George R. R. Martin explained last week that he wasn’t going to license his fantasy world. Which to me raised an important question.
Should authors do that? Should authors allow their world to be used by other authors – to expand the genre, and keep readers enjoying the experience?
I’d agree with Martin. They shouldn’t. Because the experience won’t be the same. Not worse, but different.
It is over twenty years now since Isaac Asimov passed away – a great loss to the world of writing. He was more than just a sci-fi author; he was a great writer by any measure, influential and capable in many fields.
He left behind a hanging thread; his Foundation series, which by 1990 he had amalgamated with his Robot series. The last lines of the ultimate volume, Foundation and Earth, left hints at a tantalising future story – and Asimov indicated he had every intention of writing it.
Except he didn’t. Since then that universe has been licensed; there have been ‘gap filler’ books produced by some very capable and well known SF authors, all of them highly professional and solid in their own right.
But they weren’t Asimov. And to me, it shows. They put their own spin into the stories – their own stamp, as any good author should.
To me, that meant they weren’t the same. Not at all; and – to me at least – a good part of the magic of Asimov’s world wasn’t the setting he’d created, but the way he handled that setting. Other authors – quite rightly, I might add – didn’t do it the same way. And to me that lost something.
Others may disagree. Others might like the licensed books better than the originals, maybe. It’s all a matter of taste.
I think commercialism also plays a part – but more on that next time.
Meanwhile, what do you think of licensed worlds? Your cup of tea? Or not at all.
Cowpyright © Matthew Wright 2013
Next week – we’ll be discussing commercial motives to license. But before then, more writing tips, more humour, more – well, you’ll see. Watch this space.