In Which There Is No Defense Against the Onslaught of Reality

Creator of Worlds

by Andrew Zornoza

Gary Gygax: July 27th 1938-March 4, 2008

Late autumn, the smell of decomposing leaves, water rushing through the creek. Three boys with mud and blood streaked forearms. Down jackets. Glasses left in the mire, recovered in the spring. A basement filled with Harlequin books, a coca-cola radio that is wired to turn on from the light switch at the top of the stairs. Balsa wood planes. Five dollars allowance wadded in a fist. Forbidden Planet. A fire in the woods. Yellow ochre spiral springs of dilapidated sofas and condom wrappers. The library.

24 feet underground. Papers worn thin and soft as cotton, smudged with lead, folded in the back pockets of J.C. Penney jeans. Lamps brought under the covers. Fingers burned. Figures studied, numbers added, multiplied. Boys on bikes, on foot, crawling.

Sewer pipe underneath the road, black creek. Puffs of bianca.

The death of Gary Gygax saddens me beyond repair. And as I get older, the word ‘repair’ is leaving my senses—there is no repair, only replacement, reconfiguration.

what kind of DnD character are you?

“The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don’t need any rules.

Imagination is a sad place full of the dead—here they outnumber the living.

There is no defense against the onslaught of reality. But there is the sublime.


“Geeks everywhere should observe 1d4 + 1 moments of silence

The brain is wider than the sky.

Philip Dick once wrote that he built universes so that, “they do not fall apart two days later.” But he went on to perjure himself: “I will reveal a secret to you: I like to build universes which do fall apart.”

Gary Gygax built castles of clay. His was an extensible world, a generous world. There were rules—but who followed them? There were, are, squares of paper, blank lines, the player holds the pencil. And throws the dice.

The dice and the frontier of the future. But that was not all, the past could be rewritten, the walls could be moved, the adventurers were mortal but contained infinities.

We wrote in pencil. We drew. We did not move, but to uncurl a tucked leg falling asleep.

The Voynich manuscript. The Codex Seraphinianus. Tolkien. Calvino. The Millennium Falcon. History is littered with peril. With scripts and mysteries.

No Gods. No Monsters.


This, to me, seems like an awful way to live.

Gary Gygax built a church to the imagination.

An architecture that swallows the sky.

Minotaurs and hippogriffs do not fit in human caskets. Graph paper and pencils are inexpensive. There is too much to see now. The world has been broken open.

Thank you, Gary.

Andrew Zornoza is the senior contributor to This Recording. He lives in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. His latest story is available here. His photo-novel “Where I Stay,” will be available from Tarpaulin Sky Press in early 2009. You can e-mail him at azornoza at


all things go recommendation

“The Beaches All Closed” – No Kids (mp3)

“Bluster In The Air” – No Kids (mp3)

“I Love the WeekEnd” – No Kids (mp3)

“Four Freshman Locked Out As The Sun Goes Down” – No Kids (mp3)

tomlab website


An ancient epic poem exhumed.

Science Corner changed all our lives forever.

Andy’s wedding guide for grooms in New York.

“feel ma junk michelle.” “feel better bb.”

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