Over at tor.com, we have a list of seventeen standalone fantasy titles. Now, mind you, a standalone is a mixed blessing. Because one of those titles is THE GOBLIN EMPEROR and how many of us are weeping because there isn’t a sequel planned? Right?
Even so, I must admit I’m often more likely to pick up a book, especially by a new-to-me author, if it stands alone.
other books I’ve read and loved from tor.com’s list: lots, actually, but particularly:
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells
The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle
Wait, wait, but they include Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly, which kind of changes the topic from “books that are completely standalone” to “books that stand alone well enough that you don’t have to actually buy the sequels”, which is an entirely different kind of list and much much broader. Phooey, I say. A list for standalone titles should include ONLY titles that stand ENTIRELY alone in their universe.
Also! Why are only fantasy novels listed here? Quick, let’s list some great standalone SF novels, because I’m sure there must be lots. I don’t know that I can get to seventeen strictly from memory, but I’ll try for ten. So in no order, as they occur to me:
1. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
2. And All the Stars by Andrea K Höst
3. The Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias
4. Embassytown by China Miéville
5. Cuckoo’s Egg by CJ Cherryh
6. Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Heinlein
7. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
8. The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz
9. Hellspark by Janet Kagan
10. The Martian by Andy Weir.
There! That wasn’t so hard. That’s certainly a wide range, too: everything from quite hard SF to basically science fantasy. I bet you can all think of others.
Not to mention lots of other fantasy titles that aren’t on tor.com’s list. Like just for example *most* of Patricia McKillip’s books, not to mention The City in the Lake, which is not only a standalone right this minute, but always will be, because unlike some of my other titles, I have no plans to write a sequel.