Jane Austen: SF and Monster-Lit 101

From BBC to Bollywood, fangs to phantoms, rotting flesh to outer space—is there anywhere Austen can’t go? The blogosphere is currently buzzing on how Jane has given zombies the heave-ho for aliens in a recent Variety announcement:

Elton John’s Rocket Pictures hopes to make the first Jane Austen adaptation to which men will drag their girlfriends.

Will Clark is set to direct “Pride and Predator,” which veers from the traditional period costume drama when an alien crash lands and begins to butcher the mannered protags, who suddenly have more than marriage and inheritance to worry about.

Netherfield has landed. For years, Austen movie fans contended with multiple remakes, miniseries and contemporary re-imaginings. Examples of the latter included Clueless, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and, my favorite, the upcoming hip-hop musical remake of Emma set in an inner-city high school with fifteen hip-hop songs and dance numbers (Film School Rejects affectionately refers to it as “Emma II Society” or “Emminemma“).

It was only a matter of time before these “re-imaginings” turned into the Undead invading Austen-verse with works like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, both the forthcoming novel and the reportedly hot Hollywood movie project. From the entertaining Times UK article:

“It quickly became obvious that Jane [Austen] had laid down the blueprint for a zombie novel,” said Grahame-Smith, a television comedy writer. “Why else in the original should a regiment arrive on Lizzie Bennet’s doorstep when they should have been off fighting Napoleon? It was to protect the family from an invasion of brain-eaters, obviously.”

Why else indeed! Wish I could go back to my Jane Austen English seminar and rewrite that thesis.

The article also details the new “feral offspring of classic British literature” called “monster-lit.” Talent agencies have been shopping around Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights heroine Catherine “return[ing] as a Japanese-style ghost” to terrorize poor Heathcliff; Jane Eyre‘s Mr. Rochester having “something more terrible than an insane spouse in his attic;” and George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss “powered by human sacrifice.”

Other Austen monster-lit contenders include the just announced Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey (Jane Austen with magic!), Michael Thomas Ford’s not yet published Jane Bites Back (an undead Austen with writer’s block), and Carrie Bebris’ cozily paranormal Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mysteries (Pride and Prescience, anyone?). As I write this, I’m sure there’s a Wickham-bot caper that I missed.

And naturally, Elton John brings it all back to the future with Pride and Predator. The man with vision will also be supervising the music, yes.

Has Sir Andrew Davies issued a statement yet? I wonder if he’s seen the Facebook version of Pride and Prejudice (Sample bit: Fitzwilliam Darcy became a fan of Fine Eyes.).

And lest anyone thinks Shakespeare is being slighted…

Elton John’s company is also in production on Miramax/Disney’s CG-animated Gnomeo and Juliet, probably featuring the voices of James McAvoy and Emily Blunt (who replaced Kate Winslet) in “the story of two deeply-in-love garden gnomes living in separate rival gardens.” Let us repeat that: two deeply-in-love garden gnomes living in separate rival gardens.

Howling cannot begin to describe.

Gnome-be-Gone lawn ornaments (with gnome) from the environment-friendly Uncommon Goods. Life rarely gets better than this.

[Fake poster from Flickr user Hellzon, for Worth1000.com. You, sir, are a genius.]


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