In science fiction and fantasy circles you all know of those series where the author has died and someone else has been commissioned to continue writing their series of books. The ones that come to mind at present at The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy trilogy by Douglas Adams and the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. There are many more out there and it’s been happening for a very long time. One other I can recall off hand is Heidi Grows Up and Heidi’s Children written by Charles Tritten. Heidi has been a favourite of many people for many, many years and was translated to English by Charles Tritten, he then went on to write the two sequels.
How do you feel about another author coming along and writing a book based on your favourite series? Do you consider it a travesty and will never read it or do you welcome it with open arms? This is an interesting question. Until I remembered about Heidi‘s two sequels I was totally annoyed that Eoin Colfer should consider himself good enough to write a Douglas Adams book and make it six books in the trilogy and I was slightly annoyed that Brandon Sanderson would write another in the Wheel of Time series. Now, I have to step back and think about it some more. When I was young I remember being very excited to find the two sequels to Heidi and I read them avidly several times, I recall that excitement but I don’t recall if the sequels were as good as the original, I was rather young at the time.
Let’s have a look at the Hitchhikers Trilogy. Douglas Adams wasn’t certain if there would be another book. It is something he was considering as he’d said he’d like to finish the series on a more upbeat note to Mostly Harmless and he felt Salmon of Doubt was not working as a Dirk Gently novel. So, in his mind it wasn’t quite certain if it was finished and if you read Salmon of Doubt you’ll see he had enough material for a decent outline of a new book. There’s no doubt that Eoin Colfer is a talented writer, you only have to read the Artemis Fowl books to see that and I can see some resemblance in writing styles between Colfer and Adams so it may actually work. The title, And Another Thing…, is very much in the Adams style and I can just see him coming back from the grave to say it. So, I saw it in the shops yesterday and I had mixed feelings as whether I’ll read it or not. I’ll wait and see.
Wheel of Time is a rather different proposition. At first, I was horrified, but I’ve just read up about it on Wikipedia and I see Robert Jordan had already planned and written 50,000 words. So, in this case it’s more completing it and editing it rather than writing from scratch. Now, I don’t actually like the Wheel of Time series myself, I know lots of other people who do and I’ll be interested to hear their views on this. For those of you who don’t know yet, there will actually be three books. The first, The Gathering Storm, is the original one that Jordan was working on and when Brandon Sanderson started working on it he found it was going to be too large a book for publication so it was decided to split it into three. This can be considered Jordan’s final vision of the series (this sentence taken from Wikipedia is suitably vague to allow anyone else to write more in the Wheel of Time series, thus opening up more discussion).
I’d appreciate your thoughts on this. I’m interested in your thoughts on all three series mentioned here and also to hear about other series you know about where someone other than the original author has continued the series.