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MIND MELD: Sequels We Want to Novels We Love

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We asked our respondents about desired sequels to standalone novels:

There are books that are part of trilogies, series, continuing worlds. And there the standalones that we love so much, that we wish a sequel had been written. What genre book(s) do you wish a sequel had been written to?

This is what they said…

Kari Sperring
Kari Sperring has published six books and many articles on Welsh, Irish, Anglo-Saxon and Viking history And taught the history of these peoples at university level. As Kari Sperring, she is the author of two novels, Living with Ghosts (DAW 2009), which won the 2010 Sydney J Bounds Award, was shortlisted for the William L Crawford Award and made the Tiptree Award Honours’ List; and The Grass King’s Concubine (DAW 2012).

daybynightWhen I first received this question, I thought answering it would be easy. There are so many standalone novels I love. But then, when I came to think about it some more, I realised that, in many ways, I find many of those novels perfect as they are and that the unresolved issues that remain at their ends are somehow part of that perfection. As a young reader, I always wanted more: more stories about characters I loved, more detail, more new windows onto their lives. I awaited new entries in series with impatience, and I spent hours making up sequels to those books whose authors perversely failed to supply them.

So this was hard. I reviewed beloved book after beloved book in my mind and nearly every time the answer on sequels was ‘No’. But what I also realised is that, as a teenager I craved time with favourite characters (and there are still many characters out there whose company I love) these days what I mostly want is more time in the worlds that certain authors have created. My list is built mostly on those. First up is a book I’ve loved for something like 30 years, Day By Night, by Tanith Lee. It supposes a planet which does not revolve, so that one side is always in blazing heat and light and the other is always cold and dark, each side possessing its own unique society which is unaware of the other. Lee’s novel tells the story of parallel lives, parallel falls from grace, with a satisfying twist at the end. As with all Lee’s work, it is immaculately depicted, a sensory wonder of detail and emotion and intelligence. Ever since I first read it, ever since I met the ending which changes the fundamentals of the world, I’ve wanted to know what happened next.

Second on my is a book I’ve known only for a few years, Nnedi Okorafor’s Zahrah the Windseeker. It’s the book I most want to take travelling in time, for delivery to my 11-year-old self. I love it as an adult, but as a child, it would have been, I suspect, a book of my life. Zahrah isn’t a tomboy, or a sports-star or A Jolly Good Sort. Nor is she a girly-girl who just wants to make tea and be mother to her friends. She’s quite brave sometimes, but she’s also frightened. She’s clever, but she makes mistakes. She isn’t particularly athletic and she doesn’t yearn to be a boy. She’s a girl like I was, like very many girls are. When I was 11, to have agency in books, a girl had to be a tomboy, which I wasn’t. And she lives in a world full of mysteries and opportunities, with strange technology based in biology and a Great Greeny Jungle where co-operation and kindness are as valuable survival skills as being fast and strong and good with a slingshot. Okorafor has written short stories set in this future world, but so far no more books. I’d love to spend more time there and explore it further.

Another future I want to revisit is the strange, complex, world of darkness-bound aliens and alchemical humans of Liz Williams’ The Poison Master. Mixing science and occultism and written with a detail you can taste and touch and smell, and blending a far-future of human subjugation with the 16th century experiments of Dr John Dee, this is, in my opinion, one of the best British sf novels of the 21st century. Like Okorafor, Williams has written short stories set in this environment, but I want to visit other parts of it at greater length.

And finally, there’s one book where my reason for wanting a sequel is my teenage one of wanting to hang out some more with its characters. It’s 雪山飛狐, Xue Shan Fei Hu, Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain, by Jin Yong (金庸). It tells the story of the swordsman Fox and his revenge against the rival martial clans who destroyed his family. Full of colour and excitement, it is populated by a large cast of swordsmen with mystic powers, scheming female martial artists and clever masters, all of them aligned against Fox. There is a prequel, which has yet to be translated into any language I can read, but what I really want to know is what happens next, both to Fox and his antagonists.

Peter Newman
Peter Newman co-writes the Hugo nominated Tea and Jeopardy podcast and is also the voice of the butler, Latimer. His debut fantasy novel, The Vagrant is being published by Harper Voyager on April 23rd. Connect with him on twitter as @runpetewrite or at his blog http://www.runpetewrite.com/

This post makes me realise how few standalones I read these days.

If you’re reading this Rob Rogers, I’d like to see a sequel for Devil’s Cape (for those of you that don’t know, Devil’s Cape is a smart superhero novel, set in a city where being one of the good guys is very bad for your health and the villains have all the power). It tickled all my superhero needs and the book ended with a nice open door for a sequel but one never appeared.

I’ve been reading some great books with my son (he’s seven btw) and I’d like to see a sequel to Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre because I want to know what Nova Mundi is like and what happens to the Nameless Horror. I’d also like to see more Oliver & The Seawigs, also by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre. Well, actually I want a sequel based around Iris, the short-sighted mermaid. I’ve got a soft spot for her but that’s probably best kept for a separate post.

There are also a few series that I want to see continue. If it’s not too cheeky an example, I’d love to see another book in the Split Worlds series by Emma Newman. So many stories still to be told there.

But we don’t always need a sequel (or a 75th instalment). Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is a beautiful story, and totally complete. Likewise, the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud has such a satisfying arc that I’d be horrified if he’d tried to continue it (hurriedly checks google to avoid massive faux pas… Phew!). On a slight digression I wish that certain film franchises knew when to stop. The Matrix was a great stand-alone film, and Star Wars was a great trilogy. Sometimes it’s better to have the integrity to tell a good story and let it rest (see also: Men in Black, Robocop and Conan).

Tansy Rayner Roberts
Tansy Rayner Roberts is an Australian fantasy author, blogger and podcaster. She won the 2013 Hugo for Best Fan Writer. She podcasts with Galactic Suburbia, and Verity!. Tansy has a PhD in Classics, which she drew upon for her short story collection Love and Romanpunk. Her latest fiction project is Musketeer Space, a gender-swapped space opera retelling of The Three Musketeers, published weekly as a web serial. Come and find her on Twitter!

So, I’m terrible at sequels.

I’m that reader who can adore the first book of a trilogy, tell everyone to read it too, but never quite get around to reading the rest of them.

I’m the reader who laments the lack of completion to a series I loves in my teen years (when I did read everything seriously) only to discover that the author finished it off ten years later, and I missed it, and I STILL don’t go to find that book.

I never used to be that reader, and it feels oddly cathartic to admit it to you all.

Sequels are kind of wasted on me these days. I have no follow through.

Having said that, one of my great joys as a reader was that in the last decade or so of Diana Wynne Jones’ career, she followed up on many of my favourite of her books, adding works that were sequels and./or prequels, connecting her various worlds together or expanding them. This began with The Merlin Conspiracy, but I was particularly delighted that she expanded the Chrestomanci series with works like The Pinhoe Egg and Conrad’s Fate. If you’d asked me this question about sequels fifteen years ago, I would have said ‘a proper Cat Chant sequel,’ and I’m grateful that I got one.

The Diana Wynne Jones sequels I still long for in my heart, at least a little, include Archer’s Goon (how did Awful grow up? What happened next), A Tale of Time City (because it contains some of my favourite science fictional world building of all time) and Fire and Hemlock (seriously, how would that relationship have worked out?)

A sequel that I crave but would be terrified of reading would be Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin – in which Thomas and Janet’s kid goes to college in the 90’s, and all the magic comes back to haunt them… no, maybe I’ll leave them safe in the endless possibility of happy ever after in the original book.

I also feel that Jo Walton’s Tooth and Claw isn’t really a proper satire of nineteenth century novels until it’s part of a set of at least eight matching volumes, but that’s a terrible thing to suggest to any living author, and the book is great the way it is, so I will shut up now.

There are very few perfect standalone genre books in the world. For the most part, I’m happy for them to be left alone so they can be admired without being diminished.

Alexandra Pierce
Alexandra Pierce blogs at www.randomalex.net, is one third of the Hugo-nominated podcast Galactic Suburbia, and writes an Australia/NZ column at Tor.com call Aurora Australis. She also reads, teaches, knits, cooks, and observes the stars.

As I gazed upon my bookshelves, I discovered to my shock that a huge proportion of my genre books are in a series. Off the top of my head I would not have guessed this, and I was a bit staggered. So I looked hard and I found a few standalones… but not ones to which I wish a sequel.Tam Lin? Uh, no; that wouldn’t really work; and nor would The Princess Bride, despite ongoing fan fantasies of Buttercup’s Baby. Anything by China Mieville – really no.

Surely, though, there must be something that I want a sequel to? Oh, if John Wyndham were alive I would definitely want a sequel to The Chrysalids, because I want to see how he would write such a world. But he’s not and I don’t want anyone trying to emulate his style. And then I got to Ursula le Guin. Ah. There it is. HOW I wish to know whether New Tahiti (introduced in The Word for World is Forest) can manage to recover from Earth-humans and their depredations! Can Selver get on with a normal life? And then there’s Shevek in The Dispossessed – I long to know what happens when he gets back home! Can Anarres and Urras come to some sort of understanding, or are they doomed to separation? Can Shevek and his ansible provide some sort of link that transcends political and social difference? And Rolery and Jakob, in Planet of Exile!! (Yes I know there’s a connection in City of Illusions but it’s not the SAME.) Finally, I got to thinking about le Guin’s short fiction, and this is where I hit the goldmine of unfulfilled desire. Osden and his forest in “Vaster than Empires and More Slow”: surely humanity got back to that planet at some point? What did they find? Can one human influence a planet-wide network? To diverge from the topic a little – I can’t explain how wildly I want a prequel to “The Day Before the Revolution” (and thus to The Dispossessed I guess), that tells me more about Odo and her life of revolution.

Thinking about short stories got me onto Sean Williams, and specifically “The Masque of Agamemmon” (cowritten with Simon Brown). This awesome take on The Iliad could surely, in the same way that The Odyssey follows the original, have a sequel? (The last line of that story indicates a different story that might be used for a possible sequel, and that would be TOTALLY FINE WITH ME. In fact, mash the two up! In space!)

Now I’m left with a quandary. Should I be seeking out more standalones, since in theory that means I get to read a greater variety of works, or be pleased that I get a really rich experience with book series??

Shaun Duke
Shaun Duke is a podcaster, a reviewer, a blogger, and a writer. He is a host on the Hugo-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show, a blogger at The World in the Satin Bag, a freelance editor at The Duke of Editing, and a co-owner of Young Writers Online. In the near future, he will co-host a movie discussion podcast with David Annandale entitled Totally Pretentious. Outside of fandom activities, he is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Florida, where he studies science fiction, postcolonialism, and Caribbean literature.

This is the kind of question you have to ask again with movies in mind, because wholly damn are there a lot of movies which desperately need sequels. It’s also a question which I find rather difficult to answer because most books I loved actually had sequels, were perfect as they were, or were recent enough that a sequel may be in the works anyway. In any case, here are two novels for which I wish we had a sequel or for which I hope a sequel is forthcoming:

First up, Kage Baker’s The House of the Stag. For obvious reasons, we will never get the sequel to this incredible deconstruction of the fairy tale, but I can certainly dream. Technically, The House of the Stag is the prequel to The Anvil of the World, so it weirdly already has a sequel of sorts, but what I wanted to know was the story that came immediately after the conclusion of The House of the Stag. What did Gard do after becoming and ceasing to be the Dark Lord? Where did he go? How did the world respond to him for decades to come? Maybe a proper sequel wouldn’t have worked, but one can still dream. And even if a proper sequel wouldn’t work, more novels set in the same world would have tickled my fancy just fine.

Second, there’s Lavie Tidhar’s The Violent Century. I don’t think a straight sequel would work, but a novel set some time after the main events of The Violent Century could make for a fascinating read. A lot of “superhero” stories take on the social implications of “powers” on the surface level, but The Violent Century didn’t. That it was also an alternate history set during the Second World War gave the novel a political climate that demanded subtlety. Tidhar delivered (as he did in Osama, an equally incredible novel). So would I like to see him do it again in a different historical context? Hell yes. Then again, I’ll read anything Tidhar writes, so…

Two contemporary novels, sure. But that’s what I read the most of these days, so that’s where I start! Now back to reading…

S.C. Flynn
S. C. Flynn blogs at SCy-Fy where, among other things, he presents a series of interviews with genre people; guests have so far included John DeNardo, Patrick Hester, Paul Weimer, Ria Bridges and Rob Bedford, with many more on the way. He has completed and re-re-revised four fantasy novels and is considering how to go about publishing them.

I wish a sequel had been written to Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

A sequel would have allowed exploration of the apocalyptic element of the story. Right up until the last pages, this is a dystopian novel. Then the brief war completely destroys the dystopian society, while the book people – and the books they have memorized – survive. It is striking that the same novel is first dystopian and then apocalyptic. A sequel could have explored how the book people deal with the survivors and with the destruction of the society that had previously oppressed them.

Prior to Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury wrote four stories on the book burning theme, so it was clearly very important to him. In the apocalyptic scenario, the book burners have themselves been burned, and Bradbury could have done a lot with the metaphors arising from that. The society that burned its books was really burning its own soul and its ability to survive.

The two texts that Montag has memorized are Ecclesiastes and Revelation. Both are quoted on the very last page of the novel, with Montag thinking that the phrase from Revelation 22:2 “And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” will be relevant when the book people reach the destroyed city and have to help the survivors rebuild the world. So the apocalyptic sequel would have followed naturally.

A sequel would also have allowed Bradbury to bring back the character Clarisse McLellan, the girl who first leads Montag to question his life as a book burner. Apparently hundreds of people wrote to Bradbury over the years, asking what happened to Clarisse. She disappears one third of the way through and the reason is never made clear. Montag’s drugged-out wife confusedly says that Clarisse moved away and then that she died. However, right at the end, when Montag is walking along the old railway line to reach the book people, he is absolutely certain that Clarisse walked in that exact place not long before and therefore escaped the destruction of the city. So Clarisse’s return is anticipated in the original novel.

Bradbury always refused to amend the original text of Fahrenheit 451, but he eventually came to accept that he should have let Clarisse return at the end. He later wrote both a play and an opera based on the book, and on both occasions brought Clarisse back among the book people outside the city. She also reappears at the end of the 1966 film directed by Francois Truffaut.

A sequel could have given more background on some other characters as well, such as Beatty the Fire Chief. This is one of the aspects that Bradbury developed significantly in the play and the opera. Beatty died during the novel, but perhaps one of the book people knew him and could talk about him. In the play, it comes out that Beatty was once a book lover. However, he had many real-life disappointments and resented the fact that the books could not help him when he needed them. So he turned against books and became their enemy.

There are some geographical issues that a sequel could have settled. At the end of the novel, we learn that there is a town of 27 people somewhere in Maryland that has collectively memorized the complete essays of Bertrand Russell. How do the inhabitants live with all that in their heads? Sadly, we will never know.

Most intriguingly of all, we also learn that the first two chapters of Thoreau’s book Walden are kept in the heads of people living in two separate small towns. The third chapter of Walden is entitled “Reading”. Where was that chapter stored? In Bradbury’s home town of Waukegan, Illinois? Or Houston, Texas? Roseville, Minnesota? Aurora, Colorado? That is one of the great unsolved literary mysteries.

The original magazine publication of Fahrenheit 451 was in issues 2, 3 and 4 of Playboy Magazine in 1954. I would have liked to know where the sequel was published. Penthouse? Hustler? SF Signal?

Jaime Lee Moyer

Jaime Lee Moyer currently finds herself in Texas, land of rhinestones, cactus and cowboys. She writes novels about murder, betrayal, magic, friendship, ghosts and kissing. Her cats approve. She writes a lot. She reads as much as she can.

You can learn more about Jaime and read sample chapters of her novels, Delia’s Shadow, A Barricade In Hell, and Against A Brightening Sky, as well as some of her poetry at www.jaimeleemoyer.com

The list of books where I’d get down on my knees and beg the author for sequels isn’t that long. Some of those standalone books I read in the distant past were wrapped up and completely satisfying as written. I liked them well enough, but they didn’t leave me with the longing for more. There are books that were never meant to be one of three—or twelve.

With others, the way the author chose to end the story made a sequel unlikely to damn near impossible. Stardust by Neil Gaiman immediately comes to mind. Those who’ve read that novel will know what I mean.

At the very top of my list of longed for sequels is The Last Hot Time by John M. Ford. Sadly, I didn’t discover Ford until after his death in 2006, so this book was a bittersweet revelation of what I’d missed. I fell deeply, hopelessly in love with his writing, and with this set of characters. Odd as it sounds, I could feel Ford’s writing opening new pathways in my brain, new ways to see and think about story. The best books affect me on a deep, personal level of one kind or another, and give me goals to shoot for with my own writing. The Last Hot Time was one of those books.

John M. Ford was a poet as well as a novelist, and it shows in how he used words. Poets who write novels don’t play tricks with words, but they frequently know how to make language, simple language, preform in whole new ways. The visuals in this book, the way Ford used light and shadow and made me see it, his use of smell and touch and emotion—so so sad there will never be another book to follow this one.

Ultimately it’s the characters in a novel that hook me and keep me reading. No exception here. That very last scene—I want to know if they kept each other safe and warm. If they continued to make each other happy.

A second book I loved dearly and want a sequel to is Chalice by Robin McKinley. This…is a deceptively quiet book about a woman whose life is uprooted in ways she never imagined, and Mirasol isn’t at all certain she can handle. I often like quiet, personal books more than some of my friends, and this is a prime example.

As with all of Robin McKinley’s books, Chalice is a fairytale you’ve never heard before, full of unexpected magic in unexpected places, heroes and villains, and a happy sense of wonder.

The world building, with the bees and the honey, the woods and the villagers who don’t have much faith in their newly acquired Chalice, and the Master who is no longer quite human and takes on his responsibilities reluctantly, knowing he terrifies everyone around him and they all expect him to fail—everyone but Mirasol. She wants the Master to have his chance. Mirasol sees beyond the monster to the man inside.

Just thinking about this book makes me sigh happy sighs. I’d love to know what happened when this part of their story ended. Did they have the fairytale, happily ever after life I imagined? I’m a total sucker for this kind of story.

There are a few other deeply adored books—The War for the Oaks by Emma Bull, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, Neverwhere by Gaiman—sitting on my shelves. I want more time with the characters in all of them.

I really, really want to see what happened next. That might be the biggest compliment I can pay any writer and the worlds they create.

Michael J Martinez
Michael J. Martinez is the author of the Daedalus series, which includes The Daedalus Incident, The Enceladus Crisis and, coming on May 5, The Venusian Gambit. He lives in the beautiful Garden State with his wife, daughter and a very demure cat, and when he’s not novelizing, he enjoys barbecue, homebrewing and travel. (See his wife’s blog for more on the travel thing.) Feel free to check out Michael’s blog, Twitter and Untappd.

Good Omens. Good freakin’ Omens.
*drops mic, walks off stage*

Wait, you want more? Fine.

To say that Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett hit this one out of the park does a disservice to parks, hitting and both authors. Good Omens is the best work of comic near-apocalypse I’ve ever read. Too narrow? OK, it’s one of the finest works of SF/F, funny or not, I’ve ever read. Better?

As a writer of historical fantasy myself, I can appreciate the joys of lifting ideas from history or, in Good Omens’ case, Biblical myth. The stuff that’s already out there is often better and crazier than anything a writer can come up with. And the Bible is pretty fertile ground for a good riff. But these two went well above and beyond with a hilarious, irreverent1, and at times scary take on the End Times that perfectly encapsulated humanity’s weird combination of nobility and stupidity.

Looking back 25 years from when Good Omens was published, we can see just how much Messrs. Gaiman and Pratchett influenced future works with their modern (and really funny) take on the Antichrist, the Horsemen, the whole Biblical brouhaha. I would venture to say that most of the Biblical fiction of the past quarter century owes a debt (or at least a hat-tip or friendly nod) to Good Omens. The Prophecy movies? Sandman Slim? The In Nomine role-playing game? Constantine? You betcha.

The authors didn’t just parody the apocalypse; they built a fantastic world based on the Bible, one with mild-mannered angels, slick devils, incompetent cultists, prescient witches and the devil singing with Freddy Mercury’s own voice. Good Omens gave us so many possibilities about Heaven and Hell and parts between, all populated with amazing characters.

So where, gentlemen, is the sequel?

At one point, there was to be one, something called 668 – The Neighbour of the Beast. I would’ve read the heck out of that. But alas, nothing has come of it and, by all accounts, we’re unlikely to see it. I would love it if Neil and Terry found the time to explore their creation (or Creation?) a bit more, but I believe we’re meant to be left as the book left us, looking forward to life without an apocalypse – a life without the future spelled out for us in the next chapter.

1) This is, of course, a very British irreverence, which is a specific creature in and of itself, much akin to your best friend putting his arm around you after a couple of beers and gently, humorously noting all of your shortcomings and failings, and you find yourself laughing in agreement. (American irreverence can be likened to someone with a chainsaw in a frothing rage about whether Ford or Chevy is better, followed by property destruction and arrests.)

2) Freddy would no doubt approve.

3) Chevy. Duh.

Rob Bedford
Rob H. Bedford lives in NJ with his wife and dog. He reviews books and moderates forums at SFFWorld, has a blog about stuff, and writes for Tor.com as well as here at SF Signal. If you want to read random thoughts about books, TV, his dog, and beer you can follow him on Twitter: @RobHBedford.

The standalone novel – That rare beast in the grand umbrella genre of Speculative Fiction; it is rarest in Fantasy, slightly rarer in Science Fiction, and even less rare in Horror. My friend Paul proposes we make this beast an even scarcer commodity with this topic. So, I’ll posit some sequels to standalone novels that “could be.” I think the key ingredients for readers wanting a sequel are one or a combination of (1) great characters and (2) great world-building to the extent that readers care about those elements and hope for more. So here are a few which fit those categories for me:

A novel I thoroughly enjoyed a few years back was Chris Roberson’s Paragaea and while it is part of a larger set of connected stories involving related characters, the novel is very much a standalone novel without a direct sequel (about which I’m aware, at least). I would love to see a return to the world in that novel and discover more of the world Roberson created. The novel starts in our world in 1964 with Cosmonaut Akilina “Leena” Chirikov preparing to blast off from Earth in order to spend ten days in orbit. When strange ball of light engulfs her ship and she crashes into a body of water, Leena assumes she has landed on Earth. However, the jaguar men who capture her quickly prove otherwise and Leena soon learns she is transported into a strange and fantastic world. The human characters (a barbarian woman who may be the last of her race, cowboys who ride dinosaurs), metaman races (birdmen, lizardmen), and monsters (giant ants, living metal trees) Leena and her companions come across on their journey provide many unique flavors in the pulpy stew of Paragaea. Nearly every page is chock full of nods to authors and genre ‘landmarks’ – from Jack Vance’s Dying Earth, to Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time, to DC Comics’ Superman to Edgar Rice Burroughs to the lost continent of Atlantis. I want to read more about this strange, fascinating, and slightly recognizable world. I also love the cover to this one.

Another novel that was a great deal of fun and had a wonderful sense of humor was Ari Marmell’s The Goblin Corps. In it, Ari tells the story of good and evil from the side of evil; with a fellowship of evil characters on a quest: a goblin, an orc, a bugbear, a kobold, an ogre, a gremlin, a troll, and a shapeshifter whose boss is the (supposedly) evil overlord Morthûl, the Charnel King. An epilogue points to more adventures for (most) of these characters, and events leading up to the conclusion leave enough questions unanswered that Marmell can go in multiple directions with another story of these characters. In other words, I want to read more about these characters.

Lastly, I’ll call out The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond. There’s a great kitchen sink approach to including multiple pantheons in a world of returned gods. While readers are informed that the gods appeared five years prior to the beginning of the novel, there’s also a sense that other elements of this world are fantastically removed from ours. In short, The Woken Gods is another novel which introduced a world and characters that seemed to merely scratch the surface of a more tales to be told. In a sense, while it was an enjoyable read, it seemed more of a snapshot or peek into the window of a larger story. I liked it but I would like to see more.

Fran Wilde
Fran Wilde is an author and technology consultant. Her first novel, Updraft, is forthcoming from Tor/Macmillan in 2015. Her short stories have appeared or will shortly appear in publications including Asimov’s, Nature, Tor.com, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Her interview series Cooking the Books–about the intersection between food and fiction–has appeared at Strange Horizons, Tor.com, and on her website, franwilde.wordpress.com. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Standalone books often end with a strong conclusion and the satisfaction of them is knowing you hold a full story in your hands. But when I say that each of these books below left me wanting more, I’m not in any way saying they’re flawed. The authors simply managed the wonderful trick of completing a story while also building a world that I would love to remain in for more than one tale.

Anathem, Neal Stephenson (William Morrow, 2010) – I want more stories about the maths and the millenarians.

Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson (Bantam, 1998) – What happens to the Mouse Army? And the corgis?!

The Scar, China Mieville (Del Rey, 2002) This is one of my favorite Mieville books. Actually it might be more than one, since it feels like it splits into a second book in the middle. So if there was a sequel to The Scar, the total would add up to maybe three, four books in actual fact. Which is a pretty good deal, given the extraordinary worldbuilding.

The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor, 2014) – one of my favorite books from last year. There’s still time for a sequel or at least something set in the world…

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (Random House, 2011) and Mechanique, Genevieve Valentine – Both so very beautiful, with completely different palettes. These circuses are welcome to land in my town any time.

Farewell Horizontal, K.W. Jeter (St. Martins Press, 1989) – I found the high-altitude feudal techno culture fascinating and wanted to read more in the world.

7th Sigma, Steven Gould (Tor, 2011). The emerging sentience of certain things in the first book, and the development main character both captured my interest… please to send more, Mr. Gould.

Ria Bridges
Ria Bridges is an ex-pat Brit living on the east coast of Canada, sharing her home with a human roommate, 5 cats, and a glorified budgie. She spends her time making art, obsessively playing video games, reading too many books, and drinking far too much tea. She can be found posting book reviews at Bibliotropic, or hanging around on Twitter as @Bibliotropic and Facebook.

This actually turned out to be a harder question to answer than I first thought it would be, because as I looked back over the books I’ve read in the past 5 years, I found that I read far fewer standalones than I first estimated. And some answers that I would have given had I been asked this a few months ago would no longer be valid, as announcements for sequels or prequels have been made for books that I originally thought were standalones. (Such as Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, or Jo Walton’s The Just City.)

1 book I’d love seeing a sequel to that I know will never come about is Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor. She’s wrote on her website that it won’t have a sequel (though there’s a possibility for more stories set in the same world, at least), but even though the story in The Goblin Emperor was self-contained and a fine standalone, I want to know more about what happens. There are characters I’m interested in and whom I would love to revisit in ways that don’t just involve rereading. Ditto for William Campbell Powell’s Expiration Day, or Jo Walton’s Among Others. Great stories, all, and dangit, I just want more of them!

Then there are the books which are part of a series but along the way, the series just got dropped. L J Smith’s Night World series is one of these. I read those books first in high school, back in the 1990s, and the whole series was leading up to the turn of the millennium, and then the final book just failed to appear. Supposedly she’s still working on it, and it’s listed as “coming soon” on her website, but really, given the current 15 year gap in the series and an end-of-the-world disaster that has apparently long since passed, that last book is going to have to be something mind-blowing to end up as a satisfying conclusion.

Heather Massey
Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express, and is the Releases Editor of the Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly. She also writes a monthly steampunk romance column for Coffee Time Romance.

1) While reading the space opera romance tale Hunting Kat (Triton Experiment #1) by PJ Schnyder, I developed a serious attachment to Boggle, one of the secondary characters. Boggle is a “Lone Gunmen” style computer whiz and hacker by trade. The heroine seeks out his aid during the course of the story since his specialty is information. Boggle’s dialogue is sharp, funny, and endearing. He also makes a mean cup of joe.

But what really makes him stand out is the diversity he adds to the story. Boggle is an extremely heavyset guy and uses an advanced power chair. All of the above elements combined to make him a character I wanted to spend a lot more time with.

My attachment to Boggle became so strong, in fact, that I challenged the author to make Boggle the hero of a future story in her Triton Experiment series. And guess what? She did! The short story is called “A Gift for Boggle” and he is now the star of his own sci-fi romance. There’s also a really hot sex scene that makes clever use of Boggle’s adaptive technology. This sci-fi romance is now among my favorites.

2) There’s a scene in Anna Hackett’s At Star’s End (Phoenix Adventures #1–think space opera Indiana Jones, with romance) in which the hero flirts with Relda, a gypsy woman who tells fortunes at an interplanetary market. Naturally, the heroine becomes jealous. She seethes with resentment toward Relda and internally refers to her as a “trollop.” Ouch! Despite Relda’s depiction as a potential threat to the heroine’s relationship with the hero, her presence had a completely opposite effect on me.

Instead of feeling indignant on behalf of the heroine, I wanted to read a science fiction romance about this fortune teller! She comes across as mysterious as well as confidant about her sexuality. Her description makes her sound pretty cool: “a voluptuous woman in a swirl of colored skirts” and “The beaten coins circling her bare waist tinkled.” And she’s a businesswoman to boot!

After finishing At Star’s End, I publicly asked the author a question: “When could I read about this gypsy’s romantic space adventures?”

And guess what?

Anna Hackett wrote one!

The author spun a tale about Relda in Beneath A Trojan Moon (Phoenix Adventures #4). The story provides a super intriguing reason for Relda to be a fortune teller in a futuristic setting. And Relda has a beautiful amount of agency as a character. That story experience was a happy day for this reader, let me tell you!

As you can see, I’ve been pretty lucky, but I do have another wish as far as sci-fi romance sequels go.

Alisha Rai’s Night Whispers (Shadowlands #1) is about a plague called the “Illness” that has swept across the globe. It renders victims–“Shadows”–into mindless zombies who feed on human blood in a vampire-like fashion. When humans weren’t attacked by Shadows, they fell victim to nuclear attacks and a general infrastructure collapse.
Night Whispers stars James Bennett, a nerdy hero with a secret. He works in an underground military refuge as an analyst and he’s in charge of several search-and-rescue agents. Heroine Jules Guerrero is a former gang member and drug abuser. She’s one of James’ agents and has a mean set of combat and survival skills.

The setting promises a number of interesting layers that could be explored and I’d love to learn more about it. Plus also, zombies! James and Jules have a sweet friends-to-lovers romance and I’m betting the next couple in the series would be equally interesting.

Therefore, I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage Alisha Rai to write Shadowlands #2! (Think I’ll get lucky again? Fingers crossed!)

About Paul Weimer (366 Articles)
Not really a Prince of Amber, but rather an ex-pat New Yorker that has found himself living in Minnesota, Paul Weimer has been reading SF and Fantasy for over 30 years and exploring the world of roleplaying games for over 25 years. Almost as long as he has been reading and watching movies, he has enjoyed telling people what he has thought of them. In addition to SF Signal, he can be found at his own blog, Blog Jvstin Style, Skiffy and Fanty, SFF Audio, Twitter, and many other places on the Internet!

4 Comments on MIND MELD: Sequels We Want to Novels We Love

  1. Thanks for the invite to take part in this Mind Meld.

    By a coincidence, very shortly I will be posting an interview with two of my fellow Melders, Tansy and Alexandra – together with Alisa Krasnostein, the third member of Galactic Suburbia.

  2. Sequels are such dangerous things, especially when they’re so long-awaited. Sometimes it’s impossible to recapture the same magic. Even when you do, it’s extremely difficult to live up to expectations. I can think of several unfinished series where I’ve love to see the next book (Melanie Rawn, J.V. Jones, Clive Barker among them), but I’m not sure there’s a standalone title I’d be willing to sully my memories of with an imperfect sequel.

  3. joe thomas // March 4, 2015 at 5:37 pm //

    I always wanted a sequel to Lord of Light

  4. I’ve always hoped that Glen Cook could be persuaded to write a sequel to Dragons Never Sleep. Its a shame because his whole career has been sequels. To be honest, I’m just glad he’s still writing at this point.

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