With the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett, a friend and I were discussing the future of Discworld. He was disappointed that Pratchett’s daughter has declared there will be no more official Discworld novels. That felt like the right call to me. It was hard to articulate why.
One really interesting difference about how we experience fictional characters is that, for my friend, the characters have a (fictional) existence outside of the author. Even after the author has passed, the characters can continue to grow and evolve. I really like that conception because it gives fictional characters that we care about a kind of immortality.
On the other hand, I tend to see fictional worlds and characters as an invitation into the mind of the author, and therefore when the author dies, the world freezes in time. I’m perfectly OK (more than OK, really) with the idea of new authors reinterpreting or re-imagining or even continuing the narrative of the fictional world, but the idea that canonical works can be generated after the author is gone feels weird to me.
Corporations owning fictional worlds only makes things more complicated, since corporations themselves are potentially immortal.