MIND MELD: What’s Your Take on Author Legacies? Should Unfinished Series Remain Unfinished?

I’m a panelist for SF Signal’s Mind Meld today. The question was:

Brandon Sanderson famously finished Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time while writers like Roger Zelazny (“Amber”) and George R.R. Martin (“A Song of Ice and Fire”) have said nobody will finish their series or continue their work. Would you want another writer to pick up an unfinished series by an author? Should unfinished series remain unfinished?

Want to discuss, debate, and/or read everyone’s answers? Click here!

More updates from me later…

Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

6 thoughts on “MIND MELD: What’s Your Take on Author Legacies? Should Unfinished Series Remain Unfinished?

  1. Yes, I have one specific series in mind. The Travis McGee series by John D. McDonald. He died soon after publishing The Lonely Silver Rain where we are introduced to a daughter he never knew he had. I’ve always wished that his estate would find a missing set of notes for the next book. I’d love to have seen him enjoy his teenage daughter for at least one whole book.

    1. My dad loves John McDonald and the Travis McGee series! It’s hard when a beloved author dies and their work isn’t continued, but it sounds like there were enough clues in that last novel for you to at least imagine what the characters’ relationship would have been like. It’s not the same as having McDonald write it, of course, but better than never having been introduced to such wonderful characters.

      Thanks for the visit, Nora. Have a great week!

  2. I think the stories should continue. The readers come first, after all. George Martin did not strike me as someone who cares about his fans, so it doesn’t surprise me that he wouldn’t care about his stories being finished or continued when he dies. I respect the effort Robert Jordan went through, as he lay dying, to see that his work was completed for the readers. And wasn’t everyone disappointed when Charles Shultz’s family said that Peanuts would end with him? Write on, Charlie Brown.

    1. Your comment has me thinking that the idea of legacy/readers is a chicken/egg question. What kind of a legacy can an author have without readers? And yet, because it’s impossible for an author to please every reader, authors need to stay true to their own vision regarding their work and not be too influenced by popular demand.

      I never got the impression George Martin doesn’t care about his fans. And (although I’ve never met him), I feel certain he cares very much about finishing his Song of Ice and Fire series. I think he’s likely frustrated by fans who want him to write faster than quality control dictates.

      Thanks for the comment, Shamus. Hope your summer is going well!

  3. When Robert B. Parker died, a couple of authors were selected to pick up his series. Neither is able to write even remotely as well as Parker, nor does either have a similar style. I accidentally ordered one book (I collect Parker’s books), thinking I’d missed a book before his death. It arrived with Parker’s name in a huge font at the top of the title, and the “real” author’s name in a tiny font beneath the title. I read about three pages and tossed it. Parker has a wonderful economic style of prose that simply cannot be reproduced. As a reader, I believe in some cases, the author’s talent is such that it’s disrespectful to both readers and the deceased author to even attempt to find a replacement. When one has become accustomed to eating filet Mignon and expects filet Mignon, sea bass, no matter how tasty, simply cannot pass the taste test.

    1. Even if the next author’s work on the series has been blessed by its creator, there are still big considerations. Hopefully, they will be guided by discussions w the author or notes left behind. But it would be extraordinarily difficult to finish another author’s series in that author’s exact voice. Which is why I’d be willing to give the new author a chance and wouldn’t necessarily expect that. So long as they produced something that added positively to the series, I’d be grateful to them for their efforts.

      Thanks for stopping by, Michelle. Appreciate the comment!

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