Monday, November 23, 2015

Overcoming My Aversion to Sequels

Hugo winner with sequels I never read
I have trouble with sequels. Even if I love the original, I never get to sequels right away. Often I never do.  In this age of binge watching and sprawling series, I wonder if I've missed something.

Leaving a series dangling...

I read Red Mars, the first book in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy, in 2003. I got to the second book, Green Mars, last summer, twelve years later (somehow I'm reading the third book, Blue Mars, just five months later). I've read the following books, but none of their sequels: China Miéville's Perdido Street Station, Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice, Amy Thomson's The Color of Distance, N. K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand KingdomsLarry Niven's Ringworld, and David Brin's Sundiver. Even if I do get to one or two more books, I may never finish the series (see Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, Dan Simmons's Hyperion Cantos, Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space, etc.).

I do better with series without traditional sequels such as series that consist of loosely connected stories taking place in the same universe, which allows the reader to float free in a universe without the strain of trying to grasp the thread of a single story.  My favorites are Ursula Le Guin's Hainish Cycle or the Culture series of Iain M. Banks.
Classic SF with sequels I never read

This isn't to say that I don't occasionally like a traditional series of sequels. I've recently read Jo Walton's The Philosopher Kings (sequel to The Just City) and Dan Simmons's Olympos (sequel to Ilium). I love Frank Herbert's Dune books, even the later weird ones that take place so far into the future that they're hardly sequels at all (see my Goodreads review of God-Emperor of Dune). I love Octavia Butler's Earthseed and Xenogenesis series (although I never finished her Patternmaster series).

The same could be said for movies and TV. I finally watched all the Hellraiser movies over the last couple years.  I'm even worse with TV.  I've been watching Babylon 5 over the last few years, glacially slow in this era of binge watching. I don't think I ever watched all of Deep Space Nine or Voyager. As much as I love Fringe, I doubt I'll ever finish it.

What's my problem?

My "to read" list expands even faster than the stacks of unread books on my shelves. My Netflix queue never seems to shrink no matter how much I watch.

My eyes are bigger than my stomach, so to speak.  I want to read and watch roughly 3,412% more than I will ever have time to consume. Part of my bibliophilia is that I love coming home with a stack of books from the bookstore or library. I look them over, tantalizing myself with the promise of new ideas, new thrills. The true tragedy of my death won't be the end of my consciousness, but all the books I will never read.

Maybe I like variety. Why continue with one series when there's other stuff I want to check out? I've never been one of those people who has to finish a series. The longer the series, the more I fear commitment. I have refused on several occasions to start something if it has more than two sequels.

Great SF TV that I never finished watching
Overcoming my aversion

Is my aversion healthy? I'm not sure. What if, in my desire to take in a wider variety, I'm missing the joys of more deeply inhabiting particular worlds? Maybe it's time I overcame this aversion to sequels.

Towards this effort, I thought I'd offer some short reviews of sequels that I have gotten to recently.  In the sequel to this post, I'll start with a review of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part Two, which is a sequel to a sequel!  

1 comment:

  1. See Part Two: The Sequeling!