Creator of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that influenced online culture has died



If you are saddened by his death, turn to page 3.

If you are happy that he has died, turn to page 666.

If you want to try something else, turn to page 42.


The first of the Choose Your Own Adventure books I read was Montgomery’s Journey Under the Sea, and I was immediately addicted. Credit for creating the books, though, should also go to Edward Packard, who also wrote several books in the series–including the first, The Adventures of You on Sugarcane Island. I still get chills remembering one possible ending from Packard’s The Cave of Time, which was, “You die a few years before you are born.”

It looks like long after I’d stopped reading the books Packard wrote some hilarious installments, like this one:


if only he’d arbitrarily made a different choice at some critical but unknown moment in his past… but who among us could mark the page corners of life?


and on page 101, he comes back to life.


Jokes aside, I did grow up on these books and while they weren’t necessarily the best written stories, they were really influential to me. Certainly when I started programming, I looked back to these kinds of books as inspiration for the kinds of text adventures that could be easily coded in something like Basic - some of the first programs I made were Choose Your Own Adventure style stories. Actually in some ways the books were an introduction to coding for me, what with their if/then/goto logic.

I’d be interested to know though how much RA Montgomery was influenced by (or even aware of) early text adventures like Zork and CCA - they came around at about the same time, but of course in the late '70’s personal computers weren’t as ubiquitous…


My brother and I LOVED these books and read a bunch of them. Sorry to hear that he is gone but his invention was wonderful!


I hope R.A. Montgomery’s corpse was read the Tibetian Choose Your Own Afterlife Book of the Dead:

“If you enter the Smoky Yellow Light, Turn to 17.”


Some years ago Christian Swinehart made some lovely data visualizations of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, sadly relevant again:


It’s slightly odd that the cover chosen for this particular blog post was one of Packard’s books (though Supercomputer was somewhat more memorable than the others).


Also amusing:

As I recall, some of the later versions of these had a dice mechanic as well, did they not? Aaaah, happy days. I got so many bollockings for undone homework cos I’d gone to the school library and gotten half a dozen of these out instead of doing any work…

I really liked these books but I only read a handful of them for some reason. the best one, I don’t recall the title, but it was very prescient in that it was set in a dystopian near-future. The USA was split into three new nations that were still fighting with each other. You were the president of one of the nations’ young son, using your ambassadorship as a cover for espionage. it seemed like a better narrative and less totally fantastic than the others I’d read.

They were influential enough that Harry Harrison even wrote one of his Stainless Steel Rat books in the CYOA format. I’m a pretty big SSR fan, but that book was an obvious trendy cash-grab, it sucked.

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You might be thinking of Steve Jackson’s* “Fighting Fantasy” books, which had a simple RPG combat and magic system.

I wasn’t aware of the Montgomery / Rose Estes books when I discovered Flying Buffalo’s “solitarie dungeons,” which it produced for its Tunnels & Trolls system. I eventually wrote one!

Which weren’t* written by “that” Steve Jackson.

**Except one of them, which “that” Steve Jackson ghost-wrote for Steve Jackson.


But you can’t get to page 101, except by cheating. Wait, was Edward Packard a pseudonym?

Inside UFO 54-40 was by R.A. Montgomery, but in one of its endings you appear in a paradise called Ultima. The trick is that none of the book’s possible choices lead you to Ultima. The only way to get there is by flipping to the center of the book.

Maybe that was the inspiration for this:


Edward Packard, not RA Montgomery.

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Thank you for the correction. I feel more than a little silly for making that mistake after I previously mentioned Packard’s contribution to the Choose Your Own Adventure series.


Thanks for the spoiler with no alert. sniff sorry for the snark, I’m only mortal… apparently.

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