The Blue Star is an alternate universe novel written by Fletcher Pratt in 1952. The cover to the left is of the Ballantine paperback edition, published in 1969, back during the heyday of pulp fantasy reprints aimed at a new generation of readers. It's no surprise to me that Dungeons & Dragons arose at the time that it did, as many were exposed to writers and stories for the first time that they were too young to have read previously. Regardless of what one thinks of Lin Carter's original contributions to the fields of fantasy and horror, there's no question that we all owe him a debt of gratitude for his role in promoting otherwise forgotten authors and tales in the late 60s and early 70s.
The Blue Star takes place in a world where magic works and gunpowder doesn't, resulting in a setting vaguely reminiscent of 18th century central Europe. Its protagonist is Rodvard Bergelin, an inconsequential government clerk who becomes embroiled in a vast plot to overthrow the current regime and create a new society in its place. It's another interesting piece of work by Pratt, both because of his eye for details and because Gary Gygax mentions it by name as an inspiration for D&D.
I grow ever more convinced that most gamers -- and designers -- are ignorant of the powerful influence of alternate universe and Lost World literature on the game and that their ignorance has been one of the engines for pushing the game in directions very different than those that at least Gygax intended for his creation. This is a topic I'm thinking a lot about and will be returning to in a future post, but I need some more time to consider the implications of the thesis I'm developing.