Through my reading of the Castalia House blog and other blogs, one name kept coming up whenever the history of sci-fi and fantasy was mentioned: Appendix N. Apparently, this was a list of works and authors that inspired Gary Gygax when he created the first version of the Dungeons and Dragons tabletop roleplaying game. It is said to be a good survey of the fantasy genre as it existed in the 1960s and 1970s.
That got me curious.
I keep hearing about how the genre has to change according to one political demand or another because the Social Justice set speaks as if fantasy books before 2005 or so were nothing but racist propaganda or woman-hating invective, all written to butter up the egos of manly white male patriarchs or something. A blog post by Jeffro Johnson points out the active attempts by Social Justice Warriors to frame the memory of the older stories as some sort of galloping bigotry:
Older people steeped in the classics will dismiss that as an outlier, but it really is a sign of the times. This attitude certainly shows up in a great many of the reviews of old works of fantasy and science fiction that pepper the internet. It’s almost as if there is a barrier in these peoples’ minds. As soon as they get to something they been trained to think of as being “problematic”, they shut down. Very little in the way of any kind of analysis of the material can even be done, because calling out and reviling everything from Madonna/Whore complexes to “black and white morality” is the sort of thing that passes for deep or sophisticated thinking.
To that end, I decided that I would not only read each Appendix N work, but review them for myself.
I will come at it from the perspective of a Millennial who experienced fantasy storytelling mostly through television and video games (though I did read some Redwall novels as a kid. I loved them.) Since I have never been part of the older fandom and did not grow up in the 1960s and 1970s, I have next to no familiarity with the era’s common tropes. I may not praise every work on the list, but I will treat each work with respect, not virtue-signal about current political debates. All reviews will be short and spoiler-free like my other book reviews.
For places where just an author name is mentioned, I will select one work to review. (NOTE: For series, I will review only the first book to avoid spoiling anything.)
There is no set schedule for these since anything can happen at any moment. All I can say is that I want to see for myself what the fantasy of that period was like, not rely on the slanders of Social Justice Warriors.
Without further ado, here is the legendary Appendix N, taken from this website.
Anderson, Poul: THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS; THE HIGH CRUSADE; THE BROKEN SWORD
Bellairs, John: THE FACE IN THE FROST
Burroughs, Edgar Rice: “Pellucidar” series; Mars series; Venus series
Carter, Lin: “World’s End” series
de Camp, L. Sprague: LEST DARKNESS FALL; THE FALLIBLE FIEND; et al
de Camp & Pratt: “Harold Shea” series; THE CARNELIAN CUBE
Farmer, P. J.: “The World of the Tiers” series; et al
Fox, Gardner: “Kothar” series; “Kyrik” series; et al
Howard, R. E.: “Conan” series
Lanier, Sterling: HIERO’S JOURNEY
Leiber, Fritz: “Fafhrd & Gray Mouser” series; et al
Lovecraft, H. P.
Merritt, A.: CREEP, SHADOW, CREEP; MOON POOL; DWELLERS IN THE MIRAGE; et al
Moorcock, Michael: STORMBRINGER; STEALER OF SOULS; “Hawkmoon” series (esp. the first three books)
Offutt, Andrew J.: editor of SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS III
Pratt, Fletcher: BLUE STAR; et al
Saberhagen, Fred: CHANGELING EARTH; et al
St. Clair, Margaret: THE SHADOW PEOPLE; SIGN OF THE LABRYS
Tolkien, J. R. R.: THE HOBBIT; “Ring trilogy”
Vance, Jack: THE EYES OF THE OVERWORLD; THE DYING EARTH; et al
Wellman, Manley Wade
Zelazny, Roger: JACK OF SHADOWS; “Amber” series; et al
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