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How do you feel about spin-offs books/series?

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message 1: by Yoly (new)

Yoly (macaruchi) | 794 comments How do you guys feel about spin-off series from sci-fi and/or fantasy books?

Sometimes we read book series and fall in love with the characters but then the series ends and you know you probably won't "see" that character again. Then the author decides to do a series or a stand alone book as a spin off from one of the minor characters in said series.

Do you guys like it when this happens or when you're done with a series you're actually done with it? Have you ever hoped for an author to develop a minor character in their own book or series?

In my case, I don't think I've ever read a spin-off series (at least I don't remember) but I know there are have been some books where I've liked a particular character that I wish I could see more of. Sadly I can't think of any particular example, but I know this has happened to me.

How about you?


message 2: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 301 comments If the author does it herself, this is not unusual. There's more gold in them thar hills!
I am more dubious when the author is dead, and her estate (or some greedy publisher) decides to gear up some sequels. The Lord Peter books are great, but the modern sequels are terrible. How many awful Sherlock Holmes follow-ons have there been? And there are so many sequels to PRIDE & PREJUDICE that there is a web page to keep track of them all; most of them are not worth spit.


message 3: by Amber (new)

Amber Martingale | 659 comments Or awful mashups, Brenda like PREIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES which is, as we speak, being turned into a MOVIE!


message 4: by Brenda (last edited Apr 24, 2015 11:03AM) (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 301 comments A separate problem is when the author carries the work on, and people don't like it.
I read the other day someone complaining that TEHANU completely ruined the Earthsea trilogy for him. We told him to just not read that fourth volume; the first three books are perfectly fine without. The same with the WEIRDSTONE OF BRISINGAMEN books, by Alan Garner. There are two, and recently he wrote a third one that is totally different in setting and tone. Nearly everyone who enjoyed the first two won't get a thing out of the third, they're that different.
But the worst is when the survivors plunder the estate. I think it was V.C. Andrews, who wrote a best-seller and then died. Her heirs got their hands on all her notes, drafts, and scraps of paper, and began hiring ghost-writers to write more books in her name. God only knows if they're any good (with so many ghost writers in there they probably vary in quality tremendously), but every work that appeared under her byline after her death was not written by her.


message 5: by Amber (new)

Amber Martingale | 659 comments Don't get me started about VC Andrews. I can't stand her or her ghost writers.


message 6: by Fee (new)

Fee | 3 comments I can't think of a spin-off of a book series I've read, but I used to read tv show tie-ins, most of which didn't get the characters right.


message 7: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 301 comments And then there are the authorized spin-offs -- all STAR WARS novels are of this type, licensed by Lucasfilm. Some are good, some are bad; some are canon, and some used to be but aren't any more.


message 8: by Amber (new)

Amber Martingale | 659 comments Don't get me started on THAT, Brenda. It really pisses me off...the STAR WARS novels thing, I mean.


message 9: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 301 comments Tell you the kind of spin-off I really do like. It is the kind where there was a gap or a problem in the original work, and someone else moves in to fix it. This naturally only can happen with works that were written a long time ago (and so are no longer under copyright). THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION by Nicholas Meyer is a great example of this -- supplies a complete explanation for many of Sherlock Holmes's quirks, makes complete sense when held up to the canon, and is perfectly worked in. Another example: THE IDYLLS OF THE QUEEN, by Phyllis Ann Karr. She fitted an entire novel into the interstices left by Malory's MORTE D'ARTHUR.


message 10: by Gary (last edited Apr 26, 2015 04:34PM) (new)

Gary | 1471 comments It seems to me that the fundamental problem with an author picking up where another left off is that there's going to be a gap in the creativity level almost automatically. That is, if an author can write something as creative as the original... why not just do that? Why write something that is derivative?

That said, there are extraordinary exceptions, or cases where the original is so amazingly creative that just about every other writer in existence is going to be able to riff on that original work. I'm thinking of H.P. Lovecraft, for instance. There's a pretty near infinite range of things that might be done in the playground he set up.

Then there are folks who have an extraordinary talent for expansion and elaboration. In addition to the one's Brenda notes, Tom Stoppard's "Shakespeare" work stands on its own on several levels.

I'm more familiar with Star Trek novels than Star Wars novels, but I would say either of those two groups probably illustrate the issue pretty well. There's huge potential there--maybe not as great as Lovecraft, but certainly enough to show how the range of talent to derivation might work....


message 11: by Owen (last edited Apr 26, 2015 03:45PM) (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) Gary wrote: "It seems to me that the fundamental problem with an author picking up where another left off is that there's going to be a gap in the creativity level almost automatically. That is, if an author c..."

Those are good points. A lot of spin-off work is "franchising" or a "cash cow" and little else. But how do you feel about authors spinning off new books from their own work, especially a series? Would you rather have the author stay with the series you know and enjoy? Or do you like it when an author pulls out a minor character and gives them their own book? (Or series?)

Assume that they maintain quality in doing this. (Clearly if they start writing filler schlock, we won't like it.)


message 12: by Gary (last edited Apr 26, 2015 03:54PM) (new)

Gary | 1471 comments Owen wrote: "Gary, how do you feel about authors spinning off new books from their own work, especially a series? Would you rather have the author stay with the series you know and enjoy? Or do you like it when an author pulls out a minor character and gives them their own book? (Or series?)"

I don't really see a problem with that. If an author goes off on his/er own work that seems perfectly reasonable. And when it boils right down to it, s/he'll probably be a better guardian of the project than might someone who didn't originate it. There are probably examples that are more market driven that artistic, but it's kind of hard to say whether that has anything to do with the original ideas or talents of the author.

The Sherlock Holmes issue is probably a good example of that. Doyle killed off Holmes but wound up bringing him back because of the public reaction. Was bringing him back pandering to the public or something Doyle thought artistically valid? Probably the former, but at the same time there clearly was a lot more to that character, so who can say?

These days there's the omni-present GRRM and his no-end-in-sight series that he's going to wrap up sooner or later... but probably not. I've heard some folks rant that he's just milking it for all it's worth, but I don't think that's accurate. He just opened a huge can of wyrms.

Plus, these days, we live in a world of fan fiction, so even if he does wrap it up there are going to be elaborations. Not professional ones, perhaps, and probably not great ones, but they're going to happen. Everything is fair game on a certain level--and maybe it always was. We just couldn't disseminate it quite so easily.


message 13: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) Gary wrote: " There are probably examples that are more market driven that artistic, but it's kind of hard to say whether that has anything to do with the original ideas or talents of the author...."

For me, the examples I can think of were series I didn't much like to begin with (the "Honorverse" being the one that comes to mind). I think (but am not sure) that Weber started that and then opened it up via co-authors and others (which went to do other things). That felt to me like milking (since he seemed to have run out of things to do with his MC), but I not a big fan, so that probably colors my view.


message 14: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 301 comments Marion Zimmer Bradley did that. And, I suppose DUNE is another example.


message 15: by Gary (new)

Gary | 1471 comments When it comes to TV shows, people say "jumping the shark" for that moment when the series has gone down in quality and begun an inevitable slide into mediocrity. (From the episode of Happy Days.) I suppose anything that goes on long enough will run into that kind of thing, and at a certain point even the edgy stuff goes mainstream.

That doesn't mean the commercial success of that series is done, though. We're 26 seasons into The Simpsons, which I have trouble wrapping my mind around. Saturday Night Live has been on for 40 years. I'd argue either of those shows jumped the shark quite a while ago. There's still life in them. It's just steak to hamburger, if you will.

At a certain point it needs a reboot. Maybe for books that means a new author? The Bond series seems to have done well with new writers.


message 16: by Sparrowlicious (new)

Sparrowlicious | 160 comments Oh god, I shouldn't have come into this thread. Reading about people who bitched about the Earthsea books that came after the third book always breaks my heart because Tehanu is one of my favourites. ): *cries forever*


message 17: by Amber (new)

Amber Martingale | 659 comments Brenda wrote: "Tell you the kind of spin-off I really do like. It is the kind where there was a gap or a problem in the original work, and someone else moves in to fix it. This naturally only can happen with work..."

Haven't read any of those three, Brenda. Are they any good?

Gary: You mean like what the authors of the pastiche for SHADOWS OVER BAKER STREET did? Verbatim from the GR page about it: "Sherlock Holmes enters the nightmare world of H.P. Lovecraft

New Tales of Terror!

What would happen if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's peerless detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his allies were to find themselves faced with Lovecraftian mysteries whose solutions lay not only beyond the grasp of logic, but beyond sanity itself. In this collection of original tales, twenty of today's cutting-edge writers provide answers to that burning question.

Contributors include Neil Gaiman, Brian Stableford, Poppy Z. Bright, Barbara Hambly, Steve Perry, and Caitlin R. Kierman. These and other masters of horror, mystery, fantasy and science fiction spin dark tales within a terrifyingly surreal universe.

Includes the Hugo Award-winning story A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman. "

The part I was referring to about STAR WARS novels when I spoke to Brenda the other day was how NONE of the already published books are considered canonical now, except the tie-in novelizations of the original 6 movies... .

Owen: That's what Jim Butcher has done with his Dresden Files series, at least three times though none of the characters he uses for the spin offs; Thomas Raith, Karrin Murphy and "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone, are MINOR. Thomas Raith is Dresden's 7 year older half brother, Karrin is Harry's best friend and Marcone is Harry's best frenemy. I loved it when he wrote short stories, or as in Thomas' case a novella, for each of those three characters showing the beauty of the Chicago of the Dresdenverse from the POV of a character other than Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden.

Brenda (again): Some of the books that Frank's son, Brian, wrote with assistance from Kevin J. Anderson were actually damned good, considering that they followed Frank's own notes... .

Sparrowlicious: Never read ANY of the Earthsea books. They never appealed to me.


message 18: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 301 comments Almost by definition, the Really Good Spin-Off is predicated on your knowing what it was spun off of. The number of people who will read the eleventeeth DUNE novel, and never pick up the very first, is small. We could probably number the really-successful yet free-standing spin-off on the fingers of one hand.


message 19: by Amber (last edited Apr 27, 2015 10:59AM) (new)

Amber Martingale | 659 comments Too true, Brenda.

The best spin off I have read recently was The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: War of the Worlds (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Titan Books))
by Manly Wade Wellman (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6... ), Brenda...though this was good too: Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes ( https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... ). My favorite tale from the latter was about an IMMORTAL Holmes tackling a case at the request of an LVPD officer since his NEW home is Vegas... .


message 20: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 301 comments Have you read Neil Gaiman's short story, "A Study in Emerald"? Well worth looking for.

In a spin-of ideally one doesn't get just more adventures of a beloved hero. (This is the problem, alas! with the new Lord Peter books, the new Nero Wolfe novels and so on.) It has to be both new and old, if you know what I mean -- feeding the jones for more and yet giving the reader development. This is difficult.


message 21: by Amber (last edited May 14, 2015 08:24AM) (new)

Amber Martingale | 659 comments Yes. It's the opening tale in Shadows Over Baker Street (A Study in Emerald, that is).

Shadows Over Baker Street does just that in a few different ways, for example how the heck does turning Holmes and Watson into the BAD GUYS NOT "feed the jones and yet give the reader development"?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...


message 22: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli spin-offs -- assuming the original author does 'em, or someone of comparable quality -- are the best way to do series. You don't have to fudge up new problems for the main characters, you don't have to erase their character development, you don't have to undermine your own happy endings (thus casting doubt on all your happy endings), and you get to tie off threads.


message 23: by Amber (new)

Amber Martingale | 659 comments Jim Butcher does this well when he writes something that's part of the Dresdenverse but uses a narrator OTHER than Harry Dresden as he does in the novella BACKUP which is narrated by Harry's older half brother Thomas Raith, Mary.


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

I could get behind some and not others. There are certain parts of the story that we do and don't like or even if we like it all, that is what we really want to see continue. I think most spin-offs happen when one of those things that was popular about the story or a side character is where the spin-off comes from.It might not always be what we wanted from our favorite stories. The way i look at it is if i really like the story or the world, i will take a spin off anytime. I love Middle Earth so much that is is taking me years to read Simarillian, is it agony, yes but i love the world so much i give myself little bits of it at a time. If there is one that i don't like, then i just don't read it or change the channel. Stick to what i love and what i know will bring me entertainment and stop when it doesn't.


message 25: by Amber (new)

Amber Martingale | 659 comments That's just the common sense view of the subject.


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