Sun
Feb 28 2010 11:48am

The joy of an unfinished series

A long time ago I wrote a post on series that go downhill, and whether it’s worth starting a series when everyone tells you that it isn’t worth carrying on. Just now, Kluelos commented on that old post asking about unfinished series, saying:

If you’re one of us forlorn David Gerrold fans, you know the agony of waiting forever for sequels, so that’s the opposite point, I guess. Is it better to endure a long wait, maybe never see the next book (I will never speak to James Clavell again, because he died before writing “Hag”), than to have the next book even if it is worse than disappointing? I dunno.

Well, if you come face to face with James Clavell in the afterlife, my advice is to tell him first how much you like his books, before asking if he’s had time up there to finish Hag Struan.

I have an immediate answer to the question too, it’s definitely better to endure a long wait and have a quality sequel, or no sequel, than have a bad sequel. A bad sequel can spoil the books that came before. A good sequel after a long wait enhances the previous books. No sequel, whether because the author died or lost interest in the series isn’t ideal, but it doesn’t spoil anything. “We’ll always have Paris.”

Besides, there’s something about an unfinished series that people like. I’ve been thinking about this recently. When you have a finished series, it’s like a whole book. It’s longer, but it’s the same emotional experience, it’s complete, over. An unfinished series on the other hand is much more likely to provoke conversation, because you’re wondering what will happen, and whether the clues you have spotted are clues or red herrings. People complained that The Gathering Storm wasn’t the one final volume to complete the Wheel of Time, but they’re clearly loving talking about it. And I’ve noticed a lot less conversation about Harry Potter recently, now that everyone knows as much as there is to know. The final volume of a series closes everything down. With luck, it closes it down in a satisfying way. But even the best end will convey a strong sense of everything being over. An ongoing series remains perpetually open.

One series I read where the author died without finishing it was Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series. I started reading it while he was still writing them, but I read the last book after he had died. It did colour my reading of Blue on the Mizzen, but one of the things I kept thinking was that O’Brian was rather fond of killing off his characters, and nobody could kill them now. I have a term for this, “forever bailing” from Four Quartets.

We have to think of them as forever bailing,
Setting and hauling, while the North East lowers
Over shallow banks unchanging and erosionless
Or drawing their money, drying sails at dockage;
Not as making a trip that will be unpayable
For a haul that will not bear examination.

There will be no more books, but the characters will always go on travelling hopefully.

Some people find it offputting to discover that a book is part of a long series. Other people are delighted—if they like it, there’s so much more to discover. I’ve heard people say they’re not going to start A Song of Ice and Fire until it’s finished, but I think they’re missing half the fun. My post on Who Killed Jon Arryn won’t be worth the pixels it’s written in when everything’s all down in black and white. If you read the books now, you get to speculate about where the series is going.

Anyway, reading unfinished series gives you something to look forward to. The first book I ever waited for was Silver on the Tree, the last of Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising books. There were other books I’d read that had sequels I couldn’t find—indeed, that was a normal condition for me. (I waited twenty years for Sylvia Engdahl’s Beyond the Tomorrow Mountains. This is my record, so far.) But Silver on the Tree was the first book that hadn’t been published yet when I started to want it, and that had a publication date that I waited for. The second, a few months later, was The Courts of Chaos. I’d gone from the normal chaotic state of turning up in a bookshop and being thrilled with whatever had come in since the last time, to a state of constant and specific anticipation of what was forthcoming. I was thirteen.

Right now, like everyone else on the planet, I’m waiting for A Dance With Dragons. I’m also waiting for Tiassa, the Vlad Taltos book that Steven Brust is writing even now. And I’m waiting desperately for The City in the Crags or whatever it ends up being called, the next Steerswoman book. (Kirstein said at Boskone that she was working on books five and six together, so maybe they’ll come out quite close together too.) I’m waiting for Deceiver, the new Atevi book, and this one, excitingly, is actually finished and coming out on May 4th. (So, what do you think, re-read of the previous ten in late April?) And there’s Bujold’s new Vorkosigan book Cryoburn, which I know is finished, but which doesn’t seem to have a release date that I can find. There’s Connie Willis’s All Clear, the sequel to (or as we say where I come from “the other half of”) Blackout. That’s coming in October.

How about you?


Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published eight novels, most recently Half a Crown and Lifelode, and two poetry collections. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

102 comments
Nancy Lebovitz
1. NancyLebovitz
Thank you for the link to your poems.

In Heaven, there will be enough eternity to make fractal art. In multiple styles. Which goes all the way down.
Dolly
2. Dolly
I definitely love series - assuming it is well written. Once I love the characters, I don't want to part with them. A series gives me a chance to learn more about them, get to dig deeper into their lives and their personality. I was one of the crazies who went to get Harry Potter at midnight, and then stayed up all night reading it.
Dolly
3. Lynnet1
Bujold's blog indicates that the Cryoburn release date is November 2010. It also has a picture of the cover.

I'm not familiar with myspace and can't seem to link to individual entries, but here is the link to the blog, it's the third post down.

http://blogs.myspace.com/loismcmasterbujold
Rf P
4. readforpleasure
I prefer not to read series books too close together, lest they begin to blur in my mind. I also find that an author's repetitive tics can get tiresome when I glom too many books in a row, whereas seeing the same congruences a year apart gives me a nostalgic sense of reentering a familiar world.
Pasi Kallinen
5. paxed
Samuel R. Delany, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand. Do I need to say more?
Steven Burnap
6. sburnap
There's a difference between Brust's and Bujold's respective series, which are really a bunch of stand alone novels linked together with a main character, and series like "The Song of Ice and Fire", which is a single story chopped into segments.

With Brust, the wait is for a novel that I know will likely be awesome. With Martin, the wait is for that plus the and also to know how it all turns out. In that, if "The Song of Ice and Fire" isn't completed, there will be more of a sense of incompleteness and loss.
Ken Walton
7. carandol
I've had Moorcock's "The Vengeance of Rome" sitting on the shelf for ages. I haven't plucked up the courage to read it yet - partly because I know it's going to be grim, and partly because I know I really need to re-read the previous three volumes first, but the thought of spending that long in Colonel Pyat's head is rather daunting.
Dolly
8. joelfinkle
The first book that I ever bought in hardcover was Niven's Ringworld Engineers. I'd been reading it serialized in "Galileo" magazine, and the fourth (concluding) issue had been so delayed, I had to shell out.

Thankfully, it was an enjoyable read, but the later Ringworld novels almost approach "Jar Jar Binks" levels of disappointment.

A similar case of buying a book after reading part of the serialization was Omni's excerpts from Heinleins Number of the Beast. The serialization ended on a cliffhanger, and as it turns out, had the cool mystery/thriller chapters of the first third of the book, which rapidly descended into nonsense that left that plot thread pretty much hanging.

I've still got the Galileo issues in my collectibles box, the Omnis disappeared somewhere in moving out of my parents' house -- a lot of great early fiction by authors such as Orson Scott Card and Dean Ing were in there.

But to get back on track about sequels... if Farmer had just ended with "To Your Scattered Bodies Go" it would have been a wonderful mystery. Each successive sequel peeled back a layer of the onion invalidating the previous, and becoming more absurd and less full of wonder.
Dolly
9. R. Emrys
I like being in the middle of a series. I like speculating about what will happen next. I have a fanfic mindset, I suppose, although I rarely write the stuff--finishing the story in my mind is half the fun. And then, eventually, I can get the author's version too, and complain about the threads that they didn't tie up sufficiently neatly. Or maybe it's a scientific mindset, the enjoyment of coming up with hypotheses and waiting for results.

I'm waiting for Cryoburn and A Dance With Dragons and Tiassa and The City in the Crags. I'm waiting for Bear's Chill to arrive in the mail. I'm waiting for the new books in both of Diane Duane's series; the new Young Wizards book is due out this year, while the new Door book may never come out. I'm waiting for Among Others, even though it's the first of its series. I'm waiting for Susanna Clarke to write another book in the Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell universe. I'm waiting for Stross's next Laundry book. I do a lot of waiting, which also means that I get to be very pleased once every month or two.

I do wish that we had huge release parties for other series, the way we did for the Harry Potter books. It seems like only the proper respect due to the joys of reading. A new Bujold book should certainly be cause for an international holiday.
Dolly
10. ice23
Speaking of David Gerrold and unfinished series, I could have sworn I read not too long ago that Tor was going to rerelease the first four of Gerrold's Chtorr books and then the long-awaited fifth one. What happened with that?
Beth Mitcham
11. bethmitcham
Megan Whalen Turner's _Conspiracy of Kings_ comes out next month. This is the best of all series, where each book is complete in itself and yet adds to the others. I hope the fourth book keeps up the high standards.

I read these books because Lois Bujold recommended them, starting a new shelf (which you have added greatly to) of books pushed by authors I love.
Dolly
12. peachy
It's funny you should bring up O'Brian. While the Aubrey-Maturin series is technically 'unfinished', I don't really think of it that way. I thought that he had ended the series perfectly and on cue with Blue at the Mizzen, bringing the master arc of 'Jack as Captain' to a close while leaving enough loose ends to keep the adventure going in our imaginations - the only one I wished had been tied up was Stephen & Christine (though there was something appropriate in keeping his romantic life forever in flux.) Imagine my surprise when I discovered that O'Brian had been writing a twenty first book...
Dolly
13. Foxessa
There is no admiration and appreciation that I have for a fiction writer that is greater than for those rare novelists who plan a long, multi-volume arc work who successfully fulfill that plan and bring it to a close. This is a even more exquisite pleasure if you, the reader, have been reading along with the volumes as they appear during your mutual life time with the author.

A recent example is Katharine Kerr, who did just that with her Deverry series. These are not the only novels she's produced along the way either. Yet she did complete this visionary multi-volume work, while maintaining a high standard of quality all the way through.

A non-genre example is author Anthony Powell, and his Dance to the Music of Time.
Jo Walton
14. bluejo
Lynnet1: Thank you. November. Excellent. (My goodness, can that really be a Miles cover? It's good! I thought there was a law that they had to have awful covers!)

Paxed: For me, that comes under "We'll always have Paris". I'd rather not have The Splendor and Misery of Bodies, of Cities than have it and it be bad. Also, at this point I no longer want it -- it's been too long, and I have written it in my head. Which brings me to R. Emrys's point -- I am not at all given to fanfic, and while I like thinking about books and talking about them I don't like making up things that will later be contradicted or need to be overwritten. I only make up things when what's there is intolerable or when I have given up hope.

Carandol: I'm still half way through Jerusalem Commands.
Martin Watts
15. Martinus
Thanks for posting this. I've sent a link to a Patrick O'Brian mailing list I belong to where I am sure they will appreciate "forever bailing".
Tikitu de Jager
16. tikitu
I'm with Paxed. I had the extremely painful experience of reading Stars in my Pocket (you may wonder how this is possible) while believing the sequel had already been written.
Estara Swanberg
17. Estara
"I’m waiting for Deceiver, the new Atevi book, and this one, excitingly, is actually finished and coming out on May 4th. (So, what do you think, re-read of the previous ten in late April?)"

I vote yes, especially if you post re-read reviews. But even if not, I vote yes.
Debbie Solomon
19. dsolo
Love this article. Like you I have been waiting for "Dances with Dragons" forever. I haven't decided if I'm ready to reread before it comes out. I was really depressed after "A Feast with Crows" - don't know if I can handle it again. I'm also waiting for "Changes" and now I'm hooked on 2 YA series, "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins and "Wicked Lovely" by Melissa Marr, so I'm waiting for 5 sequels, when we include the next installment of the Wheel of Time. The agony and ectasy of SF/Fantasy series!
stephanie keenan
20. adriel_moonstar
I suppose my opinion varies depending on the type of plot. If it it is an ongoing series where one or more plot-lines are leading to a definite conclusion, than yes I would prefer it to be finished even if the quality is not perfect.

"Series" of interconnected stories that jump around, those I am more interested in the writing, if it's good I'll stick with it. If not...well let's just say, library books don't always get finished. (Once I have writing quality issues, I will always wait for either the library or ebay.)

And darn it, I have a few authors I plan to look up in the afterlife myself!

But I want to know what people generally feel about successor authors? Or is that just hit or miss?

I find that I quite like most of Deborah J Ross's Darkover books. I find the quality to be at least as consistent as the originals, and the social issues are just as compelling as the ones explored by Marion Zimmer Bradley. And based on the huge response to The Gathering Storm, most people seem pretty happy with Brandon Sanderson.

On the other hand Todd McCaffrey's Pern books leave me wanting to scrub the back of my eyeballs. And Christopher Tolkien should have just left those tales unfinished...
Leigh Butler
21. leighdb
Waiting for multi-volume epics to be finished? That's just silly. Who would do that?

Yeah.

Though I have to admit that I'm one of the ones who have avoided picking up Martin's Big Series until it's finished. I did read A Game of Thrones like three hundred years ago, but I barely recall anything that happened in it, so for all intents and purposes when I do start it I'll be starting fresh.

Totally agreed on the Brust, though, and the news that the next Vorkosigan novel is coming out this year fills me with miles of squee, no pun intended. And the Dresden books are lots of fluffy fun, always glad that they keep coming.

Also, I'm not *waiting*, exactly, but I'm curious to see if Jean Auel actually manages to produce a sixth and final Ayla book before the universe collapses. If she does, I'll totally read it; if she doesn't, well, it's all good, really.

I also have Eoin Colfer's "conclusion" to the Hitchhiker's Guide series on my shelf, but I've frankly been rather afraid to start reading it.
Ron Griggs
22. RonGriggs
I'm still waiting for the sequel(s) to Threshold by David R. Palmer, published in 1985. My enthusiasm has waned after the first decade or so. And another experience has given me pause. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller is one of those books on the short list of Best Books Ever--for me and for many others. So when Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman was published posthumously in 1997, I was excited but also apprehensive. And though I enjoyed Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, it has somehow diminished my admiration for Canticle a supernova in the genre. At this point, I'd almost rather there not be a sequel to Threshold. It would be written by a man a generation older--almost a different person. And my expectations are no doubt just too high after all this time.
Dolly
23. Patmcd
Melanie Rawn and 'The Captal's Tower'. Waiting since 1997.
Roland of Gilead
25. pKp
Anyone else waiting for The Republic of Thieves, the third installment of Scott Lynch's "Gentlemen Bastards Sequence" ? I love these books, and the third one is taking Forever, although the author's blog seems to imply he's currently revising it.
john mullen
26. johntheirishmongol
There were a few series that I kept waiting, in fact, I am still waiting to see a couple. Jerry Pournelle has been working on his Janissaries book for at least a dozen years and supposedly has written 750k words on it. David Gerrold with his Cthorr series. GRRM, of course...btw, that article that said that a writer doesn't owe his fans or readers the next book in a period of time was total bs. If you have committed to a series vision and the public has paid you well for doing so then you are obligated to give it, and if you can't then don't give us excuses, just get some help.
Rob Munnelly
27. RobMRobM
Lots of unfinished works in the land of YA fiction. Most obvious is Eragon series - waiting for the fourth book. Wish I had that Harry Potter level of excitement trying to predict the final book but guess not. We're actually enjoying John Flanagan's series about the Ranger's Apprentice. Weird twist there is that the books bome out in Australia nearly two years before they get published in US, so you have some idea what's coming before they come.

Back to adult stuff. While not exactly unfinished, I would love another work in Scalzi's Old Man Universe, but it looks like Zoe's Tale will be the last dealing with the Perry family for a bit. Finally, yes I am dying for GRRM to finish the series. GRRRRRR.


Rob
Dolly
28. vcmw
I'm also waiting for Megan Whalen Turner's A Conspiracy of Kings (publisher posted the first chapters online, and I'm sure it will be fabulous - I reread the last two in anticipation). I'm excited for Elizabeth Moon's Oath of Fealty coming out soon, because I've wanted to know what happened next to Paksenarrion for a long time. Those are the two I'm most excited about, but I do love that open-ended series add random bright bits the to anticipation throughout the year.
Christopher Turkel
29. Applekey
I'm waiting for A Dance With Dragons as well but I'm not impatient over it. They're big books and time consuming to read. The wait gives me a chance to read other stuff and glance back through previous volumes and refresh my memory.

Deverry was a long time in coming. I think, besides, Ethshar, it's the longest running (in years of my life)I ever read. I got the first book when I was 18 and working in a mall. The last comes when I am 41 with a wife and child. Surreal.

The first book I remember waiting for was Wishsong Of Shanarra. I saved my paper route money and everything. Then I got it and...well, let's say, I don't recommend it to anyone.

I waiting for the next Ethshar book because, c'mon, it's Ethshar and I wantssssssssss it!
Christopher Turkel
30. Applekey
I'm waiting for A Dance With Dragons as well but I'm not impatient over it. They're big books and time consuming to read. The wait gives me a chance to read other stuff and glance back through previous volumes and refresh my memory.

Deverry was a long time in coming. I think, besides, Ethshar, it's the longest running (in years of my life)I ever read. I got the first book when I was 18 and working in a mall. The last comes when I am 41 with a wife and child. Surreal.

The first book I remember waiting for was Wishsong Of Shanarra. I saved my paper route money and everything. Then I got it and...well, let's say, I don't recommend it to anyone.

I waiting for the next Ethshar book because, c'mon, it's Ethshar and I wantssssssssss it!
Dolly
31. 'nother Mike
If you read ebooks, Cryoburn will be available in webscriptions http://www.webscription.net/c-97-2010-webscriptions.aspx before November, and there are hints of an eArc even before that... usually listed here when they are available http://www.webscription.net/
Ben R
32. sphericaltime
I have to disagree with you on this one, Jo. I'd rather have a bad sequel than no sequel (although I'd rather have a long wait and a good book).

If so, then I can take it and dismiss it. If it doesn't finish, then that's a larger failure of writing than simply writing it badly.

I've read bad books in my day. Or, I've read books that started good and ended badly. But the fact that I got through it was a testament to the book. The "worst" that I've read are always the ones that I picked up and then put down again months later. To have an unfinished series is basically just forcing that last category on me.


@R.Emrys: I've read a Wizard of Mars. It's a solid sequel to the Young Wizard series, although there were a few slow chapters near the middle.
Dolly
33. mityorkie
I'm with #23 and am still waiting for Melanie Rawn's book three Captal's Tower... even though I can't remember anything about the series other than a matriarchy.
In my mind there are three kinds of series-finishing books. There are ones like Harry Potter or Deathgate Cycle that definitively end the series. There is the book that finishes a story arc but leaves room for more (R.A. Salvatore, generally), and then there is the "bad" sequel, which deconstructs the world that has been built and leave it retroactively sullied (midichlorians).
Even then, though, I'd prefer a bad book to a completely hanging story. Hooray for completed trilogies! More insidious are the trilogy-plus-one books, where an author takes the room left by the end of a story arc and takes things in a new direction that leaves fans cold.
Dolly
34. Janice in Ga
I'm with peachy @12: I think the O'Brian series was just fine at the end of "Blue at the Mizzen". I chose not to read the last, posthumously published book.

I'd rather see a half-way decent ending than a bad ending, or an ending that didn't wrap anything up.
Jerry Bennett
35. Isvarden
R.A. Salvatore........starting a series with the main character's birth, but i still havent finished the last trilogy, lol, WOT addicted....
p l
36. p-l
As far as I know the sequel to Stars in my Pocket is never coming. A single chapter of it was published in some postmodernist fiction journal, and you can buy it for $6 on Amazon.

I did. It was pretty good, but not amazing. It sated my curiosity without disappointing me, and I no longer pine away for the sequel.
Dolly
38. lomifeh
I just started re-reading a Game of Thrones the other day. When I got into the Dreseden novels I read half of them back to back over the course of a few weeks. Then just had to stop cold for the wait. I am looking forward to that one. I like this article because it covers how I feel.

The Amber books made me kind of sad when Zelazny died since he was going to have another series of stories. That piece of garbage they had someone write as a prequel is something I refuse to read.
Dolly
39. Rush-That-Speaks
Currently waiting for: A Conspiracy of Kings, Megan Whalen Turner-- Jo, have you read Turner? I think you personally would like her; Bound in Blood, P.C. Hodgell; Bitterblue, Kristin Cashore (probably at least a year); and above all Ysabeau Wilce's Flora's Fury, which has no release date yet, and which I have been waiting for with bated breath since closing book two.

What I don't understand is that, while I'm delighted about the new Bujold and the next Willis and more Brust, for some reason it doesn't seem as urgent and I can't figure out why.
Soon Lee
40. SoonLee
Depends on what's meant by "unfinished":

- the anti... cipation of waiting for the next instalment of a still-in-progress but not yet finished series (e.g. ASOIAF) can add a frisson of excitement.

- if a series ended because the writer died (why couldn't they just have printed the notes to Frank Herbert's "Dune 7"?), it is bittersweet.

- if a series got killed before the last instalment came out, with no real prospect of closure despite enthusiasm from the writer (Walter Jon Williams' that began with "Metropolitan", Tony Daniel's that began with "Metaplanetary"), it's just frustrating.
Dolly
41. charlener
definitely Rawn's book, as well as the last book of the Halfblood Chronicles by Norton and Lackey. Sigh.
Jo Walton
42. bluejo
SoonLee: Very good point about a series being killed. I hadn't thought about that. Maybe they cancelled the Metropolitan series because not enough people were buying it, but that doesn't mean that those of us who wanted more don't have a huge gaping void.

Rush: I have not read Turner. I didn't like the Flora Segunda though. I have very little tolerance for twee.

JohntheIrishMongol: Divorce is the failure of a marriage, but it does sometimes have to happen. Not being able to finish a series is, as Spherical Time says @32, a writing failure. Sometimes those things happen too, and sometimes no amount of counselling and help will put things back together.
Ian Gazzotti
43. Atrus
I love a good series, but never-ending multi-volume spanning novels? No sirree, I don't do that.

I love more-or-less loosely connected novels, like Discworld or Pern or Dune; in that case, if one book is so bad I hate it, I can just pretend it doesn't exist and still love the rest.

I love a multi-volume story when an author knows how may novels it's going to be and/or has already the ending in her mind, so I know there is an end in sight and I will live to read it.

I do not like when someone churns out two dozens of 1500-page novels, each of which is but a chapter of a bigger story, and you can't really enjoy it unless you know everything that has happened before, and will be left hanging if no final volume comes out. In these cases, I respectfully half-disagree with Neil Gaiman: while it is true that the author is not my bitch, I also do not feel compelled to read any book of this epic until I can clearly see an end in sight. My book time is too precious for that.
john mullen
44. johntheirishmongol
I know RJ had a vision for how his series would end right from the beginning. And that is one thing about WOT that keeps the readers waiting is we know that there is a conclusion out there. The issue I have with GRRM is that he lost control of his series and didn't seem to know where to go with it. The writing style is exceptional, but the management of something like a series should be done before you commit yourself to writing one. Plus, every time you start to care for a character GRRM seems to kill him off.

Now to me there is a huge difference between a series of books about the same character, like what Bujold and to a certain extent Weber have done with Miles and Honor and a series plotted around with a goal/destination in mind. While I love those character driven books, I don't fret about when the next will come out as much because they are pretty much self contained.
Dolly
45. OtterB
I am currently waiting for, in the sense of "have already pre-ordered", Moon's Oath of Fealty, Turner's Conspiracy of Kings, Lee & Miller's Mouse and Dragon, the next in Lisa Shearin's Raine Benares series, and (sort of outside of F&SF), Laurie King's God of the Hive.

I also anticipate the new Vorkosigan book, and Cast in Chaos by Sagara, later this year.

I tend to prefer series where the books stand alone but gain resonance from each other. Don't much like waiting for things that aren't complete. I recently read what I thought was a 4-books series. I didn't love it, but liked it well enough to keep reading, mainly to find out what happened to the secondary characters. I was dismayed to realize about 50 pages from the end of book 4 that there was no way this was going to wrap up, and in fact, it had become a FIVE book series. I will probably buy book 5, but I'm not real happy about it. On the other hand, I had no problem at all when Moon's Vatta series ran to an extra book.

And I still would have liked to read The Universal Pantograph
Gary Schaper
46. Garyfury
@26: Pournelle's Mamelukes has been in the works for more like twenty years.

I think what frustrates me most about some writers with unfinished series is seeing them turn their hand to other writing and other projects at the same times that readers are hanging on a fresh shot of story. (I don't apply that to writers like Kirstein whose output is limited by the necessity of holding down a day job.)

And I also wanted to mention: I think Wheel of Time readers owe a great deal of gratitude to Jordan's memory. I think it would have been easy, when faced with a terminal prognosis, to basically despair of his unfinished work and give up. Instead he spent a lot of his time laying the groundwork so a successor could come in and finish it for the fans. I think that's an act of pure class.
Dolly
47. intertext
I read the Steerswoman series on your recommendation and loved it - like you, I'm waiting patiently for the next one (and yay that something is on its way!).

I'm also waiting for All Clear and Conspiracy of Kings. You should read Megan Whelan Turner - I'm sure you'd love her books. At the DWJ conference, people were recommending her in the same breath with Dorothy Dunnett and Sherwood Smith.

Yes - I'd rather have no sequel than one in which characters I loved got killed off. I love that notion of Jack and Stephen still out there somewhere...
Gary Schaper
48. Garyfury
Incidentally, a series that I'd love to see more works in, but don't really expect to at this stage: the Continuing Time series by Daniel Keys Moran.
Dolly
49. Warrior of Worry
YES! on the Cherryh re-read. I just finished it (it's winter, I'd rather be anywhere but here) and would love your take on the entirety.
Dolly
50. hobbitbabe
When I was little, I used to wish for books about the happily-ever-after, without the scary stuff and misunderstandings. I didn't understand that these were generally considered essential.

When I was older, but still without community-of-fans, I wrote to Guy Gavriel Kay and asked him about the riselka at the end of Tigana. He very nicely wrote back and said that he'd already said what he was going to, and that one was supposed to wonder.

Now I have a local friend who reads so many author-blogs and new-book-alerts that her library queue is always full. Once the books are safely in her queue, she tells me about them so I can get on the lists after her. But the timing is often not right for me - after I spend a whole weekend reading three extant volumes of a story and being caught up in a world, then sometimes it's not the same when the next one becomes available.
Tom Knapik
51. tknapik
I'm in the Rawn camp as well. Patiently waiting for book 3 of the Exiles Trilogy.
Dolly
52. Brutus
I don't know, I'm kind of worried about burnout.
Cliffhanger endings are fine...until you discover that you are left hanging off that cliff indefinitely; then it just becomes tiring, and at some point you'll probably let go and not even realize it.
Unfinished series seem to be a trend, too.
Jordan, my all time favorite, was a heartbreaker. But it was Martin that did me in for unfinished series, honestly. I hate to say it but that took the cake. I started it without knowing it wasn't complete...Oops! That was like 7 years ago. Since then I have pretty well sworn off unfinished series. No Lynch, no Rothfuss. Forget Dance With Dragons. Maybe 15 years from now I'll do a reread when its over. I bought Gathering Storm but haven't been able to crack the cover...I'll wait until I know I can finish it without forgetting everything I read previously.
Marcus W
53. toryx
I love the unfinished series. I've been reading one or another unseries series since before I was a teen and the very rarity of a good finish to a series just sort of enhances the experience for me.

Currently, the only series I am waiting for are AsoIaF and the WoT. I'm pretty patient about them both. The reason for that, really, is that I would ally prefer it if a series never ended than a bad book be written. For that reason I'm perfectly happy to wait as long as GRRM takes. Heck, if he never finished the series I'd be disappointed but I'd accept it. Far better nothing than crap.

My main position on the subject of series is that there's no guarantee that I'll live to finish reading them. But that's no reason for me not to enjoy a great book while I can. Life's too short.

I will also add that generally speaking, I don't read a book set in a series by someone other than the originating author. I had a really hard time with accepting "The Gathering Storm" because in my mind the characters ended when RJ passed. Anything else that comes after is a shadowy imitation. Fortunately, the Wheel of Time itself provides me with a solution: I just pretend that Brandon Sanderson's novels are set in one of Jordan's Worlds of Ifs.

One final note: My feeling about novel series is completely different from television series. I almost always wait for the latter to be done before I'll start watching it (on DVD). But the reasoning for that is simple: Too often a season is released that just ruins the whole show for me. Hollywood has no concept of the notion that nothing is better than crap. For them, "Good enough" is far too acceptable.
individ ewe-al
54. individ-ewe-al
For the most part I reject series, because a single novel (preferably under about 500 pages) is about the right length for me. And I get too frustrated by trying to track down or just waiting for the next instalment. I can feel resentful that the author or publishers are not going to give me the satisfaction of a complete story unless I buy multiple books. That almost feels like blackmail, especially since there's no way to be sure that sequels will be as good as the original or even ever make it to publication.

(I don't object to multiple standalone books set in the same world with overlapping characters, or even endless episodes in the adventures of Never Ageing Protagonist. With those, I can miss one out if it's bad or I can't find it, and if the author dies or gets bored before completing the series, I don't lose much.)

Two exceptions: Bujold's Miles books, and Brust's Vlad books. I was really reluctant to start them because of the series thing, but the opening books were clearly complete stories, not just opening chapters in endless sagas, and the others work as standalones too. Also, they are both very readable and don't give me the sense that I'm devoting too much of my life to a needlessly drawn out story.

Like several others, I was waiting for The Captal's Tower for a while. I started it because I was love with a Rawn fan, and because a trilogy of fat fantasies is at least finite; with two already published I was willing to gamble that the third would actually exist in a reasonable time-frame. But I've pretty much given up by now; I enjoyed the books at the time but they haven't stuck in my mind enough to really desire the sequel any more. Also, Rawn's recent stuff is really, really dire supernatural romance, so I have utterly lost faith in her as a writer.
Dolly
55. cass Buscher
Oddly I realized for some series that I really enjoy I have subconsciously avoided reading the last book. So that somehwo the series isn't over in my mind.
Dolly
56. seth e.
I'm unusual, I guess, in that conclusions are often the least interesting part of a series, or even a single novel, to me. By the end of a long-form, multi-volume plot, I'm often thinking, yeah, yeah, pull the trigger already. I hardly read series for that reason any more, except for YA, which have all the narrative excitement with none of the padding of a lot of adult genre stuff.

In general I'm not a completist; in fact I'm practically an anti-completist. I've read most of the Aubrey-Maturin books several times, but I've never read and never will read the last one; I prefer to leave the series even more open-ended than O'Brien's death did. Plus, The Hundred Days pissed me off so much I decided that my own version of the series ended with book eighteen.

The other example that comes to mind is the Freddy the Pig books, which I loved as a kid and which I rediscovered a few years ago, as they were re-printed. Reading them as an adult, I realized for the first time that there are actually a finite number of books in the series, written in a certain order, with developments in character and situation that could be tracked over time. It wasn't a welcome realization. I preferred to think of, or to remember from my childhood, a bunch of endless adventures happening out there in a timeless barnyard. I still love those books, but I stopped re-buying them after about four or so. I don't even know how many there are.

All that said, I'd really like Garth Nix' Lord Sunday to make its American appearance.
Dolly
57. houseboatonstyx
Re Freddy the Pig, I agree that it's better as timeless and random, without any stinkin arcs. Some critic dared to find those in Swallows & Amazons too.

As to series in progress, I'm of the lucky generation that saw while unfinished Star Wars, Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, and Lemony Snicket. And Lucas really was making it up as he went, like a dungeon master staying one night ahead of the players.
Dolly
58. houseboatonstyx
I suppose someone will find arcs and characater development in Holmes, forgetting that it is always 1895.
Kate Nepveu
59. katenepveu
cass Buscher, I've heard more than one person say that about long series in one form or another, so you're not alone.

Of things not mentioned so far:

I am waiting for N.K. Jemisin's _The Broken Kingdoms_, which just goes to show how awesome the first book, _The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms_ is, because it was only released last week and is a complete story and yet I need the next book NOW.

I just read Moira J. Moore's four existing "Hero" books, which are light adventure SFF novels that are doing some interesting worldbuilding things that I am interested to see how they will be resolved in the next two or three books.

And in manga, I am figuratively biting my nails over the conclusion of _Fullmetal Alchemist_, which currently stands at 104 chapters of SFnal fabulousness and heading for a climax very quickly.
Dolly
60. aleistra
Still waiting, though without much hope now, for The Door into Starlight. Waiting for books that will probably never come, but you hope for nevertheless, is very different from waiting for books that you know will be out in a year or two barring tragedy.
dave t
61. dave_t
I think that the joy of an unfinished series is directly related to whether the installments are satisfying as individual books. I too am waiting for A Dance With Dragons, but I found each of the first three books to be incredibly satisfying in their own right.

Unfinished series grow frustrating, in my opinion, when there is no arc, no payoff, in an individual title. In those circumstances, the reader feels cheated because it's like being sold half a book.
Dolly
62. Kevin Marks
As you imply, "All Clear" doesn't really count as a sequel to "Blackout", as Blackout ends with everything up in the air, leaving you feeling swizzed. I'm waiting for it, because I have to, but will then read "Blackout" through again so I can pick it up properly (not blaming Connie Willis for this; it seems like the publisher's fiat).

In another way it is a sequel, as it picks up characters from Doomsday, To Say Nothing of the Dog and themes from many of her shorter works - I enjoyed it thoroughly, but I want the rest.

I'm also waiting for Charlie Stross's "The Trade of Queens" as I crunched through the rest of the series once he said it was in press - these do stand alone as narratives, with each building on the previous one.
René Walling
63. cybernetic_nomad
I do read series, but tend to wait until I have all of the books -- I can be very patient and have in fact waited to have complete sets of the same edition of a series before starting to read it (all from used bookstores). I _just_ bought book 1 of ASoIaF at Boskone last month and will probably take a year or two (or three) to get the other ones. By then I expect GRRM will have something out.

I think expectations are different with comics and TV as they is a form of story telling where serialization is expected. In fact, unlike novels, non-serialization is a feature worth pointing out ("one shots" in comics or "specials" in TV)

One of the few series I impatiently waited for was Miyazaki's Nausicäa of the Valley of Wind, impatiently enough that I arranged for someone to mail me issues of Animage from Japan as it came out over there so I wouldn't have to wait for the translation

I also want to point out that large parts of the world are worse off in terms of waiting for WoT or SoIaF sequels: not only do they need to wait for the author, they also have to wait for the translator (if they don't read English)
Kate Nepveu
64. katenepveu
aleistra, at this point I've switched over to being resigned that _Door Into Starlight_ is never coming out, and after not too much longer I'll probably be glad about it too, because the length of time that's passed, to me, gives heavy odds on it not being good if it eventually comes into existence. (Also I thought _Sunset_ had lots of closure.)
Dolly
65. Dolorosa
I, like everyone else on the planet (it seems) am waiting for GRRM to finish Dance With Dragons, but, being an Australian twentysomething, I also grew up with Isobelle Carmody's Obernewtyn series. She began writing these in the late 80s, and the sixth book still hasn't been published yet (and there was a near ten-year gap between the fourth and fifth books). Most Australian people between the ages of 40 and 20 grew up with these books, and learnt to be very patient waiting for them! It puts the wait for GRRM's books into perspective!

I'm not sure I enjoy waiting for books to be published, but what I do love is the weeks immediately before and immediately after the release of a very popular book (such as one of the Harry Potter series). I love this time because it's the only time that my (less book-obsessed) friends and I are united, briefly, in discussing, obsessing and theorising about a book. It's a brilliant feeling. There's nothing else like it.
Jo Walton
66. bluejo
Kate: Sunset had awesome closure. Everybody got married! Where can you go from there? Probably not going to find out. Oh well.
Joseph Blaidd
67. SteelBlaidd
On the other end of waiting. I am currently 3 chapters into WRITING a fanfic, which for various reasons I have not been able to get back to for just over two years. I still occasionally get pokes from people for the next chapter, which I am working on slowly. The hardest part is getting back in to the proper head space to continue. I'm almost finished with the current chapter but I'm not real sure where to go next and believe me its as frustrating for me as for my readers. I wan't it done so its out of my head even though I'm not quite sure where it's going, and I feel responsible for leaving both the readers and the characters hanging for so long.
Chin Bawambi
68. bawambi
I actually stopped reading most SF/Fant because of the extreme delay in all the various series I was reading (Only Martin/Jordan left incomplete) combined with the dull thud of the final volume in several series with the David Coe series Winds of the Forelands being the noted exception. I am in the bad final book worse than none category. Just as an example while I loved the Initiate Brother by Sean Russell I can't stand Gatherer of Clouds the second and final book in the series.
David Catherine
69. dmcat12
I'm waiting for several series to resolve: A Song of Ice and Fire, The Gentlemen Bastards, The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and even the resolution to the long-running series by Feist...

What I haven't seen mentioned was regarding The Dark Tower. I began reading The Dark Tower series shortly after The Waste Lands was published and was waiting what seemed like a long time for Book IV to come out, and then there was another long stretch before the final three books brought the series to an end.

In that time, the biggest scare was when Stephen King was seriously injured in a car accident, and, I hate to say it, I thought about how I might never find out what would happen- at the time, there just never seemed to be an indication that he had a full resolution in mind or planned and plotted out how to get there, so I had no confidence that we would ever know the ending.

Thankfully, Robert Jordan always seemed to indicate that there was an ending planned, and even though there was a long stretch of time where I felt he was certainly taking a scenic way to get there, I did have some assurance that there was an ending planned. And when he fell ill and when my own selfish inclinations sometimes turned to those questions, I still felt assured, even when he untimely passed.
Dolly
70. Dholton
Although in a different genre, and at the risk of showing my age, my most heart breaking moment regarding a series was upon the death of John D. MacDonald. Realizing there would be no more Travis McGee novels was a true blow. Although looking back on it now, I consider The Lonely Silver Rain a good ending point for the series.

As waiting for sequels, I will say that if there's one thing the SF/Fantasy genre taught me at a young age, it's the patience to wait for said sequels. I literally had to learn to flip a switch in my brain turning a series "off", before my head exploded.
The first one I can think of I really had to wait for was Stephen R Donaldson's The One Tree in the second Thomas Covenant series. There was a long gap, and I seem to remember reading somewhere later that he lost the original manuscript on a plane, and had to rewrite the whole thing. (Of course, that's nothing to waiting for GRRM now...)

BTW Jo, Tiassa has been out for a while now.
Jo Walton
71. bluejo
Dholton: I think you must mean Iorich, which has been out since January. Tiassa isn't yet finished as of about a month ago, and the interview I linked to.

General note on waiting for O'Brian. In S.M. Stirling's Island in the Sea of Time, a character stranded in C.14 BCE thinks that she will never get any more O'Brians! But she goes on to think that The Commodore is a natural ending point for the series. Actually, The Yellow Admiral was out before she left, and that's a much less satisfactory end, indeed, a cliffhanger. I suspected Stirling of unusual kindness to a character -- but that's not one of his flaws. I asked him and he said it was a slip.
Dolly
72. Dholton
@71

Doh! is my face red...yes, you're correct, sorry.
Dolly
73. Donald A. Coffin
"A bad sequel can spoil the books that came before."

Too true. Len Deighton had written 8 books in the Bernard Samson series of espionage novels, and was about to finish the last set of 3 books (Faith, Hops, Charity) when East germany collapsed and The Wall came down. So he (apparently) re-wrote Charity to conform to that...and it was a terrible book and it made the 8 books that came before pretty much shams...
Dolly
74. timhay
I'd agree that "The Door Into Starlight" is still on my list of reading hopes.

I'm also waiting patiently for Laurie J. Marks to finish her Elemental Logic series with "Air Logic". Also, for Phyllis Eisenstein to come out with "The City in Stone" in her Book of Elementals series. Oh, and for Doris Egan/Jane Emerson to pick up where "City of Diamond" left off.

One that I've given up hope on is any sequel to Claudia J. Edwards' "Eldrie The Healer" in her Bastard Princess series.
j p
75. sps49
I had the same thought as johntheirishmongol @44; a series of related stand-alone books is very different from a single story spread over several books.

Patrick O'Brien's books are good, as were C. S. Forester's Hornblower novels, but missing one just means you haven't read a good book yet.

A series like the WoT, however, demands a not inconsequential investment of time, money ($270 or so by now), and heart. I became very caught up with the series, and was getting frustrated when it became more drawn out. I am very grateful the author provided for the series' completion.

I would also have been satisfied (but not ecstatic) to have settled for a work completed like Forester's Hornblower during the Crisis, which stopped with the author's last completed page and then provided a one-page summary of the rest of the book. I found this much preferable to an incomplete story or unpublished book, and would prefer this approach in a series, if possible.

I have only encountered one series ended prematurely, W. E. B. Griffin's Men at War series. The Generals, especially the second half, had a rushed feel to it, and disappointed me with some of the character resolutions. He then returned to the series with some "gap" filler books, which still makes me wonder....
Jo Walton
76. bluejo
SPS49: Griffin leaving out Vietnam in the first place made me wonder! But he did seem to abandon that series to go on to the Corps books -- which I read first -- without any sense that it ought to have a proper resolyution. And in the Corps books he left one human dilemma utterly unresolved when he went ahead to Korea. This sort of thing makes me much less inclined to keep on caring.
Tony Zbaraschuk
77. tonyz
>One that I've given up hope on is any sequel to Claudia J. Edwards' "Eldrie The Healer" in her Bastard Princess series.

I believe Edwards has died, which would definitely put the kibosh on that -- pity.
j p
78. sps49
bluejo @76- I agree with that post 100%!

I first read The Last Heroes while getting a tan off the coast of Iran, but our tiny library didn't have any others. I would check out bookstores for more Alex Baldwin for years until I figured out where the author went.

Now, the elements you mentioned make it unlikely I will buy any subsequent books, especially now that they are being "co-written" by his son. (I have never read any other "co-written" books except Niven & Pournelle's first.) Clancy's Executive Orders almost finished those books for me, The Teeth of the Tiger confirmed it.

Back to series overextension- sometimes I believe I am purposely having my chain yanked, usually by Hollywood. Was there ever any intention of finally meeting Ted's wife? Series like HIMYM and Lost should have endings mapped out, otherwise they are just a waste of time (to me); instead they were overextended to keep making money. Chuck could've ended after the 2nd season satisfactorily, I hope the eventual end also satisfies, and after at least 2 more years.

I expect more from books, because fewer people involved should keep idiot suits from making bad decisions.
Dolly
79. Mndrew
It has always broken my heart that Gordon R. Dickson didn't get the chance to finish "The Childe Cycle", largely due to his spending so much time late in life writing the much more lucritive "Dragon and ..." books. I do not fault him for doing this, I simply sigh over a world where light comedy sells so much better than acknowledged genre-defining works.
Dolly
80. Teemu Kalvas
I always wonder why people who have trouble with being in the middle of unfinished series even start unfinished series. Surely you should know yourself enough to avoid doing stuff on purpose which will make you feel bad. Oh well.

I used to avoid all series, for reasons which are no longer apparent to me. I seem to recall it was Pratchett who cured me of that particular affliction.

I don't really think the Gentlemen bastards series is in the same category of series with ASoIaF. At least the first book has perfect closure, and is really more like a Brust series or a Bujold series. Nevertheless, I'm waiting for the next installment. But I can die before I read it, and I'm ok with that. It's not like I'm going to run out of good books to read.

I must be the only person on the planet who isn't particularly waiting for A Dance with Dragons. Maybe it helps that I don't think GRRM is the best thing since sliced bread. I mean, he's good, but so are many others.

For some books that I _do_ think are better than sliced bread, I don't really think a sequel would even make sense. A sequel to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell would feel as odd to me as a sequel to Little, Big.
Jo Walton
81. bluejo
Teemu: Clarke is supposedly working on a sequel. Crowley, not so much.
Marcus W
82. toryx
I'd enjoy another story written in the world of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell more than an out and out sequel. Either way, I'll read what Clarke comes up with, but I'm a little wary of a sequel.
Dolly
83. kjtherock
The problem with waiting so long between books in a series, no matter how good it is, is the fact that you become indifferent, your tastes change, or you go on to other books and you just don't care about it anymore.
Dolly
84. Sierran
Garyfury: YES! I (as can be determined from my handle for those In The Know) am also on tenterhooks waiting for the next installment in Daniel Keys Moran's Tales of the Continuing Time. There was movement recently - Moran got the rights for the 'next' book, Players: The AI War back from Bantam and had started work on polishing/finishing the draft. He ended up posting some of the first chapters, in order, to his blog about a year ago or so, but then updates dried up.

I don't know how I feel about this. On the one hand, I had pretty much determined that Tales of the Continuing Time was 'done; closed.' However, the news that there might be another Trent book reawoke all the burning impatience that had taken five or more years to fade after I finished reading the originals when they were published.

What's almost worse, for me, is waiting years for a book - in one case, any sequels to David Palmer's (he was mentioned above) book Emergence. I recently discovered that there was a sequel, but it was only made available in serialized form, and I'm having trouble tracking it down. At least, though, this is a detective quest with a possible happy ending (in that I find the book!) and a possible disappointment (if it's not good).
Rob Davies
85. Rob_Davies
I am waiting for The Crippled God by Steven Erikson to finish out the Malazan Book of the Fallen. I am few books behind, but having all 10 on my bookshelf will feel nice.

I am looking forward to Martin's A Dance with Dragons.

The way David Wingrove's excellent Chung Kuo series ended always left a bad taste in my mouth. I think what was supposed to be nine books got changed to eight, so he had to cram a lot into the last volume, The Marriage of the Living Dark. It would have been better off ending after book seven, Days of Bitter Strength.
Dolly
86. Joe1967
The longest I've ever consciously waited was, I think, 7-8 years between Stephen King's Dark Tower IV and Dark Tower V. The longest gap I can think of in my collection is the 30+ years between Niven & Pournelle's Inferno and Escape From Hell; of course, that's a different sort of beast because I didn't read the original until sometime in the 1980's and because I wasn't actually expecting a sequel until I saw it on the shelf.
Dolly
87. pwstrain
There's nothing like being in the middle of a series, a really good series, knowing there are more waiting or more coming.
What about series that we thought were over, but come round again? Stephen R. Donaldson, anyone? Or perhaps Dan Simmons with what turned out to be the Endymion cycle, which I loved?
Currently waiting on Wise Men's Fear, the sequel to The Name of the Wind, and can't believe I'm the first here to say that.
Francis Bond
88. fcbond
I just wished I lived in an alternate universe where I could be waiting for the Universal Pantograph.

In this world, I am comforted by the thought that Tongues of Serpents, the new Temeraire book, will be out soon.
Dolly
89. h3rne
My most anticipated next volume is the sequel to "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss.

But deep in my heart, what I really pine for is the final volume in The Space Mavericks series. Michael Kring seems to have vanished, probably because lacking a good editor at the time of publication, some rather purple prose found its way into print, and many people have seen it as their role to pour scorn on him.

I, however, still love these books, re-read them regularly, and more than anything want to know what they discovered on Charcoal. If I became rich enough to become a serious patron, I'd track him down and pay him good money to do it!
Dolly
90. Darwinista
Before I spout about GRRM, I should respond to the question and say: a good opening is rarely ruined for me when the later books in a series, inevitably, disappoint either in execution or by failing to appear at all. I like the extended stay in a world; it's the greatest appeal for me in the "schlocky fantasy epic" category. This makes the competent conclusions so much more precious, but I don't want to sacrifice the enjoyment of wandering around a world I like for fear of how it may turn bad later. Now, I must turn on my rant switch:

Am I on tenterhooks for Dragons? NO! I about threw the last one at an innocent bookstore clerk when I realized that not only was the character appendix somewhere around 100 pages long (even with all the people who ride into Gondor it wouldn't take that much space to list every named character in LOTR), he had decided to leave out all the interesting characters--and he admitted as much in an Afterword that must be one of the least adequate apologies to readers EVER. Not to mention his penchant for having characters who ought to connect miss each other by inches or minutes (staying at the same inn one night apart, taking one crossroad when the other character is just around the corner in the other direction, etc.). I can take that once or twice--I get that he has a big complicated chaotic world--but this looks like stalling to me. He has made this series twice as long as it needed to be because he won't let his own story resolve itself. And were the seven wolf puppies way back when really that pointless a coincidence? Of course, I am going to read it, just in case....

For Melanie Rawn--I liked her Sunrunner books, despite the beautiful people virus that seems to have ravaged the population, but the whole premise of inverted gender roles never did work for me in Exiles. I don't believe a world that values women over men would have the same prejudiced assumptions about men that our world has about women. It's more complicated than that. So, no real temptation or longing to read further.

Unfortunately, the incomplete series often don't have the deadening thud of a misfire to let us off the hook. I am thrilled PC Hodgell has finally gotten to put out more Kencyrath books in the last few years (I read the first two soon after they came out, and was devastated when she vanished for so long, and finally Seeker's Mask came out but was impossible to find).
Dolly
91. Baron88
Moran's AI War has been in my waiting list for 17 years now, That is my longest so far. Captal's Tower is still on the list too, that is the next longest. It was ten years between Lee & Miller's Carpe Diem and Plan B, that was the toughest wait since Carpe Diem ended with a bit of a cliff hanger and before the internet really got going so no info on what happened to them either. It's been another eight years since their I Dare came out and still another year and some before the direct sequel will be out, though there have been a few other books in the Liaden universe to keep us going in the mean time. 14 years and counting waiting for a sequel to Death of an Adept by Kurtz and Turner Harris and 16 for one to At Swords Point by Kurtz and MacMillan. That last I have little hope of ever seeing.
Dolly
92. Joe1967
It was also 16-17 years between Nifft the Lean and Mines of Behemoth by Michael Shea, although again that wasn't a situation where I had been expecting a sequel. If Night Shade does manage to publish a new Dread Empire book by Glen Cook, that'll resolve a 20-year old Han Solo in Carbonite-level cliffhanger.
Dolly
93. snoopy369
Rather surprised it took until #89 to hear about Rothfuss - I think that's the best currently outstanding series at this point in 'epic fantasy', and certainly one that's been waiting a while. Suppose I can't blame him as I certainly would take over a year to write a novel, but it's been a LONG time... :)

Stopped reading GRRM after book two, because of the long wait. Just didn't care about Feast for Crows when it came out. In general I don't mind waiting for series that are out yearly like clockwork, but multiyear waits are a bit much, particularly in a must-follow-the-plot series. Jim Butcher could write on any schedule and I'd still buy Dresden novels, as who cares if I remember anything from the earlier ones, but Alera needed a lot more continuity, for example.

I think I fall in the camp of 'would rather not have an ending than a bad one'. There are only four Frank Herbert Dune books, and nobody here had better tell me differently. :) That said, it requires a pretty bad ending to make me feel that way; most series, even mediocrely ended series, are better off finished. The ones that made me care enough about the characters to want an end, need one. Dune, however, had so little continuity in world and character that by the last few I didn't really care anymore, and so the lower quality of the book put me off.

Really I think episodic common world series are the best. I mean series like the Retrieval Artist series, or even the Dresden Files; each book is a standalone book, but with some continuity of a larger plot and characters/world. You don't have to learn a whole new set of main characters each book, so you grow attached to some, but you also don't need to remember the complete plot from year to year, and you can read them at your leisure as they come out or not.

Glad to hear there is a new Vorkosigan book... wondered if she'd ever go back to the world. No idea if I remember anything about the world anymore, but I'm sure Miles will be interesting one way or the other. Perhaps a reread is needed. I'm also on the 'Blackout' waiting list... I understand the "Jordan Rule" (if your last name is not Jordan, your books can't be 900+ pages) but I would have rather had just the one here, even at $35 or something crazy like that.

Don't think I'd like to see a new Dread Empire book. I like the ending :)
Christopher Chittleborough
94. CChittleborough
I find the best thing to do with A Song of Ice and Fire is to refuse to believe that the series will ever be finished. This approach has served me well for nearly a decade ...

There's another series I regard as even better than ASoIaF: P. C. Hodgell's Kencryrath series. And she's writing again! The next book, Bound in Blood comes out soon from (of all publishers!) Baen.
Dolly
95. Journeywoman
Talk about disappointing ends to series - I've read 2 series by Greg Keyes and the last books in both were very much that, especially The Born Queen.
Dolly
96. Stevefah
@73: "Faith, Hops and Charity"? Hmm. A series about beer, perhaps?
@Dholton--John D. MacDonald, yes! On the other hand, he had planned "Black Borders for McGee" as the last book in the McGee series, so perhaps "Lonely Silver Rain" was more fitting an ending, leaving McGee, Meyer et al. still sitting in the Busted Flush, rather than the boneyard.
Everyone--no comment on the deaths of Robert B. Parker and Dick Francis? Sure, they're not fantasy or SF, but I'm already feeling the pain of a world w/o Spenser and Hawk; and I always thought we'd have at least one more Sid Halley book.
Sure, Parker was on a quest to see how few words he could write a Spenser book in, but that's part of the fun.
Rather than thinking of our losses, and the waits for more books in a series (or a character), let's celebrate the fact that we had great books to read!
Dolly
97. Sethvir
Good to know that Moon is coming out with another Pakesenarion book. Wasn't expecting a sequel to the last one so that is good. Other than Jordan, GRRM and Rothfuss, the next wait is the next book in Janny Wurts' Wars of Light and Shadow. Fortunately we get regular updates on her website from her and she has almost wrapped writing on Vol 8 I think it is with only 2 or 3 more to go.
Charlotte Giurgiu
98. almdoipad
Hi... my name is Charlotte and I have an addiction to WoT. After the initial grief of loss of Jordan, the twitching began. Cuz darnit, there was an ending out there. He'd told us that he already had it all written out. It was not as though we were just along for a helter-skleter ride all over - there was a vision. So I was anxious to hear what would happen with all of the copious notes and recordings that Jordan had left. I was pleased/horrified to hear that Sanderson would put the pieces together. Would this person due justice to the body of work that had its claws so deeply embedded into me? After I devoured TGS I felt that TOR and Harriet had chosen wisely. I am confident that Sanderson will continue to put into prose the notes and recordings that Jordan left to complete his story. I know I won't be alone when at the end of AMOL, a tear or two will be shed for those final words from Jordan. I have to say, I'm so happy we have someone that can give those to us.
Dolly
99. KevinE
I'm another that's waiting for Diane Duane's _Door into Starlight_. I'd also like another volume in Kate Elliot's Jaran series
I'd read part of the David Palmer seriallization in Analog, but couldn't finish. Some twit stole the issue with the last installment from the library. I'd heard some small press was printing it, but their website foesn't seem to have been updated in years.
Dolly
100. a-j
Stevefah@96 Thanks for reminding us of Robert B Parker. I also will miss Spenser, Hawk, Susan, Pearl the wonder dog et al. I'm still mourning Ed McBain's detectives of the 87th Precinct.
Dolly
101. ccr in MA
timhay@74 "for Doris Egan/Jane Emerson to pick up where "City of Diamond" left off."

This is exactly what I thought of. Clearly meant to be a series, and I love it, and argh, no more. Yet, anyway (1996!). Where there's life, etc.

I have a friend who won't read a series until it's finished. She can't stand waiting. No matter how good it is, if there's more to come, she won't start the first one.
Dolly
102. nchashim
You remind me of saving my quarters every month to buy the installment of the Lord of the Rings. Certainly, there were months when I didn't have the $1.95 plus tax that it took to buy the paperback at the local newsstand. And that was for a finished series--although I didn't know it at the time.

I read each book of Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" as it came out and I started reading the "Alvin the Maker" stories when they started. I made it through Gene Wolfe; I had other readers around to keep me reading. When Alvin the Maker faltered and Card took a break for other things, I took a break also. And I never came back. I have to admit that now seeing 'first of ....' makes me avoid the book. Unless it is Crowley or Wolfe, I don't think that I am willing to take the chance that the writer may not finish the tale. I have to trust that the writer will make that particular book worth my trouble.
Dolly
103. Thomas Lindgren
I can report that Hodgell's latest is out in a fine TPB. (One of the properly constructed sort of series, by the way.)

GRRM will, considering that the TV show debuts at the end of 2010, probably keep his readers on the hook for a while longer. On one hand, maybe he can now find a couple of TV writers to wrap things up reasonably; on the other hand, I think I'll leave that sequel on the shelf until I've seen some quantity of reliable reviews.
Dolly
105. Jim Eubanks
At first, I loved fantasy series. I gladly waited for Tad Williams to continue Otherland. I enjoyed several others. However, I think Robert Jordan's seemingly never-ending Wheel of Time changed me. I loved the first few books. Then it seemed to slow down and lose focus. I lost a bit of interest, then found I couldn't remember enough of the older books when the new book came out, then just gave up and quit the series. It has impacted my behavior with other books as well. I find that I check and make sure a series is finished before I start a new book. Perhaps I could just get a medical insurance policy for the authors to make sure they live to complete their works. But what of me? Will I live to finish my reading?

The other reason I've grown to dislike series is that once I catch up, I have to wait at least two years for a paperback of the next story. The hardcover's are a waste of money and space, and I simply can't afford them. Of course, I read less now anyway since even paperbacks, and god-forbid used paperbacks have gotten expensive. And don't get me started on e-books which I view as overpriced, duplicating what I already own, and good only for the life of the store, standard, or hardware.

My third reason for not liking series is that some authors don't know when to quit. I could enjoy a good series for as long as the author can write it well. However, there is almost always a point where the story suffers if it is allowed to continue. I found this to be true, at least for me, with Barbara Hambly's Darwath Trilogy. When it continued past the third book, it did so by making the entire series something less. I love Ms. Hambly's work, and don't mean to be cruel, but every writer is susceptible to this. There's also the fact that the author can change, therefore changing the series. I'd have to use Harry Potter as my example there, as I believe it was much better in the beginning, before Ms. Rowling became the "star" she is today. I can't define it, but something changed, and the books went from being something even children could enjoy to killing beloved characters which shocked not only children, but her adult fans as well. It simply didn't seem to be the same series at the end, that I had begun with such innocent fascination.

I still enjoy and look forward to series, but not nearly as much as before. I am far more hesitant to start a series which is still being written. Sadly, I am reading far less than I used to. It seems I need a finish line to cross. I need to know that my time and money will be rewarded with the pleasure of a complete story.
Dolly
111. R. Hamilton
Sterling Lanier's 2nd Hiero book clearly left much unsaid; I have to think it was meant to be a trilogy. Sadly, he declined and then passed away without finishing it.

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