Over on Goodreads I have recently received a quite “meh” two star review. It’s not fake. It’s actually a pretty good example of “praising with faint damnation.” Here’s the meat of it:
While I liked the connection of ideas to D&D, I didn’t think much of the other remarks and could live without the reviews. In comparing this book to the source blog, I prefer the latter for the comments on many entries. This was a forum for discussing both the ideas and the authors. This book presents only the blog posts, and misses the conversation. The reviews are not that great and the large quotation blocks are annoying. Lastly, it would be nice to have cover images from the books – especially for an electronic version where full color costs no more than text.
Okay, I think this is kind of neat for several reasons.
In the first place, the bad old days before full throttle culture war were very different from today. Maybe my experience isn’t universal, but it was much more of a time where you could identify the non-leftists more by what they didn’t say than what they did say. And when it came to fantasy and gaming, most people like that would hang back rather than risk being tarred with the brush of awful hatefulness. But the wrong ideas could not be suppressed entirely. When various news articles would be bandied about on social media by people that were otherwise discrete about their heretical notions, it became sort of a truism for vocal leftists that one should never read the comments.
So I have to say, it’s very gratifying to me that someone that didn’t care for my commentary nevertheless points people to the wide-ranging discussion that spawned from its original form. A discussion, I might add, that had many participants which would go on to have their comments deleted when they attempted to continue the conversation onto other blogs and science fiction and fantasy sites.
It’s not just a rogues gallery of thought criminals, though. If you go back and look who was showing up, it really is astonishing how many of them are extremely influential authors and game designers. Combine that with the undiluted joy expressed by people that were blown away by just how good the pulp masters were– and how ideologically diverse science fiction and fantasy was up through the seventies– and yeah, you get some of the best discussion anywhere.
So yeah, definitely check out the comments. And the blogs and podcasts of the people that were commenting. And the fiction and role-playing games that they published after they got into heated arguments about Leigh Brackett, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Roger Zelazny, Michael Moorcock, the Futurians, science fantasy, the New Wave, and everything else. When I first started delving into all that, I was convinced I had stumbled onto the most fascinating thing on the internet. And I think it’s fair to say that the people that shared that assessment while I was writing the book ended up making it a reality.