Should a Series be Continued After its Author’s Death?

I read a post this weekend that got thinking about this very thing.

Have you ever been reading a series and then the author suddenly dies before finishing it? And another author is tasked with continuing the series. I have, though I’m not near the end of the series just yet. In 2010 Robert B. Parker died suddenly before he could finish either of his most popular series (Spenser and Jesse Stone). In the years since his death there have been 11 books written in three of his series by various authors. And I think all have beenย New York Times bestsellers.

I don’t know how I feel about this. Wait, actually I know exactly how I feel. These characters will not go on forever. Eventually there will be an end to their respective series, and I don’t like knowing that Parker will not be able to be the one to finish them. I think the first two or three books published after his death were unfinished manuscripts he’d had when he died. But I think it’s safe to say that the new books being released at this point are hardly the creation of Parker.

I understand that it sucks that he happened to die before he could finish his series. But if given the choice of continuing the series written by other authors or finishing where he left off, I’m not sure what my pick will be. I have plenty of books left before I reach that point, but this hopefully doesn’t become a trend.

What do you think? Want your favorite series to be continued after the author dies or not?

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30 thoughts on “Should a Series be Continued After its Author’s Death?

  1. If its done well, I say yes. Though I totally get your argument against. When the Dragonriders torch got passed from Anne to Todd McCaffrey, I don’t know that it was done well so much as that I was just so happy to be back in the world of Pern. But at least that torch was passed with Anne’s blessing. Otherwise, it’s really not much more than fanfic, is it?

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  2. Hmmm. I guess it all depends on how well they are done. If George R.R. Martin dies before he finishes his Game of Thrones series (which is entirely possible) something will need to be done. I think it will have to finished.

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  3. I don’t know if I would see the story as authentic if someone completed the series or story other than the original author. There’s no way another person can have the same ideas, thoughts, and/or intentions that the original author had. There is no telling how the original author would have finished the series or story. However, if I was a big fan of the series then I would probably read the future releases just to see how the story played out.

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  4. This happened to the Wheel of Time series. Robert Jordan died before he could finish his 14 story epic. His wife selected Brandon Sanderson to finish them. At a recent signing Brandon spoke about how much Jordan left him to work with. And while the the first of the three had extensive drafting, the second had almost nothing. Just a rough outline. But the third and final installment had a thorough outline with notes.

    Obviously, the stories would have been different if Jordan would have been able to finish them. But, Jordan’s wife wanted Sanderson to finish them, called him at his house. You can’t argue with a widow’s request.

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    • I disagree. How hard would it be to say you’re not the man for the job or that you’re working on your own stuff? Not hard. Parker’s family also made the decision for his books. Doesn’t make it the right decision.

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      • I disagree with your disagreement, the purpose of writing a book is that others would read them, the purpose of telling a story is that others would listen to the end. I’ve read the wheel of time series, and even if, as a die hard brandon fan I’m biased, I still feel it was the right decision. He did a good job, what you’re proposing can be likened to leaving a building uncompleted just because the head architect, who just happens to have all the main drive for the project, meets his demise.

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      • That’s fine.

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  5. It all depends on how the new author handles the characters and the story. The Spencer and Jesse Stone books have stayed very close to Mr. Parker’s writing style so the change is less jarring. When Tony Hillerman died and his daughter wrote another book in the Leaphorn/Chee series, I was sadly disappointed in the book.

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  6. If the previous book was written in such a way that the story is more or less concluded (maybe a few questions might be left unanswered) I don’t think there is a need to continue. If it is left wide open, perhaps one book could be written by someone with a similar style to close it off. Basically, I’m not sure where I stand on this!

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    • Haha well I don’t think a series necessarily needs finality to be considered good. I think I’d be okay with one book, but it just seems like that’d rarely be the case.

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  7. I wouldn’t mind if said author passed the baton onto another, but it would annoy me to read several different outcomes from several different authors.

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  8. I’m anti other people finishing someone’s work. If an author dies, hopefully the family would know his/her wishes. Or at least know them well enough to make the right decision. If it were me, and I died before my series ended, I wouldn’t want someone else to tell the story. It’s MY story. That may seem rude and territorial, but that’s how I feel. I MIGHT be okay with my family giving away tidbits about how the series would have ended, but I would not be okay with someone else writing it.

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  9. I’m pretty sure that I was in utero when Robert Ludlum started to write. I read all of his books and was devastated when he died. But I’m guessing now that he’s written more from “the other side” than when he was alive. And I stopped reading those a long time ago.

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    • Yep. Parker started writing in the 70s. I wasn’t even a thought yet. I’ll decide on the books in his series he didn’t write when I get to them. Probably won’t read them.

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      • I loved Parker. I would have loved to be his next door neighbor . So far so good on his post-mortem books. I’m wonder how many unfinished manuscripts he has floating around.

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      • I’d say zero. There’s already been 11 books written after his death. No way he had even that many outlines or manuscripts. These are stories that aren’t his, but feature his characters.

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  10. There’ve been some interesting additions to the Agatha Christie and James Bond books. Always interests me to see how contemporary authors interpret and add their own stamp to the works of deceased authors esp when a few decades have passed. But nothing beats an original in my view.

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