Costikyan, Greg 1959-

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COSTIKYAN, Greg 1959-


Born July 22, 1959, in New York, NY; son of Edward N. (an attorney) and Frances (Holmgren) Costikyan; married Louise Disbrow (a securities analyst), September 4, 1986; children: Elizabeth, Victoria. Education: Brown University, B.S., 1982. Politics: Libertarian.


Home—355 South End Ave., #2B, New York, NY 10280. Agent—Valerie Smith, Route 44-55, R.D. Box 160, Modena, NY 12548. E-mail[email protected].


Simulations Publications, Inc., New York, NY, staff designer, 1976-80; West End Games, New York, NY, director of research and design, 1985-87; Eric Goldberg Associates, Inc., New York, NY, vice president, 1987-88; freelance writer and game designer in Jersey City, NJ, 1988-96, and in New York, NY, 1996—. Game Designer's Guild, New York, NY, president, 1985-86. Creator of numerous computer role-playing and board games, including mConq, Void Raider, Rags2Riches, Barbarian Kings, Word Trader, Fantasy War, Violence: The Roleplaying Game of Egregious and Repulsive Bloodshed, Evolution, Reinventing America, MadMaze, The Willow Game, Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, Your Own Private Idaho, Paranoia, The Price of Freedom, Acute Paranoia, Pax Britannica, Dark Emperor, Star Trek III, Star Trek: The Adventure Game, Toon, Web & Starship, Bug-Eyed Monsters, Trailblazer, The Return of the Stainless Steel Rat, DeathMaze, Vector 3, The Creature that Ate Sheboygan, Swords & Sorcery, and Supercharge.


Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Science Fiction Writers of America.


Another Day, Another Dungeon, By the Sword, and One Quest Hold the Dragons were all Science Fiction Book Club selections.


(Editor, with Debbie Notkin, and author of additional text) Allen Varney, The Willow Sourcebook, illustrations by Janet J. Kramer, map illustration by John M. Ford, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1988.

Another Day, Another Dungeon (fantasy novel), Tor Books (New York, NY), 1990.

By the Sword: Magic of the Plains (fantasy novel; originally published online on Prodigy, 1991), Tor Books (New York, NY), 1993.

One Quest, Hold the Dragons (fantasy novel; sequel to Another Day, Another Dragon), Tor Books (New York, NY), 1994.

First Contract (science fiction novel), Tor Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Contributor to anthology Camelot: A Collection of Original Arthurian Tales, edited by Jane Yolen, Philomel, 1995. Also contributor of articles and stories to magazines, including New York, Science Fiction Age, Aboriginal Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction, Analog, Amazing Stories, and Journal of Computer Game Design. Contributing editor, Moves and Ares, 1980-82, and Reason, 1991-92.


Greg Costikyan is best known to his fans as a computer game programmer and designer who helped create such popular games as the role-playing, science-fiction spoof Paranoia; but he has also ventured into fantasy and science fiction writing that boasts the same tongue-in-cheek humor as many of his games. Costikyan debuted as an author with a novel that spoofs sword and sorcery fiction: Another Day, Another Dungeon. Although the book gained some fans, his next fantasy novel, By the Sword: Magic of the Plains, received much more critical attention because of its unique origin as an online novel.

Back in 1991, Costikyan approached the then-popular Internet provider Prodigy with an idea to write a serialized fantasy novel and make it available to Prodigy subscribers. When Prodigy agreed to the concept, the author set out to write twenty-six weekly installments about a barbarian named Nijon who is banished from his clan after being accused of killing the chieftain. He then sets out for the city and is forced to join the king's army. Opportunity knocks for the down-and-out warrior when a dragon abducts the king's daughter, so Nijon sets out to rescue her with the help of a mongoose who is related to Nijon through a shared father—a god called Mongoose the Trickster—and a merchant named Mika who is scheming to convince the dragon race to embrace the concept of capitalism. After completing the online version, Costikyan sold hardcover rights to Tor Books; in the process, he expanded the book somewhat to flesh out the story. The result, commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer, is "a pleasant diversion for readers with a sense of humor about the genre."

After writing a sequel to Another Day, Another Dungeon titled One Quest, Hold the Dragons, Costikyan ventured into science fiction writing with the satire First Contract, about an alien invasion that overcomes human civilization through ruthless business tactics. At first, when the aliens come to Earth and offer all their scientific knowledge in exchange for the planet Jupiter, it sounds like a sweet deal. The Earthlings eagerly accept, but they quickly regret agreeing to the contract when the aliens use Jupiter's resources to manufacture cheap technological luxuries, which they then sell to Earth. Earth's economy is quickly undermined as the aliens undercut all competition, and the stock market collapses after half the world's companies go out of business. Into this setting, the author creates a hero, Johnson Mukerjii, who has lost his business, his wife, and his possessions because of the economic fallout. Not yet beaten, he devises a plan to get back at the aliens by creating a market for cheap Earth-manufactured trinkets for export to other worlds. Critics found this spoof of international economics and people's desire for superfluous electronic gadgetry to be a humorous romp. While a Publishers Weekly contributor admitted the novel has "little new to offer," the reviewer nevertheless declared it to be "buoyant and fun." And Booklist writer Roberta Johnson called First Contract "a fast-paced, funny tale."

For Costikyan, fiction writing has mostly been an enjoyable side job to occupy his time when he is not creating new games or doing consulting. He recently updated fans on the Paranoia Live site about his current activities: "In practice, my main source of income at present is Nokia, for whom I edit the games portion of their developer support Web site… essentially writing and editing documents for people who want to develop games for Nokia mobile devices, including the forthcoming N-Gage console. In addition, I serve as an advisor and consultant to the Themis Group, which performs community management and marketing services for massively multiplayer online games, and I'm involved with two start-ups as an advisor. One [is] called Hypgames that wants to adopt a 'print on demand' sale over the Internet model for console titles that for whatever reason can't be sold at retail. And another [is] called Buzzphone that offers celebrity-related mobile services. Meaning I'm not actually doing too much game development at the moment, although I'm involved with yet another company, Unplugged Inc., which is a mobile game developer… and [I] do some design work for them. At present [I'm] working on the design for a dungeon-crawling game called Hackenslash."



Booklist, May 15, 1993, Roland Green, review of By the Sword: Magic of the Plains, p. 1678; June 1, 2000, Roberta Johnson, review of First Contract, p. 1866.

Publishers Weekly, February 15, 1993, Martin Pedersen, "Serial from Prodigy to Be Hardcover Book," p. 18; May 10, 1993, review of By the Sword, p. 56; July 3, 2000, review of First Contract, p. 54.


Greg Costikyan Web site, (October 22, 2003).

Paranoia Live, (August 10, 2003), "Greg Costikyan Webchat."*

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Costikyan, Greg 1959-

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