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Patchwork Story

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This is a relatively long work which started its life as a bunch of shorter works in the same continuity, which were then edited together to form a single more-or-less coherent narrative. Sometimes this occurs through the addition of a Framing Device or Encyclopedia Exposita to tie the different narrative threads together; sometimes it just means the stories themselves are edited to increase continuity and remove redundant exposition; sometimes they are just put in chronological order (or left in Anachronic Order for artistic purposes).

This is very common in literary science fiction, especially from The '50s and The '60s when there was a shift in the genre from publishing in short-story-dominated magazines to publishing novels. In those circles it's generally referred to as a "fix-up", a name coined by science fiction writer A.E. van Vogt.

Compare Adaptation Expansion, Arc Welding, Clip Show, Compilation Rerelease, and especially Compilation Movie. For the inverse, see Divided for Publication.

Not to related to Patchwork Fic, which is when a fanfic combines characters and/or other elements from different adaptations of the same single story; or to Patchwork Kids, which is when a child's personality and appearance are essentially just a mashup of their parents' own.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • The plot of the film Cool Cat Saves the Kids is a patchwork of three short films. The three are Cool Cat Stops Bullying, Cool Cat in the Christmas Parade and Cool Cat Finds a Gun.

  • The Arabian Nights are a collection of Arabian stories held together by a framing device, in which a well-read young woman recites one story a night to a king who intends to kill her, yet always feels compelled to wait till the following night to hear more; by the last night he has fallen in love with her, and they get married.
  • Accelerando by Charles Stross started out as nine short stories.
  • Joe Haldeman's All My Sins Remembered
  • Several of Isaac Asimov's most famous books, including the first three Foundation Series books as well as I, Robot.
  • The book Berserker is a collection of Fred Saberhagen's "Berserker" short stories linked together by narration by the Third Historian of the Carmpan (alien) race.
  • The Big Four by Agatha Christie was originally a series of short stories that were published in The Sketch before being converted into a novel.
  • Blood's a Rover by Harlan Ellison, a fix up of A Boy and His Dog and the other stories about Vic and Blood. The final part of the book is in screenplay format, as Ellison passed on before he could convert it to prose.
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz was originally three short stories: "A Canticle for Leibowitz", "And the Light Is Risen", and "The Last Canticle". The novel version is extensively edited, even changing the names of some of the characters.
  • Clifford Simak's City.
  • Dispatches: The copyright page states "Portions of this book were originally published in New American Review no. 7, Esquire and Rolling Stone." The reader can only guess about which portions were published where.
  • Dune is an expanded and reworked version of two shorter works, note  Dune World and The Prophet of Dune, that were originally published in Analog magazine.
  • Michael Swanwick's The Dragons of Babel.
  • Orson Scott Card's Ender in Exile stitches together several pre-existing short stories with some new story and narrative. Important characters from the beginning and end of the book are not present in the end and beginning at all.
  • The Garden of Sinners is a downplayed example: while it invokes the appearance of a patchwork story, between its multiple sub-novellas appearing in an Anachronic Order, having wildly fluctuating lengths, and getting written and published over a period of several years, it is not so much a compilation, as a single novel with multiple expansions. The first to be written were the first five chapters/novellas, Overlooking View to Paradox Spiral, which are also the only ones to fully employ Anachronic Order for thematic effect. Nasu then wrote and published two more novellas, Oblivion Recorder and Murder Speculation, Part 2, a year later to round off dangling plot threads. Ten years after the original publication, the story was again expanded with Future Gospel, consisting of a short story set a decade after the main story, and an interquel novella. Then another five years down the line, Nasu was cajoled into writing one more novella, Final Record, which borders Canon Discontinuity and isn't typically included with the main body of the novel.
  • Ghost Roads: The first book, Sparrow Hill Road (2014), was originally a group of short stories published online in 2010.
  • Stephen King's The Gunslinger was originally published as a series of short stories/novellas (hence its more episodic nature compared to the rest of The Dark Tower series).
  • A Hero of Our Time originated as three serialized novellas, Bela (1838), The Fatalist (1839), and Taman (1840), united only by their protagonist Grigory Pechorin and setting, Northern Caucasus. They were then compiled into one big novel, with the author adding the short story Maxim Maximich and the (almost novel-sized) novella Princess Mary to the first omnibus edition in 1940note , and a foreword explaining his authorial intent in the second (1841). Lermontov also wrote what is essentially an Origins Episode for the recurring character of Maxim Maximich, titled A Caucasian, in 1840, but it historically isn't included in the canonical novel, but sometimes published under the same cover as a companion piece.
  • Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man is a number of short stories with a Framing Device about the titular Illustrated Man. All the stories are seen in his tattoos.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space "novels" Flatlander and Crashlander are actually his Gil "The Arm" Hamilton stories and Beowulf Schaeffer stories (respectively) collected together and given an external story to fit into.
  • The Last Wish, the first book in The Witcher series, is actually a compilation of six short stories previously written by Andrzej Sapkowski about Geralt, with a Framing Story added to hold them together. The stories are presented in Anachronic Order, with the first one, The Witcher, being the last one chronologically.
  • Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.
  • Pandora's Legions combines Christopher Anvil's novel Pandora's Planet with several associated shorter works.
  • Raymond Chandler's first five Philip Marlowe novels are cobbled out of earlier stories, as noted at The Other Wiki.
  • The Ranger's Apprentice books started out as a series of short stories by the author to get his son interested in reading before he decided to make them into a coherent series.
  • To Ride Pegasus by Anne McCaffrey is a compilation of previously-published stories with one new story/chapter at the beginning to establish the setting and premise.
  • The first Riverworld novel, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, was originally two novellas, "The Day of the Great Shout" and "The Suicide Express".
  • About half of James White's Sector General books are stitched together out of short stories.
  • The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey is a compilation of previously-published stories with one new story/chapter at the end to round things off.
  • Large portions of M John Harrison's Signs of Life were originally published as stand-alone short stories, although probably planned from the start as a novel.
  • The Silmarillion wasn't even compiled together into its current relatively cohesive form by J.R.R. Tolkien himself, but rather by his son Christopher. To quote the latter's foreword:
    The Ainulindalë and Valaquenta, which are given at the beginning, are indeed closely associated with The Silmarillion, but the Akallabêth and Of the Rings of Power, which appear at the end, are (it must be emphasised) wholly separate and independent. They are included according to my father's explicit intention; and by their inclusion the entire history is set forth from the Music of the Ainur in which the world began to the passing of the Ringbearers from the Havens of Mithlond at the end of the Third Age.
  • Tuf Voyaging
  • The Vorkosigan Saga volume Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold, which adds a framing narration to tie together three novellas.
  • A.E. van Vogt's own The Voyage of the Space Beagle.
  • Pretty much every Wild Cards novel.
  • The World and Thorinn was assembled from three of Damon Knight's short stories.
  • Robert Silverberg's The World Inside was expanded from about five short stories set in the same universe.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons. Four RPGA modules (R1 To the Aid of Falx, R2 The Investigation of Hydell, R3 The Egg of The Phoenix and R4 Doc's Island) were edited together to create I12 Egg of The Phoenix.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Mowgli, the Russian version of The Jungle Book, is a series of shorts which are sometimes released or shown as a single movie.
  • Robotech can be seen as this, as the material used for it were not related to each other in anyway aside from sharing the same production studio.

Alternative Title(s): Patchwork Stories, Fixup Novel