This week in science fiction and fantasy we challenge you to discover your next favorite series. In this post, New York Times bestselling author of the Wool series Hugh Howey shares his passion for series reading and writing and the sweet pain of finishing that last book.
There was a game we played every summer. My brother, my sister, and I would crowd the bench seat of our old Ford van and strain for the first glimpse of the ocean. It was a ritual at the end of a long road trip and an even longer year between our annual beach trips. That sight of the sun twinkling on the waves meant we were back to the beach house. And now our summer could truly begin.
This yearly return to a familiar but unreal landscape, a chance to escape from our regular lives, to be reunited with old friends we spent but a week a year paling around with, highlights all that is wonderful about a series of books. Sure, we squirm and moan over the interminable wait between vacations, but when that annual release comes, there is no greater thrill. Our favorite protagonist is glimpsed for the first time, and it reminds me of rounding that final turn in the road to spot the distant sea.
I was a sucker for a book series growing up. I tore through thick paperbacks at a prodigious rate. Scanning bookstore shelves, I kept a sharp eye out for spines with numbers on them. Once I found a world I enjoyed visiting, full of people I came to love (and sometimes loathe), all I wanted was to get back again and again, see how those characters evolved over time, watch them overcome small hurdles even as they worked toward some greater, unfinished cause. The sweet pain of completing a book was only salved by knowing another was waiting. And finishing a series, reading that final epilogue, often brought me to tears (and had me digging out the first book to start all over again).
When I sat down to write my first novel, there was no doubt in my mind that I was launching a series. I created a young character named Molly Fyde, but I already saw her old and weary after a legion of adventures, her heart broken and mended a dozen times, her children making trouble of their own. Books are magical as singular things, but they are limitless in a series. There’s the chance to watch old friends grown and mature. There’s the heartache of losing someone and the bliss of meeting someone new. With each book, we know a little of what we’re getting, but we know there’ll be surprises as well.
This week celebrates the chance to start a new series. For me, it’s also a chance to reflect on the books I grew up with. Some of my favorites include Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and Peter F. Hamilton’s Naked Godtrilogy. There’s the countless Forgotten Realm books I devoured over the years, and my old pal The Stainless Steel Rat. I’ve read the Dune books and the Foundation saga multiple times, and I’m sure I’ll read them again. These and many more are like that old beach house of my youth—they sit just around the bend, always waiting for me to return.
Ready to discover the next series you endulge in? Dive into our Start a New Series store featuring more than 120 sci-fi and fantasy picks.