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Monday, December 10, 2007

Books by Authors no longer with us

rah I just finished a book that was begun many years ago by an author who left us around 1988, Robert Heinlein. My goddamn spellchecker doesn't recognize his name, nor does it recognize that the word spellchecker should be one word not two. It is ignorant beyond recall but it is after all a Microsoft product. I would wager than most of the people who wrote that ignorant spellchecker knew his name.

Mr. Heinlein was among the best known and loved science fiction writers in the world. He was also, beyond a doubt one of the greatest writers of that genre in it's brief history. Spider Robinson who took on the task of writing the novel from Heinlein's notes has written a book -- Variable Star -- that I found interesting. It is a juvenile novel aimed at those much younger than I. It is, to my eye, true to the style and character development methodology used by the departed master.

I remember spending whole years waiting for the next novel by Heinlein.


Losing a great writer of your favorite genre is like losing a lifelong friend. Thanks to Spider for this one. It is the best I have seen of a crop of books done in the name of authors we miss.

There is a real tendency in the publishing trade to try to continue using the name of departed authors. Most often I am amused by that effort to profit by the name and characters developed by those who are no longer with us in the flesh.

Science Fiction has sometimes posed the idea that great actors and actresses could be rebuilt of bits and bytes and emulated. Then they could play roles in videos that were not yet written while they were still alive. I am certain that somewhere someone is writing a computer program that can be used to emulate great authors, it seems inevitable if unlikely to succeed.

It is interesting that these somewhat ghoulish practices are being used to revive famous character names and series. Thus we can continue reading new books that were never intended to be written by the original author. Of course the point of this is profit. I have no argument with that motive. I simply wish they all were as cleanly executed as this attempt. It annoys me when they are not well done, not that they are done at all. How do you feel about that?

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