Here’s why both the Moon Base Alpha series and the Last Musketeer series have ended

Hi everyone –

The information in this post may be old news to many of you, but I have been getting a lot of questions from readers asking why both MBA and Musketeer stopped at three books.  The posts where I explained this are now a couple years old, so I thought I would revisit the issue.  The reasons I stopped writing each series are quite different.

Why I ended Moon Base Alpha

When I first started writing this series, I really thought it might run for a long time.  But I also made the decision to write a sci-fi series where space travel was depicted as realistically as possible.  My good friend, astronaut Garrett Reisman, who was overseeing the human space flight program at SpaceX, served as my technical advisor.  I was very pleased with the world that I created, but it had an unforeseen side effect:

It was very limiting.  Moon Base Alpha was small and cramped; there weren’t many rooms and less than thirty residents.  I had originally planned to bring in new residents (which is why the Patucket family is mentioned) but after three books, I was having trouble coming up with new ways to make life in the moon base exciting.

Meanwhile, the world outside the moon base was also more limiting than I had realized.  Planet Earth has billions of different locations, all of which are different from each other — but the exterior of the moon is basically the same, no matter where you go.  True, there is variation, but for the most part, it is moon dust, with the occasional crater or lava tube.  And there is no way to get from one place to another quickly, so even if there was great variation, I couldn’t move my characters very far.

Even worse, the only way to go outside the moon base involved wearing a space suit, which provided its own limitations.  An action sequence in a space suit is very different from one where the characters are free to move about in any way they would like.

Therefore, I realized that, if I kept going with the series, it was going to start feeling repetitive — and I didn’t want that to happen.  I really hated ending the series, because it was a very personal series to me, but I thought that letting it get boring would be worse than bringing it to a close.  (Plus, I was having trouble getting inspired to write another book.)

Many of you have written to me, suggesting various ways to move the series along.  But all of them have their issues:

Why not open Moon Base Beta — or move the series to another planet?

Neither of those really solves my issue with a series that is set in a base on another planet (or a moon) feeling limited.

Why not follow up with Dashiell’s life when he gets back to earth?

What made this series special was the fact that it took place on the moon.  Once it returns to earth, it’s just not that special any more.

Spoiler alert:  Why not continue the story after it ends in Waste of Space, on another planet in another galaxy?

Because, first of all, after the epilogue in Waste of Space, Dashiell is in his forties.  But more importantly, the story would be very different that the type of story I was telling in the series so far.  I wanted to write mysteries set on a moon base, which was technically science fiction, but very heavy on the science.  Switching to a whole new world would definitely open up what I could do — but it would veer into full on science fiction, which isn’t really what I want to write.

So is the series over forever?

Probably.  I won’t rule out the chance that maybe, some day, I will be inspired to write another story in this series, but for now, I am going to focus on the three series I have going: Spy School, Charlie Thorne and FunJungle.  That is really the maximum number of chapter series I can handle.

In the meantime, if you haven’t read the MBA series, you can get the whole thing in a lovely boxed set by clicking here.

 

Why I ended The Last Musketeer

The Last Musketeer is, to this date, the only series that I have written for a publisher besides Simon & Schuster.  (That’s why the covers look different.)  It is also the only series I have written that was not my original idea.  Before Belly Up was even published, I was approached by an editor at another publishing house (which I will not name).  The editor wanted to know if I would do a three book series and gave me the basic concept: Kid goes back in time and meets the three musketeers.  He had a few other ideas, which I used in the book, although I would say that 98-99% of the story is my own original ideas.  I was told that this was a huge priority for the publisher, and that I would need to be prepared to do a lot of travel to promote the series.

Here’s what happened instead: After I finished the first book, the publisher fired the editor and shut down the entire division.  I still was under contract to do the other two books, but no one really was looking out for the series.  In my opinion, the publisher didn’t do much to market the books at all.  To this day, they have never arranged for a single school visit, festival or book store event.  Meanwhile, the original covers were very disappointing.  Bookstores didn’t realize that I had even written those books.  They looked so different, people assumed that a different Stuart Gibbs had written them.

I would have been happy to write more books in this series if the publisher had supported it.  But it made far more sense to write books for a more supportive publisher like Simon & Schuster instead.  There is little point in writing a book that you think no one is ever going to read.

I spent years pestering the publisher of The Last Musketeer to change the covers, which they finally did.  This change encouraged more bookstores to carry the books, and so they have started selling better — although they still don’t sell nearly as well as my other books, as that publisher really still doesn’t promote them.  The major way those books are promoted is on this website.  At this point, it has been nearly a decade since I wrote that series, so I can say that there is no chance that I will revisit it.

I still like the series, though.  If you want to give it a try, you can get the first book by clicking here.

And just in case you’re interested, here’s what the book originally looked like:

 

Here’s what it look like now:

 

21 thoughts on “Here’s why both the Moon Base Alpha series and the Last Musketeer series have ended

  1. Alec –

    I am a huge fan of your books and I always buy your books as soon as they come out. I was just wondering if you are gonna make a movie about any of your books? I know you were creating a spy school movie a few years ago but it got cancelled. Are you gonna still create the spy school movie or are scraping that idea? Thanks, Alec

    P.S are you gonna create any movies for your other series? Those would be really good movies.

  2. Alec –

    I would love it if Hollywood would make movies of any of my series. However, I have very little control over whether or not that happens. Maybe now that the writer’s strike is ending, we can move forward with something.

  3. When will the next fun jungle be out?
    P.s. Charlie Thorne and the last equation was amazing!

  4. Penelope Chia –

    The publisher of the Last Musketeer has never even mentioned the possibility of a GN, so I don’t think that is likely.

  5. Your Moon Base Alpha books are amazing and I’ve read them like 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 times!!!!!!! I was wondering if you will make an MBA comic? PLEASE (times 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000!)

  6. Hi! I like your books a lot what if ben goes to the moon and then he finds the moon base alpha people.
    also can you make more moon base alpha books please

  7. Hi –

    I have an older blog post explaining why I ended the MBA series — and it should also explain why I’m not about to send Ben into space.

  8. I really like your MBA books and was hoping that my ideas might help you so here they are:
    1. You could open MBB and have Dash go back to the moon and live at MBB
    2. You could make it more about Zan’s planet
    3. You could follow Dash, Kira, or Violet on Earth

    I hope I could help,
    KK

  9. Stuart,
    I was reading your FAQ page and was wondering if you could ask your friend who became an ASTRONAUT to respond to this question: Was it hard to become an astronaut and do you enjoy it?
    The reason I want to become an astronaut is because of your MBA series.

    Thank You,
    KK or Kyla

  10. KK –

    As explained in this post, opening MBB doesn’t really solve my problems with continuing the series. (Plus it won’t open for ten years and Dash will be an adult by then.)

    Meanwhile, moving the series to Zan’s planet or back to earth would change the concept of the series so radically that it wouldn’t really be the same.

    I really didn’t want to end this series, but I felt that I had to for reasons like this.

  11. KK or Kyla –

    I know for a fact that Garrett enjoyed being an astronaut very much. The biggest issue was probably that he had to wait long periods of time before going into space and between trips to space, so much of being an astronaut is training.

  12. Dear Mr. Gibbs,
    I am a huge fan, and I even convinced my school librarian to set up a time for you to visit our school! Your books have saved me from countless rainy days, and never fail to entertain and surprise me, even after the third or fourth read-through. My top three series of yours are (in this order) The Last Musketeer, Spy School, and Funjungle. I understand that The Last Musketeer is one of your less appreciated series, but it is still wonderful nonetheless. If you could find time in your busy schedule to make another book (even if it’s only about two hundred pages) me and all of your other true fans would really appreciate. What if Greg (d’Artagnan) went back in time to find that Anne of Austria was kidnapped and spirited away by none other than Milady. Or something like that. Any new book would be welcomed.

  13. Hi Reid –

    I am so pleased to hear that you have enjoyed TLM so much, but sadly, all the reasons I give in this post for not writing another book in the series are still valid. If anything, they’re even more valid, because even more time has passed since I wrote those books. In Sorry, but there will be no more LM books. My limited time is much better spent writing series for a publisher who supports them.

  14. If you need any ideas i would love to help and am working on a new spy school book to send to you that you can publish for FREE

  15. Jax McLeod –

    I appreciate your enthusiasm but I have plenty of ideas on my own and therefore can;t really take ideas from other people.

  16. Hi Mr. Gibbs. I am a big fan of your books, especially MBA because I love sci-fi. I picked up MBA #1 and read the whole MBA series. I was hoping for an opening of MBB or continuity on the Dash x Zan ship for MBA #4. (Also, I need another MBA book to do my book reports on, I used them all)
    Also, I am looking forward for the Chen-Patucket to move in, or something about maybe Zan’s species end up attempting to destroy earth or something like that.

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