Thursday, 10 May 2012

You Tell Me | "Fixing" Our Favourite Fiction

So... I digressed again yesterday.

You need only look a little below this post to see my meanderings about Mass Effect 3 in full, but in brief, because it's not yet the law that you read every last word I write: I banged on about the uproar over the game's controversial conclusion, and how BioWare has in my view been its own worst enemy in terms of their reaction to the clamour for a more fitting finale.

Which is to say, in response to the complaints of a few thousand disenfranchised fans - small potatoes in the grander scheme of things, when you consider the tens of millions of units this series has shifted to date - the studio announced that a so-called "Extended Cut" of the game would be made available sometime this summer for free via a piece of DLC.

Make of that what you will. I'm certainly unhappy about how BioWare have handled the situation, but then, I still haven't played Mass Effect 3, in large because I feel like its creators have undercut the integrity of the entire series by backstepping over a little bitching.

Of course this sort of thing has happened before, in innumerable other media - in movies there are more Director's Cuts than I could count - but then, artistic visions have a long and sordid history of being compromised by studio interference, only to see the light of day a little later. In this case, the state of play is quite a bit different.

But I'm in danger of digressing again, and I'm afraid today isn't the day for another round on the ol' rollercoaster. Instead, what I was hoping to do was borrow BioWare's curious concept of what The End actually is and apply it to some of the things we all hold dear.

So books. We like those, right? :)

Thus, the question:

If The End is no longer set in stone,
which endings would you want altered?


Assuming that the original author of any given
standalone or series was prepared to take another
shot at tying off his or her narrative and characters,
who and what and why would you choose?

I have two timely examples to get the ball rolling. First and foremost, I'd love it if The Dark Tower had ended a little better. I remember feeling so completely crestfallen after the conclusion of the seventh and final volume in that epic fantasy western that for a few years I wished I had devoted my time and energy reading something else.

I don't feel so strongly about it today, but only, I think, because it's been so long, and time heals even the worst wounds.

What I'm still somewhat perturbed by is the end of The Hunger Games. Which is to say almost all of Mockingjay. I won't go into detail, but if you ask me, said series went out on a bit of a bum note.

Mostly, though, I want to know what you folks would do if you were publishing overlords with the unimpeachable power to demand better endings. So...

You tell me!

And please, try not to stress about the rightness or wrongness of roundly overruling your favourite creators. After all, BioWare could give a fig about their fiction. Evidently all bets are off...


  1. If we're talking about train wreck endings, is there any worse than the Greg Keys The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone? Oof. The last one was bad.

  2. I suppose I'm in the minority here, but I actually enjoyed how different Mockingjay and its ending turned out to be. It probably won't be satisfying when it's turned into a movie, but the unorthodox focus for a war novel (at least, one in YA fiction) made it a worthwhile ending for yours truly.

    However, I would change the ending of IT by Stephen King. Specifically That One Scene That Shall Not Be Mentioned (but anyone who's read it will know what it is). That scene, almost at the end of the book, just felt like a step too far, and didn't have much justification within the realms of the plot.

  3. IT is one of my favourite books, but have to agree about that scene. The worst ending of a book I can think of is Hannibal, which thankfully the film put right. If King was puffing the doobey when he wrote that scene, Harris must have been freebasing on some serious gear when he wrote Hannibal and Starling dancing off into the moonlight and happily ever after.

  4. If I had the power to demand better endings I would ask for a different final novel for the Dungeon series. This was a multi-author, multi-book fantasy series, each with an introduction by P.J. Farmer. The author of the first book also wrote the sixth and final book. When I got to the last book in the series I was confused by the jarring change in the characters. Then, I went back to the first book and realized that the author ignored all the character development that occurred in the previous books. He basically wrote a sequel to his own novel. This is a problem with multi-author series.

  5. IT is a brilliant suggestion. I'll be honest and admit I saw the miniseries on TV before I read the book, assuming that the abysmal denouement it depicted was a misguided extrapolation. Wasn't that awfully optimistic of me? Then again, I didn't know then what I know now about Stephen King and his endings. Oh, for the love a halfway decent conclusion...

    @Justin - I've never read Greg Keys, but I have wondered, especially about the two Elder Scrolls books. They any better?