Thursday, March 2, 2017

Free Appendix N Sword and Sorcery Download - Avon Fantasy Reader 7 (1948) For Your Old School Campaigns

I've noticed the ever increasing circle of sword & sorcery & weird fiction  fans has recently been on the increase. This is always a good thing in my estimation. Because it means that a lot of the solid material being brought to the surface of OSR collective. Now take the Avon Fantasy Reader issue #7 from Nineteen Forty Eight. Why was this issue important? Well first of all it has a little bit of everything for the weird fiction fan & the sword and sorcery guy. Everything here is double dipped in awesomeness.
"The Avon Fantasy Reader was a magazine (sometimes classed as a series of anthologies) which re-published science fiction and fantasy literature by now well know authors. Avon strived to bring readers little known stories by then little recognized writers such as H. P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, C. L. Moore, A. Merritt, Murray Leinster and William Hope Hodgson. The Avon Fantasy Reader was published from 1946 to 1952 and had 18 issues in full. A short lived sister publication, Avon Science Fiction Reader, had three issues featuring just science fiction."
The covers were always top notch, the quality was better then a lot of the run of the mill fare back then and they don't make em like this anymore.

So why is issue great? Well look at the cast of classic stuff you've got in this issue. This is the sort of whose who of pulp writing that we just don't see today. All of this material could effectively be assembled into a complete campaign with little effort.

"Shambleau" (Northwest Smith series) by C. L. Moore
"The Curse of a Thousand Kisses" by Sax Rohmer
"The Dreams of Albert Moreland" by Fritz Leiber
"The Slugly Beast" (Joseph Jorkens series) by Lord Dunsany
"The Cairn on the Headland" by Robert E. Howard
"Aquella" (aka "The Planet Called Aquella") by Martin Pearson
"The Empire of the Necromancers" (Zothique series) by Clark Ashton Smith
"When Old Gods Wake" by A. Merritt
"The Were-Snake" by Frank Belknap Long
"The Gun" by Frank Gruber
So whose the genius behind the Avon Reader series? Probably someone whose name you've never heard but whose efforts you've probably read. Meet Donald Allen Wollheim a super science fiction, fantasy fan, sci fi writer, publisher, etc.  from way back in the Golden age of Science Fiction.  This man helped to shape the way we read science fiction & fantasy today from its foundations to its modern incarnations. Go and read his story for yourself his accomplishments are far to numerous for me to list here.

Photo taken by Amy Meadow, Wollheim family friend

A member of the Futurians and the founder of 
DAW Books, Robert Silverberg said, "that he may have been "the most significant figure" in American SF publishing. "  Today he's one of the most criminally  underrated figures in the annals of Science Fiction. Those awesome yellow spined Daw SF books that you find at the good garage sales or Half Priced books if your really lucky that was
Donald Allen Wollheim & his wife's baby. Mr. Wolheim may be gone, he passed in 1990 but he's far from forgotten.

Science Fiction fans of Donald Allen Wollheim's caliber become the next generation of leading lights for fantasy & science fiction authors a situation that I wish would continue more then it seems to today. But this is a blog post for another time. Back to the free stuff for the moment.

Anyhow I've always loved the Avon Fantasy Reader series, there was always so much you could mine from the anthologies pages from the exotic past of Sax Rohmer to the echoes of sword & sorcery awesomeness of Robert Howard. These magazines were always quality read. I came across them in the Summer of Eighty Six at yard sale in my home town. They were stacked neatly and waiting to come to a good home. So they came home with me. My dad always loved em because they had top drawer authors. The majority of the stories and material in Avon Fantasy Readers were older pulp reprints and that's exactly why they make excellent dungeon master fodder.

Donald A. Wollheim (ed.) Avon Fantasy Reader no. 7 (1948) HERE

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