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Of Endings

Updated: Aug 20, 2023

I was considering today the endings of things. I was considering it for a five-book series I just completed, but I was not considering it about the books themselves. Let me explain.

When I was much younger than I am now, a family member asked me why I never wanted to die. My answer was then, and is to some degree now, “Because I want to know how it all ends.” There is a story, unfolding all around us, and I want to see it to its end. Every time I pick up a series of books, I feel the same way. I check the status of the series and the age of the authors. We wouldn’t want to find ourselves in a place like The Wheel of Time, where we need to find a new author to finish, would we? What if another Sanderson couldn’t be found?

I lived in a kind of fear when I was younger of picking up a series of books that I would never get to finish because the author passed on before they were complete.

Today I was contemplating something different. It has been said, "There is nothing new under the sun," and even said on this blog. But there is an indelible stamp to how we sing the same song and dance the same jig. Authors have it. It doesn’t matter if they are rehashing the same tale for the thousandth time, they have something about them that makes us choose one over another. Terry Pratchett had it in spades.

The Long Earth

I have been reading The Long Earth series, by Baxter and Pratchett. Two authors who have no need of introductions. They are giants in the world of science fiction and fantasy. I thought I had read near to everything that Pratchett had written, but I had never seen this series. I was thrilled. It was like he had come back to us, to speak one more time from the beyond.

It was near to the last thing that he penned other than unfinished works and snippets, which were literally crushed in his hard drive under a steamroller at the Great Dorset Steam Fair in 2017. After all there can never be another Terry Pratchett. And that is what made me think of endings.

Terry Pratchett

I don’t reread much. There are so many books and already so little time. But when an artist will never make something new again, should we consider moving rereading up our to do list? My memory, like everyone’s is imperfect. Perhaps I will find something I missed the first time, or perhaps I do not recall it as well as I think I do. Also, I miss the idea that he will never create more of the Discworld. Perhaps rediscovery is warranted?

I had the same thought recently about a favorite musical artist, Warren Zevon. Perhaps it is a byproduct of getting older that we long for that which has gone on before us. We wish the endings were not yet here and there was more tale to come. But it isn’t coming. The best we can hope for is rediscovery of what has already happened.

I don’t have any conclusion if rereading is the right answer. Will I find something new? Will I ruin a memory with something less perfect than I remember? Will I find that I am just wanting at the end with a gap that by definition can’t be filled?

To reread, or not to reread, that is the question.

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Anna Varlese
Anna Varlese
Jul 19, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I feel this way about trips, where I never want to repeat a vacation, because it'll never be better than the first time... But books, I reread all the time, either to learn something new, or to capture a feeling the book gave me, or to rediscover a well written scene that my memory was getting foggy on.

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