Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Blood Of The Zombies

If you so happen to be around my age (i.e. pushing 40) and/or your specialist subject on Mastermind would be The collected works of Geekery and Nerdery, chances are you'll know that the team at Fighting Fantasy are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the franchise this year.

That's right! It was 1982 that Puffin books first published The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstone's first title in the series of adventure gamebooks. Over the next decade and a half, the series grew and grew to a grand total of 59 titles, selling umpteen million copies worldwide.

There were a number of spin offs from the main series of gamebooks, too. Out Of The Pit was the definitive monster reference book, providing in-depth detail on the hundreds of beasts lying in wait in the pages of the books, ready to pounce on young adventurers. Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World was essentially a bible based on the world in which most FF adventures were set. Steve Jackson's epic 4 part adventure, Sorcery!, was designed for older readers. Clash Of The Princes was a two-player adventure, whilst Fighting Fantasy, The Riddling Reaver and the Advanced Fighting Fantasy series were multi-player roleplaying games. There were three novels and two board games. Make no mistake, Fighting Fantasy was HUGE.

I still have all of my FF books to this day and most of those I purchased first time around are in remarkably pristine condition, in spite of being nearly three decades old. That's not because I haven't read them but rather because I was a somewhat precious child and I simply liked taking good care of them. That meant my best friend was a bookmark, I didn't ever dare write on each book's adventure sheet and would end up devastated if ever opened a book wide enough to crack the spine, so I hardly ever did such a thing.

Since that time, I have tried supplementing the collection by way of eBay and charity shops. It's an expensive exercise - some of the more scarce titles regularly change hands on auction sites for ten times the £5 cover price - and, inevitably, they've never been so eagerly cared for but I am still determined to own all of them. Luckily, I have about seven or eight to go and the collection will be complete.

The wallet is hurting a little more than usual right now since Fighting Fantasy is currently experiencing a revival like no other. Spurred along by the three decade long anniversary, Ian Livingstone has penned a brand new adventure, entitled Blood of The Zombies (see photo). Some of the books were re-released a few years ago with new (but not great) artwork, but Blood of The Zombies has gone for a delightfully retro design approach - as delightful as flesh hungry zombies set on tearing you limb from limb can possibly be, of course - complete with the legendary green coloured spine and classic FF dagger logo reintroduced. It is properly joyous and properly gruesome at the same time. It is amazing.

Top top it all off nicely, Ian Livingstone will be promoting the new book at the Edinburgh Interactive event this weekend. He'll be giving a talk on "30 years of Fighting Fantasy" and also signing copies of Blood of The Zombies. Later on in the day, he'll be giving a similar talk at the Edinburgh Book Festival. I'm quite nervous about meeting him, as it happens - seriously, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone are to me what JK Rowling is to Potter fans - and I am concerned that any intelligent commentary of mine will be reduced to nothing but crazy inane babble.

"Ian, please don't think I am (too) weird" I tweeted yesterday.

"No problem" he replied.

He must be used to it by now.

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At 9:53 pm, Anonymous Graham Bottley said...

The whole franchise is growing again! There are new books, we released the RPG (plus Titan and Out of the Pit) last year, there are iPhone versions, there will be a documentary later this year and also House of Hell is being made into a film!

On top of which, loads of kids are now reading the books again, which can only be a good thing.

At 4:04 pm, Blogger Paul Smith said...

Don't worry, you're not the only one to be reduced to a babbling 11 year old upon meeting Ian Livingstone - I did a good job of that myself :)


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