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April 21 2006

New Buffy book "Portal through Time" and its plot revealed. In related news, the 2 Buffy books are listed without any plot details on Amazon.com ("Bad Bargain" & "Portal..") and Amazon.co.uk: ("Portal.." & "Bad..")

Recent discussions on Buffy novels took place here in a post linked to Nancy Holder's new book series,
"Daughter of Flames". It may make sense to move that discussion to here.

...continuing the discussion from here..:

IMO Holder has written too many Buffyverse books. I respect a lot of her earlier work (especially her work with Christopher Golden - e.g. I quite enjoyed The Gatekeeper trilogy), but feel that she's run out of new ideas years ago and is just going through the motions writing these Buffy books. I'm guessing the reason she is getting assigned so many is just that her earlier work sold well, and she keeps to the strict deadlines better than most of the Buffyverse writers can (pretty much random speculation based on the epic amount of stuff she seems to have written in a 10 year period) added to the fact that a lot of the market who now Buffy books buy them because they are completist Buffyverse fans.

I'm thinking Pocket Books should get off their asses since there is an epic amount of money they could make if they take the right appraoch, take their time and put a bit more money in in the first place (so they can get a lot more money out later). There is still a huge market for Buffy novels who don't bother buying them now basically because they view them as non-canon and often low in quality (I personally have enjoyed quite a few though). Here's what I would do if I was running the Buffy division of Pocket Books:

1) Quality over quanity

Considering reducing the amount of books released unless they can maintain a good level of quality. If they must, continue a Young Adult line, but combining this with a adult line (maybe one of each within each four month period).

2) Stop treating fans of the Buffyverse like Charmed fans.

Upping the maturity of both, I think Pocket Books has largely underestimated the intelligence of much of its potential and untapped audience. The adult books should be allowed to get darker and more intelligent (they did this once with Pretty Maids All in a Row and IMO it was a great read).

2) Talent, experienced and new

Woo talented authors who know their Buffyverse (like Peter David, krad..) even if they are more expensive and take longer to finish their books. At the same time reduce commitments with long term authors if they are burnt out of new ideas, and instead put some more resources into accepting submissions through the post. A submission would include an outline of the novel & a sample first chapter. Only accepting stuff from the post would discourage 11 year old fanfic writers from bothering with the effort of just emailing something attrocious.

4) Enough of Buffy Season 2 already!

Scrap the obsession of focusing on standalone Season 2 novels, why focus on this one period of Buffyverse history. I thought they were finally moving out of Season 2 with the two summer novels, which both sound very promising "Go Ask Malice" and "Blackout" which expand on the mythology of the Buffyverse and add depth to it this "Portal through Time" sounds like a step backwards into territory already covered enough time to simple standalone Buffy Season 2 stories

5)Get that Joss guy involved

He's a pretty busy guy but I would try and woo Whedon to be a Consulting Editor for a single afternoon every month to read over the most recent overviews of upcoming novels and write a few notes to guide the authors about to embark on writing.

*) I reckon if Pocket Books took their time, invested money into their franchise, stopped allowing any poopers onto the shelves, eventually (and it might even take a few years) it would start to pay off when the legions of Buffyverse fans realised they could pick up a good read.
I love that the guy who so eloquently argues for the quality of the Buffy Books has the handle "Dalton". That is not, I'm assuming, coincidence? Dalton was a subtlely key figure in Buffy history. His love of books was the first truly human trait we permitted in our mythos, and it shifted everything. Yes, we already had Spike's love for Dru but vampire passion is an acceptable trope. A passion for reading was nerdy, mundane and a new avenue for us. So he matters.

Never forget: if you think you're the biggest Buffy nerd alive, you're miscounting.

As for the books, I wish I'd had time to be involved. But I had to make a clean break or the show would have spiralled, so I've never read them. I've had fun with Nancy during our interviews, but I don't know the prose. I just wanted to mention Dalton.

And also Timothy Dalton. Dammit, if he hadn't been stuck on the end of the John Glenn (sp?) run he really could've done something with Bond. Peace out.
Ambitious post, Dalton.

Methinks that getting Joss involved would be more complicated than it sounds. One afternoon a month wouldn't satisfy Joss, especially if it was a kick-ass story. I'm guessing (knowing his work ethic from, well, his track record) he'd want to take more time, and notes would be extensive.

That said, he might just have this kind of stuff so down, that it would be 45 seconds out of his day instead of an afternoon. Who really knows how a genius "works".

In any case, Whedon involvement is always imperative. To this fan.

ETA * posting two minutes after the Man. Holy shit, my knees are knockin'.

[ edited by Willowy on 2006-04-21 06:52 ]
First human trait for Vampires in BtVS.. I've never even thought of it that way. Hum.

P.S. I've read a few of the Buffy books and to be honest.. they all sucked.
I thought it would be ambitious getting that Joss dude involved :)

Nice spot on the name thing I thought he was long long forgotten.. Very interesting hearing your take on the character. I'm a bit of a reader, plus I always thought there was something funny about the character, he spent his whole time collecting pieces of the Judge, and then when the Judge got made out of those very pieces, the first thing he did was zap the bespectacled vamp!

Dalton's origin story as potential fodder for submitting to Pocket Books? Nah it wouldn't really work..

[ edited by Dalton on 2006-04-21 06:54 ]
Tagged your post and quite a post it is, sir. Welcome aboard. And greetings to you, your purpleness.
Long time lurker first time to post here, because I am a big fan of books that build off the mythology of television series.

I think, truly, the first set to nail what a fan of any television series expects from their books was the telepath trilogy from Babylon 5. Of course there were two other trilogies that followed, and those books really served to continue a universe that, for a variety of reasons, was not sustainable on American television.

For those of us who buy these books, its a way to continue the universe in a totally different medium, and its disappointing to read poorly written dialogue and predictable plot.

My 2 cents, and hello all. ;)
I liked Dalton.

And I have to agree with our Dalton. Pocket Books need to take a good long look at their line(s). The Young Adult books I've read have been, well, bleeeah to put it mildly. A few were better than others, and, yes Pretty Maids All in a Row was the best. I'd have to disagree with the poster on the other book thread who wrote that the Young Adult readers would put up with less than the adults. I'm a compulsive reader, but even I can't put up with the generally shoddy characterization in many of the Buffy books. My god, the characters they have to work with are very carefully--not to mention beautifully--delineated before the books are even begun, and yet they still, probably for plot purposes, do serious injustice to some of my favorite people!

I've tried to do a "random sampling" to see if I can discover some writer of Buffy or Angel books that I can follow, but haven't liked any of them, with the exception of Pretty Maids and Little Things. (I think that's the name--it's the one wherein the faerie folk are vamps.)

The academic site "Slayage," which has had links here few times, itself has a link to a site called "Dark Blade: The Buffy Literary Project," which asks people to post book reviews of Buffy & Angel books. I was going to do a bunch of them, but haven't been able to contact anyone using the e-mail address on the site. I think it would be a worthwhile thing to have serious reviews of the books all on one site, for the serious reader's benefit. (And I cannot emphasize the "serious" strongly enough. No "This book rocks!") Maybe one pro & one con review per book (if you could get enough response). 'Cause I'm getting tired of wasting my time with the mostly dreck book offerings out there. I want more of the 'verse! And since the series are gone probably forever, and movies are iffy and take a long time even if they're still possible, books are all that we're left with. And I love books. They've taken over my apartment and will soon force me to find another just to have a place to sleep in. So all this is why I get so angry and frustrated with what is out there right now.

As for Holder's books, I think I've read all her Buffy/Angel ones, and some she collaborated on with Golden, and I didn't like them. Blood and Fog irritated me. A lot. For reasons I didn't want to waste any more of my time trying to figure out. Her recent one wherein Buffy gets mystically impregnated by both Angel and Spike (yeesh!) was actually better than some, but I thought the ending sort of anticlimactic. (Sorry to put that in the same sentence with Buffy's pregnancy.)

Anyway. . . . Dalton, do you think we could somehow agitate for some improvements? I am really jonesing for some good 'verse stuff! Especially Spike!!

And, Joss? How did Timothy Dalton get stuck on the end of John Glenn??
Woo talented authors who know their Buffyverse (like Peter David, krad..) even if they are more expensive and take longer to finish their books.


This made me laugh, as Dalton is obviously unfamiliar with how fast Peter and I both write. *guffaw*

And all I'm gonna add is: I think y'all will like Blackout.

That is all.

(And don't ask about Timothy Dalton and John Glenn. It had to do with offering him the moon and the stars, and it just got ugly.....)
Didn't a Spike novel just come out last summer? Plus Spike will be featured in "Blackout." Looking forward to that and "Go Ask Malice" featuring Faith. With "Blackout" being about Nikki Wood and the Faith novel also on the way, I would love to see a book centered around Kendra. I've only read a couple of the Buffy novels but the ones I've read I have enjoyed.
Hi, krad. Actually, my weary brain was just kind of coming up with odd riffs on the whole "Timothy Dalton stuck on the end of John Glenn" thing. 'Cause, you know, joss wrote it. Yep. Up past my bedtime, I am. *Polishes glasses furiously.*

Aaaaand--since Blackout has a picture (I peeked!) of Spike on the cover, I have high hopes! And, forgive me if you've been over this here before, would you care to give us/me a wee little spoiler or hint about what goes on between the covers? Of the book! *More polishing of glasses.* TIA, just in case you're still around. . . .
It is a prequel about Nikki Wood. I think Spike and Dru are there too.

I am excited about the Faith prequel coming out. Assuming some of the backstory for her had to be greenlighted by Fox and or Joss, it is great to finally get some.
it is great to finally get some.

From what I understand, it's always great to...

Er. Well. Once again, I've said too much. (And, hi, Joss!) ;-)
LOL!!!!!!!!!

Memo to myself: NO drinking and laughing at the same time. It can never end well.
My first thought was that Dalton was named for the Swayze character from 'Roadhouse'. I'm like an anti-fan. If I ever touched a real fan we'd both explode and emit huge amounts of gamma radiation.

(however, Never forget: if you think you're the biggest cheesy 80s movie nerd alive, you're miscounting ;).

I am exactly that untapped audience that not-cheesy-80s Dalton mentions though. I've never read a Buffy novel just because i've read so many very, very bad tie-ins from other films/series that I don't want to take the chance (I have this slightly weird thing about finishing books that I start, even bad ones). That said i'm tempted by the short story collections since they're not so much of an investment timewise and the 'Tales of the Slayers' comic was brilliant especially JW's verse (the other kind) story 'Righteous' - I do like a bit of anger in my fiction - and Jane Espenson's 'Presumption'. A current reviews site by people that read and are fans of the show would be beyond useful. [lazy mode] So I think someone else should get right on that [/lazy mode] ;-).
Long time reader, first time poster...
I have read several of the books, and like many of the others who have posted, I'm a compulsive reader (5-6 books a week). So Iíve read a lot of good, read A LOT of bad. Buffy books have been really hit or miss for me. I enjoyed the Gatekeeper series quite a bit. But I too, am a bit tired of the season 2/ 3 books. I enjoyed Buffy even more as she and the show matured... sure there is a nice kind of innocence about that time period but the really good stories can be told from later on.

I would like to see a better, full characterization of Giles, his stories are so unrealized, Spike,
who's always been a favourite of mine... both evil and not so evil, and any time you can throw in a well written Ethan Rayne...
I am glad there are still books coming out, even though the quality isn't the best. I like Nancy Holder's style of writing. I recently read Buffy the Queen of Slayers and my only real complain was the over-editing. The only other critism I have is Dalton's point number 2. While I don't have any problem with a little childish writing, it is only annoying by the fact that characters are written out of character - especially when the setting is post S7. And it is a shame in the fact that characters are kept low dimensional.
That said, it is still far above the level of Charmed, which has no depth at all.

Oh, I liked Timothy Dalton as Bond very well.

[ edited by Koos on 2006-04-21 12:46 ]
I thought Timothy Dalton played the role more hard-boiled, which I thought was great. A friend of mine who read some of the Fleming novels said Dalton seemed the closest to the way Bond is portrayed in the books of all the Bond actors so far. /OT
Timothy Dalton should have won and oscar for his performance of James Bond ;)
Definitely Passion. Of course, since Shatner was snubbed for Wrath of Khan we've known they've got something against genre films ;).

Dalton's the third best I reckon behind Brosnan (and Big Sean obviously). He wasn't well served by the scripts but his portrayal was bang on the money (watch his face when the shark eats the baddie in 'Licence to Kill' - it doesn't even occur to him to look away, in fact, he's kind of digging it, Her Majesty's psychopathic 'blunt instrument' all the way), much more in keeping with the books and seemingly the way they're going with the new 'reboot' which is sounding promising /OT.
Can I just wade in and say I don't think they could have made a _better_ choice for New Bond? That actor is going to kick some arse.
Now that I know they're going for a slightly edgier, back to basics Bond I'd agree with that gossi. Daniel Craig can pull off suave but he looks weatherbeaten enough to seem 'real'.

(I'm looking forward to the grittier Bond but I must confess i'm going to miss the crazily over-the-top stunts and impossibly suave narrow escapes we've grown used to. After all, Nobody Does it Better ;)
Let us not forget Dalton Trumbo, screenwriter extraordinaire and author of one of my favorite books of all time (which was made into a movie in 1971). He was no Bond, and nobody posted bond for him, either.
I've never actually read a Buffy book, the nearest I've got to that is reading "Spike Vs. Dracula #1".

The idea for the book sounds okay, but time travel is a pretty difficult subject to handle.
I mean, if the Vampire assassins could time travel, then why not just go back and kill the guys that made the first slayer?
Or since Buffy could time travel, then why not go to the time shortly before the Vampires time travel and stop them then?

...But I think my time travel logic's gone a bit Bill & Ted, so I'll stop now.
Dalton

I too was wondering about "Timothy Dalton stuck on the end of John Glenn" :) but after a little reading discovered Glenn was the director of Moore films and Dalton's "Licence to Kill" (and not the temporary simese twin of Timothy)

Pocket Books

I love skye2477's idea of a decent Giles novel (especially since the character was not around for a lot of Seasons 6 and 7). It has the potential to be great and more suited to the novel format than Season 2 standalone Scooby Gang novels. Imagine a ghost story novel that was set in England between Series 6 and 7 about Willow and Giles coming to terms with their darker selves.

..Or even a comedy crime caper set in Mexico starring Andrew and Jonathan trying to use magic to protect themselves from Dark Willow and ending up getting stuck in the middle of some demon gang warfare.

I think the key is allowing writers to expand their horizons, and using the novel format to their advantage rather than making pale imitations of what Buffy was already doing well in Season 2 (7 years ago?)

Book reviews

For anyone interested, there are some review sites:

*Nika Summers reviews

*Over at wikipedia, obviously they can't actually review the stuff but otherwise they have now built a complete guide to books/comics here)

*I found another really good review site a few weeks ago, which I'll post later if I find it again (it's buried deep in the net).

*I would reccommend the stuff by Christopher Golden, and Jeff Mariotte as two of the authors who have written a number of good Buffyverse books.
Ah yes, poor Dalton. Perhaps he is what William would have become under lesser(or should I say, different) guidance.

And just for the record, no one reeked of humanity more than Spike.
I'm also a compulsive reader and one of the few books in my life that I had to put down half way through was Monster Island. Which is weird because it was co-written by Christopher Golden who wrote the excellent Pretty Maids.

The Spike abuse was so over the top, it made Buffy and Angel look like absolute a**holes for doing it. Totally out of character. I had to stop reading because it was really making my blood boil.

The novels are hit and miss in general, usually there is something enjoyable in them, along with something that makes you roll your eyes.

One of the best things I have read lately that is official (as in not fan fiction) is the Spike vs Dracula comic book series. So far it has been exciting, funny, interesting and everybody is in character!Comic books in general to me are a poor substitute for books but this series has been the exception.

The Old Friends on the other end was a waste of time and money to me. Just read #5 and what a disappointing and confusing ending. Bleh.

Just my opinion of course.
On the other thread, I think my statement was misinterpreted to mean that I thought that all YA lit was bad. On the contrary. Some of it is the best stuff around but teens are completists too and will buy a whole series regardless of quality. Libraries too wil continue to buy these in quantity. It all adds up to sales, not to quality, neccessarily.
So Joss doesn't know that Buffy is a transsexual in the books... Hmmm...
Thanks for those links Dalton, very useful. Reckon i'll take the plunge and try Vol 1 of 'Tales of the Slayers' as an appetiser.

BTW, I second the Peter David support, his 'Imzadi' was one of the few Star Trek novels I didn't want to throw across the room at any point in the reading, top notch.

(and i'm also really enjoying his Spike vs Dracula comics though i've got to say to Xane that, to me, the best comics do things novels can't really manage rather than being 'poor substitutes' in much the same way that the best novels can achieve things you won't see on screen - something most media tie-ins don't do which is mainly why I usually steer clear, but each to their own though ;)
The attention the publisher is lavishing on this book line is apparent in the product. My copy of Blood and Fog was so badly printed and proofread that a whole group of pages had headers from a DIFFERENT BOOK. That is, when they were making up the galleys for printing, they didn't read them closely enough to notice that there was a different book title at the top of the pages. The typos in the text were often hilarious. They were on almost every page.

When a publisher is putting so little effort into producing the books, it's not a surprise that they're not putting much effort into finding new, better authors, or giving the line any direction.

The Buffy books have been aimless, for lack of a better term. There is no plan behind them. They're just random stories produced by uninspired authors who are clearly writing for the royalty check, not to expand or detail the Buffyverse.

The publisher is viewing them as a cash cow. It's a line that will sell automatically because there are still a lot of Buffy and AtS fans out here. But they aren't willing to put any effort into the series to make it attractive to anyone who doesn't buy just anything with the Buffy brandname.

The granddaddy of successful tie in series, the Star Trek books, kept the Trek franchise alive through the years when there was no Trek on the air. And it happened because the Trek books in the 70s were smartly written and edited with a standardized "take" on the characters and the nature of the Trek universe. Fans were able to maintain their connection with the franchise through the books.

Nothing like that will happen with the Buffy/Angel books, because the publisher isn't willing to expend any effort or money to make it happen. The sales on the books will gradually taper off until they disappear.
Funny, I always considered the fact that Dalton liked books to be significant. Together with Spike's ability to love (because hey in S5 he was willing to sacrifice himself for Buffy/Dawn, and later we learned of his mother, etc. which exceeds mere vampire passion) Dalton's love for books stood out. The Judge even pointed it out himself, and proved it was enough humanity to kill him. I always wondered if he could've destroyed Spike too. First thing he says is 'you stink of humanity'.

I've always found it intriguing, the difference in level of humanity/demonic essesnce in vamps. Angelus obviously being on the other end of the spectrum without even the slightest sliver of humanity left. It's one of those things that I wish I could smack Buffy upside the head about. Angel/Angelus set it in her head for good 'how it is with vamps', while it obviously could vary. Something she's never really been able to see and accept. Possibly because she subconsciously felt accepting that might say something about Angel that she didn't want to know.

And I personally always stood with Andrew in the James Bond discussion. I liked Timothy Dalton. (Can't tell if Joss is serious or sarcastic here, but what else is new;-) His Bond wasn't just a fratboy with gadgets and a hard-on. When it came to the job, his Bond had ice water in his veins.

As for the Buffy novels, I've tried a bunch and most were indeed aimed at 14 year olds. It's the one aspect of the Buffy empire (yes it's an empire dammit!) that has no clue as to the actual audience of the show. They mostly had poor plotting, horrendous dialogue and characterization that was way off. Pretty Maids All in a Row is pretty much the closest I saw to an actual novel in terms of narrative and structure. And even with that one I have a bone or two to pick. I kinda gave up a while ago. It's 'Official Fan Fiction' if you ask me.

i've got to say to Xane that, to me, the best comics do things novels can't really manage rather than being 'poor substitutes' in much the same way that the best novels can achieve things you won't see on screen - something most media tie-ins don't do which is mainly why I usually steer clear, but each to their own though ;)

I second Saje in that. Good comics/movies/novels all do things that the other media can't do. They make use of what are their own unique possibilities. Unfortunately, most crossovers are indeed bad. Many Buffy comics were bad. Not just compared to the show, but compared to other comics. Same goes for the novels.

But to say that comics are just poor substitutes for books is a bit silly I think. The masters of the medium have created combinations of art and text that tell a story in a way that no other medium can even touch. (I'd give a list but this post is already long...;-)
Even though Season 2 was great, it seems boring to go back to it, no Faith and no developed Spike. For me, all the characters became more real as the series progressed. I have tried a couple of the books and didn't finish reading either of them. They seemed to taret very young girls. They also made the Buffy/Angel romance sugary and made Buffy and Angel act like teenagers. This one sounds like more of the same - the season it is set is a clue to proceed with caution.
I didn't mean to offend any comic book fans. I was a HUGE comic book fan as a kid. Enormous collection of Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Fantastic Four etc. (all thrown out by mom of course)

But the problem for me as I got older is that I came to read unusually fast. Therefore a comic only takes minutes to read making it somewhat unsatisfying.

With Spike Vs. Dracula I liked the art work enough to force myself to slow down and really look at it. Plus it so far is a great story with a lot of depth.

Still the time spent with the comic can be measured in minutes rather than the hour or so a book might take.

It's hard to really immerse yourself into something that goes by so quickly.

On a different note I am really looking forward to Blackout.
I am hopeful it will be more like Pretty Maids. So far from what I have read I feel pretty optimistic.
SangChaud: there's a page on my web site for Blackout, so you can find out some stuff there. I'll be putting an excerpt up from the book some time in the next few months.....
I've been enjoying IDW's Angel comic line.I'm especially looking forward to the character based one-shots coming out this summer focusing on Illyria,Gunn,Wesley,Doyle and Connor.I'm also getting a kick out of the Angel scriptbooks they are publishing.I thought the end of Old Friends was a nice connection to some of the events in season 5.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2006-04-21 19:46 ]
Rogue Slayer said:

And just for the record, no one reeked of humanity more than Spike.


Actually, that could have been the bloomin' onions. ;-)
I've given the published novels a chance, and been afrighted by spotty characterization, lame plots and seeming lack of background on show canon. I've found far richer experiences of Jossverse shows on the web, from unpaid fans toiling their little fingers numb in stories that are both deeply drawing on the shows and heading off in new directions. (And granted, I've also read stuff that's made me want to bleach my brain.)

It saddens me to see the state of Young Adult fiction these days; there are some complete gems like Inkheart and oh, that fellow Phillip someone who's the anti-C.S.Lewis, and then there's a vast swath of genre fiction, which seems to brokered to, for lack of a better word, a less than subtle audience.

As long as the market is pandering to the lowest common denominator, I think thin, rushed books are all we're going to get. Unless the fandom rises up and complains...

It's a pity.
I have only read a few buffyverse novels, which were Pretty Maids, and Queen of the Slayers, along with others that I can't seem to remeber. And yes, most of them were never the type of novel, and story that I would have been hoping for.

When I first heard of the Faith novel, I didn't think I would like it as much, but after reading the summary, it might be well done. As well as the spike novel. I really liked the title, Go Ask Malice. Like the novel Go Ask Alice, which was dark yet amazing.
I think the Faith novel will be incrediable, because it will be hard to say if it is out of character. Her background has never been discussed or shown on the show, except for tiny throw away lines.

But hey we have Harry Potter if all else fails in Young Adult Fiction! And you can always learn something. Like when I read C.S. Lewis as a kid, I just enjoyed it. I had NO clue of all the religious stuff. Now years later, I find if I look I could see some, but mostly it is still just a great story.
Review sites

I found the other review site (in addition to the Nika Summer site & the wikipedia buffyverse guide mentioned above).

*Lite Foot reviews

This reviewer is honest about their opinions of each book (in some cases brutally so). Also he covers many of the comics, as well as some other bits and pieces:

*"Good comics/movies/novels all do things that the other media can't do

I third this opinion (of Saje & EdDantes), I recently finished Alan Moore's graphic novel, The Watchmen and it was one of the best stories ever but it couln't work in the same way in print or on screen.

The greatness of Buffy on our television screens cannot be recaptured in the same way in print. For example many of the 'fight scenes' in the novels just make me cringe, they often sound like academic descriptions of the fight scenes from the show, it just doesn't work the same!

They need to take a different approach and use the different format to their advantage instead. For example in some ways novels can be better at getting beneath characters, because in print we can hear the thoughts of characters. Simplifying the complexity of the Scooby Gang is not the way to go get the respect from Buffyverse fans who would potentially buy these books. Why don't they make more character-based novels?

IMO the best Buffy books have been the ones that tried to do something different, or work on the edges of the Buffyverse. I really enjoed a lot of the Tales of the Slayer short stories (although I think the graphic novel was better).

Alternate reality novels

Finally I'm not sure how popular or succesful this idea would be but I personally really like the idea of doing just one or two proper alternate reality novels.

A few years back Yvonne Navarro wrote the Wicked Willow trilogy set in an alternate dimension diverting off at the end of Buffy Season 6 by slightly changing a few of the events, Willow was a not-so-lovable brunette for much longer. This had the potential to be great but the ending wimps out & it should never ever have been a trilogy, which spreads the story way too thin.

Noone really considers the Buffy novels canon anyway, yet at the same time, many of the novels can't breathe because they have to follow what's been established by canon. This results in characters that are literally not allowed to develop, big events that have to be undone by the end of the book... and so on. If the author is not very careful the novel can become a bit of a non-event.

I would be in favour of a few alternate reality novels which divert off from the Buffyverse at a certain point and then engage in an actual story in which anything could happen, mini-character arcs which develop our Scoobies in different directions, and even allowing the possibility for a death of a major character. This would allow stories to be told on a more epic scale.

Spike movie

On a pretty much unrelated note, most of all though I hope this Spike DVD-movie gets made. If it sells as well as I would expect it to I reckon 20th century might be keen to expand them into further movies like "Ripper" & a Faith movie. This franchise will otherwise slowly wither away as more and more people move on, especially if Pocket Books continues releasing pointless books that don't expand on the Buffyverse (which hopefully it won't - and there is some hope since both "Blackout" and "Go Ask Malice" are out soon)
OT: a really good YA/ A writer that i have found is Garth Nix. his abhorson trilogy is one of the best i have read in years, the kind you pick back up and reread cause you just really liked it.

i also have to say that there are some fan fic authors that have written some amazing stories that really fit in well with the Buffyverse and expand it as well. These are people who could bring some fresh stories to the mix...
okay, P.S. Timothy Dalton has long been my favourite Bond
Ah, no offence taken Xane, I just thought you might be missing out on the best comics have to offer. Agreed, individual issues are quicker to read than a novel and so don't have as much to get your teeth into (I sometimes solve this by either buying trades or saving several individual issues and then having my own mini-marathon session) but they have the episodic arc advantage (that, for example, TV has over film), can have the visual density of a painting - which doesn't really work well with moving images (since, by definition, they move) - yet can still have all the character and story development of either novels or film. Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Maus, V for Vendetta, Killing Joke are all classics (not just of comics but of any creative pursuits) that manage to achieve effects that are either impossible or at least much harder with any other medium (and those titles are just scratching the surface of the great stuff out there).

I really like the alternate-reality idea Dalton mentions but as elsaf mentions a consistent alternate reality can work extremely well (i.e. one that other authors agree to use so that it becomes a sort of alternative canon). To go back to comics, different continuities could work for the Buffyverse so that you could have a sort of 'Ultimate Buffy' or 'Marvel Knights Buffy' with slightly (or even hugely) different parameters and character events shaping the motives of everyone in that particular version of the Buffyverse. That way you have the time to build real history in the universe without risking any one writer becoming burnt out (and it allows different writers to pick the verse that suits them best so keeping it fresh) as well as lessening the extent to which the verse 'bible' starts to stifle good storytelling and character exploration.
The thing I find strange about the Buffy novels is just the fact that they usually aren't terrible, but they're usually not particularly memorable either.

Now I don't want to offend anyone who may have written any of them, and I have only read a certain amount of them, but it really represents an iceberg of which only the tip is continually scratched. I know that's one weird, illogical analogy, but I'm tired so I may not be making a lot of sense at the moment.

Basically, there are a small number of Buffy books or comics which really put the rest to shame- like Fray or Tales of the Slayers. Which do have the advantage of Joss' input, but still, there has been a TotS comic and four books of short stories, and Joss contributed to the comic and the first book. But generally, the series has been very strong with lots of interesting characters and stories. I hope they do continue the series although I don't think so because there hasn't been one released in quite some time.

But generally I just don't get any kind of enlightenment from any of the other books, there aren't any clever ideas or touches that impress you, and at best they resemble a kind of fillerish episode from the series like "Beauty and the Beasts" which isn't that impressive when held up against stunning episodes like "The Body" or "OMWF".

And of course I realise that not every writer can understand the characters as well as Joss and the writers on the show, but I do expect a certain standard from tie-in merchandise. I'd like the characters to be similar to how they are in the show, and I'd like the book to bring a new idea to the Buffyverse, rather than sound like a rejected scipt idea for the series. Like the idea of basing so many books in the second season- have they actually added anything new to the mythology or the characters? I have also noticed some repetition in many of them, quite a lot have a plot involving parallel universes or portals, and there is a tendancy to have a very strong female vampire character.

As I said before, I'm sure there are a few good tie-ins out there, and the Buffy books are probably generally of a higher calibre than something like Charmed or Smallville, but I have stopped buying them and have given away most of the weaker ones, and I will only buy stuff that I can expect quality from like TotS or Fray.
'Marvel Knights Buffy' (after being renamed to something else thus preventing law suits) as an alternative continuity incorpating a number of novels sounds like a great idea! Like for example splitting it off as a separate fictional univese, after "The Gift", if that went down differently. But is this something that enough Buffy fans would be interested in, or would too many not be interested in even glancing at it because it was so far from canon?
Aside from reading the delightful and aforementioned "Pretty Maids...", I've read precious few Buffy novels, so I have limited first-hand knowledge. I read the one where Giles is head vampire, but it took me forever to get through. The novels just don't do it for me.

Anyone know if there's a story out there involving Sunday? Always thought it'd be great to revisit her and her shenanigans. She was my favorite 'dusted too soon' villain. Also loved Webs, but I at least got to see J. Woodward again on Angel and Firefly.
Sorry Willowy, I haven't read all the novels but have been involved with wikipedia collecting info about all the comics/books, and am pretty sure Sunday does not appear outside "the Freshman"
The thing I find strange about the Buffy novels is just the fact that they usually aren't terrible, but they're usually not particularly memorable either.

My thoughts exactly, Razor. I pick one up once in awhile for beach reading. Better than nothing with no new episodes. I think we won't see better characterization not because the writers are unable, but because they can't create events that develop the characters. Whedonverse characters never stop growing and changing. One of the best examples: Wesley. Like with comics, the writers are restricted because they aren't allowed to develop the characters. They can only portray existing characters.

And yeah. Many of the novels are written for the lowest common denominator. The publishers still assume 13 year old girls are the fanbase who wants novels. If they are a large part of the novel-purchasing fanbase, jeez. Challenge them a little more, eh?

I'm off to Amazon to order Pretty Maids.

Nancy Holder will be speaking at the Slayage Conference at the end of next month. palehorse and I are attending and I'm interested in what she has to say.
I really enjoy Nancy's style of writing and her obvious love for the characters and respect for the verse. What I'm really excited about isn't another Buffy book but a Joss Whedon written comic. I will be buying both.


[ edited by space_giles on 2006-04-25 10:26 ]

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