What’s in a Series?

Many people characterize the undertaking to write a novel an expression of extreme arrogance on the part of the author. How can someone who has never learned the intricacies of fiction have the hubris to flout common decency to the degree that they cast their words upon the world in reams of spoiled paper? Do they presume to stand in the company of Austen, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, and Steinbeck? I guess so.

How much more arrogant must the author of a series be?

More reams to add to those already spoiled? Or is there a accumulation of worth uncovered by sheer volume? I would suggest the completion of several works of sufficient similarity in theme, scenario, and characterization shows, at least, that the writer has the capacity to conceptualize his or her theme beyond a tentative expression. When one novel gives rise to another, the concept has seized one well-exercised imagination, at least.

Which leads to another thought. Should one consider a series to be only the working out of a complex situation over several volumes, or do we allow those mongrels of collective works based on one originator’s idea to qualify? Volume DCCCLXXXVIII of the Star Trek saga anyone? One has to wonder at the capacity for imagination and contemplation of the fan who has read them all.

I have to admit that I began the Iskander series with the fond expectation that readers would grasp the complexities of the situation the Earthlings found themselves in with the same comprehension I did. It was only much later that it dawned on me that I hadn’t described those circumstances with enough clarity to give poor readers that chance. Reason one for extending the series back to the beginning with “Arrival”. I’ve also attempted to expand upon one or more of those complexities in each novel of the series.

Fact is, the more I consider the multitude of human reactions as well as political and mercantile ramifications from dumping a group of modern people into a 17th century world it seems the poor author, me, needs an extended course in sociology, psychology, economics, political science, military history, engineering . . . well, you get the idea. It’s a good thing I’ve had a low level fascination for most of these subject for years – low level because I never undertook to prove competence in those fields with a graduate degree. Heck – then I wouldn’t have time to write.

So the series is an exposition of the questions raised by the scenario, not a collection of answers. The solutions devised by the people in the novels’ world are only as competent as the author’s vision. Which is the same undertaking that thousands of other writers of novels have unrolled upon the reading public since 1741. We want you readers to pick up from the situations we create to do your own thinking. Perhaps we are just as valuable – if at all – when we don’t know our a**es from a hole in the ground.

Thousands worship at the altar of Ayn Rand’s novels, which the unfolding of real events has proven to be self-important humbug. But without those flawed paeans of praise for greed and avarice, would we normal people not be limited in the catalog of worldly follies we can examine? We authors have to hope that all our creations contribute something, however small, however mistaken, to the catalog of human society’s writings. Because, in the last analysis, society is what it pictures itself to be, and we humans are no more than the players in the stories we have created for ourselves.

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One Response to “What’s in a Series?”

  1. joylene Says:

    I’ve tried a few series but never managed to finish them. I’m talking 15 volumes or more. The last ones were the SF Dark Lands. I have to go look them up because I can’t remember the author. I remember the hopeless of the end of the world. Yet, I kept reading for 5 books or so. The writing must have been good.

    ps. My brother’s a big SF fan and sends me series every other year. Then he calls to quiz me on what I read. lol

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