Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Standing on the shoulders of giants

One of J.R.R. Tolkein's children has completed an unfinished tale by his late father. The story, Children of Hurin, is related to the Silmarillion rather than the Lord of the Rings. I believe Tolkein considered the Silmarillion to be his greatest work.

This made me think of the tradition of children extending their parents career. One of the more dubious examples is unceasing tide of Dune prequels and sequels by Brian (son of Frank) Herbert. They really weren't for me, but I am not nearly a Dune fanatic. Perhaps if I was, I would want to spend more time in that world.

Another example is Jeff Shaara who has followed up on his father's stupendous Killer Angels, with Gods and Generals and then a number of other historical novels. I read Gods and Generals and thought it was pretty good. The significant difference is that Killer Angels takes as many pages to talk about the Battle of Gettysburg (three days) as Gods and Generals takes to describe the war up to Gettysburg (two years.) If you are overwhelmed by the available number of non-fiction books on the war, this might be your speed.

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