My own VR books were not so much novels as role-playing adventures. Heart of Ice in particular was based on a Tekumel campaign that I ran many times, except that for the book I moved it to a near-apocalyptic future where the world may end with a bang or a whimper, and which of those fates it will suffer is largely up to you. I always saw it as a Sergio Leone movie with operatic sweep and pragmatically amoral heroes. In the new edition, I've corrected one logical flaw and in the process added yet another possible ending with the obligatory nod to Blade Runner.
Down Among the Dead Men is an adventure with pirates, magic and the undead. Pirates of the Caribbean in those days was still just a ride at Disneyland, and I don't know if I'd even heard of On Stranger Tides. If this one were a movie it'd be directed by Tim Burton. The setting is about a century before the powdered wigs era popularized by Hollywood. Think Drake and Raleigh and Doctor Dee.
I researched Necklace of Skulls while on honeymoon in Mexico and Guatemala following the Maya trail. Spirtually it owes a debt to Professor M A R Barker - as do all my books, really - but there's nothing there that came directly from our Tekumel role-playing games. There are two main routes through: one the underworld of Pre-Columbian myth, where I aimed for the logic of dreams, and that's contrasted with the "reality" option of the everyday world of the hero's clan and the historical backdrop of the collapse of Teotihuacan. Director of the movie? Jan Švankmajer or Terry Gilliam, maybe.
For the new edition, I've retitled Twist of Fate as Once Upon a Time in Arabia and I've given it a completely new prologue. The core of the adventure is unchanged, though: a whirlwind of encounters with a 1001 Nights flavour involving ghouls, djinn, flying carpets, magic rings, lost palaces, strange lands, devious villains and brave comrades. Well, you've seen the movie and played the boardgame I'm sure.
All four of my VR books return to print this week as Fabled Lands Publishing's new Critical IF series. These are completely re-edited versions, in many cases with new sections, and with brand spanking new covers by Jon Hodgson. All but Once Upon a Time in Arabia have the original illustrations, and they are formatted to fit on the shelf along with the new edition Fabled Lands and Golden Dragon books.
And if you're into the digital era of reading, all four books are also out on Kindle. Even better, they're included in Amazon's new Matchbook bundling program, meaning that if you buy the print book, you get the Kindle version for no more than 99c extra.
And, and, and - this weekend only, you can pick up a FREE Kindle edition of Down Among The Dead Men. This is what heaven is like for e-gamebook fans. But just till midnight on Sunday, mind you.
These are some of my very best gamebooks, so I'll hope you'll check them out - or, if you already read them, maybe you'd like to go put a review on Amazon? If so, may your barysal gun never want for charges.
Sorry about all these covers. I know it looks like a supermarket shelf, but I wanted to be sure everybody had easy access to at least the US and UK links. (Hey, I could have added Italian, German, Canadian...)