To admit, I had a hard time titling this post; I mean to highlight are novel series whereby there is a long gap of many years between installments. An example will be Stephen King who announced a few months ago that he will be publishing the sequel to The Shining after 36 years. The sequel will be titled Doctor Sleep. Imagine – if a teenager read The Shining in 1977, his son is probably old enough to read this upcoming sequel. Sequel gaps occur due to various reasons – more often than not, the author did not plan a sequel on the outset. This may be odd given that the current publishing trend, especially for Young People/Young Adult books, is to start off planning a trilogy with option for prequels and interquels.
In researching, the longest gap I could find so far is 52 years between the first and third book of Alan Garner’s Alderley Edge trilogy. Easily a short lifetime. The first book was published in 1960, titled The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. The third book was just published in August this year, titled Boneland. I’m not sure if there are readers who read Weirdstone when it was first published, and have looked forward to book 3 for 52 years. It’s unimaginable! In a case closer to heart – the Harry Potter series took 10 years to conclude (although it has 7 books). For fantasy titles like these, in building the world there is room to expand and grow the place and characters. Readers feel like they have grown up together with the characters over time. Think about it – children who read Harry Potter at age 11 when it first released in 1997 turn 26 this year (and old enough to read The Casual Vacancy) and spent the most parts of their formative years with the Harry Potter kingdom. This article provides more example of fantasy and science fiction novels with long sequel gaps.
Science Fiction and Fantasy series are not the only genres that lend itself to long sequel gap. My favourite chick lit heroine Bridget Jones will be appearing in the 3rd installment in 2013, after a 13 year gap from book 2 The Edge of Reason and 17 years from book 1 Bridget Jones’ Diary. On the legal thrillers front, bestselling author John Grisham mentioned that he is considering a sequel to his 1989 novel, A Time To Kill. Grisham notes that he has never considered sequels to his books until recently, after the release of his 30th book.
I’m not a person for long sequel gaps, unless I read the first book at or around the same time the finale is published. For example, you may know I’m a fan of Ken Follett. I read his The Pillars of The Earth at the same time its sequel World Without End was published. The gap between the two is 18 years; I would not have waited that long. More recently, his other series, the Century Trilogy, is being written at about one book every 2 years. I can’t wait 2 years; by the time book 2 came out, I had a hard time recalling what happened in book 1. (Nonetheless I still love these books).Apart from the Century Trilogy, I am also waiting for book 3, if any, to Neal Shusterman’s Unwind series comprising of Unwind and Unwholly.
Are you waiting for any series? Let me know in the comments!
Contributed by Lo Wan Ni