Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pride and Prejudice. Now with Zombies.

I discovered a book today. It's called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and - yes. It's Pride and Prejudice, only they have to fight the legions of the Walking Dead. Lady Catherine has ninjas. It's awesome.

The whole book is succinctly summarized on the back: "Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read."

Now, I absolutely love the original Pride and Prejudice. In fact, of all of the Jane Austen books that I've read, I love it the most. I made the minor mistake of reading it before I tried Sense and Sensibility, and now can't read S&S, because there's no Mr. Darcy. So I console myself by reading P&P a couple of times a year and wallowing in my girlish squees, even though I know what's going to happen next. I also own two copies of the 2005 movie with Matthew McFayden as Mr. Darcy (who, in my own opinion, is a MUCH better Mr. Darcy than Colin Firth. But that's me).

Seth Grahame-Smith, who did all the zombie bits, actually made it work. He's managed to turn Elizabeth Bennett into a skilled fighting machine who, while being kind and witty and lively and all that, can also slaughter zombies with the best of them. And, it's funny. It's got zombies, and ninjas. About the only thing it doesn't have is pirates.

Of course, the whole thing makes one think.* How much can one get away with, with stories that are in Public Domain?

Because, really...zombies? In Hertfordshire? And there's ninjas involved?

Does this mean that, if I went and took, oh...the Arthurian Legends, and decided that as punishment for their adulterous ways, Lancelot and Guinevere were made into Zombies who then attacked and ate Sir Percival while he was mucking out his stable,** I could get away with that? Really? It's not...irreverent?

It's a tad worrying, because it also means that, if I ever have anything published, and my work were to fall into Public Domain, the new book with the amusing zombified book cover could be The Story That Rainbow Brite Spawned - And Zombies and people would buy it. Assuming, of course, that the original story was popular enough.

And, I think that's the rub. I don't think anyone would want to read War and Peace and Zombies, unless it was the abridged version. Hardly anyone wants to read the original of that now, and I'm fairly certain Whatshisname's already dead and that the book has long since been available in the Public Domain.

Duuuuuuude: I'm going to leave instructions with my kids for when J.K Rowling finally croaks, to tell my grandkids to write this down: Zombie Harry Potter. No really. Screw the Golden Snitch: they're playing for bodyparts, and the prized Jellied Brain, which, depending on who eats it, might just taste like bile. Or something. And there will be ninjas.

You know what Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is, though, right? It's fanfiction.*** 100%, pure, fanfiction. For nerds, who think zombies and ninjas make any story better. The fangirl in me wants to jump up and down and yell "See? See? It is a legitimate form of writing!" while the rest of me wants to hide in the shrubbery (with my book) until people stop looking.

I could, from here, segue into a rambling discussion of fanfiction and intellectual pornography, but I think I shall leave that for another day, considering the purpose of this was to point out that I found an awesome book. Seriously. It's actually good.


*It also makes me watch myself; I often catch myself, when I've been reading P&P, writing in Austenian prose. This can be rather annoying when writing something that doesn't fit in that sort of language.

** And by 'mucking out' I mean, 'having intimate relations with Bill the Stable Hand. Hur hur hur.

*** Actually, in the case of the Arthurian Legends, most of what's currently thought of as being part of the cycle (like Lancelot) was added in after, and is, therefore, fanfiction. Oddly enough, the same can be said about a great deal of what ended up in the cannonized version of the Bible. It's all fanfiction.


E said...


Finally. Someone else shares my views on "public domain" stories! See, this is why it bugs me when people say that things like "Peter Pan in Scarlet" and "Return to Labyrinth" are canon. THEY AREN'T! Just because it's authorized by the company, doesn't mean that it's canon if it's not from the original author/creator. It's all fanfiction!

*ahem* Thanks for reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and reviewing it, though. I want to read it, really I do, but I haven't been able to wade through the original (perhaps because I tried reading it when I was thirteen - didn't work), and needed some serious encouragement to even try this version.
But...ninjas? Awesome.

Athena said...

I'm completely with you guys on the whole public domain thing. I think that the original creator of anything like that should be the only one who is allowed to add to it. Maybe something different would have to be worked out for TV shows and things like that, but for the rest of it, it's fanfiction.

Also, I've read P&P six times, and it is my all-time favourite book. I'm not entirely sure I could deal with it having zombies, although I guess I could read and find out.

Rhiannon said...

I's nuts, eh? If writing self-insertion Mary-Sues is considered a form of literary prostitution (like writing Romance Novels), so too should books like this.

I don't have anything against fanfiction in itself (I'd have to wear a giant H for Hypocrite if I did)'s more that authors (and readers) should know what they're writing and reading.

Annnnd...ironically enough...

The JD Salinger Thing