Today I discovered that he passed away yesterday morning, after battling with ill-health for a long time. He was 60 years old.
If you are reading this blog, then you probably already know that Joe was the creator and writer of the Lone Wolf series of adventure gamebooks, which were set in the incredibly well-developed world of Magnamund.
Although I only met Joe in 2013, I had been aware of his works since the 1980s. I owned a few Lone Wolf adventures, but I personally preferred the Fighting Fantasy range because they provided the reader with more choices. I felt that Lone Wolf books were more like solo RPGs that wanted to be novels. This is probably why I actually preferred reading the Legends of Lone Wolf (co-authored with John Grant).
However, as I grew older I began to appreciate all the more what an incredible, and richly detailed, creation of the world of Magnamund was. Where the Fighting Fantasy world of Titan was a fantasy realm created by a committee who never met, and who rarely seemed to even speak to one another, Magnamund and Lone Wolf were the vision of one man, developed over decades.
When I did finally meet Joe, I found him to be affable and encouraging, always willing to chat about all things gamebook-related and pose for a photograph.
From then on I caught up with Joe once or twice a year - usually at Dragonmeet and the UK Games Expo - and he was always interested in what I was working on, and I'm pleased to say I was able to give him a copy of Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland on its launch day.
But although the man himself is lost to us - and there are still three uncompleted Lone Wolf adventures, which he was still working on up until Monday night - his work endures, and that is quite some legacy.
Or, to put it in the words of another much missed author: “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away...” ~ Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man