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July 21, 2007

And their heptalogies are just noise
Posted by Avram Grumer at 02:15 PM * 372 comments

I’ve seen articles and blog posts about the finish of the Harry Potter series that mention that fans have been waiting for the seventh book for ten years, as if that’s a long time. I suppose it is, if you were eleven years old when the first came out, or if you don’t usually read long book series, but my first thought, when I saw one of those articles, was John Crowley fans are just rolling their eyes. Check out the publication history on Crowley’s Ægypt tetralogy:

  1. Ægypt (aka The Solitudes) — 1987
  2. Love & Sleep — 1994
  3. Dæmonomania — 2000
  4. Endles Things — 2007

But at least it finished. So did Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, which took 22 years between Book 1 and Book 7. When I was in high school, I was into a series by David Gerrold, The War Against the Chtorr:

  1. A Matter for Men — 1983
  2. A Day for Damnation — 1985
  3. A Rage for Revenge — 1989
  4. A Season for Slaughter — 1993
  5. A Method For Madnessunpublished
  6. A Time for Treasonunpublished
  7. A Case for Courageunpublished

Gerrold says he’s still working on it. I’ve lost interest.

And there are Samuel Delany’s Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand (published in 1984, sequel still unfinished) and Alexei Panshin’s Anthony Villiers books (first three published in 1968 and ’69, fourth never published, but at least each book stands on its own as a story).

How about Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos books? A projected ninteen-book series, the first of which (Jhereg) was published in 1983, and the eleventh of which was recently delivered to Brust’s publisher. At that rate, the series ought to wrap up around 2028, a total of 45 years from start to finish.

And I’m not even going to bring up comics. Like Cerebus, which took 27 years from first to last issue, and the author went crazy about two-thirds of the way through and invented his own religion. But I’m not going to mention it. Nope.

“Waiting for ten years.” Hmph.

Comments on And their heptalogies are just noise:
#1 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 02:34 PM:

Amelia Peabody. 31 years from Book One to The End.

#2 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 02:49 PM:

When I first read about Gerrold's Chtorr books, I wanted to read the series. But noticing how long it had been since the last book (this was in about 2005) I decided to wait until he'd finished them before I started.

Still waiting.

I have managed to amuse myself with one of his Star Trek novels in the meantime, however.

#3 ::: John C. Bunnell ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 02:54 PM:

#1: Except not precisely; the author reports that she has a further Amelia novel under contract (though there will be a new Vicky Bliss book first).

Now based on previous comments, the forthcoming book will most likely be set somewhere in the interior of the series chronology. Nonetheless, we apparently still have an Emersonian manuscript to look forward to....

#4 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 03:02 PM:

John @ #3, Thanks. When I read Tomb I got the feeling she was relieved to be done with the whole series (I thought there were loose ends tied up almost haphazardly), so I wonder what the next one could possibly be like.

#5 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 03:05 PM:

The Hobbit to The Silmarillion

I'm not sure whether or not to count The Children of Hurin But that's seventy years.

#6 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 03:07 PM:

James Branch Cabell considered his Poictesme and Lichfield novels as part of an eicosapentalogy with the overall title "The Line of Love" (which was also the name of an early book in the sequence).

#7 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 03:11 PM:

Thirty-seven years ago I wrote to Panshin to find out the outcome of The Great Ian Steele Contest. He replied, but he didn't answer. Pity.

#8 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 03:15 PM:

I have one word: Discworld.

Thirty-plus books and counting. And while not all the same cha racters appear in all of them, it's recognizably the same world.

#9 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Charlie, I don't think I'd count Discworld as a whole, any more than I count the Brust's non-Vlad Dragaera books. There's a difference between waiting for a new book in a familiar setting, and waiting for the book that tells you how things finally turn out.

#10 ::: Jess Nevins ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 03:36 PM:

Jack Williamson: The Legion of Space, 1934, Queen of the Legion, 1982.

Alternatively, Bible -> Book of Mormon.

#11 ::: Konrad ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 03:49 PM:

The Door Into Starlight
Buttercup's Baby
The Dancing Girl
The AI War and Lord November
Stan Freberg Presests the United States of America

#12 ::: gramina ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 03:54 PM:

And Diane Duane's Door books -- I think Door into Fire first came out in the seventies, Door into Shadow in the eighties, Door into Sunset in the nineties, and I'm hoping for Door into Starlight sometime in the next couple years. ;>

That'd make a, what, quadralogy? over the course of roughly thirty-to-forty years.

Patience....

#13 ::: sburnap ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 03:57 PM:

The Delany book is why I now only rarely will start a series until it is actually done. I didn't even start the Dark Tower books until I heard King was actively writing the end.


I made an exception for George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series and now am regretting it.


I don't count Brust's Vlad books. They are a series, true, but each book is a self-contained story and at least at the moment, Brust seems more interested in good individual stories than with the overall series story. I don't feel hanging at the end of any of his books.

#14 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 04:04 PM:

Is Duane still planning to write _Starlight_?

Daniel Keys Moran reports that he may be getting the rights to _A.I. War_ back from Bantam.

#15 ::: Matthew Stevens ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 04:20 PM:

It's funny how we can complain about Cerebus but not, say, Superman, who's been smacking Lex Luthor around for almost 80 years now. Authors who don't exploit their characters until the sun blows out end up getting more flak.

#16 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 04:26 PM:

Much as I am eagerly awaiting the next Vlad book, I don't have a sense of waiting to see how it turns out.

I don't get a sense of deterministic narrative from it. I'm just seeing how he lives his life.

The Morrolan Books, those had me waiting to see how they turned out (even though I knew, sort of, I wanted to see how Steven resolved it to get to the places I knew it had to go).

#17 ::: Karen in Wichita ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 04:34 PM:

You have to factor in the age of the target audience, though. Kid years are longer than grownup years.

#18 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Aubry/Maturin, by O'Brian

Master and Commander, 1970.

Blue at the Mizzen, 1999.

20 volumes, almost 3o years.

I remember the joy of each new book as I worked my way to 13. Then the pain of waiting for each new one.

#19 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 04:51 PM:

Yeah, the Chtorr books pretty much cured me of open-ended series. (Not the least of it: When #3 or #4 came out (I forget which), the new publisher re-issued new, unexpurgated versions of the earlier books.)

Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time series, beginning with A Question of Upbringing (1951) and ending with #12, Hearing Secret Harmonies, 24 years later.

#20 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 05:03 PM:

I'm still wishing someone would do something with whatever exists of Gordon Dickson's Childe. (There's one that stretched out over, what, forty years?) I don't expect a finished novel--I just want to know how it ends.

#21 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 05:18 PM:

There's the 'Bolitho' series by Alexander Kent: the first one was published in 1968, and there's one out this year. He's still writing.

#22 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 05:25 PM:

Yes, Diane Duane's still planning to write Starlight but all her other projects keep getting in the way. :-)

For me, it's Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond/Niccolò series. 14 books. 39 years from The Game of Kings to Gemini.

#23 ::: JamesK ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 05:33 PM:

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. "Eye of the World" published 1990. The final book of the series is currently being written.

Stopped reading four books back, personally. Will probably give the whole thing another try once they're all out in paperback.

#24 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 05:37 PM:

Matt @15, keep in mind that Cerebus is a character, written by one author in much the same way as Dickens wrote Little Nell, while Superman is a property, written by dozens of authors, none of whom have the authority to end his story for good.

And Supes has only been fighting Luthor for 67 years.

#25 ::: Steve B ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 05:54 PM:

As others have already mentioned Gerrold's Cthorr, Duane's Door, and Moran's Continuing Time stories, I'll content myself with still waiting for the second half of Stephen Boyett's _The Architect of Sleep_.

#26 ::: Christopher B. Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 06:01 PM:

I agree with JamesK -- the Wheel of Time definately qualifies. I started reading it my first year in college, and I'm 36 now. After the fifth or sixth book the actual reading became a chore, with the exception of chapters dealing with one or two select characters, and after that I just kept reading in order to get to the ending... so it's actually felt much longer to me.

On the other hand, my frustration over that series did help me be a little more disciplined in my own writing, and I've actually finished stuff since then.

#27 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 06:07 PM:

How about books by the Stratemeyer committee, like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys? Should they count?

#28 ::: Michael R. Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 06:10 PM:

Nowhere near a record, but I thought I'd mention Pamela Sargeant's 'Venus' trilogy:

Venus of Dreams (1986)
Venus of Shadows (1988)
Child of Venus (2001)

Something happened in that 13-year gap between volumes 2 and 3, because the concluding volume felt very disconnected thematically from the first two.

#29 ::: Michael R. Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 06:12 PM:

Sorry, that should have been 'Pamela Sargent'.

#30 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 06:28 PM:

What about series that didn't sell enough to get the end published? I want to find out what happens at the end of Doris Egan's Ivory books, dammit!!!1!

#31 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 06:39 PM:

R.A. Lafferty, The Flame Is Green and Half a Sky were published something like ten years apart. There were supposed to be two more, but though the first two were published many years before Lafferty's death, it was never finished (and I'm pretty sure they aren't among his unpublished novels).

Avram Davidson's Vergil in Averno -- a criminally unknown novel -- was published many years after The Phoenix and the Mirror, and there was supposed to be more to that series. And he never finished the story begun with The Island under the Earth, published a couple of decades or so before his death.

I think it's much more frustrating when it's one big overarching story, like the Jordan books, as opposed to a series of linked novels that are each complete on their own, like the O'Brian books. And while it took many years for O'Brian to complete his cycle, the gap between books is relatively short, especially compared to some of the other examples people have given.

Delany many years ago said to me that he had written Stars in My Pocket from joy, and then AIDS hit and he couldn't approach the story with joy any more. He intended to finish it, when he could write in the same spirit that he'd begun it. (rough approximation; it's been something like twenty years since the conversation)

#32 ::: John S. Quarterman ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 06:43 PM:

Dune, 1965-(has that ended yet?)
Forty plus years and counting.

Sherlock Holmes, 1887-1917 (or is that 1928?)
Thirty or more years.

Allan Quatermaine, 1885-1927(?)
More than forty years.

-jsq

#33 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 06:43 PM:

I'm mildly surprised to see no mention of PC Hodgell, whose fans used to write letters to publishers imploring them to publish the unfinished whatever-it-was series.

#34 ::: Kieran ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 06:46 PM:

Tolkien began in minuscule when Gandhi was still a lawyer, and didn't end til the wastebasket was finally cleaned out after the millennium -- a enormously long delay that caused substantial embarrassment, trumped only by that Publisher's Weekly occurrence when a wired Asimov connoisseur couldn't be accommodated in the fan hierarchy: with a deity like Asimov at the top, etiquette demanded Pharaonic treatment be enforced by someone; maybe Teresa, or perhaps it's Macdonald, no its that Nielsen-Hayden guy.

#35 ::: Konrad ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 06:50 PM:

Scraps#33: Hodgell's God Stalk was 1982, To Ride a Rathorn was last year, no clue how many more are coming.

#36 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 06:51 PM:

I'd forgotten about Architect of Sleep.

As I understand it, the book is written, but there are rights issues which prevent it being published.

#37 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 06:56 PM:

Comic wise, Sambre is the thing for me. Started in 1986, five volume (roughly 250 pages) (of gorgeous, gorgeous art) published, ... still waiting for the next installement. Yslaire will drive me crazy... especially given how slow the pace of the story happens to be.

Phonetically close, still waiting for the next volume of The Chronicles of Amber... one day that ouija table will prove useful, damn it !

#38 ::: Zeborah ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 07:14 PM:

The Clan of the Cave Bear, 1980
The Valley of Horses, 1982
The Mammoth Hunters, 1985
The Plains of Passage, 1990
The Shelters of Stone, 2002

I read the first four when I was about 12. (I skimmed the 'icky bits'.) Then I waited. And waited. And waited. When the fifth finally came out, I'd just read a speculative fanfic which had been poorly written, trite, and cliched... and which captured the spirit of the actual fifth book remarkably well.

#39 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 07:31 PM:

#1: Except not precisely; the author reports that she has a further Amelia novel under contract (though there will be a new Vicky Bliss book first).

Dude! New Vicky Bliss?

I can't decide if I'm really happy or really apprehensive. I think the last one tied up her story very well and I wonder if extending it can be a good thing. But on the other hand I adore Vicky and John. I am conflicted.

#40 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 07:40 PM:

Jack Vance wrote the first "Demon Princes" book in 1961 and the fifth in 1981.

#41 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 07:40 PM:

Jack Vance wrote the first "Demon Princes" book in 1964 and the fifth in 1981.

#42 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 08:02 PM:

Is there any reason to hope that the fourth Villiers book will ever get published? (i am the compleat Villiers fan and have been panting for it for nearly thirty years (panting is tiring after the first decade or so), but the zeitgeist has changed, the author has changed, and presumably a decision to publish (even assuming the thing is actually written) would have to depend on the potential mass appeal of the first three books in reprint...not what one might describe as a sure bet.

#43 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 08:05 PM:

Oh, and i'm also still waiting for the sixth Demon Princes book which reveals that the mastermind of the DPs was Gersen's grandfather...

#44 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 08:16 PM:

At least HP and some of the others mentioned above are now complete.

I'm still hoping that the conclusion to the Tony Daniel trilogy that began with Metaplanetary will get published one day. No sign of that happening last time I looked.

#45 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 08:19 PM:

I'm not sure I'd class Dickens/Cerebus/Holmes and other serially published books in the same way as waiting for novels in a series. Monthly installments have a different "gap" wait expectation, although the longevity is as much (or more) to be admired.

For me, comics-wise, the biggest wait between installments I ever had was for Alan Moore & Melinda Gebbie's Lost Girls. It was, what, 1991 when it was first published in Taboo, and finally only released in its finished form last year?

Long may MPM write Emerson novels!! New Vicky Bliss? My joy is unalloyed. But I do sometimes wistfully hope we'd get another Jacqueline Kirby. I always liked them best.

#46 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 08:28 PM:

The years are shorter, but the waits are now long and scary, because either George or I could die before he finishes and I get to read Ice and Fire.

And certain people are giving me books that are actually half the novel, and it's a very long wait until the other half when that happens.

#47 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 08:30 PM:

I think it's important to distinguish between series of books done roman fleuve style so that they tell discrete stories and are easily identified as standalones, whereas to name one example, the Potter books are telling a big tale from start to end, broken out into plot or thematic units.

Thus, I'd qualify Rosemary Kirstein's _Steerswoman_ series in the same class with the Potter books, but not the Discworld, even though some of them are set in recognizable series, since it wasn't like Pratchett set out to write the history of Anhk-Morpork.

#48 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 08:58 PM:

Clare Bell's Ratha series ... there's a new one coming out in October, and the others will be reprinted.

#49 ::: John C. Bunnell ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 09:04 PM:

#39: Yes, but one of the long-standing minor mysteries in the Bliss saga is the mysterious connection between John's family and the Emersons, and there's at least a hint that MPM may address that in the upcoming book.

#45: Aha, a kindred soul; I too like Jacqueline best of all MPM's series sleuths. My private theory is that Jacqueline is in fact the unnamed editor of the Emerson manuscripts, and I keep hoping that this might ultimately lead to a novel in which Jacqueline and Vicky end up crossing metaphorical swords....

#50 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 09:08 PM:

Michael Moorcock, Between The Wars:

Byzantium Endures: 1981
The Laughter of Carthage: 1984
Jerusalem Commands: 1992
The Vengeance of Rome: 2006

Like Ægypt, a four-volume novel rather than a series; but even longer in gestation.

#51 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 09:10 PM:

I'm not arguing with any of the forgoing, but I think there is a sub-text of sorts in the news article that has been missed in the thread:

At Book I everyone knew this was to be a seven-book series, so (some) people have literally been waiting for Harry Potter 7 for ten years, as opposed to serially waiting for the next book in the infinitely recursive series.

In that sense it kind of reminds me of all the talk after Return of the Jedi over the fact that there were four films left, when would they come out, how would the three prequels work, and would the last one return to the "original" cast, or be a larger view of the entire universe post-Jedi with all-new characters.

It is a slightly different style of waiting than "when is the next Discworld/Honor Harrington/Batman/Anita Blake" story coming out -- with no real anticipation of a pat, finite end to the universe.

The closest I can think of was back in the 80's, as the break away from fantasy trilogies started: The third book of Dave Duncan's "A Man of his Word" series had just come out. I grabbed and devoured it, expecting the story to end, only to find out at the end it was continued further. That was one of those cases where, like Potter, there was an expectation of (eventual) completion, an end point, which was being waited for.

#52 ::: Nomie ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 09:23 PM:

Karen at 17 makes the point I would have made. I read the first book when I was in middle school; today, I read the final book while on summer break from grad school. Those ten years held a great deal of change and growing up for me. And I'm pretty average as far as that timespan/age correspondence goes.

#53 ::: James Nicoll ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 09:57 PM:

There's the Dumarest series: 30 years between The Winds of Gath and The Return, and 12 years between the second last book in the series and the final one.

#54 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 10:12 PM:

pedantic peasant @ 51:

At Book I everyone knew this was to be a seven-book series, so (some) people have literally been waiting for Harry Potter 7 for ten years, as opposed to serially waiting for the next book in the infinitely recursive series.

But the same was true of Ægypt and Between the Wars: both were specified to be four-volume works from the very beginning. In the case of Between the Wars, even the volume titles were known from the first.

I bought the first volume of each when first published, and so I really did wait 20 and 25 years, respectively, for the stories to end.

#55 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 10:27 PM:

I'm still waiting for Greg Costikyan to finish Cups and Sorcery. Volume one was 1990...

#56 ::: Karen in Wichita ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 10:41 PM:

Avedon: Yeah, that scares me about GRRM too. And that is a difference between that and, say, Vlad... if Brust got hit by a bus, we would cry because there wouldn't be any more Vlad. If GRRM got hit by a bus, we would cry because we'd never know how SoI&F ended.

#57 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 11:14 PM:

Wait, Crowley finished? Wow. I fell in love with Aegypt but when I realized how long it was going to take for all of them, I'd given up waiting and put it all out of my mind for a while. Now I can start reading at the beginning again. More than any book I can think of, Aegypt made me again feel the world as almost heart-breakingly numinous and magical.

#58 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 11:14 PM:

Texanne @ #30:
What about series that didn't sell enough to get the end published? I want to find out what happens at the end of Doris Egan's Ivory books, dammit!!!1!

Yeah. I'm still waiting on the final book in Marvin Kaye & Parke Godwin's Solitude trilogy, which hasn't found a publisher.

The Masters of Solitude - c1978
Wintermind - c1982
Singer Among the Nightingales - ????

I've been waiting patiently for 25 years now and am worried that the authors will die before writing the end of the story.

#59 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 11:19 PM:

Arrgh, and I see prices on used copies of all the earlier volumes are through the roof. I should not have been surprised, but I was.

#60 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 11:23 PM:

Scaps @31:

The third Vergil book, The Scarlet Fig, was published recently, albeit in a pricey limited edition.

pedantic peasant @51:

I think A Man of His Word was always supposed to be four volumes. Unfortunately, Duncan's "Demon" series (as "Ken Hood"), which I am pretty sure he was planning to be three volumes when he started, clearly requires a fourth, but they did not sell well enough for publishing such to be feasible.

#61 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 11:41 PM:

John Arkansawyer (20), Dickson left copious and detailed notes and outlines, and the end of the series is known (though not to me). Dave Wixon, who was for many years Gordy's writing assistant, has been working on filling in the missing books.

Kieran (34), I don't quite see what you're getting at.

Zander (42), more than one series has foundered when the author and zeitgeist changed. One writes fiction with one's whole self, health and worldview and expectations included. Try reading A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows, the last of Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry series, against the earlier books.

A general comment: I have a knack for remembering fiction in a fair amount of detail, even if I last read the work thirty years ago. I've often had cause to be grateful that I can mentally splice together the threads when I read the latest installment of a slow-moving serial work. Also, I internalized the principle early on that series aren't always finished -- or finished well.

If I've been living with an open-ended series for decades, I'd much rather have it go on being open-ended than have the whole thing be spoiled by a poor conclusion.

#62 ::: Ron Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2007, 11:46 PM:

Steve @ 25: Me too. And my partner Joe three.

Terry @ 36: Thanks for the bad news. Somebody call in the rogue lawyers, please. Or willl it take torches, pitchforks, and beer?

#63 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 12:36 AM:

The Last Dangerous Visions. Still waiting...

(Yes, it's a collection, not a single-author work. Still and all, still waiting.)

#64 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 12:41 AM:

I got caught by the Wheel of Time books (the first book can stand alone, but once you've started the second, you're waiting for a conclusion that may not ever show up. Especially as Jordan is apparently pretty seriously ill.

I also got caught by the Chtorr series, though I've long since given up on seeing it continued.

I'm currently waiting for the next Turtledove books in the What-if-the-South-won-the-Civil-war series (we're up to WW2 now), and in the What-if-spacefaring-lizards-invaded-during-WW2 series, and also will probably keep going with the alternative WW2 where Japan invaded Hawaii, and the alternative present-day story where Germany and Japan won WW2 (derived from a deeply creepy short story called _In the Presence of Mine Enemies_.)

I think this implies something about whether I learn from experience....

#65 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 12:46 AM:

A very minor series, but I keep hoping that Christopher Stasheff will return to his "Starship Troupers" series. (A Company of Stars, We Open on Venus, A Slight Detour.) The story is told in retrospective, so we know they made it through and character changes are expected but not happening yet. And there's at least one more book necessary to wrap it up - they've got several planets left on the tour and have to go back to Earth and deal with events there...

#66 ::: Matthew ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 12:57 AM:

I generally wait for a series to finish before I read it. I don't like being stuck in the middle. There are only two series I'm stuck in the middle of: Song of Fire and Ice, and Exiles by Melanie Rawn. I got really excited when I saw a new book by Rawn almost ten years after her last one, and was disappointed it wasn't the third book in the Exiles trilogy. Then I read her author's note explaining the gap and why she wrote something new, and immediately felt like a horrible person for ever thinking "What is taking her so long?"

#67 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 12:59 AM:

The first volume of The Art of Computer Programming was published in 1968, and we've been waiting for volume 4 for about 35 years. Knuth now predicts that volumes 4 and 5 will be done by 2015, and he doesn't have an estimated completion date for volumes 6 and 7.

Not a novel, but certainly one of the longer waits out there for finishing a long-awaited series.

#68 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 01:06 AM:

PP@51 re: Duncan

Worth noting is the second teratology, in which it was revealed that the "Happily Ever After" ending was a terrible, terrible mistake. People live on, the world continues, and endings are rarely as pat as might be desired.

#69 ::: Rebecca Borgstrom ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 01:21 AM:

> Daniel Keys Moran reports that he
> may be getting the rights to _A.I. War_
> back [...]

> [...] Dickson left copious and detailed notes
> and outlines, [...] Dave Wixon, who was for
> many years Gordy's writing assistant, has
> been working on filling in the missing books.
> [...]

This is the best Christmas ever.

#70 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 01:41 AM:

BSD @ 68:

teratology

Subtle pun, or beautiful typo?

#71 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 02:09 AM:

Teresa @ 61

So while we're talking about a series being finished off by someone else, is there any chance that someone really, really good would be inspired to turn the outline of "The Menzentian Gate" into the final book in the Barganax series by Eddison? I've been hoping for something more for a long time. Remember that the series languished OOP for years and then was published in the 70's (by Ballantine, wasn't it?), and did well enough that it was worth publishing the outline of the final book that was never written. I've even got an omnibus paperback of all the novels (weighs a ton) published sometime in the late 80s or 90s, so there might still be some market there.

#72 ::: Rob T. ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 02:13 AM:

One "series" I'm not intending to start until it's finished is David Tod Roy's translation of the classic Chinese novel Chin P'ing Mei (English title: The Plum in the Golden Vase). The first volume (out of a projected five) in Roy's translation came out in 1993 and won immediate acclaim, then readers had to wait until 2001 for volume two. Roy stepped up the pace a little for volume 3, which came out last year.

According to a blurb for vol. 3 on the Princeton University Press website, Roy (Professor Emeritus of Chinese Literature at the University of Chicago) has taught the Chin P'ing Mei in his classes since 1967, which would make him 60-something today at the very least. That's not ancient or anything, but it does make me want to pray for Roy's health to hold up long enough for him to finish the last couple of volumes. That, and for him to type faster.

Sometimes one wishes this even with younger writers of shorter series. One of the things I regret about the recent death of my grandmother--the biggest Bing Crosby fan I know--is that she never got to read the second volume of Gary Giddins's excellent Crosby biography.

The first volume was published in 2001, so readers haven't been waiting too long in absolute terms. Even so, every day we lose more people who knew Crosby as a living cultural phenomenon as opposed to an icon, and it would be nice for as many of these people as possible to enjoy the second volume.

#73 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 02:18 AM:

And an honorable mention to patricia Kennealy-Morrison for the Keltiad-a ton of books projected,most not written.

#74 ::: Joe Crow ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 02:21 AM:

Song of Naga Teot by Heather Gladney

Teot's War - 1987

Bloodstorm - 1989

book 3 - ????

book 4 - ???? cubed

She sez she's working on them and that DAW's thinking about picking them and the old ones up and putting them out again, which would be groovy. She sez book 3's done, and that it kinda spawned book 4 by accident.

I just wanna read more Naga books, y'know?

#75 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 02:48 AM:

I think it's the sense of there not being a definite endpoint that disqualifies many of the examples. Harry Potter, we have long-known, it seven books with a definite end. There's a strong sense of what next?

Aubrey/Maturin does have occasional what next endings--long voyages where they're not yet home, for instance, but there's no predictable structure. Not even one-book-a-year-until-1815.

Honor Harrington does have a potential conclusion out there but there's nothing to force it, and it's broken away from the single-author/single-hero pattern.

If JKR had said, "I can't fit all of book 7 into one volume: there'll have to be a book 8", there would have been a world-wide primal scream, but it would have been a definite, predictable, conclusion. Harry Potter hunting down Death Eaters at university isn't the same as jumping the shark, but it would break the prediction requirement. And it certainly would risk an outbreak of amphibious death-quidditch.


#76 ::: rmb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 03:08 AM:

Architect of Sleep - Steven Boyett's website (http://www.steveboy.com/archetyp.html) does hold out some hope that the second and third volumes will actually be published at some point. Long story short, he submitted the second volume to Ace, Ace didn't like it, he got upset and bought back the rights, he reread it a few years ago and realized that Ace's criticisms were actually right.

#77 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 03:50 AM:

This is what I get for being a West Coast night owl: I was all ready with The Door into Starlight and P.C. Hodgell (I re-read Seeker's Mask recently, and the introduction expresses a hope that further volumes would not suffer the long delay that one did. Ha!) and people have beat me to them.

#78 ::: Graham Blake ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 05:03 AM:

Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series is the one that has had me gnashing my teeth over the years:

Seventh Son: 1987
Red Prophet: 1988
Prentice Alvin: 1989
Alvin Journeyman: 1995
Heartfire: 1998
The Crystal City: 2003
Master Alvin: ???

#79 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 06:16 AM:

Graham Blake @#78:

That seems more like a standard case of SF/F authors being unable to count to three. I read the Alvin trilogy, and liked it well enough, and when book 4 came out I ignored it, because I knew there would be no end to the thing (and I didn't like it THAT well).

If I love a series, rather than just sortof like it, I'm willing to keep reading past the original trilogy, of course. Earthsea is up to 6 books now, (counting Tales From) with a significant gap from first to "last," and I've enjoyed all of them, to varying degrees. But, as some above have noted, if it's not projected as a finite set the waiting factor isn't such a drag. If I know a single story is going to stretch across volumes, I do tend to wait until it's all written before I start reading.

I have a friend who's mired in Robert Jordan, which apparently is supposed to end at 11 books, except that the last couple of books didn't count for some reason. I haven't read Jordan, but I'd expect something called The Wheel of Time to involve a significant heap of volumes...and perhaps to circle back on itself, providing opportunities for iterative stories within the series. Like Elfquest maybe.

#80 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 06:17 AM:

Matthew, can you fill me in what the story is with Rawn and the Exiles trilogy? Because I'm waiting for the rest of that too and I hadn't heard anything.

#81 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 06:24 AM:

#61: Teresa, for some reason, Kieran@34 wanted to write a paragraph which used all the words in the spelling reference.

#67: IIRC, Knuth said that he'd only write vols 6 and 7 if he felt there were things still left unsaid about context-free languages and compilation techniques when he'd finished volumes 1-5.

Personally, anything left unsaid or not, I still want to read his take on those topics. However, after finally finishing the first 5 volumes, I can understand why he might want a life back. I have to say, though, that developing and deploying your own markup language to do professional level typesetting may qualify as the greatest example of cat waxing ever.

Knuth's work poses a problem that you don't often see in a fiction series. The contents of each volume may be different depending on when you buy it. e.g., Volumes 4 and 5 refer to topics which logically belong in vols 1-3. So he will make new editions of vols 1-3 which include those topics.

#82 ::: Jasper Janssen ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 08:08 AM:

I can't believe nobody mentioned Auel yet.

And it's still unfinished.

#83 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 08:50 AM:

War against the Chtorr is back to seven books? (I seem to remember a quote by Gerrold when it had gone back from 5 to 7* which went something like "This is the longest damn trilogy I've ever written")

#82 Jasper Janssen - Auel's Earth's Children™ is mentioned (although not by name) in #38

In both cases, I seem to have lost interest, although I'll almost certainly buy any Chtorr paperbacks that cross my path.

* before it went back to 5 again

#84 ::: Matthew ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 09:36 AM:

#80: From Melannie Rawn's author's note at the end of Spellbinder: "To those who are disappointed this isn't another book- [snip] - what can I tell you? Life happens. So does clinical depression."

And from her long un-updated website FAQ: "Melanie's had a few complications (including shoulder surgery) that have kept her from even starting it."

That same FAQ listed Spellbinder as unpublished, but its been out for awhile now. So it looks like she had to deal with several of life's curve balls in a row. From the few posts I skimmed on her message board, it looks shes started Captals Tower. Fingers crossed!

#85 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 09:54 AM:

"Teratology" is hereby designated as the official term for a trilogy or other reasonably contained multi-book sequence that metastasizes.

#86 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 10:32 AM:

rmb @ 76

They'll have to reprint the first one if/when the others come out. I used to have a copy, but I think it got pruned somewhere along the way in a move. It was an interesting story.

#87 ::: Zvi ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 11:13 AM:

Clifton @ 57 and 59: The first three books in the AEgypt series will be republished by Overlook Press.

http://theoverlookpress.blogspot.com/

Looks like The Solitudes (aka the first book, AEgypt) is out now:

http://www.overlookpress.com/author.php?author_code=820

John Crowley mentioned in his blog recently that he was copy-editing Love & Sleep for them.

#88 ::: katie ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 11:14 AM:

In 1933, Patrick Leigh Fermor started to walk across Europe, arriving in Constantinople in 1935. His first book about this journey, A Time of Gifts was published in 1977. The second, Between the Woods and the Water, was published in 1986. The planned third volume is still being written.

#89 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 11:25 AM:

Charnas: Holdfast Chronicles published in 1974, 1978, 1994, and 1998; perhaps not as planned as Crowley, but IIRC #3 at least was needed to deal with unresolved pieces of #2.

Le Guin has been backfilling and spreading Earthsea rather than finishing a single multi-volume work. Some of the later work specifically contradicts earlier work; e.g., Tehanu is a response to the contempt for women's magic in the original trilogy. (cf Le Guin's later discussion of how different The Left Hand of Darkness would have been if she hadn't used masculine pronouns for Gethenians who were not in kemmer.) Tehanu does create a new symmetry by giving us young / old // Ged / Tenar, but that's not necessary to the original.

And then there's Darkover, where Bradley took ~20 years -- first giving us the aftermath of the fall of the Forbidden Tower, then edging up to the story itself, then saying she just couldn't write that book because she couldn't do tragedy.

#'s 20 & 61: \somewhere/ I recently read a blurb for a book covering the ]final confrontation[ between Hal Mayne and Bleys Ahrens. (I gave up on Dickson after The Final Encyclopedia, so I have no guesses whether the above really will be final.)

Charlie: I \like/ that definition.

#90 ::: JoXn Costello ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 01:34 PM:

Lois McMaster Bujold is still writing Vorkosigan books and I'm still waiting eagerly for them, although personally I'm also glad she took a longish break after the last one (and did other, wonderful things), because it seemed like she was getting tired of the characters.

Someone once suggested that the sequel to Stars in My Pockets was The Tale of Plagues and Carnivals, which really was about the beauty and misery of bodies and cities.

... I had one other example in mind when I started writing this comment, and now it has slipped my mind.

#91 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 02:28 PM:

Teresa (#61): [confession] I wish I had your memory for prior volumes! Mine is so lousy that when I review a sequel, I usually have to go back to my review of the previous book to find out what it was like and how I felt about it -- though sometimes those dim memories refresh as I'm reading the new one.

On the other hand, reading umpteen books a year and having little memory of them means I'm not left champing at the bit for sequels, so I can read even Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" without worrying too much about what will come next!

#92 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 02:49 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 77. I was going to mention those too. - although re. P.C. Hodgell, I've only got "Chronicles of the Kencyrath" (= "God Stalk" & "Dark of the Moon"); I spent years looking for a sequel then gave up - I only recently discovered the existence of "Seeker's Mask." I also read Duane's "Doors" books ages ago and join several others on this thread in waiting for "Starlight".

How about the "Imaro" series by Charles R. Saunders? Books 1 - 3 published 1981 - 1984. My husband introduced me to them but didn't warn me that the fourth book had not been written - and may never be written. Argh!

Back in the late 1980s I read the Lee & Miller "Conflict of Honors, Agent of Change and Carpe Diem", waited and waited for more, gave up, then stumbled aross the newer books and chapbooks a couple of years ago. Now I'm enjoying/enduring the experience of reading "Fledgling" on-line at a chapter per week.

I started reading Patrick Tilley's "Amtrak Wars" series in my teens when the first three were out, but gave up on them before the rest were published. Ditto Alvin, I gave up after the first four.

And I do hate it when authors go and die before they've finished (I know, I know, I bet the authors themselves would have preferred not to die) - Gordon R. Dickson's Childe Cycle, in particular, but I was also wondering where Frank Herbert was going with Dune after Chapterhouse.

#93 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 02:55 PM:

dcb: you will be pleased to know that there's a fourth novel in the chronicles of the Kencryath, "To Ride a Rathorn", and a collection of interlinked shorts, "Blood and Ivory". (They're available as ebooks via Webscriptions, too.)

Alas, Meisha Merlin went under just as she'd worked out the outline for book #5, so there's no telling when (if ever) it'll appear.

#94 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 03:25 PM:

JoXn 90: I believe she's said she's done with the Vorkosigan saga. A pity, because much as I like her Five Gods books, I like the Vorkosigan ones better.

Also, Zvyrf jnf cerggl jryy pevccyrq ol gur raq bs gur ynfg bar. Ur'yy tb ab zber n-ebiva', be fb vg frrzf. Znlor fur'yy jevgr obbxf nobhg gur arkg trarengvba, be znal trarengvbaf va gur shgher, be jung unccrarq whfg nf gur Gvzr bs Vfbyngvba jnf ortvaavat.

#95 ::: Victor S ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 03:27 PM:

TexAnne @ 30 -- while I'd love to have more Ivory books, the third one felt like enough of a conclusion to keep me from moonsick yearning. Unlike, say, Claudia J. Edwards' Bastard Princess series, which seems to have been chopped off after one book. Or P.C. Hodgell, who finally got her next book out -- just before her publisher closed its doors. One of the things I loved about Meisha Merlin was its ability to rescue marooned authors and their fans.

Reviewing the thread, I see I'm not the only Hodgell fan present. Clearly, we're all in it for the long term...

#96 ::: Victor S ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 03:33 PM:

More on incomplete series:
I want to see Kate Eliot's next Jaran novel -- things were starting to get _really_ interesting when she switched to her other series. A series I don't like nearly as well, though I think that's personal taste.

#97 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 03:35 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #71: You're not alone in that! If somebody whose ability and imagination matched Eddison's could take up that challenge I'd certainly want to see the result. Lessingham must live!

#98 ::: Victor S ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 03:36 PM:

More on incomplete series:
I want to see Kate Eliot's next Jaran novel -- things were starting to get _really_ interesting when she switched to her other series. A series I don't like nearly as well, though I think that's personal taste.

#99 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 03:47 PM:

Oh, I loved John Crowley's Little, Big, then I read and loved Ægypt and looked forward to the next one, waited and waited and... somewhen before 1994 just forgot about the sequels and never spotted them in the bookshops to remind me. Don't know if I want to pick them up now....

#100 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 03:48 PM:

Xopher @94: there's a contract for at least one more Vorkosigan novel, although she said at the talk at my local bookshop last month that it's a book or two back in the queue.

I rather regret not writing up the talk for my LiveJournal, but it was the night before Westercon started, and there is a limit to how much frantic scribbling I can do in one week...

#101 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 03:56 PM:

Oh, and Sam Delaney? Man, I sympathise, but... ooh, leaving SiMPLGoS on a cliff-hanger for 23 years? Bstrd!

#102 ::: Larry Lennhoff ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 05:12 PM:

I join in the yearning for Door into Starlight and the next Jaran novel. I'm impressed someone else remembers the Bastard Princess novel. The principal hopeless longing I haven't seen so far is Glenn Cook's next Dread Empire novel A Path to Coldness of Heart. Last time I talked to Cook he said he wouldn't write it unless someone paid him to, in advance.

#103 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 05:34 PM:

Charlie Stross #85 -"Teratology" is hereby designated as the official term for a trilogy or other reasonably contained multi-book sequence that metastasizes

It's not exactly been a long wait, but I'm waiting to see how long The Family Trade trilogy gets...

#104 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 05:43 PM:

TexAnne @30: What about series that didn't sell enough to get the end published?

Yargh, now you have me agonizing about the rest of Barry Hughart's Master Li septology.

Nina Armstrong @73: And an honorable mention to Patricia Kennealy-Morrison for the Keltiad-- a ton of books projected, most not written.

PKM recently blogged that she's thinking about using Lulu to self-publish new Keltiad books, at least one of which is already extensively mapped out and underway:

"The Beltane Queen [is] the story of Aeron's great-grandmother Aoife Aoibhell, known as Vevin in her youth. She was both the Prince Hal and the Queen Victoria of Keltia: ran around with disreputable Falstaff and Doll Tearsheet types in her youth, ran away offplanet after she accidentally caused the death of a significant Keltic personage, became a street whore to support herself, was rescued by one of the mysterious Jedi-like Dawnhunters and returned soberly home to buckle down to duty. She had a Lord Melbourne-type domineering advisor, tossed him in favor of her Prince Albert-type husband Graham and lived to become the longest-reigning monarch in all Keltic history, prophesying (and naming) Aeron, on her deathbed in the presence of Aeron's father Fionnbarr."

#105 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 05:46 PM:

dcb@92 Last I saw, Saunders is going back to the series. However, he's not restarting with book 4, he's starting with revised versions of the earlier books. Presumably he'll eventually get to book 4.

(I saw a trade paperback revised version of book 1 at a local Borders some months ago. Haven't seen a revised version of book 2 yet.)

#106 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 06:19 PM:

NelC 101: Oh, and Sam Delaney? Man, I sympathise, but... ooh, leaving SiMPLGoS on a cliff-hanger for 23 years? Bstrd!

Just to inform you: Delany never uses the nickname 'Sam'; he's either "Samuel R. Delany" or "Chip." There's no second 'e' in Delany.

#107 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 06:42 PM:

Victor S, 95: It didn't feel at all like an ending to me. I envy you.

#108 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 06:51 PM:

Charlis Stross @ 93 - THANK YOU for this information - I'd heard the sad news about Meisha Merlin, and gathered that the Hodgell books were affected (a very frustrating way to discover they existed) but hadn't realised I could get them in electronic format. Buy (done already before I started the thank you!), download (in progress as I type), copy to my Psion and I can read them when and where I want, then enjoy looking for second-hand dead-tree copies.

Michael I @ 105 - More good news! We'll start looking out for them.

#109 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 08:31 PM:

Gene Wolfe
Soldier of the Mist: 1986
Soldier of Arete: 1989
Soldier of Sidon: 2006

When I was but a young lad I read A Canticle For Leibowitz and was delighted to read, in the brief biographical note at the end of the book, that the author was working on a sequel/parallel novel. The note even mentioned a title so, I concluded, it must be nearly done by then. That's when I learned not to be too optimistic about books I'm not holding in my hand.

#110 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 08:53 PM:

PS to #89: I think ML's 2nd motto should be "Mens sana in corpore sano"; every time I read it I have to go down and up the 2 flights between the computer and the library.

#111 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 09:05 PM:

#94: Zber fb guna hfhny? V qvqa'g trg gung vzcerffvba. Naljnl, ur pbhyq or pbasvarq gb n sybng-punve sbe yvsr naq fgvyy znantr gb qb fbzrguvat vagrerfgvat, rfcrpvnyyl jvgu uvf arj, gurbergvpnyyl frqragnel wbo. Vg vfa'g uneq gb pbzcyrgr gur sbyybjvat: Areb Jbysr:Zvyrf::Nepuvr Tbbqjva:? Nal erthyne ernqre bs gur frevrf fubhyq unir gur nafjre gb gung bar (jryy, vs gurl xabj jub Jbysr naq Tbbqjva ner).

But that's a series of the "no definite end" kind, along with O'Brien and the Vlad books, which is a quite different animal from the series of the "one book, many volumes" kind.

#112 ::: Hmpf ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 10:28 PM:

The ultimate in painfully slow serials has to be the (utterly brilliant and beautiful) sf webcomic Dicebox: http://www.dicebox.net - the author has been working on it for about six years or so now, finishing roughly one chapter per year, and the story is supposed to be told in 36 chapters. You do the maths... (It really is a great comic, though. Of course, that only makes the wait harder.)

#113 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 11:05 PM:

Paul Duncanson @ 109: That sequel would be Saint Leibowitz & the Wild Horse Woman, by Walter M Miller. Although I hadn't heard of it, having read Canticle for Leibowitz some decades back, I saw & grabbed it in in a 2nd hand book section, only to find it was published back in 2000. You could probably check if you had access to it through a library, if you were cautious of being disappointed, where you might find his other books too.

#114 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2007, 11:22 PM:

Epacris @ #113:
I do know of SLatWHW and quite liked it. I was a bit pressed for time when last posting. I related that tale not as a story of ongoing disappointment but as the time when I adopted my current policy in reading series (even though Canticle and its sequel really don't fall into that category and don't suffer from missing the second part). When, after years of waiting for the sequel to one of my favourite novels, I heard that Mr Miller had killed himself with the manuscript unfinished I was more than slightly disappointed.

Since then, with only two exceptions, I haven't started a series that isn't explicitly noted from the beginning as a sequence of stand-alone stories until the last volume is in my hands. (Those two exceptions being Mr Wolfe's Soldier stories and Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars.)

And it's also a pretty good example of a long wait: Canticle For Leibowitz to Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman was 37 years.

#115 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 12:17 AM:

ANTAGONIST, by Dickson & Wixon, was recently published.

Here's a link to Paul Di Filippo's review.

#116 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 01:43 AM:

Don't know about anyone else here, but I don't think I'll be able to wait 2000 lrnef sbe Qnarry Byvinj gb or ohvyg fb gung ur pna jevgr Mrebgu Sbhaqngvba.

#117 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 03:45 AM:

Barbara Hambly has just gotten the rights back for more in the Antryg Windrose series (Silent Tower 1986/Silicon Mage 1988/Dog Wizard 1993 plus Stranger at the Wedding 1994), but has to write and shop it around.

Despite the fact that Rosemary Kirstein's The Language of Power (Steerswoman series) came out in 2004, it feels like forever and ever -- largely because I seem to remember there was a promise of more in 2005, then 2006, then the promise disappeared, and now I wait. And hope. And fret.

#118 ::: moe99 ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 04:06 AM:

I was lucky to happen on to Dorothy Dunnett in the mid 90's so I did not have so long to wait for the end to the Lymond and Niccolo stories. Johnny Depp would be my ideal Lymond and a young Gerard Depardieu would be my ideal Niccolo.

And I've lost caring about the characters in Jordan's series, so will not rush out to buy no. 11. However, I am in thrall to George RR Martin and his Song of Ice and Fire series and also The Briar King series by Greg Keyes. Those books are inhaled, not read. Just as was no. 7 of Harry Potter--finished it in under 6 hours. It's an addiction, but a good one.

#119 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 04:21 AM:

JoXn Costello #90 & Xopher #94:
IIRC I read somewhere that the next Vorkosigan book would be nobhg gur qrngu bs Neny but she isn't quite ready to write it.

I thought that "A Civil Campaign" with its coda, "Winterfair Gifts" would have been a fitting end to the series. Much as I love the books & characters, it's beginning to look like "Children of Vorkosigan" or "Barrayar: The Next Generation" if the series goes on any further. I've really enjoyed her recent non-Miles novels & think that she should write more non-Miles stuff.

#120 ::: iain ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 05:34 AM:

Stephen Donaldson is still going on the Third Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

Lord Foul's Bane was 1977. The second of four books in the third chronicles (Fatal Revenant) will appear later this year, but the third and fourth are yet to be completed.

#121 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 05:50 AM:

Neil @103: the Merchant Princes books were never going to be a trilogy -- the original pitch was for a tetralogy of 200,000-250,000 word books (i.e. 600-800 page doorsteps). Then book #1 was sawn in half and became books #1 and #2. I've just handed in book #4, which puts me two thirds of the way through the second story arc of four ... your guess is as good as mine as to where it'll end up, but please don't accuse me of having planned to commit trilogy!

#122 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 06:50 AM:

Bridge of Birds, The Story of the Stone, Eight Skilled Gentlemen and ... four more that will never be seen.

The third volume of William Manchester's Churchill biography.

Any of the rest of the social history of the United States that was promised in Albion's Seed (1989).

#123 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 08:51 AM:

Charlie Stross #121: Not only do you stand accused of having planned to commit trilogy, but, perhaps more seriously, you are also accused of glorifying those who commit trilogy. How do you plead?

#124 ::: Tucker ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 09:15 AM:

Paul Duncanson @ 109: the Latro books were my first thought as well, probably because I just finished the first two a week or so ago. I have a great deal of sympathy for anyone who read them when they came out and had to sit on that cliffhanger.

And poking about online it appears that the story's not done after Sidon, either. Argh.

#125 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 09:56 AM:

A Matter for Men — 1983
A Day for Damnation — 1985
A Rage for Revenge — 1989
A Season for Slaughter — 1993
A Method For Madness — unpublished
A Time for Treason — unpublished
A Case for Courage — unpublished

Next...
A Gazebo for Girls

#126 ::: James Nicoll ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 09:58 AM:

Just to inform you: Delany never uses the nickname 'Sam'; he's either "Samuel R. Delany" or "Chip." There's no second 'e' in Delany.

That's the Earth One Delany. The Earth Two Delaney is a cigar-chewing former pilot who was born a generation earlier, flew with the 332nd Fighter Group in the Army Air Corps and adopted the nickname "Sam" sometime during the war.

There's a collection of his letters with JRR Tolkein.

#127 ::: JCos ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 10:05 AM:

Cervantes published "La Galatea" in 1585, 20 years before the first part of "Don Quijote." Every time he put pen to paper after that, he declared his intention to write the conclusion to "La Galatea." He died in 1616, having changed the course of literature forever, but without ever finishing his first literary work.

#128 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 10:32 AM:

Ethan @123 - It's certainly suspicious that Charlie's been strenuously denying it's a trilogy often, in public, and right from the start. Is he protesting too much?

(I have nothing against trilogies, any more than I do with 3 minute-pop songs or limericks. Some divine work has been done in all these forms. But being the default option in their various niches they do attract more than their fair share of crap work.)

#129 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 10:53 AM:

oliviacw (#65): I, too, would like to see the "Starship Troupers" books continue. It's likely due to my having done lights and tech through high school and college, I think...though most definitely without Ramou's martial arts prowess.

#130 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 11:21 AM:

Coming soon to a Rec Deck near you - Starship Troupers!

They put on a show in the barn!

See the chorine made Leading Lady!

"Let me do it, Mr Brodsky, I know I can! I fit all the costumes and I know all the songs!"

Just like Star Wars, only fiction!

#131 ::: Larry Lennhoff ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 11:32 AM:

Oh yeah - multi-time Kirk Poland award winner Geary Gravel's Fading Worlds series. Geary talked for years about his problems with writer's block on the third book. At one point he said he had given up and just started book 4 instead, but I believe he now just thinks the series is dead. Our poor protagonists ....

#132 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 11:37 AM:

I'm still hoping for a fourth "Bast" book from Rosemary Edghill. I really wanted to see the protagonist as HP of her own coven...

#133 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 11:42 AM:

Starship Troupers? "Be a clone, be a clone, all the world loves a clone..."

#134 ::: Dave Nee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 11:56 AM:

If you're just counting books published during the author's lifetime in a multi-book series, then:

Tarzan of the Apes (1912)
Tarzan and the Foreign Legion (1947)
is a 35 year spread.

But if you're willing to accept books published posthumously, then:

Tarzan and the Castaways (1965)
extends it to 43 years, not quite to Jack Williamson's Legion.

And if you're willing to include posthumous completions by another another, then:

Tarzan: The Lost Adventure (1995, with much Joe Lansdale)
brings the stretch out to 83 years.

And there were definitely people who knew about the fragment who were waiting . . .

#135 ::: Dave Nee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 12:05 PM:

And outside the fantasy field, there's Dame Christie, who published within her lifetime 39 multi-titled Hercule Poirot novels:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
Curtain (1975)

That's a 55 year spread, beating out Jack Williamson's not informidable 48.

If we're counting posthumous collaborations, then there's one more volume, a novelization of her 1930 stageplay by Charles Osborne:

Black Coffee (1988)

#136 ::: Dave Nee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 12:22 PM:

A potential contender among the currently living would be Michael Moorcock. The neverending Elric stories were first published in hardcover in 1963, and a new one just came out this year.

Of course, if you decide to include the related multiverse published in various media, all bets are off. And once that bag of worms is opened, Asimov's retrofitting of Robots to Foundation comes under consideration with a 58-year run.

#137 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 12:34 PM:

Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise novels started in 1965 and ended in 1996.

#138 ::: Dave Nee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 12:36 PM:

dcb @ 92: The shade of Frank Herbert has returned with his son Brian's two-volume collaboration with Kevin J. Anderson, Hunters of Dune (out last year in hardcover, now in paperback) and Sandworms of Dune (out shortly in hardcover), based on outline and notes that he worked on with Brian following Chapterhouse. Indeed, there may be more Frank Herbert in this two-volume novel than there is in any book bylined "William Shatner".

Kevin has a history of posthumous collaborations, the most recent being the sequel to 1946's Slan. We received copies of Slan Hunter in the last week or so. Van Vogt has top billing, and may have more contribution than Lovecraft did in his beyond-the-grave works with Derleth.

#139 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 12:41 PM:

The first volume of The Art of Computer Programming was published in 1968, and we've been waiting for volume 4 for about 35 years.

I think it's been made perfectly clear that, sometime in the early 1980s or thereabouts, Knuth received an unexpected visit from a couple of well-spoken British gentlemen, who explained to him exactly why volume 4 should not be released to the public; which entities could be accidentally woken or invoked by a thoughtless hacker if it were; what this might mean for the future of the human race; and what the gentlemen and their employer would do to Knuth personally if he disregarded their advice.

Damn shame if there are no more Vorkosigans to come. I was rather hoping we might hear more about old General Count Pierre... he reminded me very strongly of my own grandfather.

#140 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 12:44 PM:

#133: "I need a juvenile lead. You're it until you die or I find someone better."

#141 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 01:07 PM:

Chris 111: V tbg gur vzcerffvba gung ur cerggl zhpu jbhyq or va naq bhg bs ubfcvgnyf sbe yvsr, ohg znlor V fubhyq erernq vg. Va snpg, vg'f nobhg gvzr V erernq gurz nyy sebz fgneg gb svavfu. Lrf, V'yy qb gung.

Soon Lee 119: Personally, I'm hoping she'll write a novel where Zvyrf' terng-tenaqfba snyyf va ybir jvgu na Ngubfvna gryrcngu--nzvq gur hfhny snepvpny/gentvpbzvp/guevyyvat Oneenlnena-havirefr furanavtnaf, bs pbhefr.

And I must say that 'Oneenlnena' is the funniest Rot-13 since 'Ubabe'.

Dave 130: They're talking about a real series that already made that pun. I think it's about a star-travelling theatre company. I can't stand Stasheff's style, so I haven't read it.

Serge 133: See above.

Dave 138: And L. Ron Hubbard will never stop writing as long as Scientologists are required to buy his crappy books to get into heaven, or whatever Scientologists do instead.

#142 ::: Dave Nee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 01:11 PM:

ajay @ 139: There will be more Vorkosigan. LMB wrote on her blog, July 24, 2006:

"I am pleased to report that I have recently signed my first contract with Baen Books acting publisher Toni Weisskopf for a future book in the Miles Vorkosigan series. I have been working cordially with Toni for nearly as many years as I worked with the late Jim Baen, and I look forward to continuing a fruitful relationship.
"The new book will not be started until mid-2007 ..."

Which is pretty much what she repeated when she stopped by The Other Change of Hobbit for a drive-by signing last month.

#143 ::: James Nicoll ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 01:23 PM:

138: I've read the new Dune sequels and I believe that I can tell within about a sentence exactly where Frank Herbert's notes must have ended.

#144 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 01:48 PM:

Dave 142: YAY!!!! This IS mid-2007, if I'm not mistaken. I know it will be a long time before I can get my hands on it, but...*slaver*

#145 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 01:54 PM:

A is for Alibi came out in 1982.

T is for Trespass is due in December this year.

That's 25 years for 20 books, which means (if the average of 1.25 years/book runs true) 7 or 8 more years till we've got the alphabet. Over 30 years for one series*.

-----
* But it's still the 80's in Santa Teresa

#146 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 01:56 PM:

I also yearn for the rest of Kirstein's _Steerswoman_ books; which definitely have a Big Secret about the World to be revealed, not just "let's hang out with the cool characters some more".

I mean, they have *nutrient cycling* in them, in some baroque sfnal way. Soil science is sadly underrepresented in SF.

#147 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 02:00 PM:

Serge:
Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise novels started in 1965 and ended in 1996.

And the strip (which is in a slightly different universe from the books) started in 1962 and continued until 2001.

But I agree that open-ended series are not the same thing as Hasn't Finished The Story, Damnit incomplete trilogies and such.

#148 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 02:06 PM:

For me, I don't really need to see any more Miles books; Miles has gotten mostly to the point of "and they lived happily ever after". But I wouldn't mind seeing more of Mark and/or Gregor, or of Cordelia's post-Barrayaran life.

#149 ::: Jeff R. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 02:08 PM:

My most-wanted is still John Varley and Irontown Blues, which is running on 15-years or much longer, depending on if you only count the 'new' 8 worlds books or all of them.

Before last year it was Robert Anton Wilson's And the World Turned Upside Down, but I guess that's now one with the ending of Edwin Drood...

#150 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 02:18 PM:

Susan @ 147... I think I read in Wikipedia that The Cobra Trap actually ends the Modesty Blaise stories. I'm not sure how that could be because the book was published in 1996 and the strip went on until 2001. Maybe the book was set after he planned continuity of the strip. (My apologies if my post has such huge errors in it that one could shove a Death Star thru them.)

#151 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 02:25 PM:

Nutty coincidence: Of course the discussion of Modesty Blaise would resurface today of all days...I just returned from trekking to a (relatively) distant library I'd never been to in order to retrieve the only copy of the first novel that seems to exist in Rhode Island.

I would normally have ordered it and had it sent to my regular library, but I've tried it twice already and gotten the wrong MB book. I wanna start at the beginning, galdurnit.

#152 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Serge @150: The Cobra Trap is a collection of short stories, and the story by that title in the collection IS the last Modesty Blaise tale.

There is also more about the beginning of the relationship in that book. My partner and I have the whole set of novels, and the other short story collection, Pieces of Modesty.

#153 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Serge @150: The Cobra Trap is a collection of short stories, and the story by that title in the collection IS the last Modesty Blaise tale.

There is also more about the beginning of the relationship in that book. My partner and I have the whole set of novels, and the other short story collection, Pieces of Modesty.

#154 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Dave Nee #138: How much Frank Herbert is there in a book bylined "William Shatner"?

Having read the first of the younger Herbert's continuations of the Dune universe, I've decided that my money is better spent on other writers.

#155 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 02:47 PM:

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: volume 1 was 1982 and it is not yet complete.

The Last Lion: Winston Spenser Churchill: volume 1 was 1983 and the author died three years ago with the concluding volume unwritten.

Then of course there's The Canterbury Tales and The Faerie Queen, both of which are evoked in Ægypt as prototypes of vast schematic novels which were left unfinished, as the novel within the novel of Ægypt itself was, or wasn't, or might have not perhaps been.

#156 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 03:07 PM:

re. "Cobra Trap" - yes, that is chronologically the last short story in the novel/short story universe (set decades after everything else). Serge and anyone else reading MB, read that book LAST. But it is not the last MB story written; like I said, the strip went on for five more years. I don't know how he wound up the strip, but the strip-universe and the book-universe are not entirely consistent with each other, so it may not have been with the "Cobra Trap" storyline. I'm not even sure if he wound it up plotwise or if he just stopped writing them. If anyone does know how the strip ended, please rot13, as I do not want to know!

The strips are currently being reprinted in nice big collections, which I am acquiring as slowly as I can manage (resisting temptation) so as to postpone as long as possible the point at which there are no more MB stories to read. They aren't as satisfying as the novels, but they're much better than nothing.

#157 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 03:09 PM:

ethan:
Do I recall correctly that you're in the vicinity of Rhode Island? Power Twin and myself will be in Newport for a week in early August doing dance things.

#158 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 03:10 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 153... Thanks. I was able to get maybe half the books while in San Francisco, but not The Cobra Trap. Well, I still have plenty of time to find it (and the others still missing) as I'm reading the books in sequence.

By the way, do you think Daniel Craig would be good casting for Willie?

#159 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 03:16 PM:

Susan @ 156... Thanks for the tips about Modesty. By the way, a few weeks ago, you referred to some mysterious sheep in one of the stories. In which book did they finally appear?

#160 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 03:21 PM:

Craig's a little too slender to be Willie -- not Cockney enough to suit me. My image of the character has always been Don Fletcher from the 1970's series, The Immortal, or David Warner, when he was younger.

What about David Wenham (too young?) or if we're casting against type, Sean Bean, and who would you cast as Modesty?

#161 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 03:31 PM:

Daniel Craig as Willie would get me to see the movie. Daniel Craig as PROSPERO would get me to see a movie of The Tempest if he took his shirt off. I might wait for the DVD in that case, though, so I could fast forward all the "not Daniel Craig with his shirt off" scenes.

#162 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Serge @159: The sheep are in The Impossible Virgin.

#163 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Xopher... Why am I not surprised?

Lori... Sean Bean? I could see that. I thought of Craig as Willie because the first novel describes as a fair-haired big guy, and Craig isn't exactly small. As for Modesty, I can't really think of anybody who'd be perfect. Anyway, one must keep in mind that Peter O'Donnell would have loved his main characters played by Julie Christie and Michael Caine so it's obvious he was willing to skip the physical specifics as long as the characters felt right.

#164 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 03:48 PM:

Serge @163:

Craig just doesn't 'register' as Willie for me, I'm not doubting he can play the role.

Sean Bean comes across as having the solidness I picture with Willie, and seeing him as Boromir teaching the Hobbits to fight is what triggered, "hmm, maybe he could do it," response.

As for Modesty -- even though she's a bit long in the tooth for it -- Lucy Lawless; or the Asian girl from one of the Brosnan Bond films -- Lucy Liu, I think. (Just slap in a set of blue contact lenses for the latter.)

#165 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 03:51 PM:

Daniel Craig as Willie...

[blink] Er yes, where was I? Adding to the chorus of "Don't read Cobra Trap until you've read the other books." It's not just that the title short story should be read last of all, but that some of the other stories in the collection have spoilers for earlier novels. Fortunately they've been coming out as trade paperback reprints over the last few years, so it's now fairly easy to get hold of most of them.

#166 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 03:52 PM:

Susan @ 148

And then there's Ivan, who has started to have flashes of competence - be interesting to see him forced to grow...

But I still want to see some of Miles - I like the little guy!

Dave Nee @ 138, James Nicoll @ 143 - I've looked at some of the Brian Herbert collaboration Dune books in shops, but in the absence of someone I trust saying "these are really good", I'm not sure I want to risk them.

abi @ 145 - I hadn't done the maths before with A is for Alibi etc. - I only discovered them a few years ago. Got one free with something else, then went and found all the available volumes, then started waiting for the new ones to come out. I'm now suffering from a combination of waiting hopefully for each volume and not wanting the series to end.

#167 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Kudos to those who fought the good fight, and attempted to differentiate a series that tells one story, from a series of one-offs with the same main character(s). (Yes, yes, a fifty-five year run for Hercule Poirot; folks were constantly waiting with bated breath to see how Christie resolved the cliffhanger from the previous book. "But using Poirot's amazing powers... POINK! ...they naturally escaped.")

Kathy Li @ 22:

For me, it's Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond/Niccolò series. 14 books. 39 years from The Game of Kings to Gemini.

I thought that the linkage between Lymond and Niccolo was less than satisfactory, and actually detracted from Gemini to have it made so explicit. As if globetrotting master trader and schemer Nicholas de Fleury were notable primarily for being an ancestor of Francis Crawford of Lymond. So in my secret heart, I will continue to treat them as separate series.


Graham Blake @ 78:

Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series is the one that has had me gnashing my teeth over the years

Unfortunately, Mr. Card has had trouble shoehorning the whole Crystal City bit into the frame of an Existential War Against Islamofascists and Fifth-columnists. (Actually, I would probably still read the result if he succeeded, though for different reasons.)


Jasper Janssen @ 82:

I can't believe nobody mentioned Auel yet.

Me either, though in my case it's because of Zeborah's comment @ 38.


By the way, does that big book that Destiny has been carrying around since the beginning of time count as an ongoing series?

#168 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 04:24 PM:

mds @167: You'll have to ask Death when you see her.

#169 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 04:30 PM:

Lori #164: As for Modesty -- even though she's a bit long in the tooth for it -- Lucy Lawless; or the Asian girl from one of the Brosnan Bond films -- Lucy Liu, I think. (Just slap in a set of blue contact lenses for the latter.)

Contact lenses not required, I don't think; AFAIK she has brown eyes. The Asian part definitely fits; O'Donnell makes a point of using the word "Eurasian".

In a way, the original description reminds me of Honor Harrington. Tarrant sees Modesty for the first time, and he keeps thinking "the X is too big," "the Y is too big", while Protector Benjamin's first reaction to Harrington is along the lines of "My what a *big* woman".

So you want a fairly tall person, well-muscled, and definitely not rail-thin.

#170 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 04:33 PM:

Oh, and NelC #99, about AEgypt and "Don't know if I want to pick them up now....":

Yes. Yes, you do. Yes.

Incidentally, I do think there's a distinction to be made between "a series which takes a long time to go from start to finish" and "a series of books that form a single narrative that takes a long time to go from start to finish." AEgypt is the latter; Wolfe's Soldier is the former, as is (based on my reading of the first seven or so) the Vlad series.

Harry Potter is, to me, closer to the single narrative end of things because the overarching narrative is front-and-center from the first volume, as is the structure. Even most of the secondary storylines resolved in the last novel were begun in the first.

#171 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 04:38 PM:

Joann @169 -- BUT Modesty's eyes are Blue! O'Donnell says so.

#172 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Lori 171:

What? Where? (I'm in a coffeehouse taking a break from pondering the nature of villainy, instead of 8 feet away from the books.) This is a great surprise to me; I've been convinced for the last (literally) 40 years that her eyes were brown. Now Willie's on the other hand ... very blue.

#173 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 04:52 PM:

In the very first book, Modesty Blaise, the description says midnight blue eyes. I'll try to give you a page citation in the morning, my books are at home and I'm not.

S. M. Stirling is also a Modesty Blaise fan -- some of the female characters in his books are Modesty clones, right down to Eurasian and blue eyes...

#174 ::: John Mellby ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 05:02 PM:

And what about Ellison's Dangerous Visions series?
How long have we been waiting for Ellison to just
finish the introductions?

#175 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 05:16 PM:

dcb #166 & Fragano Ledgister #154:

That's what libraries are for. Being a "Dune" fanboy & not being able to resist *any* "Dune", I've read them all but only own one, a birthday present. I wouldn't say "these are really good".

My advice would be: don't expect anything aproaching the elder Herbert's gravitas, they're more like a Star Wars/Trek franchise book, and even then I'm probably being very generous.

#176 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 05:18 PM:

Joann: Here is a picture of Modesty with blue eyes. It's the original cover of the first novel:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modesty_Blaise

#177 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 05:32 PM:

Soon Lee #175: Seeing the name 'Brian Herbert' on the book is now guaranteed to drive me away. Far away.

#178 ::: John C. Bunnell ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 06:26 PM:

#164: "the Asian girl from one of the Bond films" -- if we're talking about the Brosnan-era Bond, that's almost certainly Michelle Yeoh, not Lucy Liu. (Liu was an Angel in the big-screen Charlie's Angels movies.)

One series I followed that's always struck me as Not Quite Finished was the cycle of Celtic/Cherokee contemporary fantasies by Tom Deitz that began with Windmaster's Bane. It always seemed to me that those were building up toward something that was still a novel or two away at the point where the books stopped appearing.

#179 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 06:59 PM:

So you want a fairly tall person, well-muscled, and definitely not rail-thin.

Modesty isn't especially tall - I think she's described as 5'6" at one point. And while I agree that she shouldn't be rail-thin (the actress in the latest movie was way too skinny), I don't see her as all that visibly muscled, either.

#180 ::: Shawn M Bilodeau ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 07:09 PM:

There were two series from my (mispent?) youth that taught me about unfinished series, and publishing.

The first series was Philip Jose' Farmer's "Riverworld" series.

* To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971)
* The Fabulous Riverboat (1971)
* The Dark Design (1977)
* The Magic Labyrinth (1980)
* Gods of Riverworld (1983)

I picked up the first two novels in early 1972, with the promise in the back of the second that the third book was going to be out shortly. I then had to wait six years (which is to say, forever, to a 12 year old) for the promised third book. I bought the third book in hardback when it came out, the first time I'd ever spent that much of my own money on a book, the first hardback I'd ever bought for myself. Only to discover, after devouring it in a single sitting that the promised last book of the trilogy had been expand into a three book series. Which took another six years to be published, making me twice the age finishing the series as I'd been when I'd started reading it.

The second was the Wandor series by Roland J. Green:

* Wandor's Ride (1973)
* Wandor's Journey (1975)
* Wandor's Voyage (1979)
* Wandor's Flight (1981)

Which doesn't look too bad, with only an eight year gap between the first and the fourth books. Unfortunately, it was meant to be a quintology from the very beginning. So, I've been waiting for thirty-four years for that last book (tho' not quite as anxiously as I did when I was a fourteen-year old adolescent male who really enjoyed sword-and-sorcery stories.)

So, between a series that grew from three books to five, and a series that never even ended, I finally learned my lesson. Now I have to think really hard before I start reading an unfinished series. [I'd read the first Harry Potter novel before I knew there was going to be a second one published. Mr. Stross' "Merchant Princes" series I bought deliberately knowing that it wasn't yet finished, as I'd read the first chapter of the first book in the store and it convinced me that it was worth whatever wait I'd be put through.]

#181 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Susan #179:

Although since the most recent movie showed (unless I'm wrong) Modesty as a teenager, she could probably get away with being thinner there, simply because wandering refugees don't tend to be all that well-nourished, at least while they're wandering.

#182 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 07:24 PM:

Certainly not a single story arc, certainly, but Wodehouse's Jeeves stories started appearing in 1915, and the last was 1974: 59 years.

#183 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 07:35 PM:

A Modesty Blaise aside - I recently borrowed I, Lucifer from my Dad, and in one of the many descriptions of Modesty's outfits, it was stated that she was wearing a cream suit. Being me (born 1975) and from my 21st Century reading of Modesty I had a mental image of her in a trouser suit, but as I turned the page I realised that this was a novel from the sixties, so it's obviously a suit with a skirt (all of Modesty's trousers are referred to as "slacks" so far as I remember). Which is just one of the features of reading series that begin in one period and end in another.

#184 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 09:19 PM:

John@178: what more were you expecting? To me they started running out of ideas a book or two \before/ gur Fvqur xvat qrpvqrq gung nal zber vagrenpgvbaf jbhyq uheg obgu fvqrf naq phg pbagnpg jvgu bhe jbeyq.

#185 ::: James Nicoll ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 09:33 PM:

166:

The Brian/Kevin "Dune-flavoured SF product" novels are not books I would recommend.

#186 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2007, 10:21 PM:

The obverse of the coin: this morning, my book-choosing script pulled up A Legacy by Sybil Bedford, which, as I realized with a bit of a shock, has been sitting on my to-read shelf since 1981. It Bedfords when it comes Bedford time, I guess.

#187 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 12:58 AM:

Modesty is described as 5'6" in the first book -- which I am half way through, after picking it up earlier today in search of the page with the description of her eyes as midnight blue...

#188 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 04:02 AM:

Fragano #177 & James #185:
I was going for tact.

#189 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 05:56 AM:

As I was reading the first Modesty Blaise book, I found myself seeing a movie of it being like 1997's movie The Saint, where the storytelling resorted less to explosions and more to the main character using their wits, besides some nifty gadgets.

#190 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 08:59 AM:

Fragano @177, James @ 185 & Soon Lee @ 188 - Thank you for confirming my worst fears. Now I can stop wondering if, just maybe, I was wrong to reject them without trying them first!

#191 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 10:51 AM:

Julia #187:

5'6" is fairly tall as far as I'm concerned. (I divide the world into short and tall--and the definition of the latter is anything taller than me. I'm 5'3".)

I was skimming through the first part of the book while stirring last night's zucchini risotto, and got about halfway through. The only midnight blue I found was the dinner jacket on her escort to the ballet (poor guy!)

#192 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 10:59 AM:

Who was the guy in the *first* Modesty Blaise film? I keep thinking it was Terence Stamp, but I may be wrong -- it's been umpteen years since I saw it. (Not bothering to Wicki for the info, since Serge is active in this discussion.)

#193 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 11:06 AM:

Faren @ 192... It was indeed Terence Stamp, according to imdb.com. I never saw that movie and Modesty connaisseuses hate it, so I don't know if he played Willie's character right.

#194 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 11:06 AM:

joann (191): IIRC, average height for (US?) women is 5'5", so 5'6" is "about average." I would start "fairly tall" (for a woman) around 5'9". (I'm 5'5".)

#195 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 11:18 AM:

I'm just barely 5'9" and not qualified to join things like social groups for tall people. And tall-sized clothes are generally too long for me (especially pants). 5'6" isn't short, but it's barely above average for a woman.

Harking back to other threads, the MB novels were where I first learned to distinguish between British and American usages of words like "pants", since Modesty's always stripping down and re-dressing for action. And I love Modesty & Willie's obscure-word game.

#196 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 11:22 AM:

Terence Stamp was no worse than the rest of that movie. He and the Modesty-actress singing a little duet at the end was particularly, ah, striking.

Must wash brain now.

#197 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Modesty and Willie singing, Susan? Ow. That doesn't sound like the Willie who thinks the following to himself:

"...Willie Garvin's long-held view was that in these soft and secure days life was held too sacred, and that the high importance attached to it was no part of natural law. In the natural order of things, life had always been cheap. You came and you went and it didn't much matter. Only cruelty disturbed him..."

I could see a young Michael Caine thinking that.

#198 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 11:44 AM:

So what y'all are saying is that I should start reading Modesty Blaise books, huh? Does it matter where I start as long as it's not the cobra one?

#199 ::: John C. Bunnell ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 11:47 AM:

#184: You speak in strange tongues which my computer steadfastly refuses to interpret for me.

[I presume this is ROT13, and this computer and associated software are new enough that, so far as I can tell, the only case in which I can read ROT13 is when it appears in someone else's NNTP newsgroup post -- I can't even create ROT13 text automagically.]

#200 ::: James Nicoll ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 11:54 AM:

188: So was I.

#201 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 11:58 AM:

Doug @122:

While I would in theory like to see more Hughart books, the trend of the published ones worries me. According to me, the first was brilliant, the second was good, and the third was merely OK. A fourth book of the same quality as the third I would read, but I'm already a fan - I wouldn't recommend it to a new reader, and I wouldn't be likely to publish it if I had to show a profit on it. A fourth book of lesser quality than the third I wouldn't even read.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the second or third books that couldn't have been fixed, given an editor who would point out where Hughart was overusing plot elements, misusing the real Chinese literary materials at hand, and introducing original bits that didn't fit well, and given a Hughart willing to listen to such advice.

#202 ::: James Nicoll ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 11:58 AM:

190: So few Live Author/Dead Author collaborations end well that it's a safer policy to avoid them all except when you see positive reviews of the product.

199: Try this: http://www.rot13.com/

#203 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 12:00 PM:

John Bunnell #199:

http://www.rot13.com/index.php

#204 ::: James Nicoll ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 12:09 PM:

203: Jinx!

#205 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 12:09 PM:

If you use Firefox there's a nifty Leet Key widgit you can install. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/770

#206 ::: Julia Jones sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 12:24 PM:

TexAnne @198: Ideally read them in order, and if not, at least try to read the first book first, as it gives you the introduction to most of the main characters. But the books can be read out of order -- there is a continuing history within the series, but each book is a standalone story.

There's a good fan-written guide to the series on the US Amazon site.

#207 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 12:28 PM:

TexAnne @ #198:

The best one to start with is the first one, which is just called Modesty Blaise, but all the novels do a reasonable job of explaining the setup to those who came in late.

Note, though, if it's the kind of thing that matters to you, that several of the later novels contain spoilers for events earlier in the series.


(By the way, people who were wondering: The comic strip doesn't have a definite conclusion, the way the books do. It ends, like Calvin and Hobbes, with our heroes heading toward the horizon in search of the next adventure.)

#208 ::: Sara Rosenbaum ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 12:41 PM:

Favorite as-yet-unpublished sequel: Keri Hulme's Bait/On The Shadow Side. I periodically find them listed as forthcoming on amazon, but they never materialize.

#209 ::: Crunchbird ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 12:42 PM:

Since he passed away in January of this year after a long illness, I'm guessing that we'll never see the conclusion to Robert Anton Wilson's Historical Illuminatus Chronicles. They weren't as psychedlic and over the top as his other work, and anchored the conspiracy theatrics to a solid historical fiction base (at least at first). Supposedly five books were planned, and the fourth got at least as far as being titled, but only three were ever published, the last in 1991

#210 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 12:43 PM:

Ok gang, so I got turned on to the Flashman novels and the Aubrey/Maturin ones through Making Light, and now yesterday evening I went down to the library and picked up Modesty Blaise. It's not like I needed anything more to read, but now you've cursed me to another 6 months of tracking down random volumes through the library system!

#211 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 12:51 PM:

oliviacw @ 210... now you've cursed me

Bwahahah!!!

#212 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 12:59 PM:

Curses. No Modesty Blaise books available in this benighted town, at all. ILL, here I come...

#213 ::: Farrell McGovern ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 01:23 PM:

Of course, the Last Dangerous Visions...I just hope it is published before Harlan dies...or maybe, that is it, Harlan has it in his will that it is to be published after his death so that no one can ask for another sequel! That *must* be it! :-)

ttyl
Farrell

#214 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 01:25 PM:

After decades of trying fruitlessly to turn my various friends on to Modesty Blaise, it's really gratifying to see how easy it is to get people here reading them.

#215 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 01:25 PM:

After having spent half a year searching down a copy, I'm now halfway through the first Modesty Blaise novel. I already have the second one on order from the library. Holy bats of hell, is it good.

So far I haven't spotted any explicit reference to her eye color, although towards the beginning there's a bit about "high cheekbones under dark, contemplative eyes," which is pretty inconclusive. On the cover she's got blue eyes, which is also inconclusive.

#216 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 01:45 PM:

Susan @ 214... Tout vient à point à qui sait attendre, eh? And, speaking of fruitful waits, didn't Charlie Stross say a few months ago that Modesty would appear in his next Laundry novel?

#217 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 02:42 PM:

Regarding women's heights, the figure I've seen many places is that the average American woman is slightly less than 64 inches tall -- five feet, four inches.

Anecdotally, I'm five-six, and have on several occasions been greeted by friends with "Oh good, you're here -- we need someone tall!" I'm the designated "get things down from high places" person in my office at work.

#218 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 02:54 PM:

Lexica @ 217... I read somewhere that Judy Garland was 4 feet 11 inches tall, and that Joan Crawford was 5 feet tall.

#219 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 02:56 PM:

Serge @216: not the next one, but one of the next few. (Once you start pastiching British thrillers on a one-per-book basis, sooner or later you've got to come to terms with your essential lack of Modesty.)

#220 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 03:04 PM:

[beats Charlie @219 with the punstick]

#221 ::: Rick Owens ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Tim Walters @ 186: "book-choosing script"?

#222 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 03:31 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 219... Groan. Speaking of which, it's only recently that I got the joke about Modesty's family name, when my wife pointed out that most anglophones would pronounce it, not 'Blehz', but 'Blaze'.

#223 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Me, I want the rest of Glen Cook's Dread Empire, of which there is (I suppose) yet a non-zero possibility.

#224 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 04:35 PM:

Soon Lee #188 & dcb #190: I feel sorry for the trees that end up as 'Dune flavoured' novels.

#225 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 04:40 PM:

Serge #216 wrote "Tout vient à point à qui sait attendre, eh?"

That was (in English, mind you) my father's favourite proverb.

#226 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 04:48 PM:

Charlie Stross #219: Instead you got the Willie?

#227 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 06:22 PM:

Serge @ 128

A Bromo™ for Upset

#228 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 06:47 PM:

Rick Owens @ 221: "book-choosing script"?

A while back I realized that, when choosing which book to read next (usually in a hurried dither before leaving for work in the morning), I was favoring recently purchased books, comfort reading, and books that weren't behind something. For the I'd-like-to-read-that-someday books (we all have them, right?), "someday" was turning out to mean "never."

Rather than attempt genuine self-improvement, I opted for the quick-fix technological solution: a little Perl script to randomly choose books tagged as "unread" or "to_reread" from my LibraryThing catalog. I'm happy with the results; my reading diet has become more balanced, and a few of those "someday" books turned out to be startlingly good (Cannery Row: holy crap). It's a bit like shuffle-play for my books.

#229 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 07:19 PM:

abi @ 145

And then will she start writing Dr Suess mysteries for the letters 'on beyond zebra'?

#230 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 08:10 PM:

John Melby @ 174

But if Ellison ever actually published Last Dangerous Visions there would be a great disturbance in the Force, and Richard Lupoff's head would explode. I don't think we want that.

#231 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 08:15 PM:

John Mellby

My apologies for misspelling your name.

#232 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 08:49 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 162... The sheep are in The Impossible Virgin.

Thanks.

#233 ::: James Nicoll ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 09:44 PM:

228: If you liked Cannery Row you should track down a copy of The Log from the Sea of Cortez.

#234 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2007, 09:44 PM:

Tim,

a few of those "someday" books turned out to be startlingly good (Cannery Row: holy crap)

Keep going: Sweet Thursday is even better.

#235 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2007, 12:42 AM:

Charlie @ 121: AAAAAAGGGGH! And here I thought I'd be free again in just a couple more novels.

So, to adopt the terms from up-thread, you stand confessed to both Premeditated Tetralogy and Negligent Teratology?

#236 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2007, 12:46 AM:

Gasp! Charlie's a teratologist!

#237 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2007, 02:49 AM:

233 & 234: Roger wilco!

#238 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2007, 05:39 AM:

Clifford & ethan: (glances furtively over shoulder), no it's my editor's fault. If he hadn't chopped the books into quivering 300-page installments, I'd just be dumping the Baroque Cycle Lite on you, instead of something which (on current projections) is likely to run for 10-12 installments.

NB: there must be a word for the sensation that accompanies the realization that one is thirteen hundred pages into writing something, yet barely a third of the way through it: raw, quivering terror isn't concise enough. (Let's just say, I live in fear of Riverworld syndrome. I've already aborted one series after two books -- I think gaining a reputation for doing so regularly, this early in a writing career, would be bad.)

#239 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2007, 06:25 AM:

Charlie, I think you're going to end up with the "thousand ream stare".

#240 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2007, 07:42 AM:

Charlie #238: Given that you made your first sale in 1986, is 21 years "this early in a writing career" any longer?

#241 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2007, 07:52 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 238... I live in fear of Riverworld syndrome

That story had two brilliant first books, and yes there was a gap before it resumed, but it did resume. Unfortunately. But I don't expect that to happen with the Laundry. So, how does that syndrome apply to you?

#242 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2007, 08:22 AM:

Charlie @ 238... I'd just be dumping the Baroque Cycle Lite on you

You know what 'they' say. If it ain't Baroque, don't fix it.

#243 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2007, 10:48 PM:

Serge @ #242, that deserves pun-itive damages for the rest of us readers.

#244 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 12:54 AM:

Somtow Sucharitkul used to say, "I'm working on the fourth and final volume of my five-volume trilogy." I dsremember which series that was.

#245 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 01:15 AM:

Re women's height: I am 5'6", and don't think of myself as being especially tall -- but there are some venues (such as contradancing) in which it seems that there is a higher-than-normal concentration of short women, so that I end up being in the "tall women" group. It always feels strange when that happens.

Back to the topic of the post... count me in with the group waiting determinedly for The Door Into Starlight.

More frustratingly, Omaha the Cat Dancer ended just when things were getting Really Interesting, and my understanding is that there will be no more due to a breakup in the writing team. Waah!

Does anyone know whether/when Barbara Hambly will be writing more Benjamin January books? Those had also gotten to a Very Interesting point, and there's now been a multi-year break after 6 or 7 that came one-per-year.

And in the "things that will probably never happen" category, I'd love to see Michael Kurland do some more Lord Darcy pastiches. I really liked his take on the characters, but I think he's too busy writing his own stuff these days.

#246 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 01:24 AM:

244

That was probably the Inquestor series, which begins with "The Light on the Sound". Bibliographies (like this) list 4 novels in that series, which accords with my memory of having read 4 novels, but IIRC there was a fifth volume consisting of short stories, with no single dramatic arc. I can't find that listed in the bibliographies, though.

#247 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 01:26 AM:

Question:

My sister says my niece is starting to read fantasy stuff.

I'm not familiar with the Golden Compass / Dark Materials book.

Think they would be OK for a just-turned 10 year old?

#248 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 02:46 AM:

Stefan - she's going into 5th grade? I can't think of anything that is really inappropriate. There are some bits of metaphor that will probably woosh right over her head. I think they are a good choice.

Then have her read some Diana Wynne Jones, for good measure.

#249 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 03:14 AM:

Stefan: let me first make it clear that I am absolutely not a book-banning sort of person. But I would hesitate to give His Dark Materials to a child. The reason for this is that I heard an interview with Pullman in which he explicitly stated that he wrote the books in order to convince children that there's no such thing as good and evil, only social control tools invented by the (religious) establishment.

The books are undoubtedly well written, and pitched brilliantly; a bookish ten-year-old should get a lot out of them, and an adult reader gets even more. I don't mind the anti-clericalism or the explicit polemic against the Narnia series and by association against Christianity. But the admitted propaganda against any moral system at all bothers me.

#250 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 04:56 AM:

#249: you are not a book-banning sort of person, but you've just said you're not in favour of giving a certain type of book to a certain type of person because it offends your personal ideology.

It seems to me that so much children's literature is written with the opposite didactic intention that we tend to lose sight of the fact that it is, nevertheless, propaganda. Compared to the odious, insidious Christian apologia that is Narnia, "His Dark Materials" are a breath of fresh air.

(And as for the existence of "good" and "evil" I think these are at best abstract qualities, and at worst, imaginary ones; labels that we attach to things we like and dislike. You may differ, of course -- apparently a lot of Americans believe in good and evil and a cloven-hoofed devil to boot -- but you need to bear in mind that this is not a universally-held opinion, that disagreeing with it does not automatically turn people into serial killers and nihilits, and that learning that There Are Other Ways Of Thinking is a vitally important insight for any bookish ten year old in a socially isolated position; it's potentially a life-saver.)

#251 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 06:17 AM:

Lee@245: Not only did Reed Waller and Kate Worley break up as a writing team, Worley died a few years back, I think of cancer.

#252 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Charlie Stross (#250): ...disagreeing with it does not automatically turn people into serial killers and nihilits... Though it's probably a typo, I kind of like "nihilits" -- it could mean those who know nothing whatsoever about books/literature, rather than someone who's been turned bad by their reading.

#253 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 11:11 AM:

252: obligatory Big Lebowski reference...

Walter: "Nihilits! F***! I mean, say what you like about Piers Anthony fans, but at least they're reading something."

#254 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 11:12 AM:

Individ-ewe-al (249): Using your logic, it's probably far more important to warn children away from the Narnia books; their casual racism, Christian allegory and implicit sexism is at odds with the morality of many people. Certainly, they were utterly inappropriate for my ten-year-old (female, South Asian-descended, non-Christian) self. More generally, however, the fact that I somehow didn't grow up to be a self-hating Christian might suggest that the didactic powers of moralizing in children's novels is overstated (and I certainly loved the books, at least as a child).

I've given Un Lun Dun and Coraline to girls in that age group, and they've loved them.

#255 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 11:27 AM:

ajay @ 253... The most recent episode of TV show Burn Notice had Our Hero, an involuntarily retired spy, sneaking into the hotel room of a Czech who'd tried to bump him off and coming across a copy of Stanislaw Lem's Solaris. I'm not sure what that means.

(Meanwhile, I noticed that the show's Gabrielle Anwar could maybe play Modesty Blaise. She is Eurasian and has blue eyes. Yes, she's a bit shorter than Modesty is supposed to be. Still...)

#256 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 11:33 AM:

Charlie @ #250: you are not a book-banning sort of person, but you've just said you're not in favour of giving a certain type of book to a certain type of person because it offends your personal ideology.

I invite you to consider the differences between "I would hesitate to give this book to a child" and "Nobody must be permitted to give this book to a child".

#257 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 11:34 AM:

Lori Coulson @#164:

or the Asian girl from one of the Brosnan Bond films.

That was Michelle Yeoh - probably best known now from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Cool action heroine but teeny tiny.

#258 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 12:06 PM:

no mention of the Oz books so far. That's a long running series (a book a year for 40+ years, 4 consecutive authors)

Is a teratology a series with 1000,000,000,000 books in it? Or a series about monsters? Or a series about the earth?

#259 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 12:08 PM:

I don't believe in good and evil and I most certainly have a moral system. Just thought I'd mention.

In fact, this makes me want to go out and read the Golden Compass books, which I haven't done. I had no idea that there even existed an epic-type fantasy that denied good and evil. That's awesome! In general I avoid the epic fantasy specifically because I find battles between g&e snoozy and false.

#260 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 12:18 PM:

"Did it bother you when I stopped going to services with you?"

"Clark, you were fourteen. Old enough to make your own decisions in that regard."

"I know, but... Did I disappoint you -- or offend you?"

"No. Not one bit. Clark, you could never disappoint me --"

"Except for melting that vase from Paris. And crashing thru the weather vane."

"And you would bend all the utensils in the house every time I made liver... Clark, my faith was my own. I brought it into your life so that you could have a foundation for making your own choices... I certainly think you've made good ones..."

(This exchange between Clark and Martha Kent is one of the reasons I've come back to reading Superman. I had always loved the character, but was never quite happy with how he was handled.)

#261 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 12:21 PM:

The first series I ever waited for the end of was Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising. When I started reading it, the first four books were out and Silver On The Tree was expected. I don't think I can have waited more than a year, checking every day when I was in the bookshop, until finally one day it was in the bookshop too. We didn't have an internet then.

The next thing was the Amber books. The first two had British publications and I read them. The third one (Sign of the Unicorn) turned up randomly and so unexpectedly that I squealed when I saw it in the bookshop (fortunately they were used to me in Chapter and Verse, did I mention going in every day just to check?) I had no idea there would be any more. Then I knew I was waiting for the others.

I've been in a state of waiting for specific other books, (as opposed to random new books by beloved writers,) ever since then, which would be about thirty years. It isn't a bad state to be in. It's like travelling hopefully. It isn't necessarily better than arriving, but it does mean there's always something to look forward to.

It does make it doubly sad when authors die, though, because it's not only the loss of them as a person, but the loss of the potential book as well. William Manchester would probably have been very surprised to have known how many of us were panting for volume III.

At the moment, my most desired specific book would be Aspects, shortly followed by Rosemary Kirstein's The City in the Crags.

#262 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 12:45 PM:

...he wrote the books in order to convince children that there's no such thing as good and evil, only social control tools invented by the (religious) establishment...the anti-clericalism or the explicit polemic against the Narnia series and by association against Christianity.

Really? Cool. I guess I'm going to have to add those to my to-read pile after all. Wish I'd had something like that to read when I was a kid.

I gave up on Narnia a few books in, though I couldn't at the time articulate why they bothered me so much. I've stayed away since. Considering that when I re-read A Wrinkle In Time a few years ago I found it unbearably preachy, I definitely don't think Narnia would improve with age in my case.

#263 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 12:46 PM:

Jo,

I cry when one of my favorite living authors dies. Since I have never met any of them, it is pure selfish, "Oh no! No more books by Author ever!"

I'm also lucky enough not to be waiting for a series, as far as I can remember....

#264 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 12:52 PM:

Books: my smaller spawn, who read all the Oz books, the Chronicles of Narnia, and the Little House books right after second grade, Cold Mountain at eleven, and the last six Harry Potter books within a few hours of their publication, has read the "His Dark Materials" books, but she is off at an all-night Potter seminar so I can't ask after their effects.

My mother's family has always gone on the theory that books, as such, are not harmful; I read The Plague and I right after I finished Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farm one summer when the number of books I could check out from the bookmobile and the number I could read in a week were out of phase. It may have effected my sense of humor, but did not lead to a life-long obsession with TB and bad arts and crafts projects, any more than doing a report on Portnoy's Complaint for a high school "Media and Ethnic Literature" course corrupted my morals.

Of course my virtuous, hard working, civic minded, old-style progressive Republican Quaker grandmother wrote romances for pulp magazines, so we might all have been lost to salvation anyway.

#265 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 12:55 PM:

259, 262: I think that it is at best misleading to say that the Dark Materials trilogy denies the existence of good and evil. It has some interesting things to say on the subject of sin, but that's not quite the same - certainly the characters in the books have a moral code and follow it (or not). There are good guys (although never whiter than white) and bad guys (although never irredeemable) and there are, I'm afraid, ethan, plenty of battles between them.
But read them none the less. The first two are great. The third needs about 30% of it cut loose.

#266 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 01:09 PM:

I think that it is at best misleading to say that the Dark Materials trilogy denies the existence of good and evil...certainly the characters in the books have a moral code and follow it (or not)

Considering that I myself have a moral code and yet don't believe in Good and Evil, I don't see that as misleading at all. The problem I have with a lot of fantasy (a great example would be Diane Duane's wizard books, which I otherwise enjoy a great deal) is when Good and Evil are actual entities/forces/Powers/what have you. Of course certain actions can be described using either word, but that's not the same thing at all.

#267 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Paul @256, thankyou! When I said I would hesitate, I really meant that I would hesitate. I didn't mean that I would necessarily come down on the side of not offering the trilogy, much less actively prevent all children from seeing them.

If several people here feel comfortable separating morality from good and evil, it's likely that Pullman also meant something different by his comment than what I understood. Which makes his position much less repugnant. Would those of you who are taking that line say that certain actions are morally wrong, but not evil?

I still take issue with the views presented in His dark materials of things like murder, underage sex, and responsibility. But I feel a lot better able to handle the idea that Pullman has come to different moral conclusions from mine, than the idea that he doesn't find moral distinctions to be worth drawing at all.

#268 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 03:09 PM:

Individ-ewe-al,

I remember reading an interview by/ article on Pullman, in which he said that Lewis had not let his children in Narnia grow up, and deal with the moral complexity that growing up entails. Maybe he tried to address that in His Dark Materials. (I'd need to go back and re-read them as a whole work instead of separate books in order to have an opinion on that.)

#269 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 04:16 PM:

Would those of you who are taking that line say that certain actions are morally wrong, but not evil?

I think...describing something as "evil" is simply a shorthand for "morally wrong", generally speaking. It's more about the effect the action has (or could have, in the case of things like public policy) than the motive behind the action, if that makes sense. "Evil" isn't a force, or a motivator, or a goal, or an entity, and it's certainly not an absolute. The same goes for "Good".

I also think there are multiple values of "morally wrong", and "evil" is only a valid shorthand for the worst. An action may be morally wrong but not have the lasting and/or widespread effects needed to qualify as "evil". I guess I view it as sort of an intensifier, more than a concept in its own right.

Does that make sense?

#270 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 04:52 PM:

Jennifer Barber @ 26... "evil" is simply a shorthand for "morally wrong"

They're not quite equivalent, for me anyway. I call "evil" people who aren't just morally wrong, but who are also morally extremely wrong. People like Bush, Rove, Cheney.

#271 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 05:16 PM:

Two quotations which I absolutely adore (and can never remember attributions for):

"God is like a mirror. The mirror is always the same -- but everyone who looks into it sees something different."

The original context of this was clearly Christian, but it extends far beyond that. I am a firm believer in the idea that we make God in our own images, rather than the reverse, and that this explains much of the variation in the way different people interpret the same religious texts.

"With or without religion, good people will do good things and evil people will do evil things. But to make good people do evil things -- THAT takes religion."

And that is SO true; it's much easier for a person to do something that they would clearly identify as wrong in a different context when their religion is telling them that this is what they SHOULD do. Very Orwellian blackwhite, that.

If a genie were to grant me one wish, it would be that ALL religion be removed from human culture. Yes, even my own; I believe that the overall benefits to everyone would far outweigh the things we'd lose.

#272 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 05:30 PM:

I'm pretty sure it would be morally wrong for me to duck out on a family wedding which I have RSVP'ed as attending to go stay with friends at Lake Chelan, but I'm even more certain it wouldn't be evil.

#273 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 05:38 PM:

Luckily, I think, I read the Narnia books at age seven, when I was pretty much oblivious to Christianity (being Jewish and going to a Jewish school), so I totally missed the message. My husband, who was brought up nominally Christian, says that once he realised the symbolism the Narnia books were pretty effective in inoculating him against Christianity.

As I recall, Pullman's point was that you make your own choices to do "right" or "wrong" and this is separate from the Powers that call themselves (or are called by the Establishment) "Good" or "Evil".

#274 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 05:58 PM:

Lee @ 271

"God is like a mirror. The mirror never changes, but everybody who looks at it sees something different." — Rabbi Harold Kushner

Jewish in origin, not Christian...

"But to make good people do evil things -- THAT takes religion." - or other "certainty" - I'm always worried about those with absolutely no doubts, no room for the possibility that their way might not be the way, or might not be the way for others - whether its a "religious" way or any other. Particularly if they want to impose their way on others (if they don't, it's their own business).

#275 ::: VCarlson ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 06:41 PM:

#261 ::: Jo Walton
The first series I ever waited for the end of was Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising. When I started reading it, the first four books were out and Silver On The Tree was expected. I don't think I can have waited more than a year, checking every day when I was in the bookshop, until finally one day it was in the bookshop too. We didn't have an internet then.

Same for me - my mother actually bought me the book because my face lit up so when I saw it in the bookstore window. It was hardback, and expensive, and we didn't do that. But I found myself terribly disappointed by what I saw as "cheating" on Cooper's part, when Bran learned all this interesting stuff about himself, and he was made to forget it. Which I found terribly disappointing. Did you see that, or was it just my late teen self leaping to an unwarranted conclusion? I (of course) still have the books, though I haven't reread them since then - I think I'll have to check on myself.

#276 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 06:58 PM:

Bran chose to forget it all, by choosing to remain with Simon and Jane and Barney and John Rowlands. He was given the choice to go on the ships, but chose not to.

#277 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 08:32 PM:

They're not quite equivalent, for me anyway. I call "evil" people who aren't just morally wrong, but who are also morally extremely wrong.

Like I said a bit further on, it's only equivalent for the worst values of "morally wrong".

It's a matter of scale, I think; "morally wrong" covers a much wider variety of concepts than "evil", but they're equivalent for me in that my concept of "evil" is derived from my concept of morality.

Is that any better?

#278 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 10:22 PM:

JESR #272: The question there would be whether it was something that would count as a moral fault or whether it would be a matter of what Hobbes called 'the small morals' (i.e., bad manners).

#279 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 10:57 PM:

Fragano, the cousin getting married for the first time is 47 and the only daughter of my favorite uncle; it is also true that they are having the reception catered and have paid for our meals. The combination of family feeling and money always raises things from the level of small morals, at least in my family.

Especially added to the offense of knowing people with a cabin on Lake Chelan.

#280 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 11:22 PM:

Jennifer Barber @ 277... Yup.

#281 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2007, 11:28 PM:

Thanks for the comments on "His Dark Materials."

I'm all for YA books that are challenging and thoughtful, but I don't want to get my sister ticked at me . . . the nieces are being raised Catholic in a low-key way.

I think I'll read the books myself first, and give a set to my brother-in-law. He reads Harry Potter and Eragon and Tolkein and such. If the trilogy passes muster he can pass it on to his daughters.

#282 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 12:24 AM:

Ah yes, dcb (#274) one of my touchstones; Jacob Bronowski in the 'Knowledge and Certainty' episode of The Ascent of Man. One of the Amazon reviewers plans to leave his DVDs of the series to his grandchildren, though I suspect the book might last technoflux longer. Actually, connecting to the book-waiting theme, I pounced when the BBC finally released the DVDs. Not quite as eager for Civilisation.
(Discussed at skepdic.com/science.html and www.ratbags.com/skepticism.) Hmm. Touchstone = hobbyhorse?

#283 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 12:55 AM:

Jennifer Barber @ 269

I would put it a little differently: evil is knowingly and intentionally committing acts that are morally wrong. It's possible to do wrong by accident, or by unintended consequence, or by believing that one wrong act can prevent other and greater wrongness, but none of those is evil. Acting so as to cause wrongness as a final consequence is evil.

Lee @ 271

I'm very sympathetic with your view of religion, but I distinguish between personal religion, what an individual believes, and group or organized religion, what someone professes to believe to satisfy other people. I have a personal religion, though I doubt there are many people who would even recognize it as such, since God isn't really a part of it. But I do not believe that religion as a social phenomenon is a good thing. My motto is "Organization is to religion as meetings are to art".

#284 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 01:10 AM:

Lee @ 271: The good people doing evil things quote is attributed to Steven Weinberg.

#285 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 01:49 AM:

Evil, to me, denotes either motivelessness (I do this not necessarily for personal gain or any objective reason but because I'm evil) or something external to the self (evil as an independent force), and both of those are, as far as I can tell, fairy tales. Good as the opposite of evil is the same way.

That which is morally wrong is, quite simply, that which does harm, regardless of motive. We are morally obligated to, at the least, minimize the amount of harm we do, and, as an ideal, maximize the good we do. Blammo, moral code, absent good and evil.

#286 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 02:32 AM:

#245-I spoke with Barbara Hambly about Benjamin January,and she said that the publisher had dropped them due to sales,but that her agent was working on a deal to bring him back-I told her I was glad because i had missed him,and she smiled and said "I do too."\
Re Diane Duane-she told me at a con last year that she is going to write the book-but that it was a thing where she wasn't quite ready to write the book yet.
Thanks Julie @ 104-I didn't know PKM had an LJ-that's great news.

#287 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 05:13 AM:

There seems to be a bit of fuzziness about just when Modesty Blaise was born, but from the stuff in the Wikipedia entries, and some of the fan sites, I infer a date of about 1934, plus or minus a little, which also fits with the idea that she's about 30 years old when the series opens. Given her personal history, I can see her not knowing for sure.

A young Michael Caine is a pretty obvious candidate for Willie Garvin, casting him would almost be a cliche.

Refugee in WW2, and wandering afterward, as a child and teenager: she's definitely going to be short by modern standards. I think you would cast Willie and Modesty by relative height, but you'd need somebody who could get across the authority. That, and the script, has to convince the audience she is the boss, and why.

The Modesty Blaise novel started with the initial O'Donnell script for that movie, which was mostly rewritten beyond all recognition before it reached the set.

Eurasian? Recalling time and place of writing, I wonder if we should be thinking anglo-indian? Yes, there were places such as Hong Kong and Shanghai (and the Sino-Japanese War does provide reasons why a child from those places might have been in Europe by the time WW2 started), but I think it's a plausible reading.

(Anglo-indian and Michael Caine: we're straight into the casting territory of The Man Who Would Be King)

#288 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 05:18 AM:

#281: the Dark Materials books are certainly pretty anti-Catholic. The Catholic Church is, basically, the bad guys. All the villains are either Church members or agents or employees of the Church, and they do horrible things in the Church's name. So you might want to take that into account...

#289 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 06:09 AM:

Dave Bell @ 287...

"Is Modesty Blaise the real name?"

"Real enough." She watched a seagull glide down in a wide curve toward the sea. "When you don't have a name, you have to choose one."

So are we told in Modesty Blaise (p.79). As for her age, that novel explicitly says she's 26 and that she spent the beginning of her life in a prisonner's camp in the Middle East. But she may age the way comic-book characters age in lomg-running series, meaning not at all.

Casting? Like I said before, Gabrielle Anwar...

#290 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 10:44 AM:

My favorite comic portrayal of Evil -- in film -- is Peter Cook as the Devil in the original version of Bedazzled, which I now have on DVD. Very human, in his pettiness and occasionally mixed motives, and I love the red socks.

As for another film from my teenage years, Terence Stamp may have been wrong for the part of sidekick in the original Modesty Blaise film, but boy was he dishy!

#291 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 10:49 AM:

Faren @ 290... boy was he dishy!

And he had a lot more hair, eh? Say, wasn't he in Far from the Madding Crowd, with Julie Christie, whom Peter O'Donnell would have loved casting as Modesty?

#292 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 12:01 PM:

#290: Bedazzled is my favorite movie ever. "This is getting really boring. How about I sit up there instead and you dance around?" "Well you see, that's just what I said."

#293 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 03:27 PM:

Serge, #289, I found a more complete source, and it seems to make her 12 years old in about 1950. I'm going by the Concordance. I think I read her as being rather older at the end of the war.

#294 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 03:34 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 292

I always fall over laughing when Peter Cook takes Dudley Moore out to eat and hands him a long spoon.

#295 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 03:38 PM:

Dave Bell... That sounds about right. Of course, once such a series actually begins (as opposed to the events in the past of it), time flows slower. I doubt that, by 1996's Cobra Trap, Modesty is in her mid-fifties.

#296 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Serge @295: it explicitly says on the first page of Cobra Trap that it's set twenty-odd years after Dinah first meets Willie, so Modesty is in her late forties at the very least "in universe". Some of the other details certainly suggest to me that she's intended to be early to mid fifties in the story, though I haven't re-read it recently enough to remember whether it's explicitly stated how old she is.

#297 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Julia Jones @ 296... O'Donnell actually allowed his beautiful heroine to get older? I am very impressed.

By the way, did the stories and/or the strip itself ever venture into science-fiction territory? I ask because here's what he has Modesty say about Willie on page 128 of the first novel:

She nodded agreement. "He's a voracious reader, and he's got a good mind. With a different start, he could have gone anywhere.

"What does he read?"

"Biography, military history, technical books, science-fiction -- almost anything but general fiction and travel. And he has total recall."

Even if he didn't get into SF-inspired stories, it'd appear that he enjoyed the genre. That's a mark in his favor in my book.

#298 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 05:21 PM:

#245 July 26, 2007

Re women's height: I am 5'6", and don't think of myself as being especially tall -- but there are some venues (such as contradancing) in which it seems that there is a higher-than-normal concentration of short women, so that I end up being in the "tall women" group. It always feels strange when that happens.

I think the average is actually only around 5'3" or 5'4" in the USA--contrary to the damned designers's bigoted habits designing counters in banks and at airports, charge card stations in stores, US-made cars, etc. etc. etc.

More frustratingly, Omaha the Cat Dancer ended just when things were getting Really Interesting, and my understanding is that there will be no more due to a breakup in the writing team. Waah!

It goes beyond that--Kate Worley and Reed Waller will not be collaborating again, because the grim reaper intervened, taking Kate several years ago. I don't know about the details that caused it, but she lived with a high level of debilitating for years, after being in a car crash, and it affected her outlook on life--she had a sense of humor, but the crippling pain was constantly with her.

If I manage to get to the resurrected Fourth Street Fantasy Convention next year, I suspect that she'll be one of the people notable to me for the hole left by their absence.

#299 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 05:33 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 298... I think the average is actually only around 5'3" or 5'4" in the USA

I'd say so too, based on the ladies I see at the gym.

#300 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 05:47 PM:

@Lee (#245): Omaha is currently being re-published by NBM Publishing and Reed Waller and Jim Vance (which if I remember well is Kate's other half) are to publish the end of the story using her notes.

My memory has its perks sometimes, I knew I had kept that link (between Foton Record and photos of Tadao Ando's Church of the Light, that's fluorosphere synchronicity for you), which will probably prove more useful than the rest of my post.

Hope this will help.

#301 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 06:40 PM:

Serge @297: there's a clear sense of time passing and the characters getting older in the books, though they do age a lot more slowly than in real time. The comic strip I'm not familiar enough with to say. But Cobra Trap was explicitly about what happens to people like Modesty and Willie as they reach middle-age and beyond, after a life of never expecting to live that long. The result is a very intense story that has divided fans -- some love it, some hate it.

Just found the paragraph that gives her age in this last story, as closely as she knows it. It's John Dall's Point of view:

***

...He was well content simply to look at her, remembering, and to marvel at how lightly the years had touched her.

She would be...about fifty-two? Impossible to be sure, for all memory of her early childhood had been wiped clean, but today her body would have passed handsomely for thirty, her face for the early forties. The legs were still those beautiful dancer's legs, and she still moved like a dream. There were more lines at the corners of her eyes now, and the jaw-line was perhaps less lean, but the column of her throat held firm and never failed to draw his eye.

***

That's the view of a man who's been in love with her for the last twenty years; but he's describing a woman who has physically aged but is still in very good shape, in part because the habits of a lifetime living on her wits and strength mean that she makes sure she stays in good physical shape.

Oh, and a couple of paragraphs on, it mentions her deep blue eyes.


#302 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2007, 11:13 PM:

MD^2, #300: COOL! I'll have to keep an eye out for that. Thanks for the tip!

#303 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 01:09 AM:

About 12 years ago or so, I was on a Modesty Blaise mailing list. Someone had sent a fan letter to O'Donnell, and he sent back a very nice reply, including a reworking of Modesty's origin story to make it fit modern times better. In my memory, she came out of a refugee camp somewhere in southeastern europe, but I could be wrong. It was on the internet, so someone with decent Google-fu might be able to find it.

He seemed to be trying to keep Modesty in the mid-thirties, just moving up when she was born. I believe this was in the comic strips. Newspapers traditionally run Modesty's origin when they start carrying the comic, and he wanted to give them a more modern alternative. I believe he said that the syndicate thought it was unnecessary, but I have a mind like a steel sieve some days.

Who is reprinting the strips, and where can I get these volumes?

#304 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 01:59 AM:

Juli @303: Titan Books have been reprinting in the strips as graphic novels, and the books are available at both Amazon UK and Amazon US, so I presume are fairly widely available.

#305 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 08:14 AM:

Julia Jone s@ 301... Thanks for the quotes.

#306 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 09:00 AM:

Julia... Juli... I think that an older Modesty could be played by Claudia Black. (C'mon... You knew that Goddess Claudia would eventually come up, no matter what a thread's subject is. True, I still haven't found a way to bring up in the Harry Potter thread.)

#307 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 09:06 AM:

Mez @282: [..]one of my touchstones; Jacob Bronowski in the 'Knowledge and Certainty' episode of The Ascent of Man.

A copy of The Ascent of Man was my Christmas request one year (granted).

I remember watching the scene that your linked quote came from (from a tape played in a high school physics class years ago). Profound.

Most of our current debacle comes from persons acting out of 'monstrous certainty'.

#308 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 09:14 AM:

Rob Rusick @ 307... Most of our current debacle comes from persons acting out of 'monstrous certainty'

Yup. If you know that you're right, you can't possibly be wrong. That attitude hasn't served America well these last few years though.

#309 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Paula Lieberman (#298): I think the average is actually only around 5'3" or 5'4" in the USA--contrary to the damned designers's bigoted habits designing counters in banks and at airports, charge card stations in stores, US-made cars, etc. etc. etc. Well, I'm right in that height range and most women I see are more like my Mom used to be before age shrunk her (around 5'6") -- though a lot of famous female tennis players these days look like glamorous basketball players. (Justine Henin the "shortie" is around 5'6".)

It's also difficult looking for good pants in Petite -- or doing a lot of clumsy hemming. The only place I have an advantage is one indoor bank ATM that seems designed for wheelchair users. I can use it standing up, while my husband has to kneel. But oh, the curse of top shelves, anywhere and everywhere! (At least it's good exercise, standing on tiptoe a lot.)

#310 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 10:30 AM:

The Once and Future Boyfriend is only 5'4" and really skinny. He wears an Extra Small t-shirt, not a size I'd heard of before knowing him. He wore the Small t-shirt I got him* to chemo anyway, but it was really loose.

*"I'm not dead yet"

I'm pretty short for a guy, and I like my guys even shorter. Pay any price, bear any burden to reduce my chances, that seems to be my libido's policy.

#311 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 10:37 AM:

Xopher # 310... I'm pretty short for a guy, and I like my guys even shorter.

I could make a dirty joke about that, but I won't. Instead, I'll ask how tall you actually are.

#312 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 10:58 AM:

Serge 311: 5'8". That's REALLY short for a MidWestern guy. Less so in the NYC area, but still shorter than average.

#313 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 10:59 AM:

Rats. I was 5'8" years ago. I forgot that I'm now only 5'7".

#314 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 11:51 AM:

The incredible shrinking Xopher?

#315 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 11:51 AM:

I'm 5'10", which I think is supposedly exactly average height for men, although from personal experience it definitely seems to be towards the short end of the spectrum. Which is irritating, because like Xopher I prefer my men shorter-than-me. Dammit.

#316 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 11:58 AM:

ethan... I thought 5'10 was average for a man. I'm 6' (exact same height as General Zod, btw) and there seldom are men of that verticality, at least among those I've met.

#317 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 12:19 PM:

Serge 314: Either that, or I was mismeasured years ago, or forgot that I was exaggerating my height. I honestly don't know. I do know that I was convinced I was 5'8" for years, but have recently remeasured and I'm definitely 5'7" standing up straight with my back against the wall.

Maybe I'm 5'8" in boots or something. Could be it. Or maybe I was 5'8" when I had hair, which is even more likely.

Of course, I'm 6'0" on Rollerblades™. Boy, does the world ever look different from up there!

#318 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 12:26 PM:

Xopher @ 617... Boy, does the world ever look different from up there!

It is lonely living up here among the Olympians.

#319 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 12:34 PM:

Serge @ 306: fur pbhyq cynl gur ryqre Urezbvar va gur Rcvybthr?

#320 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 12:36 PM:

JESR @ 319... Pynhqvn nf Urezvbar? Rkpryyrag vqrn. V fhccbfr gung Kbcure jbhyq gura jnag Ora Oebjqre nf Uneel.

#321 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 01:29 PM:

SPOILERS! DAMMIT!

#322 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 02:17 PM:

Sorry, Xopher, but:my wiring for what is and is not a spoiler is as terrible as for left and right, and the latter is why, at the age of 55, I have never had a driver's license.

#323 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 02:18 PM:

Comments 319 & 320 have been rot-13'd. I have the same difficulty remembering what is and isn't a spoiler, but let's all try.

#324 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 02:20 PM:

Thanks to whichever of Our Hosts rot-13'd those, even though it's too late for me. Now I know that Uneel naq Urezvbar yvir gb or nqhygf. I guess it might not spoil it for me completely, since I still don't know HOW.

#325 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 02:26 PM:

Git along into yer own thread!

#326 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 02:26 PM:

Thanks, Patrick.

#327 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 02:28 PM:

I think I'm missing something. These were jokey casting idea, so where was the spoiler? Or did I accidentally stumble onto the Truth?

#328 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 02:40 PM:

Xopher... Crap. And my deepest apologies. I'll now slither away and will come back in a few days.

#329 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 03:21 PM:

Xopher @ #317: You probably were 5'8". You might yet be again. People get shorter as they age because the disks in their backs compress (I've lost at least an inch over the last twenty years myself.)

I'm told you can stretch and 'decompress' your back with exercise (yoga, maybe?) but I don't know how effective it is.

#330 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 04:19 PM:

I was measured recently for a medical procedure (nasogastric pH meter, since I've mentioned it) and found I too have lost an inch in height, no longer being 6'1". I do maintain a daily stretching routine, but decompressing my back doesn't appear to be one of its benefits (unless, of course, there was a time when I was 5'11" and didn't even know it).

#331 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 05:05 PM:

Serge #328: You're a Slytherin?

#332 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 05:08 PM:

I've wanted to write this for a while

Their work lacks sense, grandeur and equipoise,
and their heptalogies are so much noise.

#333 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 07:44 PM:

Serge, #306, she's on a non-SF TV show this fall. I meant to remember the network and the show name and I haven't, so I'll google... Life on NBC.

Xopher, #317, or maybe you need your bone density checked. I'm 5'8" on my right foot and 5'7" on my left foot. It doesn't seem to bother my walking.

#334 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2007, 10:14 PM:

And in coincidental? timing Doris Egan has just said on her livejournal not to look for a fourth Ivory book, and gives a quick idea of where a fourth book might have started from.

Spoilers, I guess

#335 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2007, 01:01 AM:

Apparently Alice Borchardt passed away this last week, so those of us waiting to read the last book in her latest series are probably going to be kept waiting.

I feel so callous for writing the above statement. I enjoyed her books, and I like to think she was an interesting person.

#336 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2007, 01:03 AM:

Marilee @ 333... Thanks for the tip.

#337 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2007, 11:47 AM:

Marilee, it's just been announced that Black is pregnant and will not be shooting the show.

I really, really regret the Julian Kestrel novels by Kate Ross, who died unexpectedly and far too young. Morally complex Regency mysteries that are as aware of Regency lowlife as highlife.

#338 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2007, 12:42 PM:

Fragano @ 331

I think he said he was a Slitherout.

#339 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2007, 12:58 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 338... It was neither. I was very busy with a Big Project, meaning I had to chase around for help instead of my team-mates actually already being logged in and ready to help. I actually slept by my computer. Lying on my dog bed. (The dogs were sleeping on my bed.)

#340 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2007, 12:59 PM:

Serge @ #297: By the way, did the stories and/or the strip itself ever venture into science-fiction territory?

Not outright, that I recall. Some of them feature new scientific or technological marvels, but more in what I would call the technothriller vein than actual SF. I remember one with a vampire, and one with a time traveller, but they both turn out to be frauds in the end.

There are, mind you, numerous instances of psychic ability scattered through the series, but I gather that the author does not regard these as being in the domain of SF.

#341 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2007, 01:02 PM:

Marilee @ 333

You're lucky; my neurosurgeon told me that one of the contributing causes to the rupture of the disk that caused a partial paralysis of my right leg is the 1/2" difference between the lengths of my legs.

In my youth (said the sage) I was 5'exercise 9 1/2" plus a large enough smidge to call myself 5' 10". After the surgery that repaired the disk I was just below 5" 9", but now that years and some have passed, I'm back to my old height. This doesn't help much at family get-togethers: my older son is about my height, and considerably more buff, and my younger son is 6' 1", so I'm the runt of the family.

#342 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2007, 01:11 PM:

Paul A @ 340... Thanks. I think it's interesting thst O'Donnell had Modesty refer to science-fiction, not scifi.

#343 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2007, 01:18 PM:

Juli Thompson @ #303: Someone had sent a fan letter to O'Donnell, and he sent back a very nice reply, including a reworking of Modesty's origin story to make it fit modern times better. ... It was on the internet, so someone with decent Google-fu might be able to find it.

Here.

#344 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2007, 01:26 PM:

And I've just realised that all this time I've had volume 1 of the Modesty Blaise comic strip in a box near the computer, complete with Jack Fraser's infodump:

...believed to be aged 26 : height 5'6" : weight 120 lbs. Black hair, brown eyes, hint of Eurasian features... First on record 1952, believed 17 yrs. old...


So it looks like you were right in the first place, joann. Sorry I didn't remember sooner.

#345 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2007, 01:34 PM:

Paul A @ 343... I hope that, if Tarantino makes his Modesty movie, he sets it in the 1960s. I want to see Modesty dressed and coifed like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's (but without Mickey Rooney in bad Japanese makeup).

#346 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2007, 06:05 PM:

I just caught parts of The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! on Turner Classic Movies and, when I saw John Philip Law, I found myself thinking he'd have been great as Willie Garvin.

#347 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2007, 08:40 PM:

Serge #345: I'm pretty sure Tarantino wants to see that, too.

#348 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 01:59 AM:

Serge, #336, Jonquil, #337, and at Comic Con, they announced that Farscape is coming back, but without one member. I wonder if it's Black.

Bruce Cohen, #341, my left side turned up partially paralyzed after the event that made the difference in my height. I broke my ankle nine places in three inches and there wasn't enough bone to put it all back together. The screws & pins were rejected by my bones, so I had to wear a brace for a long time, but I unexpectedly grew enough bone that I don't have to wear the brace anymore. I didn't grow enough bone for height, though. (I got arthritis in the ankle, the doctors had me take ibuprofen which killed my kidneys the first time, and I was in the hospital with the first renal failure when my BP went up and the doctor ordered the med that caused the big stroke and coma resulting in partial paralysis among other things. Not quite as direct as yours.)

Serge, I taped The Wackiest Ship in the Army which was after yours.

#349 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 03:19 AM:

Marilee @ 348

Clearly, you were not lucky, and I apologize for any distress my saying so gave you.

#350 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 03:25 AM:

While I'm on this thread I have to ask if I am the only one who keeps misreading the title of the thread as "And their herpatologies are just noise".*

* I assume a very sibilant one.

#351 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 04:13 AM:

Apropos #343, "In 1962, when I first began to create them, it was quite reasonable for Modesty to have been a war refugee from somewhere in the Balkans. Thirty-plus years on, it doesn't fit.

Oh boy, now there's an interesting moebius twist on your world building!

(Scribbles notes, furtively.)

#352 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 04:16 AM:

Dang -- in case my twisty thought-stream isn't obvious: what I meant to say is, if Peter O'Donnell had been asked that question two or three years later, he might well have given his answer the exact opposite spin ... and I am now led to do some further speculation.

#353 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 09:37 AM:

Marilee @ 348... I'm sorry to hear about your problems. I hope you're doing better.

As for Farscape's possible return... Would you or any other fan of it watch it if Claudia Black weren't in it?

#354 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 09:41 AM:

ethan @ 347... Unfortunately, I wonder if Tarantino's Modesty will ever happen. Grindhouse didn't do well (deservedly so) and, in Hollywood, aren't you only succesful based on how well your last work did? And frankly, much as I liked Kill Bill, I am doubtful about Tarantino being the right person for a Modesty movie.

#355 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 11:26 AM:

Serge #354: I don't think Tarantino's in the kind of position where one flop (that wasn't even his fault, if y'ask me; Death Proof was incredible) will ruin him. He's much more independent than that, and he's got a built-in audience that guarantees at least some box office. Perhaps his next movies might be scaled down a bit, but I feel like that wouldn't even faze him.

And I think he'd be perfect for Modesty. I might be a galloping fanboy, but I think he's got a much bigger range than people give him credit for. Hell, Jackie Brown alone proves that he can be faithful to source material while simultaneously being incredibly inventive.

I gots faith, basically.

#356 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 12:29 PM:

Now I'm trying to remember -- though not very diligently -- which old film had John Philip Law as a sexy, bare-chested angel. (I *think* it was him. Could that have been in "Barbarella"?)

PS: The NY Times obit for Ingmar Bergman, with a photo showing Max von Sydow as the knight playing chess with Death, includes some great quotes from Bergman. It also made me wonder if "The Seventh Seal" inspired Terry Pratchett to mischief.

#357 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 12:34 PM:

Faren @ 356... John Philip Law was the angel in "Barbarella", and Sinbad in the Harryhausen movie where Tom Baker played the evil sorcerer.

#358 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 12:39 PM:

Faren Miller #356: An angel does not make love. An angel is love.

I heart Barbarella.

#359 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 12:40 PM:

ethan @ 355... I'll be quite happy to be proven wrong about Tarantino. My knowledge of his work is indeed limited.

#360 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 12:46 PM:

Serge 353: I'm sure you expected this, but I would. However, I would be saddened, because Ben and Claudia have such great chemistry.

I would even watch it if Ben weren't in it, but only if they had a really good male lead. (This is plausible...it could be set 100 years in the future. Crighton would be dead, but the others wouldn't.)

I'm hoping they just mean Nagubal Fvzpbr jba'g or onpx, orpnhfr Q'netb vf qrnq. Gubhtu gurl pbhyq oevat uvz onpx vs gurl jnagrq gb...gurer vfa'g n FVATYR Snefpncr punenpgre jub unfa'g orra qrnq ng bar gvzr be nabgure va gur frevrf be zbivr.

#361 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 01:01 PM:

Xopher @ 360... I guess I'd give a new Farscape. One condition though... No Scorpius, please.

#362 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 01:09 PM:

ethan @ 358... An angel is love

Unless played by Christopher Walken, or by Tilda Swinton.

#363 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 01:16 PM:

It also made me wonder if "The Seventh Seal" inspired Terry Pratchett to mischief.

Almost certainly...

SOMETIMES PEOPLE CHALLENGE ME TO A GAME. FOR THEIR LIVES, YOU KNOW.
"Does anyone ever win?"
NO. LAST YEAR SOMEONE GOT THREE STREETS AND ALL THE UTILITIES.
"What sort of game is that?"
I DON'T RECALL. EXCLUSIVE POSSESSION, I THINK. I WAS THE BOOT.

-- from Mort

But he's not very good at chess... there's a throwaway scene with a chess match between Death and (I think) the Time Abbot, in which Death considers the board and then says REMIND ME AGAIN HOW THE LITTLE HORSE-SHAPED ONES MOVE.

#364 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 02:13 PM:

Paul #344:

No apologies required; I skimmed right over that myself, while looking it up.

#365 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2007, 06:54 PM:

Xopher @ 360

I hope gurl qb oevat Q'Netb onpx. Ur cebivqrf n yriry bs areibhf raretl gung gur pnfg arrqf gb qevir fbzr bs gur npgvba. V guvax gurl pbhyq qb jvgubhg Puvnan gubhtu. Pregnvayl vs vg jrer n pubvpr orgjrra Puvnan naq Nrela Fha ...

#366 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 12:33 AM:

Bruce, #349, oh, I didn't mean to challenge "lucky," just to sort of compare events.

And #350, no, I kept thinking of snakes, too.

Serge, #353, that happened 20 years ago now. I still have the effects of the stroke, but it's not exactly shocking anymore. Sure, I'd watch Farscape. Black's character often just seemed annoying.

#367 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 11:38 AM:

Geez, Bergman and Antonioni died on the same day, both at an advanced age. It's almost enough to make me believe that directing arty films is good for one's health (Europeans only; heavy smokers need not apply).

And ajay, thanks for those Mort quotes. I'll leave it for others to imagine games and discussions between Death and those two directors.

#368 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2007, 12:14 PM:

Marilee @ 366... Duly noted. I did remember that this had not happened recently, but I couldn't remember how long ago.

#369 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 12:25 AM:

ethan @ 358

As I recall that movie the more appropriate line would be "I loin Barbarella". Although I would understand if you preferred the angel.

#370 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 05:18 AM:

Since we're talking about passage of time in serial fiction...

The Harry Potter books cover seven years, and took ten years to publish.

If you wiush, you can handwave about the first publication being a year-or-three after the events depicted. Call it mid-Nineties.

So the last book could conside with the post-9/11 political developments in the USA. Maybe even the year of the Iraq invasion.

There's certainly an applicability to some of the political background, and the apparent subversion of the Ministry of Magic in the fifth and sixth years.

#371 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2007, 11:19 AM:

Dave @370, we are given explicit date information twice in the books (when Harry et al. attend Nearly Headless Nick's 500th death-day party in book 2, and jura Uneel ivfvgf uvf cneragf' tenirf in book 7). The last book is set in ~1997.

It's clear that the subversion of the Ministry of Magic in books 5 and 6 is influenced by and perhaps commenting on real-world politics at the time of the writing, but Rowling doesn't intend for it to actually be taking place at the same time as the real-world events it suggests.

#372 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2007, 10:40 PM:

Jonquil @ 337:

I really, really regret the Julian Kestrel novels by Kate Ross, who died unexpectedly and far too young.

Oh. That's why there are no more. Damn.

Sarah Caudwell's mystery series was another that ended too soon.

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