Visions of Paradise

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Cat in the Hat and Zombies

Can you guess from the title of this essay what trend in contemporary genre fiction I find the most disheartening? It’s the combining of classic novels with tired old fantasy tropes. This seems to me to be symptomatic of hack writers who lack a single trace of creativity trying to make easy money by stealing somebody else’s talent (Jane Austin being a particularly popular target, although Mark Twain and L. Frank Baum have been stolen as well) and combining it with crap to make a bestseller.

There are seemingly as many of these books as there were zombies in Night of the Living Dead, with titles which make me cringe: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters; Little Vampire Women; Mr. Darcy, Vampire; The Undead World of Oz: L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Complete with Zombies and Monsters; Vampire Darcy’s Desire; Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim; Android Karenina.

Some slightly-more clever writers decided they did not need to steal a famous novel (since that would require their actually reading it), but instead to steal a famous historical or fictional character, tossing in some tropes and–voila!–a novel is born: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter; Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter; Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers.

I cannot help but wonder what is the market for these pseudo-novels? People who would never be caught dead in a Barnes & Noble, but consider Wal-Mart the height of literary fiction? People who consider 1930s space operas way too literary for their taste?

One would hope that the trend is an aberration whose moment of glory would not last much beyond Andy Warhol’s famous “15 minutes of fame,” but it does not seem to be showing any signs of abating any time soon. The current issue of Locus has its usual listing of recent book sales, and look at what treats await us in the near future:
• Richard Nixon’s battle with Lovecraftian horrors;
• a “remix” of The Sound of Music with vampires;
The Three Musketeers (with vampires);
• a postapocalyptic reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death.”

Many avid book-lovers have been fearing the death of books and their replacement by ebooks in the near-future, but if this parasitic trend grows much stronger, we might all be better off if when books do die they drag ebooks along with them. Then all of us who still love real imaginative fiction can spend our time living in the past reading the type of fiction which, although looked down upon for generations, was actually high literature compared to what has been published since hack writers discovered that crap sells as well as pearls and does not require a smidgen of talent to produce.


  • . . . I don't know . . . Nixon vs. Cthullu sounds interesting. Though I think that they were both on the same side.

    - Ark

    By Blogger Arkhein, At 11:54 AM  

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