Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Link Roundup: The Best of Fredric Brown

I’m not sure what to say about this one. When I first picked up the book, I knew that in spite of the fact that time has not always been kind to these stories, nevertheless… I had hold of something truly great. Fredric Brown was a very big deal… in a world that just doesn’t exist anymore. My son (age 12) loved him, though. I haven’t seen him get taken with an Appendix N author like this since Roger Zelazny’s Amber novels. He was practically beside himself explaining how great the story “Etaoin Shrdlu” was to his little sister. He had no idea what a linotype machine was… but all the same, the story just nearly scared him to death.

I have to say that I really don’t get the piece on this one. It’s outrageous to me, really. Thank goodness that Black Gate’s John O’Neil has already responded. It saves me from potentially losing my temper and saying something stupid. But if you can’t figure out how it is that guys like Fredric Brown, L. Sprague de Camp, and Fletcher Pratt could be really important figures in their day, then… well… that’s almost unbelievably blinkered. There really are people that are like that, I’m sure. You wouldn’t want to be one, either. That’s why it was charitable of O’Neil to suggest that Tim Callahan had not spent a lot of time either reading or reflecting on the material.

RETROSPECTIVE: The Best of Fredric Brown edited by Robert Bloch — “These are things that happen in the stories, often very short stories, of Fredric Brown. I can see why Gary Gygax liked them. Unfortunately, their connection to Dungeons & Dragons is vague at best. They seem to fall into a category that, after reading most of these Appendix N recommendations, I can now confidently call Somewhat Clever Things Gary Gygax Enjoyed but are Pretty Tedious to Read Today.”

Black Gate — “It’s clear to me that Gygax included Fredric Brown in Appendix N not because D&D players would find his work a rich trove of resources for world-building, but rather for the obvious craft of his storytelling and his ability to constantly surprise. And because he told damn good stories.”

Black Gate — “While Brown left behind a rich body of work, his real fame rests in a handful of his short stories, which include among them some of the best SF ever written. In fact, if he’d written nothing else, he’d still be remembered for his fabulous story ‘Arena,’ originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, June 1944.”

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