"...if [George RR Martin] dies early, Hollywood will pay somebody a lot of money to finish the books from his notes. Probably Brandon Sanderson or Kevin Anderson or someone whose name rhymes with either of them. If you’re a fantasy writer looking to make it in the big leagues finishing other peoples’ work, you could do worse than to change your name to 'Ganderson.'"
Author Existence Failure
can be a sad thing. When a famous author dies and they leave only partly-completed works, never to be finished or seen by the general public.
Or will they?
A Posthumous Collaboration is when an unfinished work is completed by someone else for the sake of the
publisher's bank account
The new author may have been close to the original one, or even helped with the work while the original author was alive, or just working off some discovered notes on what the original author had planned, but what's important is that the work has to have already been started by the original author before their passing; it doesn't count if someone just creates a brand new work using the dead author's characters or universe.
See also Literary Mash-Ups
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- "Siege", a Batman arc in Legends of the Dark Knight, was written by James Robinson working from an outline by the late Archie Goodwin.
- Hero and Leander by Christopher Marlowe and George Chapman.
- The Gathering Storm, Towers Of Midnight and A Memory Of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
- Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy L. Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh
- Fall of Kings by David Gemmell and Stella Gemmell
- The Wanderer by Cherry Wilder and Katya Reimann
- The Children of Húrin and The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. and Christopher Tolkien
- Hooray For Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky
- Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson, working from copious notes
- Grumbles from the Grave by Robert and Virginia Heinlein
- Garden of Shadows and Fallen Hearts by V. C. Andrews and Andrew Neiderman
- Antagonist by Gordon R. Dickson and David W. Wixon
- Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman by Walter M. Miller, Jr and Terry Bisson
- Eternity; Home, Sweet Home 2010 A.D.; The Other Time; Trojan Orbit; Deathwish World: Mack Reynolds and Dean Ing
- The Double Tower; Prince Alcouz and the Magician; The Scroll of Morloc; The Descent into the Abyss: Lin Carter and Clark Ashton Smith
- Nekht Semerkeht by Robert E. Howard and Andrew J. Offutt
- Psychoshop by Alfred Bester and Roger Zelazny
- Donnerjack and Lord Demon by Roger Zelazny and Jane Lindskold
- Poodle Springs by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker
- The Watsons by Jane Austen and Catherine Hubback, John Coates, Laura Wade, or Helen Baker; each one showed up with a different version.
- Through the Ice by Robert Kornwise and Piers Anthony
- In this case, the living author is actually the more famous one.
- Whistle by James Jones and Willie Morris
- The two concluding books of the Dune series, ''Hunters of Dune'' and ''Sandworms of Dune,'' supposedly based on Frank Herbert's notes, written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
- The prolific David Foster Wallace left a large cache of notes behind before he died and so others were able to step in and finish his long-awaited novel, The Pale King.
- When young adult author John Bellairs died, he left behind two unfinished manuscripts and outlines for two other stories. The finished versions of those four books, completed by Brad Strickland, were so well-received that Strickland has since been commissioned to write several more books in the series.
- E.B. White, up until his death, kept adding to and revising William Strunk's The Elements of Style, to the point where he was even credited as a co-author. Now since White's own death other editors have been doing the same, uncredited.
- "The Shuttered Room" and certain other fragmentary stories were completed after HP Lovecraft's death by August Derleth.
- The Family, a novel about Pope Alexander VI and his family, the Borgias, by Mario Puzo, was completed after his death by his girlfriend Carol Gini. Notably, the last chapter features a woman mourning the death of her lover though in the novel, her lover is also her brother.
- Titus Awakes, the fourth of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels, was incomplete at the author's death: only a single chapter had been completed and the rest was illegible due to Peake's advanced case of Parkinson's Disease. He did, however, leave behind a list of tropes he wanted to include in the next novel. His widow, Maeve Gilmore, completed the book, using the notes as a guide.
- Country singer Jim Reeves went through this twice after his death from a plane crash.
- In the late 1970s, with Reeves' previously unreleased music still selling as well as it did prior to his death, RCA Records producer Bud Logan had the bright idea to remix three previously recorded-but-unreleased songs and old album cuts from Reeves' catalog - "Don't Let Me Cross Over," "Oh How I Miss You Tonight" and "Take Me In Your Arms and Hold Me" - and mix them with up-and-coming artist, singer-songwriter Deborah Allen. All three remixes were top 10 hits during 1979-1980.
- In 1981, with interest in newly remixed tracks by Patsy Cline also high, another RCA employee came up with a double-posthumous collaboration involving Cline and Reeves, who never recorded together in their lifetimes (and ironically enough, both died in plane crashes). Both artists recorded their solo versions of "Have You Ever Been Lonely, Have You Ever Been Blue" and released them on various albums. Since both versions were the same key and tempo, it was the perfect song for RCA engineers to use to create the "duet." The original vocal tracks were lifted from the original stereo tapes and spliced together with a new musical backing recorded, resulting in top 5 country hit and even generating minor airplay on pop stations(!), which is undeniable proof that Dead Artists Are Better.
- Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Süssmayr
- Symphony no. 10 by Gustav Mahler and Deryck Cooke
- Free as a Bird and Real Love by John Lennon and the rest of The Beatles. In this case, the songs were credited to the Beatles and not John Lennon (the new versions were featured on the project The Beatles Anthology). It still counts as this trope, though.
- Brainwashed by George and Dhani Harrison and Jeff Lynne
- The Doors' An American Prayer combines poetry Jim Morrison recorded prior to his death with music the rest of the band added several years later.
- Made In Heaven by Queen was this on purpose, as Freddie Mercury didn't think he had enough time left to create whole songs (and he was sadly correct); so he just did his parts and let the rest of the band finish them after he died.
- Slogans by Bob Marley and the Wailers with guitar solo by Eric Clapton. This song was just a solo home demo by Bob but was overdubbed to make it sound like he was playing it with a full band.
- In Your Life and Take Me to Heaven Tonight by Melanie Thornton and the rest of La Bouche
- Countless posthumous collaborations between Tupac Shakur and others, eg "Pac's Life" with Ashanti and T.I.
- Country singer Keith Whitley's posthumous tribute album, in addition to the usual famous stars' covers of songs (including "When You Say Nothing at All" being Covered Up by Alison Krauss And Union Station) and never-released studio tracks, includes a duet with his widow Lorrie Morgan that fits this trope.
- And taking it a step further, a DJ spliced the Alison Krauss version of "When You Say Nothing at All" with Keith Whitley's.
- Adagio in G Minor by Tomaso Albinoni and Remo Giazotto.
- The Mermaid Avenue albums by Billy Bragg and Wilco, which set old unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics to new music.
- Dropkick Murphys also set unpublished Guthrie lyrics to new music, first with "Gonna Be A Blackout Tonight", then with their Signature Song "Shippin' Off To Boston".
- Although not nearly as many as Tupac yet, Ol' Dirty Bastard has also had a steady stream of posthumous guest appearances. And while it was released while he was still alive, the album The Trials and Tribulations of Russell Jones was made without his involvement while he was in jail: acapellas from unfinished songs (or sometimes even previously released songs) were set to new beats, with many guest appearances filling in the gaps.
- After Johnny Mercer's death, lyrics of his were set to new music by Barry Manilow.
- Nico by Shannon Hoon and the rest of Blind Melon. Though the album also included some outtakes that were in fact finished before Hoon's death, as well as a few of his solo demos that the band didn't add anything to at all.
- Hank Williams, Jr. did this twice with his father Hank Williams Sr.
- The first was his 1989 hit "There's a Tear in My Beer", which incorporated a vocal track recorded by his father. The elder Hank's recording was made in 1950 but never released until Hank Jr. got a hold of it. Its video digitally inserted Hank Jr. into a performance of Sr.'s.
- The second time, he corralled his son Hank Williams III into doing an album called Three Hanks: Men with Broken Hearts, which combined previously recorded vocals by Hank Sr. and newly recorded vocals by Hank Jr. and Hank III. Hank III doesn't even acknowledge this album's existence, because perhaps he agreed with a reviewer who deemed it morbid and unnecessary.
- In the same vein as the Hank Williams example above, "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole, "God Bless the Child" by Billie Holiday and Tony Bennett and "All The Way" by Frank Sinatra and Céline Dion.
- Lynyrd Skynyrd did this with "Travelin' Man". Ronnie Van Zant's vocals were lifted from a live recording of the song and mixed into a duet with his brother.
- "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong and Kenny G.
- Yo Yo Ma's venture into tango music includes a track on which he "collaborates" with deceased tango legend Astor Piazzolla using preexisting recordings.
- Michael Jackson's segments from "We Are The World" were re-used on the 2010 remake for Haiti, given his then-recent death and his heavy involvement in the original. Janet Jackson even sang along with her late brother in the remake.
- "Hold My Hand", featuring Akon, was Michael's last known song before his death.
- Another such collaboration, "Love Never Felt So Good" featuring Justin Timberlake, was the lead single for the 2014 album Xscape, comprised of previously unreleased songs mixed with re-recorded instrumentation.note
- Ironically enough, Timberlake's hit "Rock Your Body" was written (by Pharrell Williams) for Jackson's Invincible album over a decade earlier.
- And speaking of Invincible, that album also features posthumous vocals from other people: "Unbreakable" has The Notorious BIG (whose verse was taken from Shaquille O'Neal's "You Can't Stop The Reign"), and Rod Serling, via audio from The Twilight Zone.
- Japanese R&B singer Music/Ken Hirai has a "duet" on his Cover Song album Ken's Bar with noted Japanese pop singer Kyu Sakamotonote , who died about 20 years before the album was recorded, covering Sakamoto's song "Miagete Goran Yoru no Hoshi wo".
- In 1969, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash recorded a version of the former's "One Too Many Mornings", which was often bootlegged, but never really saw official release. The 2012 Bob Dylan tribute album Chimes Of Freedom, released almost nine years after Cash passed away, took this recording and added some additional vocals by The Avett Brothers. Kind of an odd example, as the song wasn't "unfinished" to begin with.
- Six months after the death of rapper Lisa "Lefteye" Lopes, TLC's fourth album 3D was completed by the remaining two members with posthumous vocals by Lopes on four of the songs.
- Anita Cochran did a very strange one in 2004 when she recorded "I Wanna Hear a Cheatin' Song". She wanted to include the voice of Conway Twitty, who died in 1993. Cochran and producer Jim Ed Norman achieved this feat by splicing his part together from various other recordings of his.
- Rodney Crowell's 1992 hit "What Kind of Love" is the inverse of the Johnny Mercer/Barry Manilow example above. Crowell and Will Jennings wrote lyrics to a melody that Roy Orbison had composed shortly before his death.
- The last album and Magnum Opus of Russian rock group Kino, one of the most influential in the 1980s, was finished after the death of their singer and songwriter Viktor Tsoi. He had recorded draft voice tracks before he was killed in a car crash. The album is officially named "Kino", but is best known as The Black Album.
- "Who's Got The Action" by Dean Martin and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
- In 2014, Barry Manilow released an entire album of these, entitled My Dream Duets. Its lead single is a version of "The Look Of Love" with Dusty Springfield, other artists featured include Whitney Houston, Sammy Davis Jr., John Denver and Louis Armstrong.
- Queen and Michael Jackson had another odd example. Their team-up "There Must Be More to Life Than This" was originally recorded in 1983 as simply a Mercury/Jackson duet. The sessions fell apart and the song didn't see the light of day until the 2014 sort-of Greatest Hits Album Forever featured a remastered version. As with the Reeves/Cline version of "Have You Ever Been Lonely" mentioned earlier, "There Must Be More To Life" ended up as a double-posthumous collaboration.
- An odd subversion is Brian Jones Presents The Pipes Of Pan At Jajouka, an album that was recorded by Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones) as a Solo Side Project but was unfinished when he suddenly died. As a result this 1968 recording was only made available to the public in 1971. And even then it's not really a collaboration. It was merely produced by him, but doesn't feature him on vocals or instruments at all. Instead we hear the wonderful performances by the Master Musicians of Jajouka, a Moroccan folk group. All music on this album was performed live and plays out as one long epic performance, but shortened somewhat because in Real Life the actual length of these chants can stretch out to several hours!
- The Girl in Pink Tights, a musical that opened on Broadway in 1954, three years after the death of its composer, Sigmund Romberg, had this unusual credit: "Music developed and orchestrated by Don Walker." It has been speculated that Walker may have composed some numbers by himself.
- Sir Arthur Sullivan died before completing the score for The Emerald Isle. Some numbers were largely or fully written, others partially, some not at all. Edward German finished the work so skilfully that it's not obvious (definitely not grating on the ears) which songs were by which composer.
- Euripides' last three plays—The Bacchae', Iphigenia in Aulis and (probably) Alcmaeon in Corinth''—were produced posthumously by his son (or possibly nephew) in Athens in 405 BC, and the prize was awarded posthumously to Euripides.
- Charles Dickens died while writing a novel (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) which was turned into a musical called "Drood". Unique in that the audience at each performance gets to vote for whom they think the murderer is, so each suspect has to be ready with his confession number that he may not get to sing. So, this was written by Charles Dickens and the audience.
- Before Edd Gould (the creator of Edds World) passed away after a long battle with cancer, he made it clear he didn't want the series to die with him. So his friends and fellow cast members will continue the series with a new animator and a new voice for Edd's character.
- Similarly, Season 3 of RWBY became this after showrunner Monty Oum died unexpectedly on Febuary 1, 2015. Oum had already finished a few scenes before his death, and was also very open about his plans for the series through season 7, so it is not likely to end anytime soon.