The Early Years: Zippy Rocket Shoes

From the “Was This Really Homework?” Department:


What self-respecting kid wouldn’t want a pair of rocket shoes?

Many years later, a similar sort of device would appear in a game of “Paranoia” that I was refereeing.   For those who aren’t familiar with it, “Paranoia” was “a role-playing game set in a darkly humorous future”, a dystopian subterranean realm called Alpha Complex, isolated ever since an incident referred to as “The Big Oops” or variants thereof, and nominally ruled by The Computer (slogan:  “Happiness is mandatory”).  If you think of it as 1984 meets Brazil meets Monty Python meets Idiocracy meets The Clone Wars, you will have a pretty good idea what it was like.

Anyway, the objective of the “Paranoia” referee was to kill the players (known as “Troubleshooters”) as quickly and as humorously as possible, and one method to achieve this was through the dispensation of new technology from the R&D department.  This technology, which was usually of questionable effectiveness and even more questionable safety, had to be tested by the players while on their missions.  (Failure to test R&D equipment was considered treason.  So was breaking it.)  The objective of the “Paranoia” player was to be the only one to survive the mission.

With that background material in mind, the particular mission where these shoes figured prominently was one that I called “Commie Cockroaches”, in which the Commies (omnipresent “Paranoia” enemies) unleashed a plague of giant robotic cockroaches on  Alpha Complex.  On this mission, one of the pieces of equipment assigned to the Troubleshooters by R&D was a pair of rocket-powered roller skates.  Surprisingly, a particular Troubleshooter was quite eager to try these out, and so at the first encounter with the Commie Cockroaches he put them on and fired them up, launching himself toward the lead Cockroach at a very high velocity. Sensing danger, the Cockroach lowered itself to the ground, essentially turning itself into a ramp.  The Troubleshooter raced up the Cockroach’s back and became airborne, sailing some distance along the chamber, until he smashed face-first into a rock wall at the end of the chamber and was reduced to a bloody pulp.  (In “Paranoia” one didn’t need to bother with things like saving throws vs. slamming into a stone wall or being turned into a thick yellow spray.)

Hmm.  Well, thinking about that always gives me a little giggle, anyway.  I suppose you had to be there.  Just to make this supremely nerdy, I was running the game online at college using their ancient network (I think it was a Burroughs or a VAX). Retro-cool?  Or merely dorky?  I leave that up to the reader.

Don’t forget to vote in the scene-of-the-month poll!

6 thoughts on “The Early Years: Zippy Rocket Shoes

  1. I think ad agencies should have kids name their new products. Adults would sit around a table for hours just to come up with something as simple, yet as appropriate, as “Zippy Rocket Shoes.”


  2. I remember a phone call home when I was 10 after I drew a picture of a “pot” store: with a bunch of culinary pots in the window.
    My older brothers’ “badassity” was filtered through my 10 year old mind.


  3. Sure, I get it. And the homework was “Draw a very cool Billboard” ! My friend is a teacher and she has a bunch of class projects that she pulls out for the last week of term…they’re called “Shush and color projects”….I reckon this may be the best of ’em. 🙂


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