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The Worst Endings in SF/F/H

Following up his question on the best book endings, John at grasping for the Wind asks bloggers about The Worst Endings in SF/F/H.

My 2 pennies are listed along with many others. (That’s a lot of pennies!)

(See also: Our own Mind meld: Which SF/F Books Have The Best and Worst Endings?)

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

7 Comments on The Worst Endings in SF/F/H

  1. I didn’t know that you had done this before. Sorry if you feel like I ripped you off! It was unintentional.

  2. No worries…there was no accusation or commentary in my “see also” reference.  It was just to point to similar responses for those who might be interested.

    Besides, the answers can vary so much, that either one of us can make a career asking the same question over and over again to different people. 🙂

  3. John Wright // November 17, 2009 at 2:58 pm //

    Mark Lord lists as worst ending: “It pains me to say this, as it’s one of my favourite books, but one of the most disappointing endings has to be the fizzling out, living happily ever after ending of The Lord of the Rings.”

    I respectfully disagree with this conclusion, which I take to be based on the false premise that LOTR was the story of the destruction of the One Ring. If, indeed, that was what the tale had been about, we would all be skratching our heads like Mr. Lord and wondering why the entirety of Book VI existed at all.

    The story is about the end of the Third Age, the time of myths and legends, and the beginning of the human world. It is as far from a ‘happily ever after’ ending as I can imagine, other than an outright tragedy. Everything fine and high and noble has passed away, from the last of the elves to the last of the wizards: the homely and comfortable Shire had to be scoured of the same evil that influenced the unhappy, far-off things of a distant war, making the very “not-a-happy-ending” point that evil is not just the affair of the Big People of the world. Frodo departs like a miniature Arthur for Avalon, but with no promise to return. The Golden Wood must fade, and will never come again. Elrond’s House and all his people must depart. Aragorn’s wife must renounce her immortality, and become one of the human kindred.

    Upon reflection, I simply cannot recall any book whose ending was less like the timeless comfort of a “happily ever after.” We are assured that none of these characters will live happily ever after, but only that the great evil of a hell on Earth has been averted, and that only for a certain time.

    Perhaps it is a matter of taste, but I myself cannot think of a more perfect, more just, more satisfying and more bitter-sweet ending to any book than the close of Lord of the Rings.





  4. My God!  I was just talking to my friends at work about how bad The Reality Dysfunction’s ending is.  Hands down the worst ending I’ve ever read and it came at the end of thousands of pages.  One of my buddies is in the middle of the series and would not be persuaded to bail.  He has been warned and I will have the dubious satisfaction of saying “I told you so.”  Then we can rip it to shreds all over again.

  5. Joe Haldeman’s Forever Free.  At one time, JH was on my ‘read-on-sight’ list.  This story, with its quite literally deus ex machina ending was so random, so disappointing… Mr. Haldeman has gone over to my ‘never again’ list.


  6. Joshua Corning // November 17, 2009 at 11:17 pm //

    Joe Haldeman’s Forever Free.  At one time, JH was on my ‘read-on-sight’ list.  This story, with its quite literally deus ex machina ending was so random, so disappointing… Mr. Haldeman has gone over to my ‘never again’ list.


    Yeah i was just going to mention this….what is really weird is that Forever Free was published after Forever Peace which in my opinion was a far better literary sequel (even though it was not a literal sequel) to Forever War then Forever Free was. That being said Camouflage is actually a good book.

    Are Authors entitled to one real stinker?

  7. Joshua Corning // November 17, 2009 at 11:22 pm //

    Rose Fox @ Genreville:

    I bet I won’t be the only person to say Hyperion by Dan Simmons. When I read it I had no idea that it was only the first half of a book. I slogged all the way through it to an end that stopped like a Looney Tunes cliff disappearing under Wile E. Coyote. I think I actually threw the physical book against the wall, something I don’t recall ever doing before or since.





    I am glad i am not the only one. I hate that book with a passion.

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