The Maker of Universes Link Roundup
June 16, 2015
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One of the things that’s been kicked around lately is the matter of just how obscure the Appendix N books really are. A big chunk of that is generational. If you’re above a certain age cutoff, the stuff was practically ubiquitous. A lot of people under forty just don’t realize that publishers used to keep a lot of older science fiction and fantasy in print right along side the new stuff. But hard core fans are liable to have bought the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series right off the rack and know darn well who Lord Dunsany was and why he matters, thank you very much.
Another angle where the obscurity turns up is in accessible commentary on the internet. Many of the Appendix N books are familiar classics with scads of conversation about them in all kinds of places. But some of them, it’s not that easy to find even a few blog posts.
That’s the case with this book that’s the focus of this new installment in the Appendix N series. I don’t generally look around to see what all’s out there when I’m working up one of these posts, but when I see as little “serious” commentary on a book as has happened in this case, it makes this whole project seem like it’s worth the effort.
RETROSPECTIVE: The Maker of Universes by Philip José Farmer
Grognardia — “I don’t recall any specific elements from this book that turned up in Dungeons & Dragons, but the general tenor of the novel certainly matches the pulp fantasy tone that I contend is at the heart of the game. In addition, it’s another example of a story involving a fantasy world connected to our own, a common theme among the books Gary Gygax cited as important influences on him and the game. The more I think about it, the more intrigued I become about what this means for interpreting D&D and the Gygaxian conception of it.”
Tor.com — “See, what is the Amerind tier but a bunch of ‘pulp Western’ clichés. In another book, that might have caused some consternation; after all, fanciful appropriation of real world cultures is not my idea of a good time. Here though, Farmer side-steps those issues by…well, making the people of Amerind, and of every other tier be synthetic ‘cultures.’ The Maker of the World of Tiers wanted a pseudo-Greek land full of lab experiments, he wanted a pulp Wild West nation-world, he wanted a ‘best of feudalism’ tier and a ‘Robert E. Howard’s fallen Atlantis’ tier. The Maker is the kind of DM who runs pre-made settings but doesn’t want to have to pick just one.”