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Villains of Volturnus

Villains of Volturnus - Jean Blashfield While continuing my Choose Your Own Adventure review saga I found myself in the mood for sci-fi, so it was a perfect time to turn to an old favorite of mine, Villains of Volturnus!

Unlike many of the Endless Quest series of CYOA styled books, V of V did not rely on the Dungeons and Dragons game system as a basis world for the book's characters to inhabit. No, instead they went with the Star Frontiers game system. Basically it's the same as D&D, but science fictiony.

In V of V you are a (somewhat androgynous, as usual) youth traveling with your praying mantis-like tutor Jac and Ting, your personal computer with a personality. The story begins with the ship you are in crashing through Volturnus' atmosphere. You are told to exit the ship immediately and must decide to go with or without your tutor. We'd better go before it's too late!!! --->>>

In my first adventure I jumped into a rescue/escape pod immediately w/o my tutor Jac. Ha! I found an Ouroboros (the snake that eats its own tail) loop right off in which, if you choose to, you could stay with your pod infinitely night after night waiting to be saved. I did not wish to. Instead, I wandered off and ended up finding a time machine. I didn't get to use it much before an annoyed blob told me I was not and should not be in existence on Volturnus' surface, so it sent me home.

The next go round I accompanied my tutor. We landed on the planet, investigated the area, found weird little creatures, and came across the time machine again. This time we foiled some pirates and saved the day, huzzah!

I was getting bored of futzing around, so this time Jac and I jumped on a hovercycle and took off to check out the planet. In a fun twist, my tutor turned out to be an impostor! I made an escape and ran into a long-eyelashed novepus (nine-legged octopus type creature) herding some flightless birds. She connects our minds with one of her tentacles and I (I mean me, not the character) feel oddly repulsed yet aroused…It's sort of like watching weird Japanese porn. Huh. Anywho, she takes me back to her people's village where there is a welcoming ceremony and the elders decide what to do with me. It's all very Native American.

Curious to see where this apparent kidnapping scenario would lead, I went along with the stranger on my next adventure. I was taken to and held captive at a rock palace of sorts in some hills. I sat around waiting/hoping my dad would rescue me. This is a long, slow section, which gave me time to reflect on how these Endless Quest books are more involved (Mature? Yeah, I guess so) than actual CYOAs. Maybe there's fewer endings in the EQs, but the passages are longer, which gives the story a chance to breathe. That's kinda nice. Back to the story! So, I turned into a hologram of the kidnappers' boss, trick the guards, radio for help and get rescued by daddy.

This is pretty fun, but rereading it (about 30 years after the last time!) brought back a feeling I had as a kid. I didn't like the kidnapping plot which runs throughout many of the story lines. Kids don't read fantasy so they can escape into a world in which they are at the mercy of adults. Too many of the endings ended with me being chastised for not obeying adults. Even today, as a boring middle aged man, I raise my fist in solidarity with repressed youth everywhere and shout some ineffectual and absolutely un-profound slogan like, "We're not gonna take it!" or "Another brick in the wall, you fascists!" There, that'll show 'em!