing one's own erotic destiny. Granted, I'm not a fan of water sports but there surely are readers who are? Hm?

Okay, so I backtracked and instead attempted to pull the amateur photographer in the bar. I then was invited to his studio upon where I was subjected to a badly written rooting over the back of a motorbike: "Unable to wait another second, he eases you backwards, then lifts both of your stilettoed feet up onto your shoulders, so that he has full access to you. Then he runs his thumb up and down your slit. "Now," you urge, and he slips his cock inside you." I was then invited for sushi afterwards, so I did, and ended up shagging the chef. Oh joy. But what if I didn't even fancy these people? There's no choice as to that. Or what if these people didn't fancy you? I mean, speaking as a gentleman, I'm not going to automatically slather after everything in a skirt. Despite what thousands of advice columns in Cosmo have told you, not all men can be reduced to mountains of eager flesh by you wearing a particular brand of perfume or similar, and men do get abhorrent admirers as well (and speaking from experience, it is not as funny as iffy American romantic comedies make it look.) Or what if, upon attempting to pull this photographer, for instance, his boyfriend turned up?

See, this is what really gets me about A Girl Walks Into A Bar. It's not what it claims to be. It's not interactive fiction. It's where you get to choose between a handful of different bad porn stories, all handily locked within the same cover. There are no meaningful choices. There are no bad endings. What if you made a whole load of incorrect choices and ended up back at yours early with naught but a Pot Noodle and a wank for company? What if one of the chaps turned out to be a psychotic serial killer? Also, all of the individual erotic destinies are boring as shite. There's nothing unusual or unexpected. Rock star, tasty barman "with a body made for sin," business magnate, chef, etc., all have been done to death in the world of bodice-ripping.

Now I think about it, I could do better. In fact, I will. Hazelnut's Thoroughly Revolutionary and Extremely Awesome Erotic Gamebook would rule like anything. Two dice, a pencil, and a box of three are all you need to go on this wacky sexventure with the goal of scoring with the greatest lover of all time. There would be meaningful choices which affect the narrative, side tales, and similar, and the final encounter would be pretty average, really. But - as a much wiser noder than I once observed - this would be deliberate, because the real pleasure of sex and love and all that is getting there, and what you learn in so doing, not the pointless sploitch of orgasm with which we far too readily associate it.

This book is that pointless sploitch.

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