Blog Archives


It’s extraordinarily difficult to write an effective work of horror or suspense, especially one that will be appreciated for generations to come.  Most of the audience has seen dozens of slasher films featuring killings and dismemberment in gruesome detail.  One can hardly shock them with that.  Moreover, write a work with fantastical elements and a […]

It’s January 22, which makes this HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROBERT E. HOWARD DAY! Happy Eleventy Second birthday, Mr. Pulp Grandmaster. Howard was, it must be said, one of the greatest and most influential F&SF writers of all time, right up there with Edgar Rice Burroughs and A. Merritt. He wrote dozens of poems and hundreds of […]

Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons is a detailed and comprehensive investigation of the various works of science fiction and fantasy that game designer Gary Gygax declared to be the primary influences on his seminal role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons. It is a deep intellectual dive into the literature of SF/F’s past that […]

You know, I’m not sure what I was expecting to happen when Appendix N finally hit Amazon. But look at these rankings for the major D&D non-fiction works on the market right now: #32,561 Paid in Kindle Store: Empire of the Imagination #74,548 Paid in Kindle Store: Appendix N #197,532 Paid in Kindle Store: Of […]

Ah, fantasy! Who doesn’t like a good fantasy? Dashing knights, greedy dragons, fair maidens, odious goblins, perilous elf women, cunning trolls… it doesn’t get any better than that! But it sure can get a lot worse. And it certainly has. From the inspiring heights of Dunsany, Howard, and Tolkien, fantasy has descended into grime and […]

The opening shot of Star Wars with its slow reveal of a truly gigantic Star Destroyer is arguably the finest single shot in science fiction movie history. It’s so powerful, it not only changed the way blockbuster movies were made from then on. It turned nearly an entire generation into science fiction fans over night! Of […]

The latest issue of Astounding Frontiers is here! Check it out and you’ll find an all new retrospective by yours truly. If you got to the end of Appendix N and just wanted more, then this (along with Cirsova issues 1 and 3) is the place to go! One of the things I did as […]

E. E. Doc Smith’s Galactic Patrol opens up with a tremendous brain dump. But what a brain dump! If you want to know what science fiction was like before it became ashamed of the superlative, this is it. Note the nature of this patrol and how it differs from practically every science fiction series since: “You […]

I am one of the least creative Game Masters I know. Look back over my session reports and you’ll find that I rarely ever ventured far outside the bounds of other peoples modules. “Keep on the Borderlands”, “The Isle of Dread”, “Steading of the Hill Giant Chief”… all of these can be run as is […]

Yes, role-playing games are the culprit. They are the root cause of why contemporary authors are largely unable to tell a complete story. (Their rpg campaigns were not designed to ever culminate into an ending, either!) They are the root cause of why contemporary authors are unable to think beyond origin stories, flashbacks, backstories, and […]

A reader with the eminently post-apocalyptic name of Taarkoth writes in with this grievous lament: So these and the last two posts got me interested in looking at 1e Gamma World, only for me to find to my immense frustration that, other than prohibitively expensive physical copies on ebay, the only Gamma World available for legal […]

Grames Barnaby writes in with what he calls “a very cancerous vid” regarding Game of Thrones: However I DO recommend watching it, for it’s a great example of just how badly modern schooling has messed up literature studies. From dismissing pulp fiction and why archetypes are too “simple” to conflating all of 19th century english lit […]