Dean McSmith has a surprisingly thoughtful review of Appendix N. Here’s just a highlight from it:
There is a theme running through the entire book and it’s a powerful one. It’s loss, principally the loss of a number of great writers from the view of the public. Their memory holing is noted and lamented and it stirs echoes throughout the individual entries. It gives the book a poignancy as writer after writer is examined, their impact assessed and their disappearance noted. This, more than anything else I feel has been the undercurrent that has fuelled the need for a return to the storytelling of the past. By creating quality stories in the same vein we can keep these great works alive.
This is one of those things that is devilishly hard to convey to people. There was a war fought in publishing just as there was a war fought within the critical sphere before that. People of a certain bent really struggle with this because they think it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but no. The people involved were all pretty open about what they were trying to do. And when they’d won both the narrative and the history books were adjusted accordingly.
Fortunately, the idea that something happened (and even better) that something can be done about it is spreading. This piece from Uprising Review is only the latest indicator:
Of the science fiction writers I have talked to on the Uprising Review Podcast, we all seem to agree in some form or another that publishers and other literary gatekeepers are stifling science fiction in particular. But I don’t see how any writer can truly be creative when they’ve got a literary community breathing political correctness down their necks. The irony is that the corporate censorship that has seemingly become deep-rooted in publishing is akin to something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984. It’s time that the literary community takes a stand against the politics in publishing that are warping the fiction being produced. Fortunately, some are slowly waking up. Small publishers are taking a stand against this type of under-handed censorship and self publishing has allowed for writers to take their ideas directly to the people. I am optimistic that organizations like Superversive SF and PulpRev will continue to encourage free expression and the free exchange of ideas that is necessary for creativity to grow. Only in that type of environment will we see a new golden age in sci-fi.
This is absolutely correct. I know for me, catching a glimpse of the sort of ideological diversity fantasy and science fiction fans could take for granted during the seventies for the first time…? It was mind blowing. The pulps, the classic myths and legends, and the most off the wall wildly subversive stuff you could imagine were all on the same spinner racks. Lord Dunsany, Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. Merritt, Isaac Asimov, Michael Moorcock, Margaret St. Clair, and Roger Zelazny– all in paperback for next to nothing at the local drug store.
It. Was. Awesome.
But as awesome as those days were and as sobering as it is to think about how they got away from us, I’ll tell you… something like unto them is about to come back.
And it’s going to be epic!