Since returning to gaming this year, I don’t seem to be able to lift a stone without finding something about Appendix N
beneath. Appendix N of the Dungeon Master’s Guide contained Gary Gygax’s “Inspirational and Educational Reading” – a list of authors who inspired Dungeons and Dragons.
I must have read the DMG dozens of times throughout the 80s, and yet I have no memory whatsoever of Appendix N. Perhaps because it didn’t relate directly to gaming, perhaps because I was already reading many of these authors, and would doubtless be reading the rest in good time. Whatever, it left no impression on me at all. And so it’s strange that, in 2021, it seems to be namechecked on almost every blog I visit.
Meanwhile, here’s my Appendix N:
- Viriconium Nights by M John Harrison
That’s it. That’s about all you need. The other Viriconium books are great, but Nights contains their pure essence. I’ve written before on my main blog about how Viriconium changed my life and about my recent return to Viriconium. In essence, the Viriconium books ended fantasy for me forever, they pulled back the curtain and showed the sad little men behind. Fantasy is almost entirely about epic battles of good vs. evil, it is the distillation of the lie of cowboys and superheroes. It is a load of old pernicious bollocks.
I read Viriconium Nights book in 1986, and I’ve scarcely felt the desire to read a fantasy book ever since.
Read a proper book. Read some history, some psychology, a little biology and physics. Read novels by Robert Irwin
, George Saunders, Magnus Mills, David Mitchell. Read “magical realism”. Read old shit. Read widely and well. But, while I’m sure there are exceptions, I advise giving fantasy a wide berth.
I shall probably be buying the new Strange Attractor book. So help me.