Tuesday, February 24, 2015

There's something to be said for series


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I love reading series. For me, it's all about the world building. As the books progress it's so easy to put yourself back there in that world with those people. An excellent example is Anne McCaffrey's wonderful Pern series. In our SFR patch I like Linnea Sinclair's Dock Five books. There's a gritty realism about that boondocks space station. As you learn more and more about the place you can imagine it growing from a service dock for space ships, to a freighter terminal to a way point for travellers to a sleazy hell-hole offering all the attractions and distractions three different humanoid alien species could possibly wish for.

When I read the author's descriptions of Dock Five I always think of Singapore back in the old days when it was the very epitome of a den of iniquity. Strategically positioned at the end of the Malayan Peninsula, this island city was a port city receiving trade from Europe going to China, and vice versa. It attracted honest traders, not so honest traders, and all the people offering services to sailors. Food, prostitutes, arms, drugs, smuggled goods, and maintenance and repair for ships. And it was a place where people didn't ask too many questions. 

Put old Singapore into space and you've got Dock Five. You've still got the dank alleyways, seeping sewage, creaking roofs, dark and dangerous bars. Just different, because the sewage flows through corroded pipes and there are escalators with treads missing if they work at all. The alleys are metal canyons between cobbled-together modules. And little dives catering for all kinds can be found everywhere.

So if anyone ends up at Dock Five, you know what they're in for.

The space station plays an important role in all the books. But having once established place, an author can then start to add characters. The main characters in the first two Dock Five books (Gabriel's Ghost and Shades of Dark) were Sullivan and Sass, but they get no more than a mention in the next two books. The author took a minor character from those two stories and wrote a whole book about him. Hope's Folly follows the fortunes of Sass's ex-husband, Admiral Philip Guthrie, who we met in GG and SoD. And then the next book (Rebels and Lovers) tells the story of Philip's younger brother, the seriously geeky Devin Guthrie. While Dock Five is just the starting point for HF, it's a vital component of RaL, where you hear every creak and rattle of the antiquated piping, smell the smells, and watch your footing on the stairs.

I've done a similar thing in my PtorixEmpire series, keeping the setting (a universe where the alien Ptorix are the main players) and adding characters. Senior Commander Brett Butcher played a minor role in the first two books, The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy and The Iron Admiral: Deception. Now he stars in his very own book, Crisis at Validor, where readers will get to learn a lot more about the alien Ptorix who play a major role in all four books.

Do you have a favourite series? Tell us about it and why it's a favourite.

3 comments:

  1. Sooooo many series!!! I used to 'vet' men to date by discussing the Dune series, and I first began really looking seriously at my future husband when he asked if I had read the latest Vorkosigan book. (It was Barrayar at the time, which shows how long we've been married, tee hee!)

    Loved at least four of Anne McCaffrey's series -- Dragons of Pern, Crystal Singer, Partnerships, and Sassinak -- and I can't tell you how many times I've bought the entire Mary Stewart Merlin trilogy only to lend them out and never get them back. Four times? Five?

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  2. I almost actively avoid books that aren't series. I love getting sucked in, and when I fall in love with a world I want to stay there as long as I possibly can. Which is why I love Dark-Hunter so much. Every book reveals something about the world I didn't know before.

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  3. I love series so much! While I don't mind an occasional stand alone world, there's something to be said for falling in love with a whole world. I just adore it.

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