Last year I wrote about my discovery of the secret world of Appendix N. Since then I’ve collected a chunk of the list’s contents and read…well, a sliver. Though to be fair, I’ve been focusing on an expanded index of classic Scifi/Fantasy.
Given the nicheness of some of the online circles in which I travel these days, I sometimes forget that many readers may not be familiar with Appendix N. Simply put, it’s a list found in the back of the original Dungeons and Dragons DM Guide that lays out the main books and authors that inspired D&D.
Indeed, many of these works were not only formative for D&D, but have proven foundational to fantasy and scifi stories and games up to a century after their conception. It’s been batted around before by JC Wright and Jeffro, and I’ve repeated this many times, as well – there is a generation gap these days. Most younger SFF fans simply have never heard of these works and writers. Even if some have, there’s often little motivation to explore, what with the glut of new authors and stories coming out all the time and how difficult it can be to find physical copies of some of these older greats.
So why am I writing this yet again? Well, Jeffro just released his book Appendix N: A Literary History of Dungeons and Dragons. Full disclosure – I’m friendly with Jeffro online and have been following his blogs for a while now. Even if I hadn’t ever interacted with the guy, though – I was highly impressed with his blog-based Appendix N analyses, and so I’ll definitely be picking this up once it comes to physical print (hopefully next month).
You may not be into Dungeons and Dragons; even if you’re not into gaming, or if you like gaming but don’t read a ton — Jeffro’s survey provides a great deal of “oh cool” insights into the literary inspirations for the modern SFF genre. The first of such for me was probably from his piece on Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions. One classic SFF book that inspired the popular Law vs Chaos alignment system, several prominent characteristics of the modern paladin class in gaming, and popular characteristics of the troll (like its super regeneration).