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Sequels, Prequels, and Reboots—Maybe Not So Bad After All

By Z.S. Roe

In the world of fiction, be it on film or on the page, sequels, prequels, and reboots reign supreme.  And why not?  For publishing houses and movie studios, there’s a lot less risk if there is already an established audience.

At this point, saying Hollywood is fresh out of ideas is like saying global warming is a problem: shouldn’t it be obvious?  A Batman sequel, Alien prequel, Spider-Man reboot, and on and on without a fresh idea in sight.  Anyone paying attention to recent movie news will likely have heard that Peter Jackson’s two Hobbit movies have turned into three Hobbit movies.  How one book can justify three movies is beyond me, but the possible profits likely had a lot to do with it.

The first of three HOBBIT movies? So they say.

Let’s not forget the book world.  Currently, I’m reading popular sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card’s Earth Unaware—a novelization of a graphic novel prequel to his hit bestselling novel Ender’s Game, which also had various sequels and parallel novels.  And this is nothing new for the publishing industry.  I couldn’t even begin to count the number of series in print today.

Still, there remain those who continue to believe that all these sequels, prequels, and reboots are, in fact, not a sign that the creative well has run dry.  As far as they’re concerned, everything in in the land of fiction is A-Okay.

For the longest time, I would have called these folk a bunch of fools.  Lately, though, I’ve begun to change my tune.  After all, how can I bemoan the state of storytelling, when I’m still enjoying the stories being told?

That Orson Scott Card novel?  I’m actually loving the hell out of it.  And the Spider-Man reboot?  I personally think it’s better than any of the previous three Spider-Man films.  Sure, not all the retreads are great (and a number of them are downright awful), but I suspect that some of them are likely a lot better than any of us have given them credit for.

All in all, a pretty fantastic book.

Yes, franchises make for easy money, but the potential for profit should not deter us from enjoying these stories.  To say that stories should never be expanded upon or revised seems rather limiting.  Granted, less is often more, as they say, but not always; sometimes more is exactly that: more.  Where is the sin if adding to a story enriches it, and enhances the experience for the readers and/or audience?

And this nonsense about such and such a story being unnecessary is precisely that: nonsense.  We don’t tell stories because they’re necessary.  I assure you, the world would continue to spin if no more stories were told.  Necessity is not the point.  No, the point is to enrich our lives through different perspectives and new understandings, and even (dare I say it) to entertain us (don’t scoff; entertainment is an essential part of a balanced life).

And so, with that said, I think I will look forward to all the sequels, prequels, and reboots coming our way.  Yes, I still want new stories, but expanded and/or revised ones are just as welcome.

Opinion is a bi-monthly column of just that, my opinion. While opinions are like noses and everyone has one, mine are especially snotty. Please leave a comment or question—all opinions are welcome, and all contributions are greatly appreciated. If you like what you read here, please subscribe.


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