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The Ambiguity of Belated Book Sequels: Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials Pullman.jpg
When an author finishes a book or a series, I consider it done. I read the book(s) with the understanding that the story is complete. Even if I adore the narrative and characters, I don’t typically feel a burning desire for more. (The exception, of course, being when an author stops writing a story in the middle of a series.)

All of this means that I have had a very mixed response to Neil Gaiman’s announcement that he is writing a sequel to Neverwhere and Philip Pullman’s statement that he is publishing a companion trilogy to the His Dark Materials series.

Why? Why would they do this?

neverwhere-neil-gaimanThat may be a silly question to ask. The ‘why’ is because the authors wanted to write more within specific worlds they created. They hardly need to defend that decision. As a reader though, I still don’t entirely understand it. I have read the original books. I own them. They sit on my bookshelves. Despite that, I never even considered wanting more books related to any of the original novels. It has been 21 years since Neverwhere was released and 17 years since since The Amber Spyglass, the last book in Pullman’s trilogy, was first published. Those are both very long times. Especially considering that to my mind, the books were closed, the need for more wasn’t there.

But maybe I am just being a curmudgeon. I like the writing of both authors, and I’m sure many fans are excited to hear about the new stories being released. Still, I can’t imagine wanting to read these upcoming works. But who knows? Maybe I’ll be surprised. Maybe these books will tell tales that I always secretly wanted to read. Maybe they will fill a gaping hole in my book lover’s heart.

Or maybe not.

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30 thoughts on “The Ambiguity of Belated Book Sequels: Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman

  1. I am very interested in how Lyra’s life turns out, did she change things? I too read all the books and am interested in seeing the authors upcoming efforts. A prequel would not have any interest for me but if it continues the story that is different.

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  2. Don’t want to comment on a companion to his Dark Marterials – actually I’m throbbing with excitement… a big fan of the film too and can’t wait for the BBC production…. as for the other… aaawww… Neverwhere Schmeverwhere, who cares….but I will say this….OMIGOD! I LOVE A WOMAN WITH STRONG OPINIONS!

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    1. I’m glad to hear that last bit because I certainly have a lot of them! As for Pullman’s book, I’ll admit that I’m interested to see how the BBC production develops. For the sake of all of the fans of the series (and for my sake as well), I hope the new books turn out well. I’m just a bit leery. But we shall see!

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    1. The great thing about Pullman’s books, or one of the great things at any rate, is the way that they speak to people during so many different points in their lives. It’s strange; I don’t necessarily think of them as YA though I’m sure their publisher categorizes them as that or as middle grade books.

      Regardless, it will certainly be interesting to see how the sequels to the series develop.

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    1. That is a good point! It has been a long while since I’ve read both sets of books. I used to reread novels frequently, but that has fallen off in recent years. The sequels may give me the excuse to dive back into the originals.

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  3. I suppose it depends on the reason why they want to revisit a world. The way things are right now, I can imagine both of these socially aware authors deciding there are aspects in their worlds that could more strongly chime with current events.

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  4. I’m on the other side of this fence. Now….I don’t want languished sequels to a story that’s already complete, but if I like a world (Scadrial from Mistborn comes to mind), I’m perfectly happy seeing new stories from this world. So..I don’t like series that seem to just pointlessly jump-start a saga, but I do like new stories from worlds I love. There’s a trick that though (I guess I’ll just blog about tit at some point). Am I making any sense at all? *Goes back to editing*

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    1. You are making perfect sense! I the end, the success of belated sequels may depend on a few things: how much people love the world in which they are set, whether or not the author is forcing the sequel for on reason or another, etc.

      (And best of luck editing!)

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