16

In the 1980's I read a lot of these. A huge list is at gamebooks.org. So I define a "multiple choice book" as broadly as possible. There can be any type of game system. There can be no game system; the Dungeons and Dragons multiple choice books had none. There can be any settings. The audience can be any age.

But I am not limiting it to the 20th century. I wonder if someone in the middle ages wrote one. It might not have been some monster with skill 10 and stamina 6. If I had to guess my intuition, based on having played 19th century German board games, would be that there was some German late 19th century fantasy author who made a multiple choice book.

But I don't know: who was the first to write one?

  • 1
    If not, this is off-topic. If so, there's a 1930s case in a romance novel, Consider the Consequences, followed by Ayn Rand's The Night of January 16th (although that one is a script). – FuzzyBoots Jun 28 at 15:36
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    What do you mean by “multiple choice book”? Obviously this includes choose your own adventures but what else? RPGs? Board game manuals? – Laurel Jun 28 at 15:53
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    You say you "define a 'multiple choice book' as broadly as possible", but as far as I can see you don't define it at all. Is this a name you made up for some kind of book? Are they like "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, or something else entirely? – user14111 Jun 29 at 2:39
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    I used the term multiple choice book to encompass different genres and game mechanics. Choose your own adventure was one example. But there were also series where you used a time machine [Falcon], Greek historical series, and even some series based on sci fi video games [find the kirillian]. – Snack_Food_Termite Jun 29 at 2:46
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    Raymond Queneau, Un Conte à votre façon, 1967 – DaG Jun 29 at 8:51
20

"Alien Territory" (1969) by John Sladek. There are earlier gamebooks that I can find with the earliest being Consider the Consequences! (1930) by Doris Webster and Mary Alden Hopkins and Treasure Hunt (1945) by Alan George but this is the first sci-fi gamebook I could find. It is described as:

a story composed of 36 paragraphs arranged in a grid and connected by arrows which define a wide variety of possible paths through the narrative.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Gamebook

It was originally published in New Worlds #195 (November 1969) and you can read it from the images below as it was published originally.

Alien Territory page 1 Alien Territory page 2
Click images to enlarge.

  • Thats a nice find. The nature of the question might get me to delay givign a tick for a bit because there could be something earlier. – Snack_Food_Termite Jun 28 at 15:52
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    @athornton Sure, I'd delay giving it for a few days if I was you, especially because of the weekend. Some people might know of earlier ones and best not to discourage them answering! – TheLethalCarrot Jun 28 at 15:53
  • Nice. I didn't think to check the SFE. – DavidW Jun 28 at 15:54
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    @DavidW FWIW I actually found it listed on the Wikipedia page for Gamebooks but it took me a while tracking down if it was SFF or not. (Alien territory not necessarily meaning actual aliens but potentially foreign, unexplored territory). – TheLethalCarrot Jun 28 at 15:55
11

On the (Warning: TVTropes link) Gamebooks page, the Originators section lists TutorText as "the first known gamebook." The first of these was originally published in 1958. Unfortunately they are all educational, so not on-topic.

The next point lists 3 "popularizers" of gamebooks, none of whom published any books earlier than 1958.

The Choose Your Own Adventure series are the earliest I've found that clearly include fantastic elements (time travel, aliens), and the first of those was published in 1979.

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    By the way on CYOA Edward Packard is still alive with a website at edwardpackard.com. I emailed him a month ago and he was kind enough to email back. There is also a drawing of him in the CYOA book where you hunt for antimatter. – Snack_Food_Termite Jun 28 at 15:55
8

As best I can tell, it was likely Journey Under the Sea, published under the "Adventures of You" imprint in 1977, and later re-released as a CYOA book. It involves a then-futuristic submarine. There are prior gamebooks, but they're rooted in reality.

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