Chooseco, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-933390-03-1
RA Montgomery has a tendency to channel his inner hippie dipstick into his gamebooks, and this is especially evident in Space and Beyond. Ostensibly a campaign in which you and your buddy Mermah get to explore some planets, this is actually an opportunity for Mr Montgomery to blast some zen-like concepts about peace, inner self, and what not.
You are a kid born in a spaceship, turning 18 in just three days and two hours. Clearly, you are to assume that you have all the knowledge and capabilities of an 18-year old despite being born just barely four days ago. There must be some really accelerated schooling system in that spaceship! The crew on this spaceship is “on a dangerous mission”, although it is never stated what this mission is. Anyway, you begin in a scene where you are ordered by the mission commander to pick a planet to visit: Kenda, a planet with a “history filled with trouble”, or Croyd, a planet with a “dim and troubled past”. Something tells me descriptive powers are not exactly Mr Montgomery’s forte.
You don’t really have much to go with when it comes to choosing what to do or where to go, so it’s a matter of picking something at random. Abrupt endings are everywhere, so it’s not like there are strong and interesting story lines to savor here. But, from an academic point of view, this campaign is interesting because the author is clearly channeling his own brand of metaphysical mumbo-jumbo that may fly over the heads of the kids reading this story.
You return to the big bang that started the whole thing. You are, and you have been, a part of everything – always. The beginning is the end.
What does Mr Montgomery think about enlightenment?
“The past is also the future. You have much to learn. Look to what you have learned. Then the future will reveal itself.”
There are also some references to how a community concerned with “sharing” would be a better way to live, some anti-nuclear references, pacifism being the way to stop the war, and other things that may be more at home in a CliffsNotes on John Lennon’s Imagine and other hippie dipstick tunes. As a result, while Space and Beyond is a bit of a crap gamebook, there is enough amusing gobbledygook and bizarre metaphysical stuff to provide some amusing diversion. Sometimes it’s like wading through a more pretentious take on Interstellar, sometimes it’s like getting a peek into the mind of someone who’s probably higher than he should be when he is writing. It’s all quite entertaining.