Sunday, December 16, 2007
I just finished reading Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH and greatly enjoyed it. The book ends with some of the rats having escaped into a national forest with the intention of building their own civilization separate from that of human beings. I immediately began to think of sequels in my head, a whole series of them in fact. What dangers would the rats face as they begin the hard work of building their civilization? What adventures would they have? How would their civilization be different or similar to that of humans?
The first sequels might feature primarily the rats’ struggles against natural enemies and the attempts to grow enough food for themselves while remaining hidden from human observation. Perhaps there would be politics, splinter groups, the development of a religion. Later would come the inevitable, contact renewed with humanity. What would be the result? Would there be conflict? Would the rats have to flee again to start over elsewhere? Would the two races find ways to coexist? Might not they even complement each other? Imagine our first adventures into space with rats as our equal companions rather than our hangers on. Would rats join us on Mars, not as stowaways but as partners?
I found out that Robert C. O’Brien (real name Robert Leslie Conly), who wrote the book, never did a sequel, although his daughter Jane Leslie Conly wrote two. I’ve never heard anything about these so I take it they weren’t that successful. I also wonder whether Brian Jacques’ “Redwall” series was inspired or influenced by O’Brien’s work. The “NIMH” book was published in 1971, Redwall in 1986.
What about you? When you finish reading a book that you really like do you start imagining sequels that you wish the writer had written or would write? Have you ever thought of writing one just for the fun of it? I have, although I almost certainly never will because I have too many stories of my own that I want to write. No doubt, though, some of the ideas triggered by the “Rats of NIMH” will appear in other places in my work, in other forms, down the line.
Imagination is never wasted.