Murder in the Stacks (1987) by Richard Hacken

I work in the library at Brigham Young University and I am delighted to announce one of our digitization pilots. Richard Hacken is now retired, but he was the jester of our library, often composing satirical poetry and songs to “commemorate” our work. I was surprised and delighted to discover that he had authored a work of interactive fiction set in the BYU library in the late 1980s! It appears to be a murder-comedy. You can play Murder in the Stacks online through

I’m not great at parser-based IF, but I did figure out how to get a library card and look at the incunabula in special collections. I’d love to hear how you liked the game if you play it (and maybe give me some hints?).


In game copyright date is 1985, but the title says 1987. Do you know which one is correct ?

I don’t know, but I sent an email to my coworker who might know.

Long past time for someone to bring back the slogan “Those Who Pay Their Share Earn Their Ware.”

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Here’s the details on the dates:

He made it in ‘85 but then made some edits to it in ‘87 with the idea of releasing it to friends/semi-publishing it. The Internet archive people who emulated it for us saw the last edited date and chose to use that one. But the date on the original floppy disk he gave to me says 85!


Thank you for the clarification.
One more question, is there any way to access the contents of the notepad? The description of the notepad say that “A copy of the Notepad is printed in the Desk Accessories”.

PS: Actually I have one more tangential question for librarians and printing press historians out there. I have a difficulty understanding why there is a need to distinguish pre and post-1500 printed books by naming the former incunabula. Wikipedia does not go into depth about the term. As far I can see they are the same(as far as technique and technology are concerned) and the naming of the former as incunabula seems like an arbitrary decision.


It is indeed arbitrary! But it’s useful to draw a division somewhere, and the turn of the century is convenient and easy to remember.

It’s like how an art museum or rare book store might have separate sections for 17th-century works and 18th-century works. Nothing magically changed in 1700 that separated the two periods, but there is a definite difference between 1601 and 1799, and 1700 is a convenient place to draw the line.