Monday, September 21, 2009

The Sacking of the Public Domain

I've not read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; I barely read the book without zombies. I laughed at the trailer for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (Carrie Harris posted a link on her blog today). Other titles from the public domain that have received a recent mash up:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn...War of the Worlds...The Wizard of Oz...

But I'm done.

Really.

Write something new, okay?

Or, at the least, take an idea and make it new instead of inserting bits into a time-worn classic. I'm looking forward to Kim Paffenroth's zombified treatment of Dante in Valley of the Dead. I enjoy a good nod to the canon without cheapening the original text. War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts, and Zombies? Pleeeeaaase. H.G. Wells's version was pretty damn scary all by itself.

Of course my latest work in progress is Bram Stoker's Dracula and Zombies: Now with Undead on Undead Action!

19 comments:

Cate Gardner said...

Undead on Undead Action - we're moving away from YA then. ;)

Though I love Pride & Prejudice, and I adore zombies to bits, P&P&Zs has never appealed to me.

Horror Girl said...

I agree with you. I love the zombie novels, and I got the P and P with zombies from the library, but I had to return it unread. I love Austen's words too much, and I couldn't read them used by another author in that way.

And I think there is a definite diff between a "retelling" of an old story, and just plain inserting various monsters into another person's words.

Ack.

Rebecca Nazar said...

Mashed Huckleberry? Shoot me.

Aaron Polson said...

Cate - the word "action" can be taken a few ways, I'm afraid. Dracula was kind of a sexy book, wasn't it?

Samantha - But the public domain is free for the raping and pillaging, right? (sarcasm, of course)

Becca - Mashed Huckleberry sounds kind of tasty.

K.C. Shaw said...

It reminds me a bit of those awful movies and TV shows from "the olden days"--the Dracula vs. Frankenstein movies, the special guest stars showing up on Scooby Doo. It denotes a critical lack of originality. (Although I admit a lot of those old movies are fun to watch now--but not for the reasons originally intended.)

katey said...

Undead on Undead Action!
Now you're speaking my language!

(What? What'd I say...?)

And yeah, I agree. Part of me is really curious to read the P & P Zombies... but part of me just wants to throw things and scream. Even the stuff that's supposed to come AFTER (eg. Mr. Darcy's Daughters-- yes someone actually got PAID to write FANFICTION just because it was in the public domain...) hurts my soul. I'm not totally sure I can handle it.

I'm with you. There's nothing new under the sun, but good god, the whole point is to make something new of something old. :/

Aaron Polson said...

K.C. - Scooby Doo really lost my vote when they had Batman and Robin as guest stars. Now...it's kind of funny and quaint.

Katey - Lots o' folks make piles of money on "fan" fiction...Star Trek, Star Wars...it's just funny to see it with Austen. Maybe I'll take a reverse of the current trend: The Call of Cthulhu--now with romance.

Natalie L. Sin said...

"The Hot Gay Gatsby and his Zombie Dance Minions"

Aaron Polson said...

Now Natalie has an idea! Bravo! Gatsby definately needs an upgrade.

Brendan P. Myers said...

Haven't read it myself, but I've heard that the zombie take on "Pride and Prejudice" was actually very well done. I suspect the same cannot be said for many (most?) of the others.

Like anything else, success breeds imitators.

Aaron Polson said...

Brendan - Success has more than one meausre, and P&P&Z made tons of cash...so yeah: successful. I think other folks just said, "hey...you know what popular old book isn't protected by copyright anymore?"

Jamie Eyberg said...

I think the original idea was probably pretty entertaining, but after that- meh. It would be like taking dracula and turning him into a whiny emo kid.

Robert said...

P&P&Z is a great gimmick, and the reason it's a great gimmick is because they're mashing up two completely different things. Will all the rest of the books and wannabes be as successful? Well, how many of the books and wannabes were successful after the Da Vinci Code? Some people just don't get the idea behind it, though. Like the War of the Worlds and Zombies or whatever -- those two genres are so close together and it's not at all interesting, at least in my opinion. If you're going to mash stuff up, at least be original about it.

Jameson T. Caine said...

Zombies? Meh. Now if they shoehorned my beloved Godzilla into a classic, I'd be all over it.

Danielle Ferries said...

I haven't read any of these. Am I missing much?

Going over to Amazon to add 52 Stitches to my next order.

KPaffenroth said...

I'm hoping mine does not disappoint!

Aaron Polson said...

Jamie - I hear that. I think pop culture has pretty well ruined the vampire for a while.

Robert - Exactly. The scene in War of the Worlds in which the Martians bleed human captives to feed their plants...I don't need zombies for that to be effective.

Jameson - I think you have something there...

Danielle - Depends on whether or not you've read the book in the first place. ;)

I can always count on your work for a thoughtful read, Mr. Paffenroth.

BT said...

When I started submitting work I used to get comments back about it not being original enough or an overused trope - I throw my hands up in disgust - and do my best to catch them on the way down with no hands...

Aaron Polson said...

BT...sometimes I realize that this writing thing is nothing more than a series of hoops in a rat's maze. Now if someone would just give me the map.