Yesterday, I left a comment in a thread on /r/fantasy discussing the phenomenon where some series blend together into one huge-ass book, especially if you read them electronically after the whole series is done.
I was of the opinion that, well, it varies. Some series are more prone to this; you’re much more likely to remember an individual Discworld novel than an individual segment of A Fantasy Epic Split Into Multiple Volumes For Financial Reasons. And then I went on a stoned riff about an imaginary series, as an example of how you’re more likely to have a memory of individual books if you read them as they came out:
It doesn’t matter if book 5 of the 7-volume Penwiper Saga has a terrible case of middle book syndrome, with next to no work spent trying to get readers up to speed, and nothing that brings the particular events of the book to a satisfying stop; it’s just a place where you stop and stretch a bit before picking up the next one. If you read the books as they were published, you’ll have read book 1, then maybe re-read book 1 when book 2 came out, skimmed 1 and re-read 2 when 3 hit the shelves, and so on. Plus maybe re-readings now and then between new volumes if you were a super hardcore fan of The Penwiper Saga. So you’d have a very good sense of what happened in book 1, “The Affair Of The Unclaimed Head” as distinct from how kind of nothing really happened in book 5, “Adrift On The Clockwork Sea”. And the buildup of anticipation to the final volume, “The Black Doll”, would be inextricably bound up with your re-skimming of all six previous books, and the disappointment when [spoiler]Matilda Penwiper sold the ancestral manse to Dr. Minos instead of using the titular doll to destroy his twisted soul forever[/spoiler].
Being stoned, of course, I couldn’t let go of the idea. And I have decided that The Penwiper Saga may end up being a running joke in my work: a series that is immensely popular in the various imaginary worlds of my stories. I will, hopefully, never actually write this series in any capacity beyond giggling a lot as I write a couple of pages to show up in a close-up, or tiny excerpts to go along fake fan-art. I’m pretty sure it’s a darkly comedic YA fantasy series, what with everything but “Adrift On The Clockwork Sea” being a Gorey reference.
Tentative titles for the series:
- The Affair Of The Unclaimed Head.
- The Case Of The Ascending Lizard.
- The House With The Wrong Number.
- The Dragon In My Pantry.
- Adrift On The Clockwork Sea.
- The Curious Adventure Of The Gyrobicupola.
- The Black Doll.
Also there is short story taking place between #3 and #4 titled “Bernie And Matilda Play It Cool” which only appeared on C. D. Hallifax’ Livejournal until the 10th anniversary reissue; in retrospect, it foreshadows all of the harsh truths about Dr. Minos that fans would claim came out of nowhere in books 6 and 7.