CIA annual magazines

by Doug Burbidge

Every year for three years, the CIA put out an annual magazine. They may well have continued the tradition after I left in 1995, but these are the only three I have.

CIA Tales Of Old CIA Classified Documents CIA Perpendicular Worlds

As described in a previous post, the annual was a way to get a printing grant out of the Student Guild to cover the entire cost of printing, and then charge members for the magazine, thus returning a tidy surplus.

The editorship rotated each year: 1990 was edited by Mark Suddaby, 1991 was me, and 1992 was Guy Dyson. We all owned Commodore Amigas and dot-matrix printers, so the look and feel from year to year was somewhat similar. You can see that we’ve all used the same fonts on the covers, for example.

Each year featured a choose-your-own-demise by Jay Stratton, which made printing substantially more challenging — ‘pages’ of the choose-your-own-demise went on the bottom of pages of the magazine, below whatever article was on that page.

A choose-your-own-demise is like a choose-your-own-adventure book (people of my vintage will recall The Warlock of Firetop mountain and its ilk), except that it’s not actually possible to win. The intro of the first choose-your-own-demise begins:

This is a solo adventure in the classical tradition of solo adventures that has been specially designed to incite a new level of hate and disgust of the entire concept around which the whole thing revolves.

It is filled with inevitable and inescapable death to really annoy you as well as copious quanities of flicking between pages to irritate you.

For the 1991 mag, I did the bulk of the page in a two-column format, and the choose-your-own-demise ‘pages’ in single-colum format. But Word Perfect didn’t support changing column style within a page, so I had to run each page through the printer twice: once for the main article, and again for the choose-your-own-demise entry.

Article quality varied enormously. There were sight-gags (“Universal Character Sheet”, whose entire text was a footer saying “Permission granted to photocopy for personal use”), comics (“Mega Splendiferous Guy”, and Michael Goh’s excellent “Land of Mottob”), poetry (including “Ballad of the Hydra Slayers”, which filled about a third of the 1990 issue), fiction, various game designs satirising other games and/or books, a mock “Boring Bit Sent in By One Of The Committee”, a “Genuinely Boring Bit Sent In By The President”, and more.

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