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What is the longest science fiction saga in amount of books that wasn't created after movies or TV shows (that is, discarding Star Trek, Star Wars, X-Files)?

Just to name a few:

  • 2001, Rama, only 4.
  • Foundation, 7 (10 if you count the non-Asimov ones)
  • Dune, 6 (17 or so if you count the non-Frank Herbert ones)

so, which one is the longest?

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  • 8
    do you mean longest as in the most amount of books/pages? Or spanning the most amount of time (in the story or out)? – merk Jan 11 '11 at 23:57
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    @merk: longest in amount of books. – pupeno Jan 12 '11 at 0:04
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    If you can consider it SciFi (it does feature a self-repairing android (Mr Gordons), a Cyborg (Elizu Roote),an Artificial Intelligence (Friend), and a Biologically created Were-tiger (Dr. Judith Loftus) among other SciFi elements), 'The Destroyer' series is at about 150 books, so far. It's really a 'Men's Adventure/Spy' story, but it has some SciFi and fantastic elements. It spawned: Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, but the books came first. – K-H-W Apr 25 '14 at 14:20
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    There's always the Wold Newton Family metafiction concept which would tie several series, such as Sherlock Holmes, Doc Savage, Tarzan, Nero Wolfe, James Bond, Arsen Lupin, Allan Quatermain, and many others into one mega saga. – Monty129 Apr 25 '14 at 20:22
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    I really wish the OP had limited this question to "by the same author" and specified whether a comic book is a "book". It is a fascinating question but the grey area is making a real answer difficult. – Joshua Mar 6 '16 at 3:25

16 Answers 16

25

La Compagnie des glaces by G. J. Arnaud consists of 98 novels by the same author. Only the first volume seems to have been translated into English (as The Ice Company). The Perry Rhodan universe is even larger, but not a single series.

Note that I am claiming the presence of quantity, not quality. “What is the longest science fiction saga if you only count the good books?” would undoubtedly bring different answers (but it's too subjective for this site).

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    Perry Rhodan spans some thousand years and consists of more than a hundred books in the main story line and lots of novels surrounding this. It is the biggest universe I know of, but has lots of different authors. – Samuel Herzog Jan 12 '11 at 4:32
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    I think it vastly more than that. A new novella is released every week since 1961. – scope_creep Jan 17 '11 at 3:02
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    Perry Rhodan has over 3,000 volumes, and is almost certainly the longest series. – Mike Scott Apr 25 '14 at 15:47
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It is cheating, but technically all of Heinlein's books are in the same 'universe' due to the events in The Number of the Beast

This also means that all of Star Trek, the Lensman series, the Oz books, the Wonderland books, the Barsoom A Princess of Mars series, and others are all part of that 'universe.'

That easily makes it the largest collection. But since, by definition, all works of powerful fiction not even mentioned in the novels directly are part of that giant multiverse, anything else mentioned here is also part of it.

11

There have apparently been approximately 30,000-40,000 individual comic books published by Marvel. As almost all of them take place in the same multiverse, I'd say it wins by far.

  • How are they 'Science Fiction'? – TaW Jul 6 '17 at 9:45
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    @TaW Because they take place in a universe with advanced AI, genetic engineering, space exploration, etc. – Rogue Jedi Jul 6 '17 at 15:01
  • LOL, so Superman and Batman are Science Fiction? What next, comic books are books? Not in my universe ;-) – TaW Jul 6 '17 at 15:06
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    @TaW, Yes, I would say the alien and the guy with a robotic exo-suit are science fiction. Also, the name "comic book" does imply that they're books. – Rogue Jedi Jul 6 '17 at 15:17
10

"The Big Two" of DC Comics and Marvel Comics have produced the largest collaborations and integrated fictional universes ever seen in print, bar none. In addition, their collective works have spawned related written books, graphic novels, television and movie entertainment.

DC Comics is the largest collaborative writing project every undertaken. It has more creatives involved in it over its 75 year history than anything else ever written continuously. A listing of every publication they ever produced is mind-boggling! DC has over 43,000 comics listed in its library of published works since 1935.

  • DC Comics is one of the largest comic book publishers in North America. DC has published comic books under a number of different imprints and corporate names. This is a list of all series, mini-series, limited series, and comic book sized one-shots published under the imprints DC or AA, and published by National Periodical Publications, National Comics Publications, All-American Comics, Inc., National Allied Publications, Detective Comics, Inc., and related corporate names.

Marvel Comics: The first issue of The Official Index To The Marvel Universe suggests 32,000 comics have been produced by Marvel in the last 70 years.

  • Timely's first publication, Marvel Comics #1 (cover dated Oct. 1939), included the first appearance of Carl Burgos' android superhero the Human Torch, and the first appearances of Bill Everett's anti-hero Namor the Sub-Mariner, among other features.

  • Marvel started in 1939 as Timely Publications, and by the early 1950s had generally become known as Atlas Comics. Marvel's modern incarnation dates from 1961, the year that the company launched The Fantastic Four and other superhero titles created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and many others.

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    Are you taking continuity resets into account? That would seem like it would reduce the number in the same series. – DCShannon Mar 8 '16 at 14:56
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Perry Rhodan has almost 3.000 books and has been running since 1961.

  • It was already mentioned – Mithoron Oct 16 '15 at 20:17
  • These ain't books, but there are books coming out that compactify and streamline the weekly series. Of those we now have more than 100. – flq Oct 16 '15 at 21:22
  • Even the are booklets more 'book' than comic books. – TaW Jul 6 '17 at 15:13
5

For length of material, the Mission Earth series from L. Ron Hubbard is pretty long. I think there's 10 books and each one is something like 400-500 pages. The Dune series of books was pretty long too - assuming you count the newest ones as well even though they aren't written by Frank Herbert.

  • I think the Dune series, and I am talking broadly here, is around 16 books – Darius Apr 26 '14 at 2:37
  • if you are going on pages... WheelOfTime might have you beat. 14 books, 11,916 in total. 851pages on average with Lord of Chaos sitting in at 987 – Naib Mar 6 '16 at 1:08
5

For sheer volume I'm going to nominate Steven Erikson and Ian Esselmont's Malazan novels as a contender. It's a slight bending of the rules because there are two authors (although it had always been explicitly a shared world), is still a work in progress, and spans 4 series (1 finished, 1 about to end, 1 started and 1 not started yet).

Malazan Book of the Fallen is 10 books, Malazan Empire will be 6, Kharkanas Trilogy will be 3, the projected Toblakai Trilogy will also be 3, and there are plans for an Encyclopedia Malaz to round it off.

I make that 23 total, and most of them are fairly hefty doorstoppers too.

What makes this special is that Erikson and Esselmont actually deliver. They finish what they started, they release on (or near) schedule, there are no interminable delays in writing, no "doing a GRRM" or "doing a Robert Jordan" on us.

  • The only big delay in WoT was when RJ selfishly died, actually. – Ryan Reich Apr 26 '14 at 0:15
  • By which I mean that "doing a Robert Jordan" doesn't belong even in "quotes". – Ryan Reich Apr 26 '14 at 0:16
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    @RyanReich - I'm thinking more of originally planning a trilogy, then expanding it and expanding it until there seems no end in sight. MBotF was planned as 10 books and delivered on-schedule as 10 books. – user8719 Apr 26 '14 at 0:26
  • Oh, well, that's certainly classic Jordan. – Ryan Reich Apr 26 '14 at 1:59
  • Jordan definitely took longer and longer to publish books in the WoT series. The first 6 books of WoT came out roughly 1 year apart (helped along by the fact that I think the first two were done and the third well started by the time the first was actually published), but the next two were at ~18 month intervals, then two 25-month intervals, with Jordan's last coming after a 34-month wait. – chepner Dec 1 '15 at 17:39
5

Tom Swift

Tom Swift is the main character of five series of American juvenile science fiction and adventure novels that emphasize science, invention and technology. First published in 1910, the series total more than 100 volumes.

4

Discworld weighs in at 40 books, but is not really a Saga. The Tom Swift, Jr. series is more the Saga of one young scientist, and runs 33 volumes; from Tom Swift and His Flying Lab (1954) to Tom Swift and the Galaxy Ghosts (1971) A case could be made that Doc Savage is at the very least, Science-fictiony. His tale runs to over 67 paperback covers.

3

The Dumarest saga by E.C. Tubb is 33 books long.

3

The Riftwar saga (Midkemia novels) by Raymond E. Feist consists of 20 books in the direct saga spanning multiple generations, with another 7 books set in the same universe, some with the same characters as the main "line" of books.

  • It seems that there are currently 30 books in the saga. It would be worse noting that the books can be huge (1000+ pages for the Empire cycle). – Morwenn Jul 16 '14 at 14:13
  • @Morwenn - I didn't really count the Krondor (Betrayal, Assasins, Tear of the Gods) as being part of the series, as they were basically book versions of a couple of average RPG computer games. Still, they do have some of the same characters and are in the same world, so probably should be counted. Good point. – JohnP Jul 16 '14 at 14:36
  • Don't be talking smack about Betrayal at Krondor. That game was great, and also the only reason I read dozens of books by Feist. – DCShannon Mar 8 '16 at 14:57
  • @DCShannon - Compared to other games of the time, it was at best, average. As a representation of a novelization, it was decent, better than other attempts of the same era. Don't get me wrong, I played it and liked it, but as a programmer there were a lot of flaws. – JohnP Mar 8 '16 at 15:04
2

The Xanth series by Piers Anthony consists of 27 books currently, and none have made it to the big or little screen.

2

If you're willing to accept individual issues of comic books as "one book" then DC has published over 40,000 issues, making it the winner by a huge margin. Though, not all of those issues take place in the same universe -- DC (and Marvel) comics take place in a multiverse where not all stories are directly related. Even if you just narrow down to the "mainstream" story, one of these two would win by a lot.

Otherwise, if you're willing to accept novellas or pulp magazine formats, the Perry Rhodan series is in the thousands, at least, and still going.

If you are specifically asking for full length novels, then I think the winner might be The Forgotten Realms, which I count over 200 novels (not counting the numerous short story anthologies), and again, more to come.

If you mean works by a single author, the biggest one I'm aware of is The Riftware Cycle by Raymond E. Feist, which is up to 30 books and (I believe) still going.

If you mean the largest series telling one single, continuous unbroken story, I'm less clear, but I know that The Wheel of Time got up to 14 novels, plus one novella; I've never personally read anything longer.

  • Read the question, both DC and The Forgotten Realms would fall into fantasy, not science fiction. – Alfredo Hernández Mar 6 '16 at 0:09
  • That must be why noone else has mentioned DC or Riftwar or Dune... Oh wait. – KutuluMike Mar 6 '16 at 0:15
  • Magician's End is stated to the be last in the Riftwar Cycle, I believe (sadly). – Jon B Mar 6 '16 at 21:42
1

Animorphs is a science fiction series that consists of about 52 books set in the same universe.

1

The Honorverse is pretty big, too. It comprise 13 books in the main serie (all from the same author) and more than 50 with the spin-offs (prequels, sub-series and anthologies, various authors).

1

It might not actually be the single longest, and probably wouldn't count as a "saga", but the Richard Long Arms series by Gaius Julius Orlovsky, at 50 books (the final book, "Emperor", is missing from the Wikipedia list), appear to be the longest published science fiction book series with the same author and the same main character.

They're bordering on fantasy, though; the science fiction elements are hard to see immediately.

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