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11 Book Sequels You Probably Didn't Know Existed

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We get frustrated with Hollywood's propensity for weird sequels that seem to have little or nothing to do with the original, but it just so happens that the practice is older than filmmaking itself. Several classic stories have strange follow-ups you've never heard of, like...

1. The Starlight Barking

In case you're unaware, Disney's 101 Dalmatians was actually based on a novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, by Dodie Smith. You may also be further unaware that Smith wrote her own sequel that Disney ignored, titled The Starlight Barking.

Instead of just being a rehash of the original, Smith's story takes a very bizarre turn and involves all the world's dogs finding every living thing besides themselves in a form of stasis caused by a dog-like alien named Sirius, who invites them all to abandon Earth and join him on the Dog Star.

2. The Giver Trilogy

An extremely popular book for middle school students, Lois Lowry's The Giver has become an instant classic in the 20 years since its publication. Countless children have been assigned essays about how they interpreted the book's ambiguous ending, but they could have saved some time and just read the book's two (with a third on the way) sequels instead.

The first sequel, Gathering Blue, is only tangentially related to The Giver by being set in the same universe. However, the following book, Messenger, ties the two together and features the return of Jonas, the main character from The Giver, who obviously did not freeze to death at the end of that book.

3. The Book of the Green Planet

Although Steven Spielberg had every intention of creating a sequel to 1982's movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, things never really came together for it, and now, 30 years later, it looks extremely unlikely that it will ever see the light of day. Unless you read the semi-official novelized sequel, that is.

William Kotzwinkle, who wrote the novelization of the original film, published The Book of the Green Planet in 1985. In it, E.T. returns to his home planet of Vomestra, where he's punished for his trip to Earth and, thanks to a telepathic link, finds that Elliot has begun to grow up and forget the lessons learned from their time together.

4. Little Men & Jo's Boys

Louisa May Alcott's classic, Little Women, is actually already two books in the first place, with the first volume being Little Women and the second being Good Wives, but since they're usually compiled anyway, that hardly counts as a sequel. Luckily for this list, Alcott also produced two actual sequels, Little Men and Jo's Boys.

Little Men revolves around a group of young orphans who are students at a school run by two characters from Little Women, Jo March and her husband, Professor Friedrich. Jo's Boys, a direct sequel to Little Men, features the orphans as adults and shows how their lives changed as a result of interacting with the March family.

5. Closing Time

Joseph Heller's Catch-22 was one of the most popular novels of the 20th century, so much so that it even spawned the term "catch-22" as an everyday phrase. But what's not so popular is the book's sequel, Closing Time, published more than 30 years later. Since the original book was about World War II, long over by that time and not as ingrained into the cultural consciousness as it had been, Heller instead sets the sequel in '90s-era New York City, showing how various characters from the original novel deal with the difficulties of old age and their own mortality.

6. Paradise Regained

Whether you've read it or not, John Milton's Paradise Lost is one of the most influential works ever created. In fact, Milton's poem is responsible for a large percentage of common misconceptions regarding the contents of the Bible, meaning that it not only changed the face of English literature, but Western religion as well.

What failed to make nearly so much of a splash is Milton's follow-up poem, Paradise Regained, which was published in 1671, four years after Paradise Lost. As opposed to the original's 12 books, Regained is a mere four. It tells the story of Jesus' temptation by Satan as seen in the Book of Luke, but the poem never really caught on like the original and is widely unknown today.

7. The Tom Sawyer Series

Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is one of the most read books in America today, and it's not exactly a secret that Twain later had Sawyer return in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But these weren't the only two adventures the boys had. Twain actually published two other novels in the series, both more than a decade later.

The first, Tom Sawyer Abroad, features Huck, Tom, and Jim attempting to cross the ocean in a hot air balloon while facing numerous hurdles along the way. After that came Tom Sawyer, Detective, which has Tom and Huck attempting to solve a mystery involving stolen diamonds and a possible murder. Further, Twain had three incomplete Tom Sawyer novels--Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians, Schoolhouse Hill, and Tom Sawyer's Conspiracy, the last of which was very nearly completed.

8. The Gone With the Wind Sequels

Margaret Mitchell's beloved Southern romance was not only one of the most famous books of the last century, but also spawned one of the most popular films to boot. Oddly, it took nearly 60 years for people to try to wring more cash out of it.

The book has four sequels, with varying levels of authenticity. The first, Scarlett, was an authorized sequel by Alexandra Ripley and was widely panned. A second that ignores Scarlett, Rhett Butler's People, is a re-telling of the original novel from Butler's point of view by author Donald McCraig.

Then there are the unauthorized sequels: The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall is a satirical re-telling from the perspective of an O'Hara family slave. Finally, The Winds of Tara by Katherine Pinotti is a direct sequel to the original that the Mitchell family legally blocked from publication in America.

9. The Second Jungle Book

Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book is as famous for its Disney animated adaptation as it is for its common usage in elementary school curricula. The book, which is actually just a series of tangentially related short stories, is one of the most well-known and popular in the English language today.

A year after The Jungle Book's release, Kipling wrote a follow-up book called The Second Jungle Book, featuring five further adventures of Mowgli and his friends. Although Disney made an animated Jungle Book 2 and a live-action film called The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo, neither actually follows the plot of The Second Jungle Book.

10. The Last Ringbearer

J.R.R. Tolkien's sprawling Middle Earth series covers more than a dozen books, several of which were published after his death. Of all of his extant materials, however, one culture's history is mostly ignored--that of the people of Mordor. True, they're the bad guys, but shouldn't they get a say?

That's the premise behind Russian author Kirill Yeskov's unauthorized sequel, The Last Ringbearer. While it's not an official sequel, the book is actually fairly popular on its own merits. Yeskov presents Mordor as a highly advanced society based around science and technology. Not unlike Gregory Maguire's Wicked, The Last Ringbearer argues that "history is written by the winners" and that Mordor was actually a victim of the primitive cultures of men who blindly followed the Luddite-esque Gandalf.

11. The Amityville Saga

You probably knew from the various films' advertising campaigns that The Amityville Horror was based on a true story. How much is true is, naturally, a matter of contention. But, while the first film (and its remake) was based on the purported experiences of George and Kathy Lutz and the second film was loosely based on the actual DeFeo murders that occurred in the house, all the rest of the films are wholly fictional.

The Amityville books, however, tell a different tale. The Lutz family claimed that their paranormal experiences didn't end when they left 112 Ocean Avenue. According to The Amityville Horror Part II, the demonic forces continued to plague them at Kathy's mother's house. A second sequel, Amityville: The Final Chapter, that also claims to be true, says that the haunting even followed them to California. Other books followed, some even featuring the Lutz family, but all were acknowledged as fictional.

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P.G. Wodehouse's Exile from England
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You don’t get more British than Jeeves and Wooster. The P.G. Wodehouse characters are practically synonymous with elevenses and Pimm’s. But in 1947, their creator left England for the U.S. and never looked back.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G., was living in northern France and working on his latest Jeeves and Wooster novel, Joy in the Morning, when the Nazis came knocking. They occupied his estate for a period of time before shipping him off to an internment camp in Germany, which he later said he found pretty pleasant:

“Everybody seems to think a German internment camp must be a sort of torture chamber. It was really perfectly normal and ordinary. The camp had an extraordinarily nice commander, and we did all sorts of things, you know. We played cricket, that sort of thing. Of course, I was writing all the time.”

Wodehouse was there for 11 months before being suddenly released to a hotel in Berlin where a man from the German foreign office named Werner Plack was waiting to meet him. Wodehouse was somewhat acquainted with Plack from a stint in Hollywood, so finding him waiting didn't seem out of the ordinary. Plack advised Wodehouse to use his time in the internment camp to his advantage, and suggested writing a radio series about his experiences to be broadcast in America.

As Plack probably suspected, Wodehouse’s natural writing style meant that his broadcasts were light-hearted affairs about playing cricket and writing novels, This didn’t sit too well with the British, who believed Wodehouse was trying to downplay the horrors of the war. The writer was shocked when MI5 subjected him to questioning about the “propaganda” he wrote for the Germans. "I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he told them in 1944. "I would like to conclude by saying that I never had any intention of assisting the enemy and that I have suffered a great deal of mental pain as the result of my action."

Wodehouse's contemporary George Orwell came to his aid, penning a 1945 an essay called “In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse." Sadly, it didn’t do much to sway public opinion. Though MI5 ultimately decided not to prosecute, it seemed that British citizens had already made up their minds, with some bookstores and libraries even removing all Wodehouse material from their shelves. Seeing the writing on the wall, the author and his wife packed up all of their belongings and moved to New York in 1947. They never went back to England.

But that’s not to say Wodehouse didn’t want to. In 1973, at the age of 91, he expressed interest in returning. “I’d certainly like to, but at my age it’s awfully difficult to get a move on. But I’d like to go back for a visit in the spring. They all seem to want me to go back. The trouble is that I’ve never flown. I suppose that would solve everything."

Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack before he could make the trip. But the author bore no ill will toward his native country. When The Paris Review interviewed Wodehouse in 1973, they asked if he resented the way he was treated by the English. “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of that sort. The whole thing seems to have blown over now,” he said.  He was right—the Queen bestowed Wodehouse with a knighthood two months before his death, showing that all was forgiven.

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The Internet Archive is Making 62 Obscure, Out-of-Print Books Available Online
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Dozens of of obscure, out-of-print books are about to become much more accessible thanks to the Internet Archive, the digital archive of public domain media. But to do it, they’ll have to exploit a loophole in a controversial copyright law, as Ars Technica reports.

The Internet Archive is releasing the Sonny Bono Memorial Collection, a group of books from the 1920s and 1930s that are out of print, but still technically under copyright—meaning they’re extremely difficult to get a hold of.

The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act was a copyright extension law passed in 1998 to extend copyright protections to works published after 1923 (which would otherwise have already entered the public domain) by 20 years. Unfortunately, while Disney may be happy that Mickey Mouse still falls under copyright protections, that also means that less-famous books that are now out of print can’t be made available to the public. But a provision of the law provides for public access for research, allowing nonprofit libraries to distribute the works if they cannot be found elsewhere for a reasonable price.

A screenshot of an online collection of books from the Internet Archive
Screenshot, Internet Archive

The Internet Archive explains:

We believe the works in this collection are eligible for free public access under 17 U.S.C. Section 108(h) which allows for non-profit libraries and archives to reproduce, distribute, display, and publicly perform a work if it meets the criteria of: a published work in the last 20 years of copyright, and after conducting a reasonable investigation, no commercial exploitation or copy at a reasonable price could be found.

Libraries don’t tend to take advantage of the law because it takes considerable resources to track down which works are eligible. However, the Internet Archive collaborated with Elizabeth Townsend Gard, a Tulane copyright expert, and a pair of interns to find books that could be scanned and uploaded online legally. Gard has released guidelines for libraries based on this work to help other archives do the same.

The Internet Archive is starting out with 62 books published between 1923 and 1941 (meaning they’re within 20 years of their copyright expiring) and plan to release up to 10,000 more in the near future to be downloaded and read by online users. And the collection will grow each January as more books enter that 20-year window.

[h/t Ars Technica]

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