FF: As Worlds Evolve

This week I continued several series, which made me think some about the form.

Kel Does Her Supermodel Thing

Kel Does Her Supermodel Thing

For those of you just discovering this feature, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazine articles.

The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

Seeds of Rebellion (Beyonders 2) by Brandon Mull.  Suffers from “middle book of a trilogy” syndrome.  Additionally, inclusion of a larger number of adult characters mean that our teen protagonists begin to seem like “extras.”  Given the number of times both Rachel and Jason muse if they’ve fulfilled the role for which they were summoned to this fantasy world, I wonder if the author was subconsciously wondering the same thing.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.  Audiobook.  Enjoyed all over again.

Kitty’s Big Trouble by Carrie Vaughn.  Audiobook.  Despite the title, much less dramatic than the last couple in the series.  Chinese material expanded the “universe.”  The inclusion of film as inspiration/source material appropriate for this series, which (like much of the “paranormal urban fantasy” sub-genre) seems more based out of movies than folklore.

In Progress:

The Prestige by Christopher Priest.  Audiobook.  Just started.

War of the Planet Burners by Dennis Herrick.  A forthcoming small press novel.


Quite a bit of scattered short material.

7 Responses to “FF: As Worlds Evolve”

  1. Peter Says:

    I’m fairly sure the titular “Big Trouble” is itself a movie reference (“Big Trouble in Little China”).

    Aside: I’d argue that movies are folklore…:

    • Jas. Marshall 6 Says:

      I’ve most often seen TV series refer to movies (or other TV series) as their own folkloric-type history, such as Remington Steele using movies to help figure out murder mysteries, or throwaway lines in TV shows like “The Dresden Files” in which a vampire is staked and Harry remarks that he always expects them to go up in a burst of flame, and then blames Hollywood for that idea.

      For many children, the only versions of the fairy tales they know are the Disney versions. They really are becoming the main source of folklore in our lives.

  2. Paul Says:

    Just finishing up a re-read of one of Robert Crais’ early Elvis Cole novels, always fun. Also “Bill O’Reilly’s Legends and Lies” about the old west (which, while it might be “his,” another author is credited with the actual writing). Full of speculation (did Jesse James, Billy the Kid, and Butch and Sundance really die as we’ve been told, or survive and live to a ripe old age? Lots of conspiracy theories) but little evidence.

  3. Jas. Marshall 6 Says:

    re: YA books which introduce adult characters – always tricky but NOT introducing adult characters after a while stretches credulity sometimes unless there are very good reasons for adults not to be aware of what’s going on.

    re: middle book of a trilogy – what do you think are the most successful middle books in the trilogies (or book series with a defined number of books) you’ve read? Do any of them stand out at all? Ongoing series books can go up or down but, because they’re ongoing, they don’t have the limitations of a trilogy or planned series.

    My reading:

    Finished “The Fashion in Shrouds” (Albert Campion book 10) by Margery Allingham. Campion and Amanda are engaged!

    Began “The Traitor’s Purse” (Albert Campion book 11) by Margery Allingham. Campion and Amanda are breaking up!

    And we’re up to World War II in the Campion series. Campion is apparently up to some wartime hijinks but the book begins with him having lost his memory. (I wonder which story was the first to use the “protagonist wakes up in the middle of danger but without his memory” trope.) I’m also reminded of Dame Diana Rigg’s intro/extro bits on “Mystery!” on PBS when the Campion stories were first airing in the USA. Allingham apparently hated the idea of Campion and Amanda getting together. Like Arthur Conan Doyle before her, though, she apparently gave in to the fans in the end. I’m just waiting to see how it all plays out in the books.

    • Jane Lindskold Says:

      I agree that YA books need adult characters. Absolutely! My favorites always have mixed age casts.

      However, when the former protagonists start being marginalized, it makes you wonder.

      I can’t answer your other question right off because I haven’t really thought about it, but I do tend to prefer series that haven’t been forced into three book just because…

    • Louis Robinson Says:

      Well, IMO the best middle book going is The Two Towers. Because, of course, it isn’t, in the current sense. LOTR was a single seamless narrative, published the old-fashioned way in multiple volumes. The characters stepped out of their preceding chapter at the beginning, and strode off to their next appearance at the end of the volume with no concern at all for stopping places or immediate resolutions or any of that clap trap. In fact, one of them presents us with a cliff-hanger worthy of a Saturday-afternoon serial.

      That’s the flaw at the heart of the typical current series or what have you: trying to write a multi-volume narrative while pretending that you aren’t. Book-ends are such an awkward fit in the middle of the shelf, and I’m not at all sure who’s responsible for shoving them in. I would have been inclined to lay most of the blame at the feet of the publishers who don’t want to commit to long-term projects that don’t always show fantastic short-term returns, but when you consider the flack Weber has been taking for the last decade for owning up to the fact that the Honorverse is indeed a very long continuous narrative you see that readers are very much part of it. And, of course, it helps that Tolkien was a gentleman amateur who didn’t need his next advance to put food on the table. He could take the time to craft that six-book narrative; others do have to keep an eye on their deadlines [although this does point back to the publisher, too]

      • janelindskold Says:

        Weber is a good example. I’ve known him since before the first HHarrington was published and, to the best of my memory, he never claimed it was going to be a trilogy. That said, he did always have a forward vision for the series, with definite closure by the final volume.

        I know. There was a point where Weber wanted me to finish writing the series if something happened to him, and so he told me some of the larger plot points.

        I think an authors should make clear if they are intending an open-ended series or a tight one that will end in three or four books.

        I’m eagerly awaiting the final book in “The Raven Cycle” by Maggie Stiefvater. I love the series, I love the characters. However, having been told we’ll get a resolution of the story arc by book four, I will be put out if we don’t.

        I wouldn’t feel the same if I hadn’t been promised an ending at this point.

        Series writing is really TOO complicated an issue for a Comment!

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