Joe Dever died this week. I'm not greatly familiar with his work, but if you're a fan of gamebooks then you will already know much more than I could say anyway. He wrote what must be the most epic gamebook saga ever, and he was probably the first to use an original and fully detailed campaign setting and an ongoing character across multiple gamebooks. A true pioneer of the medium.
We didn't know each other very well. He wasn't part of the roleplaying social circle that included me, Jamie, Oliver Johnson, Mark Smith, Paul Mason and Steve Williams. Joe and I chatted a couple of times back in the '80s about gamebook ideas, but our paths had never crossed before that at Games Workshop, where he and Gary Chalk were working when they came up with Lone Wolf.
Gamebooks were big business then and every publisher was desperate to have their own series or three. I admired the solid design that Joe and Gary put into the underlying mechanics - the clear rules for where inventory was listed on the character sheet, things like that.
There's a tribute to Joe Dever over on Stuart Lloyd's blog and Paul Gresty has written this fan's-eye view of Joe Dever's work, a heartfelt paean to the priceless gift of fantasy that a good author can bestow.