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Friday, June 26, 2009

The Friday Challenge - 6/26/09

Light turnout this week; perhaps the 6/19/09 Friday Challenge was too unfocused. In any event, as of the deadline, the entries received are:

Torainfor, "Asimov's Levy"

The Bandit, "Moderation of the Community"

Henry, "Stories from the Singularity"

As always, even if you haven't submitted an entry this week—even if you never submit an entry in any week—you're invited to read, comment on, and vote for your favorite. Don't be shy about leaving feedback on the authors' blogs, either. Writers thrive on knowing that someone out there is actually reading their words. The winner will be announced on Sunday.

And now for this week's challenge:

______ and _______

In case you've somehow managed to miss it, one of the hottest-selling titles in the world right now is, I kid you not—

That's right. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, rewritten as a zombie horror novel. It's #4 on the NY Times trade fiction list, #6 on the Amazon fiction list, #23 overall; I've had otherwise sane and intelligent friends call me up to tell me how hilariously great this book is and how badly I need to read it. Yes, of course the author already has a major-studio movie deal.


In hindsight, this is one of those ideas that seems so simple and obvious, you can only wonder why you didn't think of it first. In foresight, there's probably no point in actually writing such a thing yourself, as every writer and her cat is no doubt already working on a quickie ripoff and every publisher in the English-speaking world is about to regurgitate if he or she sees one more pitch for Great Expectations and Ninjas.

But in the here-and-now-sight—

Okay, that's this week's challenge. The formula is simple: take one public-domain great work of literature. Fold in one screaming fanboy trope: zombies, werewolves, vampires, ninjas, nazis, pirates, aliens, undead nazi zombie pirates; whatever. Mix thoroughly and beat to a fine pulp, and then write a few paragraphs of pitch describing the book you would write, if someone gave you a nice advance to write it, if you had an agent to send the pitch to.

Some combinations obviously won't work. I mean, Treasure Island, Now with Even More Pirates? Meh. Moby Dick and The Aliens? Star Trek already used that idea. Twice. Bram Stoker's Dracula by Fred Saberhagen based on the screenplay by James Hart inspired by the novel by Bram Stoker? Been done.

But, The Vampire Great Gatsby? The Old Man and The Sea Monster? The Fast and The Furious Ben-Hur II: Jerusalem Drift?


Doctor Faustus, Vampire Slayer? ("The true story behind Thomas Mann's famous novel!") Werewolf Old Yeller? ("You'd best be taking them silver bullets, Travis.") The Undead Decameron? ("A party of young Italian nobles fleeing from a zombie plague hide out in a villa and tell each other stories to pass the time.") The Creature From Walden Pond? ("Thoreau takes a suspiciously cheap summer rental and finds himself trapped there by a terrifying missing link from the Jurassic age, who insists that they discuss political philosophy and Keynesian vs free-market economics every night until dawn.")

Y'know, we just might be onto something here.

Anyway, that's this week's challenge. Throw good taste, decency, and your sense of shame right out the window; throw a great work of literature and a fanboy trope in the blender; set to purée; and let's see what pours out. Remember, the key word for this week's challenge is shameless.

As always, we're playing by the loosely enforced Official Rules of the Friday Challenge and playing for whatever is behind Door #3. The deadline for entries is midnight Central time, Thursday, July 2.

Now go have some fun.
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