In Praise Of Jeffro Johnson

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I’ve been writing for a little more than a decade, and seriously since about 2012-2013, but it wasn’t until I started reading Jeffro’s posts on the Hugo nominated Castalia House blog and his Appednix N book that something clicked in me.

It’s because of him I shifted my reading habits from the modern sci-fi political drivel to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Poul Anderson and Leigh Brackett. I would have never discovered this past full of wonder, where these authors reached for the stars and dreamed rather than dug their heels into the earth and tried to make a grittier, hellish  version of now.

He showed me what science fiction and fantasy can be.

Now you might think I’m overstating it, but it’s really incredible just how much the genre has transformed in the last three decades or so, and not for the better. I highly recommend searching his Castalia House posts at the very least and I also recommend every writer read Appendix N, his literary criticism of Dungeons and Dragons. It’s really brilliant and opened my eyes.

My writing changed because of it, and not just in a way where I consciously decided to draft things a different way. Old fiction was all about fun and wonder, and so when a writer approaches a book like that, it becomes more fun to write — it’s made me more productive in my habits just cuz I’m enjoying the process more. I don’t worry about realism now, I’ve realized that’s a dumb thing to strive for in science fiction,  I only worry about creating an exciting vision. It helps me cut down on slow points in the process, these revelations have done wonders for me personally.  And I know I’m not the only one.

Today I learned Jeffro will be stepping down from the Castalia House blog, a blog which has become daily reading for me because of him and the other great authors there. It makes me sad because this is the end of an era. I really hope he’ll continue to at least write occasionally so we get his insights. I’m going to miss him a lot in this capacity and I know others will as well.

I trust that Morgan Holmes will do an excellent job, and will also keep Jeffro’s vision in mind. But I wanted to dedicate this blog to Jeffro’s hard work over the last couple of years all the same. Thank you again, Jeffro. I hope you won’t be a stranger around these parts!

If you love Appendix N, the first story I wrote since discovering it was published this summer. You can find it here and see a marked difference in how I come at fiction. 

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19 thoughts on “In Praise Of Jeffro Johnson

  1. “I would have never discovered this past full of wonder”

    Just out of curisotiy, how old are you? I’m Gen-X and I read all that stuff in Middle and High School. Having been exposed to it previously, I look at the “gritty” stuff as a welcome change. Looking forward to the next change. No reason to go backwards. Don’t want to read the same stuff over and over.

    To Rich: if you are reading (and I know you are!), the answer to your question is Fried Shrimp, but I made them myself. Now, my question to you, how many restraining orders do you currently have in force against you?

  2. Ryan
    I’m Gen X too. However, there are a lot of books I haven’t read or heard about until recently. The reason is because I’m not Anglophone and I lived in a non English speaking part of North America. So my literary traditions are more European and Latin.
    So I didn’t read or have those books because no one in my family knew about them so I wasn’t familiar with most of the books.

    • I can see that. I also had the benefit of having a friend with a cool older sister with what amounted to a Sci-Fi / Fantasy Section from a Mall Bookstore in her room.

      • So, in other words, you had someone with specialized knowledge introduce you to those titles and authors. You had an “in”.

        But, you’ll make snarky condescending comments to people that didn’t have that person introduce them early on. So, when Jon praises Jeffro, you just can’t fight the urge to be a d-bag.

        Good to know.

          • Lol! Reading is fundamental Ryan. Note: I wrote of the individual (your friend’s cool older sister) not the size of her book collection.

            In other words Ryan (and I’ll write this slow for you): You…had…someone…to…guide…you. By…your…own…admission…you…undermine…your…condescending…dismissal…of…Jon’s…comments.

            Bargain Basement Troll strikes again!

          • You are assuming we didn’t just pick and choose. If she was actually a “guide” with my reading interests in mind, she wouldn’t have let me pick Heinlein’s Friday solely because of the cover art.

  3. Ryan, do you even read your comments and responses? Do you check them to see if they make coherent sentences or are germane to the topic at hand?

    Is Toothprick Pete doing that old gag where he stands behind you and you crazy kids pretend his hands are your hands? And he can’t even see what he’s typing? That gag always makes me laugh.

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