I get this question once in a while. No, they’re not asking about the vestigial organ you had removed when you were 12. The appendix (actually appendices) at the back of the Ascension Epoch books.
At the back of each book that we currently have out, there is an appendix featuring background information about the Ascension Epoch universe. Sometimes it’s short, as in Population of Loss, with its single entry on The Signalman, sometimes it’s long, as in Copper Knights and Granite Men, with articles on everything from Amp’s social life to captured documents revealing the connection of Joshua Norton to the Imperial Dynasty of America, as descended from Carcosa.
Well, the point of these is pretty much what you think: to allow the reader to explore some of the characters, organizations, events, and concepts mentioned in the books in greater detail. Sometimes the subjects are only referenced off-handedly, and you might be curious to learn more about them and their significance in the world. Sometimes you just want to know more about the history of an ancient character like the Promethean, details that would just clutter up a novelette about people getting turned to statues in a museum. Sometimes they are there to explain where the story fits in the wider shared universe, and hint that things are much different than you might have imagined. An example of this case are the appendices to House of Refuge, a fairly realistic military-SF short story with no signs of superheroes or anything supernatural in it. When you get to the sentence in the back that off-handedly mentions the Martian War, though, you know there’s something very strange and something very special going on here.
In two cases, we even include the texts of the public domain short stories that influenced our books or are directly referenced in them. In Copper Knights and Granite Men, we include the two stories from the classic horror novel “The King in Yellow” (as authored by Robert W. Chambers) most relevant to our story, and in After Dark, we include a case file from the records of psychic detective John Silence (as written by Algernon Blackwood). This part of the appendix is more controversial than the other parts, partly because several people apparently thought that I had written them as a sort of “false document” inserted in the book, and partly because they expand the page counts of our books (which some readers consider mere ‘fluff’, and we realize as an added printing cost). The main reason we included these was because we know a lot of people may never have even heard of, let alone read, these excellent stories from a century or more ago, and we want to expose them to some fine literature they may be missing out on. The second reason is to emphasize that the Ascension Epoch universe is, in fact, built on these public domain stories — these fantasies and adventures really happened in our fictional world.
Some people we’ve talked to absolutely love the appendices. In fact, some have been so bold as to tell me that they’re better than my stories! On the other hand, I’ve also met some people who don’t care for them at all. Most people don’t even mention them, and perhaps don’t even read them.
Well, that’s OK! You can love them or loathe them. You don’t have to read them at all! That’s why they’re in the appendix! They’re not required to understand or fully enjoy the story, but, they can, like the appendices in the back of The Lord of the Rings, give you a much deeper appreciation of our World of Resurgent Myth — but only if you want to.
Consider the appendix little extra bonus from us, a lagniappe we offer in thanks for buying our books.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the appendices. Do you like them? Hate them? Did the inclusion of the public domain stories expose you to something new and exciting, or would you rather we just dropped them? As we move toward launching our members only website, we may not include appendices in our books at all, but instead direct the reader to the member site. Your input on this would interest Shell and I considerably. You can respond in the comments or get in touch with us via email.