It doesn’t take long to watch Black Mirror’s new Bandersnatch interactive movie before you learn about Jerome F. Davies, a character whose backstory brings major repercussions to other characters in the movie. But is Davies real? Did he write the books mentioned in the film?
Jerome F. Davies is a fictional character created for the Black Mirror universe. The rest of this post will have minor spoilers for Bandersnatch and Davies.
Within the Black Mirror universe, Davies wrote a novel called Bandersnatch that programmer Stefan’s mother really liked. Now Stefan is creating a video game based on Davies’ novel. However, Davies has a pretty convoluted past. Both Stefan and Colin agree that Davies is brilliant. But as Tuckersoft’s owner points out, Davies was also insane. He murdered his own wife after he lost his mind.
We later learn that Davies had developed a lot of crazy ideas that eventually led to his losing his mind and killing his wife. As with all Black Mirror episodes, the story behind Davies’ insanity is another plotline entirely that we won’t post here.
So no, if you’re wondering, Jerome F. Davies is not a real person in history. However, the term Bandersnatch itself, and even the idea of a Bandersnatch game, is real.
Bandersnatch refers to a fictional character in Lewis Carroll’s 1872 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and it’s also the name of a game that almost became reality in the 1980s. Eventually the rights to the real-life Bandersnatch game were sold and the game became Brataccas — a game about a genetic engineer trying to create an elite soldier. According to Wikipedia: “Brataccas is believed to be the remains of the much-hyped vaporware project Bandersnatch, which was partially developed by Imagine Software. Having been talked about in the press for some time before finally emerging, Brataccas saw considerable coverage in the computer press. It was generally reviewed poorly due to significant control problems, although the graphics were widely praised.”
Here’s a documentary about the holiday rush that went into producing the Bandersnatch game, and why it failed.
Bandersnatch was originally going to be one of six Megagames created by Imagine Software. The games were going to push hardware boundaries of the 1980s and be released with a hardware add-on for computers. Imagine collapsed and the games became vaporware, with Bandersnatch being acquired by Finchspeed. Why did Imagine Software collapse? It was accumulating debts in 1983 and then a documentary showing its collapse didn’t help. It was ultimately unable to raise the money needed to pay its debts.