If you didn’t catch the Superversive livestream this weekend, you missed some of the most substantial discussion on Appendix N I’ve yet seen. The whole thing is good, but the part I’ll be responding to here begins at 1:53:33 when L. Jagi Lamlighter reins everybody in.
Briefly, I do want to address the whole picaresque thing again here. That’s a really neat word and it’s unfamiliar to a lot of people now… but it was not unfamiliar to Jack Vance. He knew full well he was writing one with The Eyes of the Overlord because he said as much when he introduced an excerpt from that book in one of his short story collections. I’ve said before, but James Maliszewski is the person that should get credit for bringing this type of literature into the discussion and relating it to the way that D&D was actually designed and how it contrasts with what it ended up turning into.
The thing that’s really neat thing about this video is [the artist formerly known as Daddy Warpig]’s point about contemporary understandings of genre being a function of volume more than anything else. (This is amplified and developed by both L. Jagi Lamplighter and John C. Wright, so be sure to listen.) You know I asked Ken St. Andre about this and wasn’t entirely satisfied by his answer that Appendix N’s obscurity “comes down to “TOO MUCH GOOD STUFF,” but that is exactly the root of all this. Appendix N is consistently surprising because the divorce between fantasy, horror, and science fiction did not exist until about 1977… and people that haven’t real the old stuff can’t even begin to imagine how things were actually done before that. And yes, Star Wars and The Sword of Shannara have a lot to do with all this, too.
I’ve gotta say: hearing this is like having a dozen puzzle pieces come together all at once. Way more than just five people are listening into this show, but if you aren’t already following the Superversive crew on YouTube, you really out to catch up!