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Choose Your Own Adventure (1979-1998)
U-Ventures — no. 2
Sefr mheyj bh seyah chealh [سفر مهيج به سياه چاله] (Farsi)
Die spektakuläre Reise ins Schwarze Loch (German)
Through the Black Hole (Video Game)
(U-Ventures edition, first printing)
Dixon, Don (Original edition - cover; Original version, Gareth Stevens hardcover - cover)
Bolle, Frank (Original edition - interior; Original version, Gareth Stevens hardcover - interior)
1990 (Original edition)
July 1, 1995 (Original version, Gareth Stevens hardcover)
August, 2012 (U-Ventures edition, first printing)
0553284401 / 9780553284409
0836814088 / 9780836814088 (Original version, Gareth Stevens hardcover)
1442434260 / 9781442434264 (U-Ventures edition, first printing)
Original version, Gareth Stevens hardcover:
Gareth Stevens Publishing
116 pages (Original edition, Original version, Gareth Stevens hardcover)
151 pages (U-Ventures edition, first printing)
|Number of Endings:
15 (Original edition, Original version, Gareth Stevens hardcover)
I read the U-Ventures edition and found this book to be about as enjoyable as Return to the Cave of Time, with a good number of mind expanding endings. For some readers this story might seem a bit better because of having a more specific goal, but I found it a bit frustrating trying to achieve that goal. I enjoyed the quest much more than The Forbidden Castle because of the much more spacey subject matter. There are a couple points where the reader encounters a "quantum divergence" and then chooses randomly between two very different endings.
Packard likes to lean into some scientific ideas as the basis for his titles, sometimes at the expense of a more adventurous experience. This might be an issue for some younger readers, who might not be as entertained by issues of gravity, but this is a pretty solid book for readers who follow the ideas well.
After successfully traveling through the black hole, you get to go through a peculiar universe, where gravity functions in the opposite way - the closer you get to an object, the more it repels. This creates a whole mess of problems for storytelling purposes. Logically, all matter would be scattered evenly throughout the universe. But it's fine to ignore these problems. The purpose is to spark the imagination.
Where the book takes an odd turn is when it enters hollow earth territory. This was covered earlier in CYOA 18 - Underground Kingdom, also written by Packard. This is an improvement over how it was handled there. Underground Kingdom was very dull. This held my interest much better.
As a young prodigy of the world of astrophysics, You are given the option fresh out of the academy of Interstellar Exploration to embark on a mission like none other in Earth's history. The spaceship Athena has been designated for the difficult and extremely risky assignment of intentionally taking a live crew through a black hole in space, in hopes that they will make it through the spacial anomaly alive and be able to find out once and for all the mysteries surrounding the existence of black holes.
As one of the top students in your class (who also happened to write on your academy questionnaire that you were "ready for anything"), You have been given first crack at this seemingly impossible mission. You also have the less risky option of going along on the companion ship Nimrod, which will attend on the trip with Athena and observe the goings-on from outside the rim of the black hole's event horizon. If Athena gets into danger, Interstellar Exploration theorizes, then Nimrod may be able to help.
The opportunity to go on Nimrod certainly is there to be taken, though most of the book's more exciting and longer story possibilities come as a result of intrepidly offering to join the ship bound for the heart of danger in the black hole. Even if all goes just right your chances of survival are not great, but you have the satisfaction of knowing that you're the first human being who has every attempted anything like this.
The ways of dying in or around the black hole are many, and you're going to need a fair helping of luck to make it through the initial experience intact. If you do make it across the divide alive, you'll find a universe as different from ours as could be, in which the most basic of physical laws are completely inverted. You'll have to navigate your way carefully in this perilous new universe, and with only a limited supply of fuel and oxygen for you and your partner on the mission. Your survival will depend on how cautiously (and wisely) you make your decisions, and on whether or not you can grasp enough about this so vastly different universe to understand what you need to change about your survival instincts in order to adapt.
Edward Packard clearly knows a great deal about theoretical science. He introduces some pretty radical concepts in Through the Black Hole, such as reverse gravity and the possibility of white holes being found on the other side of the black holes that we know in our universe. The scenes that have to do with walking on the inside shell of a planet that has a reverse gravity pull are also quite scientifically advanced, pushing the limits of the reader's comprehension of the realities of space and time.
All in all, Through the Black Hole is a good book with some intriguing little twists. I think that it's designed to spark interest in further scientific study about space, and is notably advanced in its subject matter for when it was published. In 1990, knowledge of white hole theory hadn't yet really entered mainstream cultural awareness, but Edward Packard knew how to include the idea of them in a book in ways that were both exciting and scientifically sound. Fans of the Choose Your Own Adventure series will want to read this book.
In this installment of Choose Your Own Adventure, you have just graduated from the Space Academy and are being assigned to a dangerous mission - to be the first person to go through a black hole. Of course, you're also allowed to fly another ship and sit on the sidelines of the black hole to observe what happens.
This book is mainly random (and sometimes weird) events strung together along a simple plot - not any different than any other CYOA. Normally this particular plot would be the kind of thing I'd expect our favourite CYOA surrealist R. A. Montgomery to write, but for whatever reason Mr. Packard ended up doing it instead.
In the end, Black Hole was about average. Not really good, not really bad. It was just another CYOA, with few truly remarkable features about it. This is perhaps its greatest strength - yes, it is weird at times but at least it remained fairly coherent throughout. The weirdness, at least in this book, was not accompanied by totally horrible writing.
One thing that I found kind of funny was the fact that fax machines, hi-fi speakers and mechanical clocks and other anachronisms still seem to somehow still exist in a world where hypersleep and holographic computer displays are routine. Realistic this is most certainly not!
I thought it was interesting that your character and your copilot both appeared to be about nine or ten years old. Granted this is a CYOA book after all and it's just for kids, but looking at the illustrations from an older perspective did make it seem rather odd nevertheless. This is present in other books as well, but for whatever reason, it seemed much more obvious than usual here.
|Thanks to Dave Riedel for the U-Ventures cover scan.
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Known EditionsOriginal edition
Original version, Gareth Stevens hardcover
U-Ventures edition, first printing