If you think Spelljammer is dumb, you are missing out!
Do you know why?
Here are some peoples comments:
"I thought it a ridiculous concept. The idea of putting Forgotten Realms in Space into a game just seems wonky for lack of a better description."
"I was in my teens and thought it was so far fetched that it was stupid."
"I didn't like it mostly because it lacked imagination. The complete rejection of any kind of science or tech turned it into MAGIC IN SPAAAAAACE!!!! When you already have the means to magically create a stable wormhole between two worlds, why would you ever need a magic ship to fly there?"
Sounds terrible right? It's not. I'll tell you why.
People complain about Gonzo because it isn't 'rational', 'doesn't make sense' and is 'stupid'. What makes this an ironic statement is it describes every property they are a fan of . Here, let's try it.
A farm boy is actually the son of the galactic emperors second in command and he ends up not only destroying their impenetrable fortress by shooting it with his eyes closed, but also learns to fight with lazer swords and is responsible for convincing his father to slay the emperor who can shoot lightning from his fingers. He's a member of a secret group of psychic ninjas.
Hm. Maybe again:
Ok, so the world is actually a computer simulation and in the real world people fly around in squid-like ships and avoid evil robots while in the computer a messiah can fly around and fight like superman against evil programming code. Also, for some reason, humans are batteries and have to produce more energy then they consume.
George E. Williams IV says it best:
I think the reason some people hate it is the silly elements, which are not overbearing or constant. Giff, the hippo men, are hilarious but have you ever seen an angry hippo? They are terrifying.Dungeons and Dragons by it's nature and design is gonzo and absurd. Look at the clothing styles! Talking spellcasting dragons! Magical yet medieval societies!
When you present gonzo features as deadly serious then it becomes awesome.
Spelljammer did have a presentation issue as Thomas Fitzgerald (of Middenmurk) points out:
"It was something we approached with conservative teenage gamer orthodoxy and found it unplayably bland. My impression is still of an intriguing premise let down by lacklustre execution and a weird genericism of aesthetic. The fact that it lacked a DiTerlizzi or a Brom was unfortunate. It coulda been a contender."
So, really, beyond actual presentation skill, the failing of modern gonzo comes down almost exclusively to how seriously it is presented.
What people are actually saying when they say "Property X is stupid because it is gonzo" is "I couldn't imagine a way of presenting that in a serious or dramatic fashion." That's a failing in the viewer, and not the property.
Some more praise of Spelljammer:
|by Jennell Jaquays|
"Love the idea and have pulled bits of it in to games before, never got to play it straight." - Eric Aubey
"My group loved it . . .If I would run it knowing what I know now, I'm confident I would rock it." - Jasper Polane
"Loved it. Got dozens of stories. It took my players awhile to adjust to the setting but once they did we had a blast." - Michael Fuller
"My first experience with Spelljammer turned into a campaign that lasted more than...geesh... 3 years and counting now. Once you get into Mind Flayers and Drow in space and Giff carrying guns as big as some of your team it can turn quite serious if you want it to." - Emily Vitori
"Neogi are among my favorite enemy monsters, and having them appear in a campaign on one of their spider-like ships doing some slaves'n'food pillaging is usually exciting!" -Carl Niclas
 I believe Jennell Jaquays could have been this person.
 Before you get all riled up; this doesn't mean a property can't be 'not to your taste'. I don't particularly like Yu-Gi-Oh as a matter of taste, but not because it's gonzo. I can imagine ways that I can take and present that property seriously -- I just won't because I don't like it. When I asked about opinions on spelljammer, I didn't receive responses like "I wasn't interested in wavecrawl type adventures." Or "I prefer smaller scales" The responses were as those in the beginning of the post. ALSO: this doesn't mean the property can't be bad or dull or boring. It's certainly possible to ruin any idea or setting by doing that.