MIND MELD: Which SF/F Series Are Too Good To End?

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Recently I was talking to a friend who had just finished reading Patrick Lee’s Deep Sky. He commented that the series was so good, it was a shame it had to end. That’s an intriguing statement, which I totally stold and repackaged for this Mind Meld! Here’s what we asked this week’s panelists:

Q: Which SF&F books/series do you think are so good that it’s a shame they had to end?

Here’s what they said:

Jeremiah Tolbert
Jeremiah Tolbert is a writer and web designer living in Northern Colorado. His stories have appeared in magazines such as Interzone and Fantasy Magazine, and in anthologies such as Way of the Wizard and Seeds of Change. Zelazny’s stories have led to a life long fascination with the idea of multiverses. He’s thinking of naming his next computer “Ghostwheel.”


I’m most often happy to finish a series or book; there are so many wonderful authors I want to read, it’s a blessing that good books actually do end so I can move on to the next one. Thank you, great, established authors, for giving newer authors a chance to captivate an audience by not dragging your series out to thirty-plus titles.

That said, if perhaps some lucky soul, while digging through an old and mysterious steam trunk, found the manuscripts to six more Chronicles of Amber books by Roger Zelazny — well, no earthly force could stop me from acquiring them and devouring their contents. As it is, I battle constant temptation to reread the existing 10 books in the giant omnibus collection I picked up in college as a graduation present to myself.

(Heading into spoilers territory here!), I always felt like the second Amber series ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. As a young teen in the 90s reading the books for the first time, the biggest question remaining for me was, what lies on the other side of Corwin’s Pattern? As a writer, this series has influenced me more than anything else, at least in terms of what I want to accomplish. If I can have the effect on some 13 year old kid the way Zelazny did me, then I’ll consider my work a success.

As much as I wish Zelazny had written another sub-series of titles before his death, I have never been tempted to read the prequels. It’s clear from accounts by authors such as George R.R. Martin that Zelazny intended Amber to end with him. But, perhaps, in another Shadow…alas, I have not walked the Pattern, and the way is closed to me.
Read the rest of this entry

[Note: Continued from Part 1.]

Recent events and discussions once again bring the topic of genre fiction’s mainstream respectability to the forefront. So we thought it’d be timely to ask this week’s panelists:

Q: In your opinion, does literary science fiction and fantasy have mainstream respect? Why, if at all, does it need mainstream approval? What would such approval mean for genre fiction?

Read on to see their eye-opening responses…

Lucius Shepard
Lucius Shepard is a writer who lives in Vancouver. The Best of Lucius Shepard, a career retrospective, is now available from Subterranean Press, and next year will see the publication of a new as yet untitled novel.

I don’t believe mainstream approval would or will do much for genre fiction. It appears to do quite well in the marketplace as things stand, and lumping it together with the mainstream might, heaven forfend, see a decline in the sale of fantasy trilogies. There are authors-Tom Disch springs to mind-who have/had literary aspirations that such approval might have helped, at least as far as gaining them the respect of the literary establishment, but would it have sold more of their books? Perhaps, but who can say?

Does genre fiction have mainstream respect? Not so much, but it’s gaining respect, I think, in certain quarters thanks to folks like Junot Diaz and Michael Chabon. The previous generation of American writers didn’t like to admit they were nerds and geeks ; they were still trapped in antiquated self-images, considering themselves junior Hemmingways and Woolfs, and were threatened by anything that might erode those images; but the fact that both Diaz and Chabon seem to embrace their inner geek has prompted a number of their peers to come out of the closet and admit what an influence Steven King, say, had on their writerly lives and, in several cases, to write genre novels. Yet there are instances today where a writer has felt he had to escape the genre. Take Jonathan Lethem, for example. I feel you can’t generalize intelligently about this topic-it’s such an individual matter. For instance, not all writers are capable of being the self-promoters that Lethem was/is (and I mean this in the most positive sense.) Tom Disch, for sure, wasn’t capable of it. Though he could be charming, his personality was far too prickly for mass consumption.

My own attitude is this. I enjoy writing. I’m fortunate enough to have made a living at it for 25 years. I don’t write to be respected-I write to tell stories I find interesting, to communicate a mood, to resolve inner turmoil, and for a variety of personal reasons, not least among them being that I suck at holding down a steady job. Mainstream respect for what I write would be nice, but I simply haven’t cared about it enough to do doggie tricks. It’s no big deal one way or another.

Read the rest of this entry

SF Tidbits for 10/5/09

TIP: Follow SF Signal on Twitter and Facebook for additional tidbits not posted here!