Five series consisting of independent novels

While reading Molly Templeton’s latest essay, Is Series Fatigue Real ?, I noticed an interesting phrase: “the loose series where the books are independent, but they also fit together.” I realized that I tend to divide comic fiction into two sets:

A) series where the books are clearly linked to background and characters, but which can give readers the complete plot experience in each volume;

B) series, where each volume is only a fragment of a larger whole.

I strongly prefer the first kind. When I shift my 75 cents – ah, I’m informed that prices have risen somewhat, then correct it appropriately – I do not protest if the book by hand builds towards a major series goal, but I protest if the novel lacks a functional, complete plot that does not depend on the fact that I have read all the previous books in the series and which will not be completed without future volumes that have not yet been written. Which may never be written.

It’s strange that I can not think of short, quick expressions to distinguish between the two models. Do you have any ideas?

My experience is that mystery series do a better job of writing series A books than science fiction and fantasy series. I never read a mystery at the end of where the detective reveals that the killer will be revealed in book two. Or book eight if necessary, depending on sales. , whose other activities distract the author.

Maybe it’s an accident to publish history (the accident of history that saw Lord of the Rings published in three volumes), which the book fragment model captured in speculative fiction and not mystery. Perhaps it’s quite simple that mystery publishers do not care to test how people who spend an unnecessary amount of time reading about violent murders would react to discovering that they only have part of a mystery plot. Nevertheless, there are actually speculative fiction series whose volumes can each be read and enjoyed without having read all the previous volumes. Here are five series that I am very fond of.

Melissa Scott’s Astreiant series – the first two of which, Point of Hopes (1995) and Point of Dreams (2001), was co-authored with the late Lisa A. Barnett, and the latter three, of which, Point of Knives (2012), Messers Point (2014), and The point of sighs (2018), were solo endeavors – exploring a secondary fantasy world groping its way toward functional modern social institutions, sometimes despite the best efforts of existing archaic institutions.

The specific institution pertaining to the Pointsman Rathe is law enforcement. In an ideal world, this would involve noticing unfortunate developments, exposing the perpetrators and punishing them appropriately. The great and powerful in the Kingdom of Chenedolle in general and the city of Astreiant in particular prefer law enforcement, which does not interfere so much in upper-class cases, and which has the common sense not to attribute any crimes to the social elite. All very well in theory, but Astreiant’s malicious men include people of all classes, and some of the plots have very serious consequences for the city. Sometimes a copper (and his attractive girlfriend) has to pursue the culprits, regardless of social convention.

James Alan Gardners League of Peoples—Indispensable (1997), Obligation Hour (1998), On guard (1999), The self (2000), Increasing (2001), Caught (2002), Brilliant (2004) – offers a shining world of tomorrow … with one small flaw.

When aliens offered every human being who asked for a trip to pristine worlds with all the modern conveniences, humanity left in droves, leaving Earth to fend for itself (which it did … badly). According to league rules, no creature that kills a sentient being (or allows a sentient being to die through inactivity) must travel between star systems. Thus, centuries later, the part of humanity that can not kill is an interstellar species, while the murderous part is either planet-bound or dead.

Theoretically, they should remain planet-bound because galactic civilization does not want murderous humans to rage through their worlds. But murderous people keep looking for loopholes in cordon sanitaire.

Gardner, who rarely returns to the same character twice, guides the viewer through a series of great star-studded adventures. The series is the rare thing in science fiction, the comic SF novel (and the one there even more rare things, comic SF novels that I enjoy). Unfortunately, it does not appear that the series will continue in further volumes.

Natsu Hyuuga’s Pharmacies Diaries focuses on Maomao, kidnapped from her city’s red-light district and taken to the Rear Palace (Imperial Harem) as a servant. This is a sad waste of Maomao’s skills, trained as she was by her foster father in the pharmacy sciences. Since the imperial policy is ruthless and brutal, the smart thing to do would be to reconcile his (involuntary) contract and return to take care of his old foster father. But a combination of sharp observation skills and inability to keep his mouth shut, senior eunuch Jinshi and other members of Rear Palace warn that Maomao has unique and valuable skills. A completely reluctant career with increasingly risky investigations follows.

Volumes 1 to 4 are translated into English. Volume five is imminent. I enjoy the puzzles, as well as the way Hyuuga excels at providing his characters – both protagonists and antagonists – with motifs that the reader may not see coming.

Originally conceived as a single independent novel, the story of Emma Newman’s Planetfall series expanded to four complete novels—Planetfall (2015), After Atlas (2016), Before March (2018), Atlas alone (2019) – which can be read in any order.

Cults that claim communication with aliens are nothing new. Pathfinder Lee Suh-Mi’s cult was different in that Pathfinder’s aliens were real. Definitely the spaceship Atlas found something strange and enigmatic when it reached the world to which the Pathfinder led them. The success has had consequences, which are played out over several volumes. Mighty, amoral people decide to acquire alien riches (if there are alien riches) for themselves. More importantly, they make sure no one else is able to duplicate Pathfinder’s journey.

I enjoyed the relentless way in which Newman draws his unfortunate characters toward the logical conclusion of ruthless profit-seeking that is not encumbered with morality or ethics. It’s not a happy series – for billions of people it’s as unhappy as it can be – but it’s captivating.

Some fantasy writers focus on high-level aristocrats and their harsh political quarrels. Nahoko Uehashi’s Moribito seriesGuardian of the Spirit (1996), Guardian of darkness (1999), The guardian of dreams (2000), The travelers of the void (2001), Guardian of the God: The Book of Coming (2003), Guardian of the God: The Book of Return (2003), Travelers on Indigo-Blue Road (2005), Guardian of Heaven and Earth: The Kingdom of Lota (2006), Guardian of Heaven and Earth: Kingdom of Kanbal (2007), Guardian of Heaven and Earth: The New Yogo Empire (2007) – has as a protagonist a skilled bodyguard without any social status. The traveling bodyguard Balsa avoids getting involved in royal affairs on the reasonable grounds that she is unlikely to survive. Unfortunately for her, a moment of selfless heroism first draws her into court politics – bad! – and then into divine affairs… which is worse.

This series presents a major complication from an English-language perspective: only the first two volumes have been translated into English. Otherwise, this is a good example of a series on the border between fantasy and mystery: survival often forces Balsa to uncover and confront things that her social superiors have made an effort to hide.


No doubt you have your own favorites. I can think of a few dozen examples I did not mention because or as You are welcome to offer your candidates in the comments below.

In the words of fanfiction author Musty181, prolific book reviewer and perennial Darwin Award nominee James Davis Nicoll “looks like a standard mii with glasses.” His work has appeared in Publishers Weekly and Romantic Times as well as on his own websites, Reviews by James Nicoll (where he is assisted by editor Karen Lofstrom and webperson Adrienne L. Travis) and 2021 and 2022 Aurora Award finalist Young people read Gamle SFF (where he is assisted by webperson Adrienne L. Travis). He is a four-time finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer and is surprisingly flammable.

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