Hypothetical Question

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Hypothetical Question

Postby JTass » Fri Jul 03, 2020 9:31 pm

Hi Mr. M.,

An odd scenario just popped into my head, and I'm curious about how you would respond...
Your publisher approaches you and says that they want to release a special anniversary edition of one of your early works, and would like you to update it. Having grown as an author in the intervening years, are there any of your works that you'd like to go back and tweak a bit?

As an example, readers tend to either love or hate the end of The Forever Hero. Would 2020 you write that ending differently than 1988 you?
Considering the principles involved, what are the odds that Murphy's Law is named after the wrong guy?
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby lmodesitt » Sat Jul 04, 2020 2:12 pm

As you observed, the ending of In Endless Twilight [the third book of The Forever Hero] tends to polarize readers. The ending can certainly be taken as "politically incorrect" by those who wish to, but taking it that way ignores the entire spirit of the rest of the book. In addition,the ending [or one very similar] is effectively the only ending possible that's true to the character and the rest of the book, including what that future Earth owes Gerswin. The Forever Hero is essentially a classical tragedy, and to change the ending markedly, or to write around it, would, in my opinion, even 35 years later, essentially destroy the book. Would I write another book like that? Certainly not in today's social climate and market.

In addressing the larger question you've asked, outside of fixing obvious technical errors, I wouldn't be inclined to make changes in books I wrote earlier in my career. They're what I wrote then, when I was who I was then, and I think it would be dishonest, in a way, to significantly rewrite an older book. The time would be better spent writing a new, and hopefully better book. I think I've learned over the years, but whether that's as much as I hope will be decided by others over time.

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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby JTass » Sat Jul 04, 2020 5:38 pm

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that any changes involved would be quite so sweeping as to significantly change the story.

The example that inspired my question was the 10th Anniversary "author's preferred text" edition of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, which includes about 10,000 additional words and several scenes that were omitted from the original publication, plus several edits to the existing text that improved clarity or the flow of the story.

Regarding the ending of In Endless Twilight, I generally enjoyed the conclusion, but there were a couple of scenes that were a little more rape-y than I felt was warranted or that contradicted the way that Gerswin had been depicted previously. His earlier interactions with women had always involved using his protective empathy 'roofie' whistle rather than force.

As I recall, there were a couple of mentions in the trilogy saying that under stress Gerswin tended to react with a more primal 'id' response, but throughout the series, his behavior came across as much more ethical, even if the ethics he adhered to were his own personal morals rather than society's.
Considering the principles involved, what are the odds that Murphy's Law is named after the wrong guy?
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby JTass » Sat Jul 04, 2020 5:58 pm

As an aside, have you ever read American Gods? It's one of my all-time favorites that I re-read or re-listen to about once a year.
Considering the principles involved, what are the odds that Murphy's Law is named after the wrong guy?
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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby lmodesitt » Sat Jul 04, 2020 6:17 pm

I'm not against restoration and/or "clean-up." In order to sell my first novel, The Fires of Paratime, I had to cut almost 20,000 words. When I got the rights back after Simon & Schuster folded Timescape, I put back in the material I'd cut, but eliminated about 1,000 words, that upon reflection, actually made no sense at all, and I resold that to Tor, who republished it as The Timegod.

If you read the text of In Endless Twilight closely, as Gerswin ages, his social control begins to deteriorate more rapidly under stress, which is why that future society has to deal with him as they do.

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Re: Hypothetical Question

Postby Ghost » Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:44 pm

I have The Fires of Paratime and The Timegod. As I read The Timegod, I said (to myslef) I've read this … no I have … oh yes I have. It was an interesting experience.
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