[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
Sometimes it seems that every new SF/F book is part of a series and the reader will have to wait, sometimes years, for the conclusion. Happily there are many, many very good (and finished!) SF/F series, however, not all of the endings measure up to the story that preceeds it. This week we asked our panelists this question:
Here’s what they said… [Note: If you haven’t read any of these particular series, there may be spoilers included in the responses.]
The final book in my favorite SF/F series – Laurie J. Marks’s Elemental Logic – has not yet been published, so I cannot address it in this Mind Meld, except to observe that the third book (Water Logic) put the entire series in perspective, so I have great hopes that the forthcoming Air Logic will be equally transformational.
I did not expect the Bold as Love series by Gwyneth Jones to end as it did in Rainbow Bridge, though thinking about it in light of some of her essays, it’s not really a surprising ending. After all, Jones scorns the typical hero tale in which victory is improbably snatched from the jaws of defeat. The world is crumbling at the beginning of the series, but our rockstar heroes – Ax, Sage, and Fiorinda – are taking charge, and their powers are such that we believe they can save us. They do not, and by the end the Chinese have taken over the world, though whether or not they can save us, even with some technological miracles, is still an open question. The closing scene of Ax’s joy in the birth of his daughter lets the reader know the characters will continue to muddle on. Knowing that they’re still out there somewhere pleases me.
Mary Gentle’s Ash, A Secret History, was published in the U.S. as a four-book series. I read the first three books as excellent adventure stories and tended to ignore the modern researcher frame set around the book. But in the fourth book, Lost Burgundy, the frame and story came together, and I realized I was reading science fiction (with fantasy and alternate history overtones). I love it when that happens.
L. Timmel Duchamp’s Marq’ssan Cycle starts with a dystopia not all that far removed from current reality. Classes are stratified in the U.S., and a firmly entrenched 1 percent – the Executive class – is running the show. Then the Marq’ssan arrive. It’s easy to assume that the Marq’ssan will throw out the bastards and improve the lot of the rest of humanity. But while the Marq’ssan do provide some assistance, the story takes us in unexpected directions, including an overthrow of the mostly male executive rulers by female ones, with no real change in society, and the development of an ever-growing Free Zone run on anarchistic and socialistic principles. Change is in progress in the final book, Stretto, but nothing is final. In the final pages, one human character begins to explore something much more complex than political change – a change in her mind. It’s a positive note, and leaves the story open-ended. Utopia does not yet exist, but the possibility is there.