The Coode Street Podcast

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October 24, 2021  

Episode 565: On work published after the author‘s death

October 24, 2021

Welcome to episode 23 of Season 12 of The Coode Street Podcast. This week, after a brief and mostly irrelevant discussion of whether the proposition that Ray Bradbury as the quintessential October writer means anything at all outside North America, Jonathan and Gary actually try to focus on an important question: whether posthumous publications actually do anything to enhance an author’s reputation.

We make distinctions between works that the author clearly wanted to be published (like Philip K. Dick final four novels), works that the author clearly did not intend for publication (like some late Heinlein manuscripts), and works which the author may or may not have tried to publish during their lifetimes (such as a number of R.A. Lafferty manuscripts completed or continued by other hands, including novels by Walter M. Miller, Jr., Robert Jordan, and Terry Pratchett). We even touch upon whether the J. Michael Straczynski The Last Dangerous Visions is a useful idea decades after Harlan Ellison began the project. Do author's estates see posthumous publication as a means of keeping an author’s name alive, as a purely commercial proposition, or as a way of arguing for an author’s canonical status? Other authors touched upon include J.R.R. Tolkien, John M. Ford, Philip José Farmer, and even a few examples from mainstream fiction, such as John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, which won a Pulitzer Prize more than a decade after its author's death.

As always, we hope you enjoy the episode.