Saturday, February 29, 2020

Name-checking a relic of the past (METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA)

So, I've started reading the new Aaronovitch novel, the latest in the RIVERS OF LONDON series, and found that once again he shows a deft hand at dropping in references to fantasy and sci-fi fan culture.* In this case, a character finds that his co-workers at his new job, a tech company, like to spend their lunchtimes playing rpgs.

The next day . . . 
I managed to ingratiate myself with a number of
mice [=co-workers]  and Victor invited me to join one of the floating role-
playing games that assembled in one of the satellite
conference rooms accessible from the Cage.

"Metamorphosis Alpha," said Victor, when I asked what we were 
playing. Which turned out to be an ancient game from the 1970s with a
horrible resolution mechanic but I'm not a purist about these things.

. . . [Another worker] spotted us playing in the corner of the Cage and came over
to glower at me, and then walked away shaking his head.

"I bet he prefers World of Darkness," said Victor. 

Bonus points here to Aaronovitch for the mention of METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA by Jim Ward, one of the first science fiction games ever published, which led directly to GAMMA WORLD (also by Jim Ward),** one of the earliest post-D&D rpgs from TSR.***

It's clear here that he's referring to the 1976 original and not the Slade Henson version (circa 1993)**** for the short-lived AMAZING ENGINE game. And the scorn W.o.D. gamers felt for those playing older more traditional games is spot-on, and just as funny now as it was then.

I look forward to seeing what else he comes up with over the rest of the novel. He's already worked in more Douglas Adams references than I wd have believed possible.

--John R.
--current reading: Aaronovitch (good), Nicholas Blake (bad).
--currently working on: The Ainulindale.

*like the Tolkien references in several of his earlier books in the series
**who hired me on at TSR back in 1991. thanks, Jim
***I think predated only by BOOT HILL
****which I edited

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