I agree. The first 3 books were excellent, the second 3 were not as good, but still well-worth reading, imho. But yes, they kind of devolved. Part of the problem was that they were getting far too dark. I did read one of the more recent ones and it was decent -- not great but decent. My problem is that I LOVED some of the original characters, and a lot of them have either gotten old and gone into retirement or died or simply are no longer the focus of the stories. I DO understand that one of the original characters (one of my favorites -- "The Sleeper", aka Croyd Crenson) plays a part in the latest book. Since he sleeps for many months at a time and goes through frequent metamorphoses, it stands to reason that he wouldn't age normally (if at all). My favorite characters included Fortunato, Captain Trips (and company), "The Great and Powerful Turtle", Yeoman, Modular Man, even 'Golden Boy' (aka Jack Braun), Poppinjay, Quasiman, Father Squid, etc. Even loved Dino Boy or whatever he called himself -- the little kid who could turn himself into a miniature dinosaur (Martin still can't get over the public's reaction to what happened to Dino Boy -- he keeps saying 'B...b...but he was just a minor character!!"). One historical piece of trivia that I think is interesting -- when they were writing the early books (long before 9/11), they decided that they didn't like the World Trade Center so in the alternate history, they were never built. Instead of the WTC, you have Jetboy's tomb which in the series, is a very important NYC landmark.