Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Old School Adventures & Beyond Appendix N - Old School Resources From The Dawn of Science Fantasy

Sometimes I go a off a bit to wander away from the conventional band of Appendix N titles that we've seen in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide for first edition.
If you've been following from other day's blog post I've been looking do a turn of the of the century alternative Earth setting & system,an old school OSR hybrid of Adventurer, Conqueror, King's Barbarians of Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu mixed in with Troll Lord Games Amazing Adventures firearms, modern equipment & more. The combination will be called Renegade Heroes, Tyrannical Conquerors, & Wasteland Kings!  I've been working on an Appendix 1800 - 1980's Science Romance list for this system. One of the best titles in this group is Annals of the Twenty-Ninth Century: or, The Autobiography of the Tenth President of the World-Republic By Andrew Blair.

Annals of the Twenty-Ninth Century: or, The Autobiography of the Tenth President of the World-Republic is a science fiction novel written by Andrew Blair, and published anonymously in 1874.[1]
Blair's work is one of a group of early science fiction novels that are now little known, but were influential in their own time—group that includes Edward Maitland's By and By (1873), Percy Greg's Across the Zodiac (1880), and John Jacob Astor IV's A Journey in Other Worlds (1894)"

Blair's vision goes from one technological marvel to another weirder dance partner of wonder. Ever one how a beast master or ranger might be used in  such a setting? How about training armies of animals to do your science fantasy war lord's bidding?
"The modern U.S. Navy trains dolphins; Blair foresees much more:
...a levy of 40,000 naturalists were engaged for years in forming a hundred different zoological armies. Each of these was, by an admirable system of drill, brought to such a high state of discipline that a brigade, consisting of a thousand elephants, a thousand rhinoceroses, 180,000 monkeys and 15,000 other beasts of draught and burden could be officered with perfect ease by as few as one thousand naturalists. Birds of burden and fish of burden were in like manner drafted into the ranks of the zoological army, and, being subjected to similar training, were brought to a similar degree of efficiency"
Weirdness upon weirdness is heaped upon the reader & a dungeon master would take weeks to sift through the weird science that's presented here. Annals of the Twenty-Ninth Century: or, The Autobiography of the Tenth President of the World-Republic is available at the Internet Archive here.

The Autobiography of the Tenth President of the World-Republic By Andrew Blair is a grand & sweeping exercise in broad strokes of speculative writing in a epic manner & its a perfect fit for a Dying Earth or alternative history adventure.

Its an interesting contrast to the way that H.G. Wells gives his novel War of the Worlds such a weird rational & almost documentary style to the novel. It contrasts very sharply with A Journey in Other Worlds: A Romance of the Future  by John Jacob Astor IV, published in 1894. This novel is a colonist's dream with the United States a corporate super power & rest of the world socialistic utopia. There's also an element of the horrid supernaturalism of the weird occult as space explorers discover "discover the icy world Cassandra, home to the souls of unworthy Earthlings."Are there weird Spiritualism ruins from some ancient lost civilization or other remains of lost Atlantis or some other lost world civilization?

Across the Zodiac: The Story of a Wrecked Record (1880) is by Percy Greg, & his novel has  many of the classic science fantasy or science romance's adventure elements  that would become prevalent in many of the later more contemporary tales of other authors. The Journal of a Southern Book Reader blog entry on Across The Zodiac goes into both the author & his works. Its a very interesting, well thought out & a  highly detailed read.

'Across the Zodiac: The Story of a Wrecked Record' (1880)  by Percy Greg is available for download right from the Internet Archives here.

Edward Maitland's 'By and By' (1873) is a rather unique book & not really one that I'd include here. Its a book of its time & if your curious I'd take a look.

For myself all of the above titles have something to offer the dungeon master as a jumping off point or stepping stone into the greater exercise of adventure writing.

'Across the Zodiac: The Story of a Wrecked Record' (1880) contains a very detailed account of the creation and use of apergy &  a highly detailed  form of anti-gravitational energy & within my mind a creation of HG Wells Cavorite.
This is the same substance used by Wells in his novel 'The First Men in the Moon'.
Its also the perfect substance to use as an antigravity core for a space dungeon & one that I've used many times. Many of these early scientific romances used the lone group of adventurers, or a combination of gadeteers or scientists to create a space craft in a work shop garage. C.S. Lewis would later 'borrow' this concept for his novel,'Out of the Silent Planet';
The influence of Wells's book is especially visible in Out of the Silent Planet, the first book of Lewis's Space Trilogy. There, too, a central role in the story line is played by a partnership between a worldly businessman interested in the material gains from space travel (and specifically, in importing extraterrestrial gold to Earth) and a scientist with wider cosmic theories.

Also in Lewis's book, the two quietly build themselves a spaceship in the seclusion of an English country house, and take off into space without being noticed by the rest of the world. (It may be noted that both Wells and Lewis, like virtually all science fiction writers until the 1950s, grossly underestimated the resources needed for even the smallest jaunt outside Earth's gravitational field.) Like Wells's book, Lewis's reaches its climax with the Earth scientist speaking to the wise ruler of an alien world (in this case Oyarsa, the ruler of Malacandra/Mars) and blurting out the warlike and predatory nature of humanity."

We can already see the early strains of Sword & Planet adventures in these titles but its really crystallized in Gullivar Jones: His Vacation by Edwin Lester Arnold,1905. All of these elements would later come together in Edgar Rice Burroughs A Princess of Mar.
Here the lone hero conquerors all in a desperate attempt to overcome the odds & obstacles of adventure.

Weirdly enough I think that the group of adventurers tinkering in a workshop or wizard's tower to create a space craft might actually work far better then the lone hero stereotype. Forgotten are the Fantastic Four style adventurers who take on the mantle of 'explorer' & conqueror to take on alien settings, strange space dungeons, & other weird pulpy adventures. Yet I think that this closer to many of the elements of original Dungeons & Dragon's play mission in my mind. This material is perfect to be plugged into the ACK's

Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu setting.

Since all of these titles are public domain they can be used & morphed in any way that the dungeon master sees fit. They make excellent fodder for a dungeon master looking for an adventure setting for those jaded players who have seen it all.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.