When is a Sequel Really a Sequel?

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When is a Sequel Really a Sequel?

These days every major and minor franchise seems to be getting a reboot. Old television shows are being reborn as new television shows or being brought to the big screen, old films are being re-imagined in a modern way. (Or so they tell us.) Big Screen James Bond has always had a series of different writers, directors and actors telling his story. But when it comes to books things work a little differently. I bring all this up because The Guardian is reporting that the publishers of the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series (aka The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy) will be getting a fourth book. And it isn’t by Larsson.

Rumors of Larsson having written additional books in the series have circulated practically since the publication of the original books. In August of 2015 That Which Does Not Kill by Swede David Lagercrantz will be published. Lagercrantz’s previous credits include being a ghostwriter for the autobiography of Swedish superstar soccer player and “bad boy” Zlatan Ibrahimović.

As a fan of the series, it makes me nervous. Perhaps the last sequel from a different author I read was Alexandra Ripley’s Scarlett, a continuation of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. It was far racier and less literary than its predecessor.

The question is, when is fan fiction more than just fan fiction? When does it become a full fledged sequel? Is it really just the signing of a contract by the original author’s estate or the publishing house that owns the rights?

How do you feel about a different author continuing the storyline for some of your favorite literary characters?

Photo of Stieg Larsson (left) by David Lagerlöf, David Lagercrantz (right) by Caroline Andersson.

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