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Starship Traveller

(original cover)
(American cover)
Series: Fighting Fantasy #4
Fighting Fantasy Reissues (Series 1) #22
Alternate Title: The Starship (literal English translation of title)
Contained In: Fighting Fantasy Gamebox 1 (Collection)
Translated Into: Avaruuden vangit (Finnish)
Csillaghajó (Hungarian)
La Galaxie tragique (French)
A nave espacial Traveller (Portuguese)
La nave estelar perdida (Spanish)
A nave perdida (Portuguese)
Raketoplán Poutník (Czech)
Rymdskeppet Traveller (Swedish)
Samayoeru uchusen [さまよえる宇宙船] (Japanese)
Stjerneskibet (Danish)
Das Universum der Unendlichkeit (German)
I viaggiatori dello spazio (Italian)
Zvezdnyi Strannik [Звездный Странник] (Russian)
Zvezdoletat Skitnik [Звездолетът Скитник] (Bulgarian)
Adapted Into: Starship Traveller (Digital Gamebook)
Author: Jackson, Steve (United Kingdom)
Illustrators: Jones, Peter Andrew (original artwork)
Corben, Richard (American cover)
Release Dates: September, 1983 (original)
April, 1984 (American edition)
June, 2005 (reissue)
ISBNs: 014031637X / 9780140316377 (original)
0440982413 / 9780440982418 (American edition)
1840465522 / 9781840465525 (reissue)
Length:343 sections
Number of Endings:13 instant failures, 1 victory, plus death by Stamina loss or bad Luck.
User Summary: Your spacecraft has been pulled through a black hole into a parallel universe, and you must somehow find your way back home.
Demian's Thoughts: This book is something of a milestone in the series -- the first to try a genre other than fantasy. It is not widely considered to be a great success, however; even the author admitted to being a bit disappointed with it, if only because of its brevity. This brevity actually confuses me, as a random-encounter-filled space adventure seems like just about the easiest sort of gamebook to pad out to full length. In any case, despite its problems, it does have some nice features, but I have to agree that it's pretty disappointing overall.

The major problem is that this is a fun gamebook to play, but a frustrating one to win. The first time you play, it's really entertaining to create a whole ship's crew and have fun with the Star Trek formula that the book plays with. The dilemma of figuring out which crew members to take with you to a given planet is a nice touch ("Do I risk my science officer or just bring a bunch of expendable security guards?"), and the whole feel of the book is refreshingly different. The problem is that after a few tries at exploring the universe, it becomes obvious that winning requires a lot of tedious work.

This is actually a problem with the entire Fighting Fantasy series so far -- winning requires an extraordinary amount of effort in mapping and dying and starting over, which means that by the time you're getting close to victory, you've really sort of lost track of the story, its immersiveness destroyed by constant interruptions to sketch maps and take notes. The ultimate victory doesn't come from being heroic and solving puzzles, it instead comes from figuring out how the author's mind works and deconstructing the book. There's really no way that the characters in these books could ever be successful; victory only comes from knowledge that the player has which the character could never learn. This makes the whole experience rather hollow, and Starship Traveller made me more painfully aware of this problem than previous books.

In any case, winning this book is much the same as winning Warlock of Firetop Mountain -- you need to collect a bunch of numbers and then do some math on them to find the right place to go, and somewhere along the way there's a gratuitous maze. For me, this structure was okay once, but it's more frustrating the second time around. It doesn't help that the numbers you need to collect are harder to find than the keys in Warlock or that once you find a number, there's no indication in the text that you may need it later, so first-time readers may fail even if they have followed the right path. Speaking of the right path, I do find it interesting that, unless I am mistaken, you can win this book without touching the dice once.

One last complaint -- this book seems to have utterly failed to inspire any decent artwork. The interior illustrations are unengaging, the British cover is technically good but seems to me a strange and unrepresentative scene to portray, and the American cover is just awful. This book is unique enough to be memorable on its own, but good artwork might have made me enjoy it a little bit more. Ultimately, this is a better adventure for a casual reader who wants to play Star Trek for a couple hours than it is for a serious gamebook reader who wants a satisfying thrill of victory.

More reviews by Demian

Naniyue's Thoughts: I wholeheartedly agree with Demian about this one. There really isn't much more to be said. However, I decided to try the computerized version, hoping that it would improve upon things. Sadly, it does not. Well, the art and sound are nice, as well as the simulated dice, but the core game is the same. If only someone would rewrite the game to allow for looping back around to try other entries.

More reviews by Naniyue

Special Thanks:Thanks to Ben Nelson for the dragon logo cover scan.
Users Who Own This Item: aehalpin, Alarion, AlHazred, andrewholt, Aniline, Ardennes (US), auximenes, Avenger, B0N0V0X, badboybaggins, BarefootJimmy, Barker1952, bigcobra, BobaGabe, bonhomme, bookwormjeff (US & UK), cayh_dilg, Citadel1963, Count Heydrich, crazydave, Crazyscotsman, crispybacon, CSquared, Cyan, c_wickham, damieng, dArtagnan, dave2002a, dblizzard72, demon of the deep lt, desdichado66, devilsboy, Dirk Omnivore, domj29, Dronak (1st reissue Special Limited Edition), eadric, Ed, edwebb, egokun, firefoxpdm, Fireguard, Gallicus (Limited Edition), Gamebook, Gamebook Collector, Garrick Muttley, Gartax, Gibraltar, gnomeza, greyarea13, Grifter (US), Gurvo (1st print, signed by S.J.), Haoie, hoops4ever, Ian2405, Icedlake (original & american cover), jeff3333, JiPi, jr, Jubal (UK), juski, katzcollection, khaxzan, killagarilla, killagirilla, kinderstef, knginatl (UK jagged, US, UK reissue) (UK jagged, US, UK reissue), Lambchop, le maudit, liam0404, MacbthPSW, Malthus Dire, marnaudo, MasterChief, mattender, mir1812, mlvoss, Morthynmir, Naniyue, nelsondesign, NEMO (original cover), nerelax, Nich, novelist1982, odo_ital, Office Linebacker_, ogabor, Osirian08, outspaced, Pessimeister (original version), peterm2, Pirrakas, plowboy, Pseudo_Intellectual, qazplm (Green stripe), Radjabov, redpiper05, Rozo, ryderark (Spanish Altea Version), Ryuran333 (American Printing), Sabreman, Salpynx, sick_boy, SilentGunman, Sir Olli (UK & US), sireeyore, skeleton, snakefire77, Soul Reaver, spragmatic, strawberry_brite, terrysalt, Treble Incognito (UK), Treguard, Tremendez, Trompe-l Oeil, truce57, twar, Twoflower, umbra682000, Vampireman, Virtua Sinner, Wardog, Yalius, zat, Zolika
Users Who Want This Item: BobaGabe, CSquared, Cyan, dave2002a, exaquint, Ffghtermedic, horrorbusiness, Househeart, jeremydouglass, MasterChief, Mr ?, mrwalker, NEMO (american and green puffin), Nomad, ThisIslandEarth, twar, Uraniborg, Von Scotty, Waluigi Freak 99, yermither
Users with Extra Copies: bookwormjeff - US
Cyan
devilsboy
greenmillie64 - i have a 1983 one if anyone wants to buy it.
Ian2405 - U.K Edition - Dragon Plaque 1987
jr - Original Cover
kinderstef
MacbthPSW
strawberry_brite
Yalius

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