In one of my exchanges with Jeffro, he referred to Appendix N as a modern Necronomicon of sorts.
This was, of course, in the context of recent noise from mouth-frothers like RPG Pundit, who delights in deprecatingly referring to Appendix N as the Talmud of the OSR Taliban, or some such. (For those unfamiliar, OSR is a movement of gamers who look to the old days of gaming and SFF for inspiration).
As some have commented, Appendix N is a useful snapshot of 70’s SFF fandom and a readers’ aid. There indeed is a generational gap when it comes to a lot of the classic nerd literature. Appendix N is by no means all-inclusive, but it is still a great resource for either a gamer/DM looking for inspiration, or a more generalist, younger nerd looking for some excellent SFF that has likely thus far flown under his radar.
A recent comment by GUTBOY BARRELHOUSE’S LITTLE COUSIN (Interesting name, by the way) offers another rich resource:
I’m going to take a heretical position and opine that the inspirational reading list of ‘Moldvay Basic’ is even better than ‘Appendix N’:
It’s more comprehensive and includes a lot of ‘literary’ fantasy as well as pulp fantasy. There’s a lot of overlap, of course,
My personal recommendations for ‘Appendix N’ are Leiber’s ‘Swords Against Death’, the second Fafhrd & Gray Mouser book, Jack Vance’s ‘Dying Earth’, Poul Anderson’s ‘The Broken Sword’, and A. Merritt’s ‘Dwellers in the Mirage’. All are glorious pulpy goodness, all are quick reads. You’ll never look at a multibook ‘fantasy doorstop’ series in the same way again.
Again, I repeat that Pundit’s ravings aren’t so much against ‘Appendix N’, but against JMal, who was a more popular blogger, and a more successful author/designer than he. He’s been unhinged by his envy, and he’s lashing out at a guy who doesn’t seem to be aware of his existence.
At any rate, to Tartarus with Tarnowski, check out the Moldvay list, it includes a greater variety of fantasy works from a greater timespan. Also, if ‘Star Wars’ was your entry into SFF, check out Leigh Brackett’s works, she was one of the screenwriters from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.
I’m not familiar with “Moldvay Basic,” but it appears that Tom Moldvay was another early D&D developer. I’ve noted that the author(s) of Appendix N is cool, but of secondary importance in my mind. Similarly, I don’t care so much about “Moldvay list” being a product of Tom Moldvay.
If Appendix N is the Necronomicon, then this is a no less sinister grimoire. It strikes me as a solid list. It contains more names that I am familiar with, but also many more unknown writers and works for future investigation.
In particular, it pleases me to note the inclusion of Baum (who I think is often excluded from the genre), Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, and Le Guin. Piers Anthony’s Xanth series is also worthy.
Finding the time to adequately explore the contents of such a list (atop Appendix N and my own personal queue) will pose no mean challenge. But it’s fortuitous indeed that these works have not been lost from the Collective Consciousness. I’m glad to learn of them, although the timing and certainty of their consumption may be in question.