Friday, November 14, 2014

Choosing My Own Adventure

I think Choose Your Own Adventure books are as close to universally loved as anything in geek culture.  Geek Culture is notoriously contrarian, and you don't have to look hard to find those within who actively hate Harry Potter, Star Wars, and even, as hard as it is to believe, Firefly.

But I don't think I've ever met anyone who actively disliked them. I was first identified as "gifted" in the first grade, and I got to pick one of two books to read instead of doing regular classwork. My choices were some generic YA novel or the CYOA book, Your Code Name is Jonah. I picked Jonah, and that began my lifelong love affair with the books.

The creator of the series passed away earlier in the month. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy. His obit said, "Montgomery, who was passionate about education all his life, felt that interactive fiction was critical to reluctant readers in achieving reading fluency, which is the final stage of achieving true literacy."

He credited the actual authors of the books in the series, rather than forcing them to use an in-house pen name, a la Lester Dent, which helped some of them launch successful careers. He continued writing books in the series himself, almost until his death. He really, genuinely believed in what he was doing. The world is poorer for his absence.

Not to conclude on a down note, two CYOA links of note.

Mapping the outcomes: Maps of the outcomes of many of the CYOA.

You Choose Wrong: A Tumblr commemorating some of the more memorable CYOA deaths.

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