Interesting conversation in the comments a few posts down, about The Wolves of Willoughby Chase series by Joan Aiken. I, like apparently many people other than my commenters, didn’t know there was a series, but it turns out that there is, and an extensive one:
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (1962)
Black Hearts in Battersea (1964)
Nightbirds on Nantucket (1966)
The Stolen Lake (1981)
Dangerous Games (1999)
The Cuckoo Tree (1971)
Dido and Pa (1986)
Is Underground (1992)
Cold Shoulder Road (1995)
Midwinter Nightingale (2003)
The Witch of Clatteringshaws (2005)
Plus a prequel:
The Whispering Mountain (1968)
Elaine T suggests that the series gets odd toward the end: Has anyone but me read the whole series to the end? What did you think of it? I thought it went more than a little weird and awry at the end. And evidently other readers agree, which makes me wonder, do you all think the series is actually worth reading to the end, and if you would stop early, which book would you stop with?
Then Cheryl L wondered what other series might be out there that were written over a huge period of time.
I can’t think of any SFF series that were written over 40 years, but the one long SFF series that leaps to my mind as having changed a lot from front to back — though in some ways I think this one got less weird as it went on, rather than more weird — is Jo Clayton’s Diadem series.
That one started with Diadem from the Stars in 1977 and went a mere decade, finishing up with Questor’s Endgame in 1986. I found the whole thing okay but not spectacular, but I particularly remember the way that planets kind of had souls (or something) in the early books, a plot element that vanished as Clayton forgot about it or changed her mind.
Then there’s Cherryh’s massive and ongoing Foreigner series, which has been going since — did you know this? — 1994. So it’s actually been going on for 20 years now. [That makes me feel old!] And of course she’s been adding not quite a book per year, so her series is already longer than the Wolves series. This one, in contrast to Aiken’s series or Clayton’s series, has been quite consistent throughout. I can think of one character who changes significantly over the course of the series as Cherryh apparently changes her mind about the role she wants him to play, but the world and characters are very, very consistent overall, as you’ll see if you read the whole thing fast from front to back. I suspect this is because she’s written it so quickly, relatively speaking, but she plainly also just has an extremely firm mental picture of the atevi and ateva society.
Okay, so — DOES anybody know of another SFF series that was written over a long time span, and if one comes to mind, what did you think of it?
And yeah, I’m definitely going to pick up a few of the Wolves sequels.