Novel Sequels: the possibilities are endless

Jane the Negligent.
Writing a sequel is a pretty simple business.  Your characters are all set up for you.  The conflicts, the impediments, the wild tangents, red herrings, and extraneous characters are all there.  One need but follow the path that is already laid out for them.  It is also rather important to stick to that path lest you lose your way altogether.  Writing a collateral sequel (or whatever they call telling the same story from a different character's point of view) is much the same.  When you decide to do such a thing, you have found another character at least equally if not more intriguing than your original protagonist.

Both endeavors are also expressions of dissatisfaction.  "Oh!  I love that book!  I think I'll write a sequel," isn't really accurate.  You love the characters, you love the plot line or the situation or the environment or society.  You love all those things, but you believe the author fell a bit short in the treatment of it.  You'll just tweak it a bit.

I am a pathologic malcontent when it comes to reading.  Nine times out of ten, a book finishes before I do.  I have been known to stay up the entire night reading, or losing an entire day immersed in some kinder, gentler, more civilized place (or, at the very least, more romantic).  I devour books that interest me like a starving man at a smorgasbord.  Then, I delve into the what-ifs and if-onlys scattered about in the debris.

Laura the Prolific
I believe since I was old enough to read more than Dick and Jane (which was pretty early), I have lulled myself to sleep at night continuing stories that ended too soon.  Little House In the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder was probably one of the first and only partially sated my thirst.  I thought she stopped just when things really got interesting.  Laura, by the way, published her first novel at the age of 65.  There is hope for me yet!

I think one of the quintessential malcontents in contemporary literature is Orson Scott Card of Ender's Game fame.  Card has written a myriad of other very good works, but he is best known for Ender's Game because (I believe) in addition to being very well written, this book initially written for young adults interjects a strong dose of childhood angst, the brutality of competition, the wrongs adults impose upon children to achieve their own ends, and the destruction of innocence all in one very compact, succinct book and so extends its reach beyond the teen audience for which it was written.  

Endless Orson
Initially, Card wrote Ender's Game as a short story which he then expanded into a novel.  The book was published eight years after the story's inception.  Several years after Ender caught the imaginations of sci-fi fans everywhere, Tor contracted for him to write two sequels, for an Ender Trilogy.  However, Card's next pause in the saga after not two but three more installments.  I found them all highly satisfactory, especially Children of the Mind.

Over the years, he received requests from avid readers to know more about Ender's sidekick, Bean, and so began a collateral series, Ender's Shadow, which followed the movements of a what seemed to be minor character but ended up with four installments at last count, with one more in the making.

Amidst all this, he has written nine Ender short stories which he has published on his own website,, and has published two more Ender sequels, for a total of five.  Wikipedia has kindly charted the chronology for us here.  Card aficionados  now refer to Card's fascinating universe the 'Enderverse'.  As in Wikipedia, there are compendiums and companion volumes to help the devotees keep everything straightrather like J.R.R. Tolkein and the Silmarillion which was taken from his own writing and published by his heirs posthumously.  Card is a prolific writer, has several series under his belt, some resuscitated after long hiatuses, and many stand-alone novels.  He is best know for his works of science fiction and fantasy, but some of his best are of the mainstream variety.  Saints, Stone Tables and The Women of Genesis Series come to mind.  (However, Saints really demanded a sequel, IMO). 

My point being, Card must be a fantastic daydreamer—a writer after my own heart.  I strongly doubt he will ever run out of things to say.

I find it interesting that despite all the musicals, plays, screen plays, fan fiction, comic books, movie shorts and even video games spawned from the products of Card's bountiful brain, not a single cinematic film has been released or even started.  With the creative technologies available today (eg, Avatar, 2009, produced by James Cameron) there is no reason in the world why Ender's Game should not go into production.

——A Chaotic Mind

What are your favorite series of books? Who is your favorite author with a propensity for series? Do you think Ender's Game should be filmed as a live-action film, a computer-generated images film with live actors as templates, such as Avatar, or simply a CGI cartoon a la Pixar?


tomiannie said...

I would definitely say that Ender's Game should be live action. Making it a cartoon would just not jive with the violence and harsh reality of the series. Hmmm... I think I'm going to have to go read them all again...

Unknown said...

I agree totally. It has to be **human**, like Avatar was. Technology is amazing, and the most amazing thing is that we'll look back on Avatar and it will look precious little more advanced than silent movies.