It’s an age-old question: where can I find retrogaming inspired fiction featuring a sentient ZX81 and a hi-vis ninja? Well, thankfully, a Sinclair reviewer of this parish Steve Trower, has provided the answer: in The Ambivalence Chronicles - a Sci-Fi Comedy in 8 Bits.
Bit#2: The Kempston Interface has just been released as a kindle ebook, and follows the aforementioned ZX81 - Dexy - and his accompanying humans, who have just escaped from a dinosaur theme park that wasn’t quite as extinct as it should have been and find themselves in 1982, where the Assembly of Newly Uplifted Systems are attempting to open a portal between worlds real, imaginary and otherwise...
The retrogaming action has moved forward a generation this time, as our heroes are joined by Gary, a ninja who seems to have inexplicably failed the auditions for Saboteur! - the game which, along with its sequel, provided inspiration for the story.
It must be said that although The Kempston Interface is not an official novella of Saboteur, but a humorous look back at the 80s while paying tribute to Saboteur in a slightly sideways manner. Either way, the man behind the Saboteur games, Clive Townsend, is a fan of the series:
“I thoroughly enjoyed The Chip Whisperer, so was really looking forward to Bit#2, even before I found out it had Saboteur references in it! And once again Steve has entertained me with his wit and easter eggs. An excellent read!”
Ah yes, the Easter eggs. Apart from the obvious Saboteur 1 & 2 references throughout the story, The Kempston Interface is liberally sprinkled with hidden nods to movies, TV shows and other 8-bit games. (If Easter Eggs are your thing, you should really check out the Easter Egg Hunt for The Chip Whisperer - you’ll need to grab a copy of the book of course, but to make it even easier you can download one free until 1st March, after which it will cost you a whole 99p.)
The Kempston Interface will set you back just 99p (or local equivalent); you can also download The Ballad of Matthew Smith free from your ebook vendor of choice.
The Chip Whisperer on amazon.co.uk
The Ballad of Matthew Smith on amazon.co.uk