Last week we announced that Stone Marshall’s Flynn’s Log 1: Rescue Island is our Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of our student reviews and of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category:
Here’s the set-up: The world is in trouble and needs a Minecraft hero.Flynn, a hacker, enters a familiar but changing video game world where something goes terribly wrong.Flynn gets stuck inside the game! His memory is lost and the dangers he faces are real. The game world evolves introducing new dangers and creatures that Flynn has never seen before. An intelligent creature comes to his aid, but can Flynn trust this digital being?
About the Flynn’s Log series: In the near future, video games begin to change and evolve. Random bits of data create a virtual intelligence that takes over the digital world. A digital crisis is born, bringing the real world to a halt. The only person who can save the world is Flynn, but he needs help from his friends, the Hackers.
* * *
Enjoy our free excerpt:
Log Entry 1
Sand in My Mouth and Ringing in My Ears
WHAT’S THAT SOUND? I’m cold, my eyes are closed, and I hear a loud ringing.
I open my eyes and discover that I’m face down in damp sand. The ringing sound in my head is getting quieter. Wow, what a crazy headache.
I lift my head to look around, and I see that I am on a beach, next to a large body of water. I can’t tell if it’s a lake or an ocean bay. The temperature is pleasant, but the water is cold. I’m partially in the water, and my legs are wet. Weird, my legs are blocky. Wait! My whole body is blocky! I’m very square! I need to see myself. I turn around and crawl to the water to look at my reflection. I’m a Minecraft character! What is going on?
The ringing is now barely noticeable. My head is less achy, and my vision is clearing. I blink a few times. The sun seems to be setting. It’s getting dark. I notice a new sound that’s louder than the ringing in my head. It’s like a creepy slurp sound.
I’m knocked on my side. I’m now looking up and see a terrifying sight! A huge black spider, as long as I am tall, with red glowing eyes is preparing to leap at me! That’s what hurt me. This crazy angry spider is after me! It’s making that slurpy noise. It jumps, and “ouch!” I see a flash of red.
I’ve got to get moving, I’ve got to defend myself, I’ve got to do something! My moves are clumsy. I don’t have elbows or knees. My legs and arms are long blocks. Moving is difficult. Wait, it’s not that difficult, it’s just different. I can move if I don’t think about the mechanics of it. If I just look at where I want to go, my body does the rest. My blocky Minecraft body is responding to my thoughts.
Slurp! That crazy sound again! I turn my head and see red eyes glowing at me. It’s going to pounce again. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I must take action now!
I’ve played this game. I’ve controlled my character as a real person. The difference is that I am now the character. I know the basics of this game. What would I make my character do in this situation? I don’t have a weapon. I’m not wearing armor. It’s getting dark. That is why I’m being attacked. Spiders attack when it’s dark.
Wait! I’m near the water. Jump in! Spiders don’t swim. At least they don’t in the games I’ve played.
Screech! The spider jumps. But I am suddenly moving too, into the water. Am I fast enough? Can I outrun the spider? Wow this is cold!
The spider lands just behind me, at the edge of the water. “Yes!” I yell. I’m nearly up to my neck in the water now . . . And now I’m under water. Weird and eerie. I can totally see through the clear water. I see a squid swimming in the distance. It’s huge—as big as me, or bigger. It is so strange to be in this game, to face creatures that are as big as I am!
The water is very cold. The bottom is uneven. It’s like an underwater mountain that continues down, getting deeper and deeper.
Ouch! What hurt me? Ouch! I’m underwater. I can’t breathe underwater! I need to swim!
I turn to face the beach. Through the water, I see the spider at the edge of the beach. Its red eyes are piercing the water, following my every move. Ouch! How do I swim? I look up, toward the surface of the water and . . . and my body follows my thoughts, I’m swimming!
Ouch! I must be nearly out of breath. In the game if I keep my character underwater too long, he dies. Of course in the game he will respawn. I have no idea if I’ll respawn. I have no idea how I got here. Ouch! I’m so close to the surface. I need to make it; I can’t die now, not here, not with so many questions to answer.
Gasp! My head pops above the surface of the water. I breathe in. But it’s weird. I don’t breathe air. It’s like digital air. My body almost immediately feels better. The pain of not breathing is gone, but I still feel pain from the earlier spider attack. Speaking of the spider, I hope I surfaced far enough from the beach.
I turn, swimming. I can’t tread water. I seem to need to be moving to keep my head above water. To the right, I see the spider watching me, so I swim left. It’s getting very dark now. I know I’m in for trouble. In the game, the spooky stuff comes out when it gets dark, so I always move my character into a shelter to sleep through the night. In the game, it’s easy to build things, and fun too. It takes tools and resources, but that’s kind of the point of the game.
I turn my head to look back at the spider. It’s moving along the shoreline, watching me. If I had a bow and a few arrows, I’d kill that spider right now. Ironically I need string from a spider to craft a bow.
There is an island ahead. The island is completely separated from the mainland where the spider is. Playing the game, I don’t usually like small islands. They generally don’t offer enough resources for building. But I do think an island might be the safest place for me right now, even if I do eventually need to get to the mainland.
It’s hard to think of eventually. I wish I knew how to get out of here. If I am stuck here for the long term, I will need to find a safe place to live, but right now I would love to wake up from this nightmare.
Maybe I am dreaming! But you don’t feel pain in dreams, and I’ve felt real pain from the spider and from nearly drowning. If that didn’t wake me up, then I must not be dreaming. And I can’t remember anything that happened recently in my real life. I don’t remember much of anything at all, let alone how I ended up in Minecraft.
I’m nearly to the island, but to be safe, I don’t go ashore. First I really should make sure this place is safe. It’s not a big island; I should be able to swim around it easily enough. Though I am cold, my swimming seems unaffected. This blocky body doesn’t seem to be tired either. Weird.
I swim around the island. I like to orient myself as much as I can while making my character explore in the game, so I guess I should do the same, now that I am in the game world. The sun sets in the west, so I’ll call the far side of the island the west side. The near side is the east side. It’s large enough that I can’t see across it in the dark.
There is a small mountain in the middle. It’s like a big hill, really. The beach surrounding it is sand. That’s good. Easy to dig, but it can cave in, so it’s not good for building. The hill appears to be dirt, mostly. Hard to tell from this distance at night, but dirt is at least something I can dig into, if I need a safe place to hide.
My mind is strategizing as if I’m playing the game. I guess that’s a good thing. I really should be preparing myself to live here, because I have no idea when this nightmare might end.
It looks as if something is moving on the island. Oh no! What is that? I hope it’s not a spider, or worse. I approach the movement, but stay in the water. I hope I can outswim whatever it is, if it can swim too.
Wait, it’s a chicken. Awesome! Chickens are super helpful! They lay eggs that can be used for cooking. They can be killed for their meat and feathers. I’ll need feathers if I’m ever going to make arrows for self-defense. When my character gets hurt in the game, I make him eat to heal himself. I wonder if I eat something, will this pain from the spider bite go away?
I guess it’s time to take my chances and go on to the island. I swim toward the north shore. It’s sandy there with rocks forming a steep cove from the hill to the very small beach. I can sit here for a bit and hopefully be able to see anything coming toward me.
No trees or bushes growing from the rocks here. No place for dangerous things to hide. I remember in the game, that if I ever find my character in a situation such as this, where I don’t get him home before dark, the best thing to do is sit still and be quiet. I can do that. Maybe I can relax for a bit. I do feel stressed, and there is a nagging pain from the spider attack. But the ringing sound that was in my head is gone. That’s a positive thought!
Log Entry 2
SITTING QUIETLY ALL NIGHT DOES SOMETHING TO A PERSON. At least it did something to me, to the Minecraft me. I didn’t sleep; you can’t sleep in Minecraft if you don’t have a bed. Even if I had a bed, I don’t have a safe place to put it. I need a shelter of some kind. To get a shelter I need tools, and to craft tools I need resources.
I thought about lots of stuff during the night. I’m confused about many things. The biggest questions I have right now are, How did I get here and can I get out? Thinking about this made me realize that at this point, none of that matters. What does matter is survival!
I learned somewhere that there are basic human needs. It seems some of these needs are the same for humans and Minecrafters.
Requirements for human survival are air, water, and food. I learned about the need for air yesterday. Even though the air in Minecraft is digital, it’s still needed. I guess everything here is digital, so I should think about it as if it’s real. I know the pain is real enough. I haven’t eaten anything since waking up on the beach yesterday.
I don’t feel hungry, however, I do know that Minecraft characters seem to need food every so often to keep their health up. And food helps heal injuries. Maybe I am hungry, but don’t feel the pangs of hunger. I’ll worry about that later.
Protection from the elements is the next most important requirement for human survival. This includes clothing and shelter. Shelter is my first priority in the game. It seems to be more vital to a Minecrafter than food. I need a place to be safe when the night comes.
As a human controlling my Minecraft character, I always keep my character safe at nighttime. I know dangers lurk in Minecraft nights, but I can’t remember what they are. I know there are dangerous creatures, such as the spider from yesterday. Why can’t I remember? I remember explosions. A creature that explodes. What is it called again? Whatever dangers exist, I need to protect myself.
The sun rises in the east and lights up the island. I look to the east, to the beach where I found myself yesterday. I’m looking for the spider that attacked me. I see the beach area, but no spider. There are trees and some bamboo growing near the shore. That must be sugar cane. The spider could be hiding there. I suppose it won’t attack me during daylight. Nonetheless, I think building a safe house on this island is a great place to start.
Tools in Minecraft always get me excited. Now I have the chance to wield Minecraft tools in my own virtual hands. The hard part is starting out. I have to start with bad tools before I can craft good tools. The best tools are strong, last a long time, and work efficiently.
Iron tools are a great compromise. I can usually find enough iron ore with a couple of days of digging to make tools that last a week or two. But to mine iron ore, I need cobblestone tools. I can’t mine cobblestone with my bare hands. I need the most basic tools made of wood. Wood I can get with my bare hands. But it takes time.
I climb to the top of the rocky cliff above the small cove. I can look around up here. The island has clumps of trees. That’s lucky. If I were in a desert biome I would have more trouble. I want the tallest trees I can find. Spotting a cluster of tall trees at the south end of the island, I start walking. The south end looks like a large forest. I haven’t moved since finding a safe place to sit last night.
In the real world, I might feel sore after a night of crouching, but my virtual body is unaffected. I move quickly along the cobblestone cove. I find an impasse. I can’t climb over some of the cobblestone here; there are not enough stair-like blocks. I follow the shoreline to the east. Once I get around the steep cove the land becomes easier to traverse. I can climb up the dirt at the edge of the sandy beach and walk up the hill toward the south end of the island.
What a beautiful island! I pass a small pool of water surrounded by a jungle. I think I’ve made a lucky discovery by swimming to this island last night! I notice vines hanging from the trees in the jungle area. I walk up for a closer look and discover a deep cavern. Wow! I’d hate to stumble on that in the dark. I’d fall to my death.
I crest a hill to get closer to the trees. In fact, it’s the highest point on the island. This is the spot where I will build my house. High places are easier to defend, plus it’s easier to see from a long distance. Building on a landmark such as this makes it harder to get lost while exploring.
For my own reference, I start naming the places that are important in my Minecraft life. This place I call Citadel Fort, which means fortress on high ground. My original landing beach I call Spider Sands, for obvious reasons. And the north end of the island where I stayed my first night in the game, I call Safety Cove. The island I name Rescue Island, and the water between Rescue Island and Spider Sands, I call Clear Sea.
As I walk around Citadel Fort I decide there are plenty of cobblestone blocks to use when building my fortress. I envision the finished building. Stone walls, glass windows, wood doors, and torches attached to many places on the outside and inside walls to keep the place well-lit and easy to find at night, if I happen to be away after the sun sets. Two stories high should be enough. Maybe I’ll build a tower in the middle. Plus I think I’ll dig a mine in the basement of Citadel Fort. I’ll use a trapdoor to close it off from the rest of the building.
I reach the trees. Now is the moment to try what I’ve only done a few times when controlling a character in Minecraft, and never as a virtual being in Minecraft. Punch the tree until a block of wood falls out. An axe is the right tool for this job. I’ll have one soon enough, if this works.
I punch. The tree shakes. I punch again. The tree shakes. I punch repeatedly, the tree shakes and the block of tree I am hitting begins to look different. I punch for what feels like too long, when the block of tree suddenly breaks out and becomes a tiny, floating, spinning block. Wow! It worked.
I touch the small block and it jumps into my hand. The tree remains standing as if physics don’t matter here. It’s floating there, a short stub of trunk attached to the ground, a blank space that I broke away from the tree, and the rest of the tree, the bulk of the tree, is floating there. It’s so strange to experience these effects for the first time in this world. This is one of those things that makes the world of Minecraft different from real life. A tree in real life would fall over. I love this!
Holding the block of tree in my hand, I hit the tree again. The work goes faster, the tree breaks up into smaller blocks easily. Each block that breaks away exposes the next tree block. Each tree block is surprisingly real, yet blocky. I see the rings of the tree on the inside and the bark on the outside. I chop as high as I can reach, and collect all the blocks of wood, six in all, and put them in my pocket. No bulge, it seems to be bottomless. Awesome!
I finish by chopping at the leaves left in the sky. In the game, I like to chop until I get a sapling to replace the tree I chopped down. This is my island and my world for the unforeseen future. I better do my best to keep this digital world healthy. I chop until I get two saplings and plant them in the digital earth.
I know how to craft in the game. Basic crafting doesn’t even need a crafting table. But I need a crafting table. I need a pickaxe. I’ll have to settle on a wood pickaxe for now, but that will soon lead to stronger, stone tools.
Now, how to craft? I need to use basic crafting ability to make a crafting table. Maybe there is something in my pocket, so I open it as wide as I can and look in. I see a grid. It’s my inventory, six blocks of wood so far. The next grid is a set two wide by two high with a single block next to it. The basic crafting grid!
This virtual world is amazing. NO way could I have this kind of stuff in my pocket in the real world. The combination of resources to make a crafting table is easy. I need four sets of planks, one in each block of the basic crafting grid. But I don’t have planks; I have wood. No problem, planks are made from wood, so I move one block of wood into the top left square of the grid, and four planks appear in the single grid square next to the crafting grid! I put those planks into the basic crafting grid and get a crafting table.
Now I’m moving.
I place the crafting table on the ground near the trees and use it to make sticks, an axe, a pickaxe, and a shovel. Now I have the basic tools to do some work!
I go to the cobblestone quarry and start mining with my wood pickaxe. I find cobblestone and coal. With my new resources, I make stone tools and torches. The stone tools make quick work of mining. The sun is past the midway point in the sky. If I’m going to have a basic structure for the night, I better start building.
Using my inventory of cobblestone, I build a small, square house around my crafting table. It’s large enough to house a bed and plenty of room for storage chests. I craft a wood door and leave small openings for windows. I imagine that’s safe, at least until I can smelt glass. Constructing my house takes the rest of the day, stacking blocks to make walls and a flat ceiling. It’s not my dream home. It’s not Citadel Fort. But it is a place to feel safe during the time it will take to build Citadel Fort.
I finish the basic structure by placing torches on the outside and inside walls of my new home. As the sun sets, I look at the work I did today. I began the day wondering how I got here and ended the day with a safe place to spend the night. Now I wish I had a bed, but that will come in time.
Log Entry 3
I Am Not Alone!
GRUMBLE. I FEEL A PAIN IN MY STOMACH. Nights are long. I can’t do anything about my hunger pains until morning. If I go out looking for food, I might run into a dangerous creature. I have a bit of lumber in my inventory. I craft a chest, a trap door, more torches, and a bunch of ladder sections.
I might dig a mine here, in my floor, in the safety of my shelter. It’s nice to store things in the chest that I won’t need while mining, and the trap door will close off the mineshaft from my house, keeping it safe from anything below. I start to mine—might as well stay busy while it’s nighttime. I mine straight down, pretty deep. I’ve never mined this deep before. I build a ladder as I go, so I can climb back up.
Most of what I mine is cobblestone. Once in a while I hit gravel. Gravel makes me nervous, it’s unstable. If I mine below it, it will fall down and crush me. But sometimes I find flint in the gravel. I save that in my inventory.
I’m looking for something specific. I need iron ore to make better tools. I also need as much coal as I can find. Once I make a furnace, I’ll need plenty of fuel. Furnaces are great for smelting ore, making glass, and cooking.
I hit a vein of iron ore, so I stop going down. I follow the vein, making an underground cavern. Mining is dark business; glad I have torches to mount on the walls. Way down here, in the silence, in this small space, I start to feel alone—really alone. The weight of my situation hits me, hard. I stop swinging my pickaxe.
I lean against the cold wall of cobblestone and feel a hurt from within me. It’s not hunger. It’s sadness. I feel alone and sad. What’s the point of going on in this game if I’ll always be alone? And I’m afraid to leave Rescue Island since I was attacked on Spider Sands.
I want to cry. I want to feel the pain leave my body as I weep. But I can’t weep. This is a real feeling inside a digital body that wasn’t programmed to deal with feelings such as these. This makes me angry. “Why can’t I cry?” I yell at the top of my voice. My echo is the only reply.
Startled, I yell, “Who is there?”
I feel creeped out, so I run to the ladder and climb as fast as my blocky arms will take me.
In the house I feel safe. Doors closed. The openings in the walls for windows bother me. I’m jumpy now. That creepy feeling is still with me. I need to enclose the windows. I craft a furnace and dig through my inventory for sand. Yes! I have some. I smelt glass and fill in the windows. Much better. I start smelting iron ore into ingots and plan my hunting schedule.
I need to eat. My virtual body is sending pains through me frequently now. It wants digital food, so I better get something for it. Meat is easy enough. But there’s not much on Rescue Island—a few pigs and sheep. There seems to be a bunch of chickens, but they come and go. Fish are plentiful. If I had a pole I could fish. I need string and sticks to make a fishing pole. String is difficult to find without killing a spider. Maybe I can find cobwebs in the jungle cave I passed yesterday. I think I can use a steel sword to cut down cobwebs and make string.
But for now I need something quick. The sun is rising over the mainland to the east; the unexplored land that I will eventually have to brave. Apples! I can find apples. I need wood anyway.
The ingots are done. I craft a steel sword and axe, and I’m out the door. In no time I have lots of wood, several apples, and have replanted saplings. I feel much better after eating and decide to explore the jungle to look for string.
As I near the jungle, I’m careful to watch my step. Openings to the huge cave below are in the most precarious places. I kill a chicken on the way and find several eggs, which I save for later. The chicken gives me meat and feathers. I can use these feathers to make arrows. Now I really hope to find string. What good are arrows without a bow?
I find a large opening to the cave below. Squatting at the edge, I look carefully at what I can see. No cobwebs. I inch closer, sword in hand, it’s dark in here.
Slurp. I know that creepy sound! I turn toward the sound. I see the darkness of the jungle cave, and then red, glowing eyes flying toward me. I slash with my sword. It hits something solid. Slurp, hiss, it jumps again. I see darkness and red eyes. I swing again. “Ouch!” It bites; I see a flash of red.
I back up, dazed and confused. I hear it again, but I don’t see anything. I’ve fallen face down in the darkness. I roll over to see a large spider creeping toward me!
Slurp, hiss, thud! My arm is up, holding my sword, which pierced the spider.
Poof! The spider is gone. Two bundles of string appear. I lay there panting for a minute, and then collect the string.
Two bundles of string are better than none, but I need three to make a fishing pole or bow. As I ponder this I hear, meow.
Turning toward the sound I see an ocelot in a tree. It tilts its head as it looks at me. Ha! Now this is a friendly face. I’d love to have a friendly face around, even if it is a cat. I get up and walk toward it. The ocelot purrs, greeting me. There is something friendly on this island. I don’t know why this ocelot is tame. I haven’t fed it. Why is it so friendly?
Hurt from the spider battle, I eat an apple from my inventory. What I must do next makes me shudder. I’m afraid of the unknown. I must enter into the dark space in front of me. I need to find more glowing red eyes and slay them. If I am to survive, I need string. And this is the way to get string. I plant a torch, lighting the entrance to the cavern, hold my sword at the ready and slowly enter the darkness.