If Castalia House has only managed to whet your appetite for commentary on old style science fiction and fantasy, then this is your lucky week. Not just one, but two new “Appendix N” series are underway!
I will wind up reading and talking about all sorts of books, but I expect to focus in a few ways. I’m more interested in the stuff written by Edgar Rice Burroughs or from roughly 1930-1970 than the really old stuff or the newer stuff. I’m more interested in adventure fiction, planetary romance, and sword & sorcery than Lovecraftian horror or space opera. I want to highlight the great female pulp writers like C.L. Moore, Andre Norton, and Leigh Brackett whose contributions are too often erased because they don’t fit a narrative. I will be approaching the stories as a reader, and as a new reader coming from a later literary tradition. Rather than tackle works in any sort of systematic way, I’m probably going to continue to rely more on browsing the shelves of used bookstores.
Now, when I did my survey of classic sff, I read very nearly every blog post and book review on the internet in order to compare my discoveries to what had already been said about the books I was reading. Based on that I can tell you H. P.’s first installment tackling an Appendix N book is not only really good, it easily stands among the best of the best blog posts that have touched on this topic. Don’t miss this series!
Meanwhile, Rawle Nyanzi will be doing something a little more systematic— and like me, he will also be coming at the material more or less as a blank slate:
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.
I have to say, I really look forward to seeing what surprises him, what confounds him, what irritates him, and what blows his mind– especially if it’s different from my personal reactions.
A lot of people have told me that they would have liked my posts more if I didn’t digress into the finer points of vintage tabletop games at every opportunity. If that was you, you now have two alternatives. So go follow them on Twitter and subscribe to their feeds. This is going to be good!