5 Classic Fiction Series We Need a Resolution For

By: Sam Fletcher, June 28th, 2023 10:06 am.

Some of the greatest works of literature never got their final word. Like a torn-out last page or a sneeze held in, these classics had us waiting for a conclusion that never arrived.

It’s always a drag not hearing out everything an author hoped to say. Still, there’s always fun in speculation, as we’ll see here.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood – Charles Dickens

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This one set the template for unfinished business in a murder mystery. Serialized, it cut off after six installments instead of twelve following Dickens’ death. Speculations have since become a game of their own, given we never discover who the murderer is.

Where did Edwin Drood disappear to? Who killed him? Many believe it was his uncle, but is that another dead end?

Writers have since put their own spin on the ending, with Broadway shows cutting off when the book does. Endless theories have spawned from this. One American publisher even claimed they’d channeled Dicken’s spirit. When people are literal ghost-writing an ending, you know they need closure.

But, truth told, nothing can likely live up to what the audience has cooked up, even if it is Dickens.

Dune – Frank Herbert

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He who controls the spice controls the future.

A monumental work of world-building, this classic science-fiction epic rivaled that of Tolkein. Critiquing mass manipulation and demagogues, it raised many issues in its six books. Herbert was a visionary giving us an epic arc that led all the way up to a cliffhanger in ‘Chapterhouse: Dune.’

Bringing in Middle Eastern influences, it incorporated so much into its universe. Crucial for interstellar travel, spice melange is the lifeblood of galactic empires.

So it’s oil.

Unlike other writers, Herbert was a novelist with both questions and solutions. Alas, many were never to be. Who are Marty and Daniel, and whatever happened to Duncan and Sheeana?

Taking his father’s notes, Brian Herbert would later continue the series. It’s worth checking out, but oh, what could’ve been.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

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Adams always stated each novel beyond the initial trilogy was his final. But pulled back into writing more, he always had another offering of Arthur Dent and company.

In the cult series, Dent travels the galaxy with his pal Ford Prefect after the Vogons demolish Earth. Oh, and they also had the gall to recite terrible poetry. The series traveled through a lot in only five books. Then a massive bummer of an ending. Reworking ‘Dirk Gently’s’ finale into Hitch-hiker’s, he wanted something more upbeat.

But it wasn’t to be after he passed in 2001, leaving the series with a bleak conclusion (his words, not mine). Still, Eoin Colfer provided his own take on the final novel with ‘And Another Thing…’ in 2009. That’s something, at least.

Well, so long, and thanks for all the fish!

Gormenghast – Mervyn Peake

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A comedy of manners taking place in a fantastical world decaying from its own insularity.

Titus Groan comes of age here within the crumbling spires of Castle Gormenghast. The first, ‘Titus Groan,’ introduces us to this world of age-old rituals. The second, ‘Gormenghast,’ then comes into its own. Titus then heads off, facing technology in ‘Titus Alone,’ as Gormenghast fades away.

Peake’s illness put a stopper on his plans, with two further books set following Titus Groan. It’s a shame as Titus Alone had many of its fascinating ideas edited by the publisher. Set around the stranger in a strange land conceit, the third act needed more weight.

‘Titus Awakes’ contains some of what was to be the fourth novel. First called ‘Search Without End,’ it’s a posthumous tribute to the late author from his wife, Maeve Gilmore. Still, it’s interesting to see what could’ve been in what is a touching tribute.

And we got two solid hallmarks of the fantasy genre regardless.

A Song of Fire and Ice – George R.R. Martin

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It’s never going to end, it’s never going to end, it’s never going to end!

Alright, you get it; this entry was a cheeky one. Pressuring the man himself isn’t cool, as we all want quality (or better than the TV finale, which isn’t asking much). It’s not his fault, as he regretted ‘not staying ahead of the books’ when it came to HBO’s Game of Thrones.

The first five books are a lot, and we should be thankful for that. Taking the War of the Roses as the basis for his War of the Five Kings was a masterstroke. It also introduced countless iconic Machiavellian schemers (and many more baby names).

With two battles opening ‘The Winds of Winter,’ it’s set to be an epic conclusion alongside ‘A Dream of Spring.’ And now, with the show long gone, there’s nothing to stop him.

We hope.

Loose Ends

So, what are your favorite thoughts and theories? Throw out some speculations (the wilder, the better) and let us know below.

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Mark Joseph
Mark Joseph
11 months ago

The seventh and last book in Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker series was never written.

Dan Simmons wrote a book called Drood, which I believe (I have not read it yet) is the completion of Dickens’ unfinished work. Simmons was an English Literature teacher before he became a full-time writer, and many of his works reference classic English literature.

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