Monday, September 6, 2010

Special Thanks to H. G. Wells

This weekend I finished reading The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Loved it. Great story. Well told. I don't want to spoil the ending for any who haven't read it, but it ends with a bit of a question, though I think Wells left it clear enough for an observant reader to figure out the general idea.

As I closed the cover, the idea struck me to write a sequel. The narrator of the story dated it three years after the close of the action. I could quite reasonably open a new story, from the same narrator's perspective, five or ten years after the close of the initial action. It is, after all, about a time machine.

While the idea appeals to me, I currently have far too many open projects to try to pick up such a challenge. I say a challenge, because I would not want to write a sequel if I could not write it the way that Wells did. When a writer tries to write a continuation of another writer's work, and completely fails to copy the style of writing, or the mode of speech, or the format of the entries, or other such subtleties, then they fail at writing the sequel, and instead, partly ruin the world the writer has so carefully crafted.

This happened with one of my own favorite series, Phule's Company by Robert Asprin. Asprin, sadly, passed away not long ago, and in his last years, he had begun sharing his writings with other authors. Eventually, the other authors took over. Some, like Jody Lyn Nye who took over the excellent Myth series, have done a wonderful job. Unfortunately, the Phule series did not meet as sweet a fate. The author who took the series has not kept Asprin's voice, nor even, apparently, read the previous novels! If he did, he did not pay much attention to the characterizations or even the format the books were written in. He has trashed all of it, warped the characters, and ruined the series (for me).

If I choose to write a sequel to the classic story by H.G. Wells, I would make every possible effort not to make that mistake. Like the friend of the time traveler, you'll just have to wait to see if I succeed.

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