Worlds & Time

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Death of a World

I will, of course, ask Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden about Robert Jordan's death while I'm at the Viable Paradise workshop in a few days. It seems like the reasonable thing to do, considering the timing of his death in relation to my meeting with the heads of Tor.

I'll also ask about Jeghaala, since I know that TNH is as interested in Brust's next book as I am, but Jordan has become the pressing interest for me at the moment.

I was talking with someone online a week or so ago, after the news about Jordan had been broken, and we were all wondering what the exact reason that we were mad at Jordan was. "Writing too many good books" is what was first suggested, but that sounds like a silly reason to be angry at someone.

Someone else suggested that he "sold out." He didn't sell out. He's been in this game from the beginning to make money. All authors are. That's why we sell books, after all. So he never lost his artistic integrity at any point by trying to make money because he's been doing that from the start.

When he published "New Spring" in hardcover is the point when it changed from me suspecting that I had a problem with him to when I knew that I had a problem with him.

A little bit of background for those people that have successfully managed to resist getting sucked into the Wheel of Time series; For a set of short stories set in epic fantasy worlds (Legends) Jordan wrote a prequel to his series entitled "New Spring." This prequel was pretty good, and gave some decent back story to a character that was written out of most of the series by the third book but remained a fan favorite.

However, then Jordan decided that "New Spring" could be expanded into a full book, so instead of finishing his already long series he put a lot of time into expanding "New Spring" into a full book and then released it. (It was published between books 10 and 11 of his series).

That's about the point that I realized that he'd rather keep writing subplots in the little world that he created than finishing it. Instead of wasting his time on that prequel, he could have done significantly more work on the actual series, and perhaps even have finished it before he died.

I don't mind prequels or sequels so much. I used to be an Eddings fan, and I found the way he included multiple sequels and prequels to be interesting, especially since it allowed me to continue to spend time with characters that I liked even after the primary series of books was finished. However, if you're writing these prequels and sequels in exclusion to your core series, then I have a problem.

Jordan didn't seem to care about finishing his series and now he never will. Further, the fact that he managed to turn New Spring into a full book proves to me that he had the chance to finish his series and chose not to do so, which in my eyes is unforgivable. That's one of the reasons that I plan three book series, so that if I die unexpectedly after writing nine books the readers won't loose the end to nine books, they'll only loose the end to a two book series.

I stopped buying his books near the end in protest, even though I knew that he was having heart problems. I borrowed the most recent novel from a friend instead of buying it, and even though I own the collection in which the short story version of "New Spring" appears I still haven't read the book version. I told myself that I wouldn't buy another one of his books until he finished the series.

I've heard from some sources that he left a completed set of notes for the last book and from other sources that the notes aren't complete but that he told his wife how the books ended before he died. Either way, I can't help but imagine that his intense dislike of other people writing in the world that he created will hurt him now. Who is going to take over that can possibly write in Jordan's amazingly expansive style? Perhaps if he'd created a "Known Universe" like Niven did an others have there would have been a few viable options out there that we knew could finish the job, but there aren't.

It worries me that whoever they pick will be someone that does a horrible job and simply butchers it, but then again, it's not like I can bring him back from the dead just to finish the book. If I could bring him back I'd probably spend most of the time after he'd been resurrected strangling him instead.

Incidentally, I'd just like to point out that I don't care about Faile. At all. I actually skipped some of the chapters involving that subplot in the last book, and I don't miss them. It was a sign of his continued disinterest in the plot that such a minor character consumes so many of the pages in the last two books.

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