Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, famously included a list of "inspirational and educational reading" at the back of his Dungeon Masters Guide (1979). Entitled Appendix N, Gygax explains that the list consists of "authors [who] were of particular inspiration to me." He later adds that "all of the authors ... helped to shape the form of the game." Appendix N is thus descriptive than prescriptive. It's the books that shaped Gygax's imagination and influenced him as he was creating D&D. His list is, by design, neither exhaustive nor critical, but, despite that, it provides terrific insights into how one of the creators of the first roleplaying game conceived it.
I think what Gygax did was very valuable, providing a glimpse into his own creative process. Even if one does not share his tastes, it's nonetheless helpful to understanding where he was coming from in his own work. For that reason, when I revised the Thousand Suns rulebook, I made a decision to include a bibliography explicitly modeled on Gygax's Appendix N. Indeed, I went so far as to give it the very same title. My goal was to make clear my own influences, both as a way to highlight the books and authors who inspired me and to spell out what I meant by "imperial science fiction."
While I am happy with the list included in Thousand Suns, I don't think it is – or could be – the final word on the literary SF I've loved since I was a younger person. That's why I will soon begin a series of posts in which I talk about many of the entries on my list. In some cases, I'll devote only a single post to an entry, while others might receive multiple entries. Regardless, I think it's important to talk about the literary origins of Thousand Suns in greater depth and hope you will agree.