I stand second to none in my habit of relentless optimism. Still, I am beginning to suspect that Mr. Dickens is never going to deliver a definitive ending to his otherwise promising The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Admittedly, when one purchases a book all one can legitimately expect is the book in hand. Anticipation of further instalments, no matter how heartfelt, does not constitute a legal contract that binds the author to deliver further instalments.
That said, there are some series whose authors have managed to publish—and finish!—entire series. Here are five recent examples that I would recommend.
Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky
- Empire in Black and Gold (2008)
- Dragonfly Falling (2009)
- Blood of the Mantis (2009)
- Salute the Dark (2010)
- The Scarab Path (2010)
- The Sea Watch (2011)
- Heirs of the Blade (2011)
- The Air War (2012)
- War Master’s Gate (2013)
- Seal of the Worm (2014)
Centuries earlier, the nimble-fingered Apt—those who can comprehend and work complex technology—overthrew their magic-wielding overlords. Having freed themselves, the former slaves then turned on each other, forming city states whose populations were dominated by different varieties of insect-like Kinden.
The Empire of the Wasps has a grand vision of the world: all of the peoples of the world overcome their petty differences to unite as unquestioning servants of the master race—the Wasps themselves, natch—and their emperor. There are just two small impediments to this bold plan: Stenwald of Collegium, who is determined to unite the disparate Lowland city states against the Empire, and the fact the drive to conquer the world will stir up dark, eldritch forces for which the Wasps are entirely unprepared.
Elemental Logic by Laurie J Marks
Shaftal has suffered a continuing invasion launched by the Sainnites, who are determined to make Shaftal their new homeland. Unsurprisingly, the peoples already calling Shaftal their homeland are unenthusiastic about being displaced. Years of war have proved indecisive: the Sainnites are unable to secure a final victory, while Shaftal’s people are unable to drive the invaders into the sea.
There are but two alternatives: (1) The two factions can continue exploring how far they can escalate their war crimes, in the hope of finally breaking their opponents, or… (2) They can accept that the situation is a stalemate and that further conflict is pointless except as a means of filling mass graves.
The second option, however, requires that the two sides find some way to coexist, something for which decades of atrocities has poorly prepared them.
The Amberlough Dossier by Lara Elena Donnelly
The books take place in an unusual secondary-world science fiction setting. Gedda’s Amberlough City is a cosmopolitan paradise whose only trifling concern is the rise of the One State Party. The One State Party celebrates all human diversity except for almost all of it. “Cosmopolitan” is a dirty word to the Party, which is quite enthusiastic about violence as a means of compelling conformity to its decrees.
Ruthless brutality coupled with craven self-interest on the part of people positioned to impede the One State Party allow the One State Party to seize control of Gedda. All that remains, it seems, is to start disposing of the party’s political opponents and despised minorities. However, being targeted for death is highly motivational! The One State Party’s excesses inspire resistance.
The Wild Trilogy by Linda Nagata
The Wild is a pristine wilderness…but not an unpopulated one. Inyomere nature spirits call the Wild home and are fiercely protective of their domain. Humans presented the Inyomere with what Iain M. Banks called an Outside Context Problem: humans are clearly mortal creatures like trees and wildlife. However, their habit of reshaping the environment to suit their tastes could pose an existential threat to the Wild.
Siddél, Inyomere embodiment of storm, preferred forthright solutions. No humans, no human problems! Accordingly, he shaped the monstrous arowl, horrifical pack hunters that would rid the Wild of humans. Except as Siddél discovered, humans frequently disappoint. Instead of decisive extermination, the creation of the arowl only started the Long War between monster and human.
The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee
Found only on Kekon Island, jade offers those who can master it miraculously enhanced abilities. To all others, using jade produces madness or death. Heretofore the only people able to master jade were Kekon’s Green Bone warriors. And yet…the near certainty of eventual madness or death for users does not prevent the great powers of the world from coveting jade. Hence a need to protect Kekon Island.
In theory, the Green Bones are the island’s first line of defense. In practice, the clans squander their abilities in endless territorial squabbling. Ayt Mada of the Mountain Clan has a bold vision: Unite all of the Green Bones into a single unified force, thus denying any would-be conquerers the divide-and-conquer ploy. Rival clans being sadly unlikely to agree to Ayt Mada’s perfect vision, said clans will have to be crushed. Ayt has a plan for that, too.
All would be well if Ayt Mada were the protagonist. Alas, she is not—the talented siblings of the No Peak clan (Lanshinwan, Hiloshudon, and Shaelinsan) are. From Ayt Mada’s perspective, the siblings are impediments; they must be removed—diplomatically, if possible, but violently if not.
No doubt each of you has favorite examples of recent and completed series. Feel free to mention them in comments below.
I don’t think the admins will approve of posts castigating authors for NOT finishing their series, so let’s keep the focus where it belongs…
In the words of Wikipedia editor TexasAndroid, prolific book reviewer and perennial Darwin Award nominee James Davis Nicoll is of “questionable notability.” His work has appeared in Publishers Weekly and Romantic Times as well as on his own websites, James Nicoll Reviews and the Aurora finalist Young People Read Old SFF (where he is assisted by editor Karen Lofstrom and web person Adrienne L. Travis). He is a four-time finalist for the Best Fan Writer Hugo Award and is surprisingly flammable.