Book Sequels and the Likelihoods Thereof
Posted on June 16, 2010 Posted by John Scalzi 28 Comments
I’m getting a lot of questions about whether I’m going to write sequels to various books, so it’s time to create a standard document on the topic so that I can refer people to it rather than repeating myself over and over.
So, here’s the current status of sequels/continuations for:
The Old Man’s War series: I currently have nothing new planned in the Old Man’s War universe at the moment. This is not to say I will never return to the universe; I like to write in the universe, and on a practical note, it’s my most popular work, so on both counts I’d be stupid not to think about coming back to it in full-length novel form. So I expect I’ll write more novels there when I have a good new story arc to tell. I do plan to write some shorter work in the universe, mostly because I had lots of fun with “After the Coup.”
The Android’s Dream: Yes, I still plan to write The High Castle — indeed, it’s contractually obliged — but it’s not the next book I plan to write, and while it might be the book after that, it probably won’t be. It’s probably a couple more novels down the line.
Agent to the Stars: No plans for a sequel. I think it stands on its own pretty well and I don’t feel a pressing need to return to it. I may write more science fiction that takes place in contemporary time, because that’s fun to do, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be tied into this one.
The God Engines: No plans for a sequel here, in no small part because (ROT-13 SPOILER) V xvyyrq bss gur tbq gung znxrf gur ragver havirefr jbex. That said, I certainly had fun writing this particular dark, nasty fantasy novella, and would not be opposed to writing something else of a similar style and length somewhere down the line. Indeed, I think a quartet of dark, nasty fantasy novellas (including this one) might make a fine book at some point.
Fuzzy Nation: Considering this one isn’t even out yet, it’s a little early to discuss sequels. But if people go nuts for it, as it happens I have a sequel story idea ready to go, because it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
And that’s the status of sequels at the moment.
Also, in case you’re wondering, what I’m currently working on, fiction-wise, is not a sequel. Because I have the mildly crazy belief that from time to time you should write fiction which is not a continuation of something else. Which you can then write sequels for! See? It’s the circle of life, my friends.
Online ROT-13 conversion utility.
You know, just in case.
I like that fact that not every book written will need a sequel. Stand alone SF is nice to read.
@ Lonnie: I think most people who come here can google.
(ROT-13 Response) Va gur unaqf bs n yrffre jevgre, gung zvtug or n ceboyrz.
I echo Glennis above- it’s nice to see standalone SF. One and done, as it were.
What about prequels? Gung jbhyq or n jnl gb erivfvg gur GTR havirefr…
A full length Harry Wilson novel would certainly be welcome. Possibly my favorite OMW character.
I second John H’s prequel thought. I think it would be fascinating to read about how TGE’s universe came about. While it was alluded to, V jbhyq ybir gb npghnyyl frr ubj uhznavgl jrag sebz erthyne grpu gb orvat pbagebyyrq ol gur tbq, naq gurve svefg vagrenpgvbaf jvgu gur tbqf.
Thanks for the update, although I continue to hope for novels. I’m looking forward to your next publication.
Yes, I can google. But I always appreciate people who do work for me. Thanks, Lonnie.
I would read the HECK out of mensley’s suggestion.
I’m begging here. Be VERY judicious of sequels and series. While I understand the temptation of returning to a universe, especially with all of the work that goes into creating a coherent one, it is frequently my experience that, if you couldn’t say it in a way that mattered in one book, you can’t say it in three.
That said, you did take what I consider the “right” approach in the OMW universe. You set up a universe, but each book stands largely on its own.
Look, like every other reader, I’ve fallen in love with certain characters, and hate when the book ends and I no longer get to spend time with that person. But I fear that it gets lost in the process. For me, even Larry McMurtry couldn’t pull if off with the sequels and prequels to Lonesome Dove, and he’s my favorite dialogue writer on the planet, with an incredible sense of time and place.
They’re your stories, and I’m honored that you invite me into your world to tell them. But if you have it in you, as a fan, I’d much rather you tell me new ones, in new places. That said, I’d rather read a sequel of yours than most people’s new worlds, so I’ll buy it anyway. Just my $.02.
I appreciate quite a lot that you’re working on something in a “new” universe.
The falling-apart of the Star Trek franchise shows that you can “mine a lode” for rather too long, until the “ore” looks rather a lot more like tailings.
In contrast, new universes allow one to not need to be worried about continuity issues. There are cases, as with Zoe’s Tale or Ender’s Shadow, where a good author can mine gold from very close proximity to an old story, but it’s not something that can or should be done terribly often.
(More often, as seen on 24, the Trustable Allies of the other year turn out to have actually always been a part of the Deeper Conspiracy of this season, which heads us down a byzantine trail into a universe that is comprised of deeply intertwined layers of conspiracy theories. Umberto Eco can get away with this, but not screenplay writers!!!)
Looking forward to seeing New Stuff :-).
I was left with a lot of questions at the end of TGE. But i’m not sure I need them to be answered – I didn’t feel it was necessarily that kind of book, where everything needed a nice neat explanation.
I realize that, but my link was for the rest of them. ;-)
I think you are smart to write so many different universe/stories. Then you can jump into a sequel when the muse strikes.
When writers are forced into a trilogy or even a continuing never ending series, their work deteriorates. (there are exceptions, but they seem rare) I think the authors are bored and so the reader also becomes bored. The whole things begins to feel contrived.
I love sequels, but I hate it when they disappoint me. So being judicious is fine with me.
I applaud that you’re working in a new universe. Over the years, I found that my favorite authors were the ones who also wrote standalone works or even launched a new series in addition to the much beloved series for which the author was…beloved.
That said, I’ve also found that a mashup work featuring the main character from two different series almost never works.
Finally, yes, please, more Harry Wilson!
I knew it… you’re writing a Star Wars novel. All that stuff about Lucas was a tricky, tricky diversion!
Oh and I rather agree with Ron above – actual sequels tend to be very hard things to pull off. Other books set in the same universe can work (OMW and GB do for me) but series in SFF seem so often to be done for commercial reasons rather than fictional ones. I’d love to read more shorts in the OMW universe though, so I’m glad you’re thinking of that.
My husband has been telling me for a VERY LONG time to read you, and I resisted. What he didn’t know was that I had read “Metatropolis” and didn’t like it. But he does know me pretty well after 29 years of marriage, so last week I finally picked-up “Old Man’s War” and loved it. I just finished Book 3. I’ve loved all of them.
But Book 3 has left me hanging. I would like to see 1 more book that wraps up what happended to The Original 7 + 1. And Rybicki. And Szilard. I’m pretty sure that “Zoe’s Tale” won’t fit the bill. So I will continue to hope that you do write it.
P.S. BTW, he too knew the night of our first date that he was going to marry me – I had not a clue! But here we are, for better or worse, thick & thin. Still married. Ecstatically.
Let other authors play in OMW universe?
Outside of fanfic? No.
A quartet of dark fantasy novellas – YES PLEASE!!!
Sometimes there’s just nothing to say but Cu’atyhv ztyj’ansu Pguhyuh E’ylru jtnu’anty sugnta.
Ron @ 11 : I second.
I’d like to see something cool happen with the gaming rights to the Old Man’s War series.
It’s the circle of life, my friends.
So you’re saying sequels center around original fiction?
Heh. Hehehe. (you started it)
Rot-13 spoiler obfuscation much appreciated by this fan (yes! There, i said it!) who has unfortunately not yet been able to get hold of TGE, due to residing in the wrong country. Although, now that the electronic version is out.. .hmmm…
Any chance you could do an updated version of this post?
I did wonder about The God Engines; because in a lot of ways the ending looks like a beginning to me. Fher, gur Ybeq vf ‘qrnq,’ ohg ur’f fhccbfrq gb pbzr onpx naq tb njnl naq pbzr onpx sbe chavfuzrag, lrnu? Naq vs bar tbq pna trg njnl sebz chavfuzrag, pna’g n Tbq qb fb nf jryy? Naq jung nobhg gur Frnyrq Rairybcr jvgu vasbezngvba nobhg gur vzcevfbarq tbq? Naq gur fybj pyvzo gbjneq n er-rzcbjrerq uhznavgl? Znva Punenpgre unfa’g qvrq lrg, naq arvgure unf gur svefg zngr. Naq Znva Punenpgre unf gur zntvp bs jevgvat flzobyf va gur oybbq bs n tbq, naq xabjf jurer tbqfoybbq vf gb or sbhaq…
There are little things that sort of tease me with more story. Ehh. I do understand the not going on though. Thanks for the work!