Five years ago I quit working on a sci-fi novel. It had a few cool ideas and there were a lot of things I liked about it, but… I don’t know. I just couldn’t work on it.
So I uploaded the half-a-book to see what the internet thought of it. Paul Spooner took the book and finished it. He sent me the completed work. At the time I said to him via email:
This is amazing. You’ve gone in a radically different direction from anything I’d imagined. I haven’t read the whole thing, but I’ve been skimming my way through.
Before you sent this to me I wondered: If this story was released, would anyone be able to see the seams? Could they tell where I stopped and you started? Then I realized that I’d already released my half of the book, so anyone that read that would know.
But still, this has gotten me thinking about how we consume and invent stories. We often divide stuff into “authentic” (stuff written by the original author) and “inauthentic” (fan fiction). I wrote an entire fan fiction novel myself, and I’m aware of how strange this line can be. People who never played System Shock before were far more receptive to my book than people who were familiar with the source material. Their understanding of the original work changed their perception of my story. Would that work in reverse? If someone was told that the game was based on my book, would they dislike the game for its “inaccuracies”? (Setting aside the fact that the game is hard to find, looks terrible, had a horrible interface, and the gameplay hasn’t held up over time.)
My own version of the novel uses very few characters from the first half. Rin doesn’t really talk to the other crewmembers. The whole story takes place on this alien world and the only person we see again is David. My book ends shortly after returning to Earth. It’s entirely possible that your version, which is tied more to the first half of the book, would seem more plausible as the “true” ending.
I haven’t read enough to give you useful feedback on what you’ve done, and I keep getting caught on, “This never would have occurred to me!” I don’t have much in the way of feedback, except to say I don’t think you’re doing anything obviously wrong or bad. I realize that this isn’t really useful, but this is a strange experience for me and it’s hard to read objectively.
Annoyingly, reading his version kinda made me want to go back and work on my own. (Spoiler: I didn’t. Too much other stuff going on.)
Creativity is obnoxious sometimes. Imagine if, after decades of dicking around and not working on the prequels, George Lucas finally let someone else make the prequel movies. So then Spooner steps in and takes a shot at it. After years of work, Spooner brings the completed movies to LucasSTAR WARS Episode I: The Spooner Menace.. Lucas begins watching the Spooner cut. After halfway through the opening crawl, Lucas stands up, exits the theater, and announces he’s going to make the prequel movies after all.
What an asshole, right?
I didn’t want to end up doing that to Paul, so I haven’t actually read his completed version of the book. I’ve read some chapters, and it feels pretty strange to to mePaul left out Jar-Jar Binks? Jar-Jar was the key to everything..
But if you read the half-novel back in 2012 and were frustrated by the cliffhanger, maybe the Spooner cut of the story will give you some closure. Or maybe it will just kill some time on a Tuesday when I don’t have any content for you.