A Short Rant on Serial Fiction

Okay, so I’m a total hypocrite, since I am working on a 4-book SF novella tetralogy, but I wanted to go on a short rant.

I’m getting tired of everything being a series. It’s true of books and even more true of movies. I’ve seen the steep curve of book sales, so I understand how publishers are aiming to get the next Harry Potter or Twilight or Hunger Games or Fifty Shades of Gray (or The Fifth Wave???). Single books just aren’t as hot as a series that catches on fire and when they do, the proportion of sales they get are utterly ridiculous.

Same goes for movies with reboot after reboot, superhero tales get respun. I would be more excited for the Man of Steel movie if I didn’t know it was so calculated for a future Justice League movie, similar to what Marvel did with The Avengers. And the thing is, many of these remakes are just terrible (Total Recall, for instance was a bad remake of the previous movie, not even going to Philip K Dick’s source material). The capital investment for studios is just too great to take a risk on an indie-style script.

So how this affects me is I find myself starting these series, then waiting just long enough to forget what happened in the previous book before embarking on the next. And then there are authors who get bored or distracted and start publishing other books before they finish their series. I don’t want to read a book that ends on a cliff hanger and then have to wait four years for the next book.

It’s also interesting to me that some genres are notorious for almost exclusively writing in series (fantasy — I’m talking to you). The exception seems to be in horror. Even though horror no longer has the popularity it once did in the eighties, I notice that most books in the genre are stand alone. Granted, if your name isn’t Stephen King or Dean Koontz, it’s tough to gain traction in horror, but I appreciate that not every book is a series.

I want to read broadly in the SF/F field, gaining as much exposure as I can to diverse authors, but this gets hard when each book is only a fraction of the series. And it seems silly to knowingly only read the first book in a multi-book story arc.

Anyway, that’s all for my soap box today. Back to reading another series on my Kindle.

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