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In the early, early years of movies, they didn't need directors, or actors, or scripts, or even plots. They just pointed a movie camera at something, maybe a train, and called it a movie. And the early audiences were jaw-droppingly impressed by such things. If you can't remember that far back, and you probably can't, you can perhaps remember the early days of the intarweb, and your own first few times on it. Webpages were endlessly fascinating, because you got to click on things, and there were pictures, and writing, and you got to click on things. In the early years of any art form, the art form itself is fascinating, and the content does not have to be as sharply developed as later, more jaded audiences would demand.

Such it is with the 4th volume of the Choose Your Own Adventure series to be published, Space and Beyond. The book does not depend on the involved, tight plotting of later books in the Choose Your Own Adventure series. Rather, it depends on two things: you are being addressed in the Second Person, and you get to flip through the pages! I can only imagine what this must have seemed to the young readers of 1980, naive in the ways of hypertext.

As for the plot of the book itself, it is markedly more of a free exploration affair than later Choose Your Own Adventure books. On the first page, you have reached the age of 18, and must decide on what type of galactic career you can set for yourself. You are sent off into the universe to find either the home planet of your mother, or your father. However, it turns out (and I did cheat on this), that you can actually find neither. Instead, you end up in various places of both Space, and Beyond. The action branches widely and quickly from the beginning.

Despite the lack of coherency in the plotting of the book, thematically it is a lot deeper than may at first be suspected. In fact, it could be that RA Montgomery, the author, and a product of at least two Ivy League colleges, is using this book as an attempt to sneak secular humanist propaganda into the minds of the youths of 1980. For example, on the nature of the universe, we learn:

You achieve an elastic weightlessness, and a sense of complete peace and calm. There is sound, or light. But no darkness either.You race back to the very beginning, to the pulsative, exciting start.You return to the big bang that started the whole thing. You are and you have been a part of everything, always. The beginning is the end.
Heady thoughts, aren't they? But wait, what are Mr. Montgomery's thoughts on humanity as it is?
Revolutions and wars have caused pain, but they have caused good things, too.
"I mean, we create more problems than we solve, and that is how we stay in office because someone has to solve them."
And what is the solution, to stop all this confusion?
Everyone has a different answer. They all point to the other guy. All you know is that creatures get killed, cities get destroyed. What a way to live. That is why there is a new way---if only it will work. You are part of the new way, a way of sharing.

So apparently, our normal politics is just deception, and the only way to solve things is a revolution, followed by a "way of sharing". So, perhaps the reason why the children of the 80s lost their faith in government, and turned towards mystical beliefs, as well as developing ADHD, can all be pinned on this short little book.

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