Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Appendix N: The Usual Suspects

Appendix N of the original Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide recommends some inspirational reading. The authors that appear in Appendix N are a veritable who's-who of pulp, weird, sword and sorcery and fantasy writers.

Poul Anderson. Leigh Brackett. Edgar Rice Burroughs. Lin Carter. L. Sprague de Camp. Phillip J. Farmer. Robert E. Howard. Fritz Leiber. H. P. Lovecraft. Michael Moorcock. Andre Norton. Fred Saberhagen. J. R. R. Tolkien. Jack Vance. Roger Zelazny. Andrew Offutt.

Andrew Offutt? I have to admit, while I've owned a copy of the AD&D DMG since 1979, I have never registered that name as being on the Appendix N list of recommended authors. It is almost by accident that I can to be in possession of books by Andrew Offutt. While helping myself to all of the pulp fantasy I could get my hands on, at a recent charity book sale, I started grabbing just about every book on the table that was less than 200 pages, and printed before 1980.

The name Andrew Offut was not on my Appendix N radar as I scanned the book-sale tables, but I bought his books anyway: at a dollar apiece, it seemed like a good deal. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Offutt is one of the Appendix N authors. Not only did he write Web Of The Spider, and two other books in the War of the Wizards trilogy, he also wrote three Conan novels, the War of the Gods on Earth trilogy, several stories appearing in the Thieves World series, and was the editor of the Swords Against Darkness short-story anthologies.

A surprisingly prolific fantasy author. I'm looking forward to reading his stories, having discovered that he was sufficiently influential in the development of Dungeons and Dragons to warrant an entry in Gygax's Appendix N.


David said...

Offut can be an incredible writer, but one word of warning: his output was extremely uneven. His stories in Thieves' World are great (and his character Hanse, is one of the best in the series), but his R.E. Howard pastiches were clearly written for the paycheck.

Moral of the story: if you read an Offut book and don't care for it, don't be discouraged! There are so many amazing books on Appendix N to be discovered.

GrayPumpkin said...

Swords Against Darkness, which is mentioned in Appendix N, is very solid anthology series put together by Mr Offutt.
He had an eye for good sword and sorcery fiction, even if his own stories sometimes failed to hit the mark.

Aaron E. Steele said...

Thanks for the tips. I have finished Demon In The Mirror, and will do a review. They didn't have any swords against darkness anthologies at the book-sale, though my local second-hand book store has numbers 4 and 5.

Trey said...

The Swords Against Darkness anthologies are pretty good. They have Imaro stories by Charles Saunders and Ryre stories by Ramsey Campbell.

Anonymous said...

Ron Edwards also wrote a great bibilography in the Sorcerer supplement Sword & Sorcerer, which also covers the post-1979 period; Offut's Demon in the Mirror is mentioned, as are the Imaro stories. It's more targeted than the Gygax list (which has SF/mystery authors like Frederic Brown whose connection to D&D I've never been able to parse) but I found it a little less awesome, perhaps just because many of its best authors (Leiber, Anderson) were already familiar to me from Appendix N. Still, Edwards turned me on to Wagner, which is something!