Literature / Harper's Folly

Harper's Folly is a blog ostensibly written by Harper Foley, an employee of the fictitious research center "Federated Para Sciences" (FPS). The story unfolds with posts going up on the blog spaced out as if they were real blog posts. The plot revolves around Harper exploring their new job at the mysterious and secretive FPS research center, a sprawling complex of research buildings and dormitories reminiscent of Black Mesa and Aperture Science. Styled as a blog, there is no Fourth Wall, some posts recount the days events, others are rants about life as an FPS employee, still others are just mind dumps after Harper encounters something new or strange.

The blog is queued up to post new entries on specified dates to give the illusion that Harper is posting them as they go, however the real author, Alexandra Erin, has already written many more in advance. The posts are written in batches, or "episodes", which are made available in their entirety to supporters of the author through her Patreon page. Each episode is subsequently released as an E-book containing bonus content including "suppressed" entries (entries that the FPS firewall blocked from the blog), and memos from within FPS.

Along with the blog the twitter account @RealFPSOfficial has been set up as the public voice of FPS. However this account is not run by a normal PR department, rather an Artificial Intelligence of some form controls the posts. Word of God describes it as "A murderous AI with absolutely no power to affect the world" - essentially GLaDOS if her only ability was to send you passive-aggressive twitter messages. While the AI insists that it's merely an "autonomous human organism", it doesn't lie vary well.

The story is set up as a parody/deconstruction of First Person Shooter tropes, where the protagonist is Genre Blind, so all the weird things that FPS players take for granted confuse and bemuse Harper when encountered. Why does a scientist need to have a gun? Why do people leave ammo laying around in storage areas? Not to mention the big question: "What does Federated Para Sciences actually do?"

This story provides examples of:

  • Genre Blind — Harper has no idea why many of the things that happen are happening, though the reader will probably recognize many of them as classic First Person Shooter tropes.
  • Blatant Item Placement — Harper finds a number of items, including ammunition, laying around in suspicious locations for no good reason.
  • Abandoned Laboratory — Parts of FPS appear to be this, having been shut down and abandoned some time in the past.
  • Ambiguous Gender — Harper's gender is never mentioned, and Word of God confirms that the ambiguity is intentional. Since as a written work we never actually see the protagonist, the reader can think of them either way.
  • Artificial Intelligence — Whatever is running the @RealFPSOfficial twitter account is an AI of some form, despite its insistence to the contrary. It often mentions its programming or posts in binary, though it generally follows up those posts with a "correction". The same AI appears to also control the announcement systems on the FPS internal transit system.