Sunday, 13 March 2016

Single Or Multiple Authorship

Poul Anderson's future histories are written entirely by Poul Anderson whereas Star Trek is written by many script writers. These are two ways to generate fiction: basically, quality as against quantity. Anderson's output is enormous for a single author but, of course, he did not confine his attention to just one series and, in any case, could not have matched the sheer volume produced by multiple authorship.

The few Superman stories written by Alan Moore are part of the vast Superman canon but are also part of Moore's complete works and have been collected as such. Needless to say, they are way ahead of most other superhero fiction.

There is an intermediate position. Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium future history is additionally written or co-written by:

Larry Niven;
SM Stirling;
Jennifer Pournelle;
the contributors to the War World series, including Anderson.

This probably makes for unevenness in the quality of writing. There is unevenness in Anderson's Technic History because it was written over such a long period but multiple authorship almost certainly increases unevenness. However, I have yet to read the War World volumes. SM Stirling managed to pull together a consistently high quality for the Drakas! anthology.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, I agree, a book or series of books by two or more writers will inevitably show some unevenness in the quality of the writing. You have pointed out a few awkward spots in Niven/Pournelle's THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE. Probably due to the co-authors still learning how to write together. I think I can say Pournelle and Niven's later collaborations (such as LUCIFER'S HAMMER, THE BARSOOM PROJECT, FOOTFALL, etc.) are more smoothly written.

I think we may find greater evidence of unevenness in writing quality in the War World books. But my memory of the first five books is of them giving me great pleasure.