Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rebooting Books.

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So many movies are scheduled to be remade or rebooted. In the past few weeks I’ve read or heard that Stargate, Predator, Highlander, Gremlins, IT, Jumanji, Star Wars, Logan’s Run, Poltergeist, Videodrome, Starship Troopers, and even Police Academy - please don’t, have some mercy – are going to be remade or rebooted.

With all these reboots and remakes, I got to thinking about the books I would like to see rewritten or rebooted. The first one that came to mind is 1984, and not just to update the title. Imagine including all of the current and near future technology in a rebooted 2048. Winston Smith would find it much harder to hide from today’s surveillance technology, but much easier to edit the truth. And instead of discovering a book in the attic above the shop, Smith could find a USB flash drive once owned by Julian Assange.    

Going on similar lines, the next book I thought is long overdue for a rewrite is The Bible. Imagine rewriting The Bible so it took into account all we now know about the world and universe. It could be made to be a lot more factual. It could start with a big bang. The ark could come to rest on Mt Everest and have dinosaurs onboard. And God could tell one of his disciples that the earth is really a lot older than some fools believe. The text could also stress really bad outcomes for paedophiles.

Then we have Shakespeare. I’ve only read Macbeth, which I gather is one of the less boring books for an, at the time, 14 year-old to read. I found if pretty difficult to read, with the plot being a bit Game of Thronesish. Perhaps I missed its point all together, but I reckon it would be so much easier to understand his books and get their meanings if they were rewritten in modern English. Perhaps George R. R. Martin could try to rewrite them and include more sex and violence. A rewriting of Shakespeare could help alleviate the disdain for books that many high school students develop after being forced to read his antiquated novels.

Many foreign movies are remade into American versions. I did not mind the American adaptions of Vanilla Sky or the 1998 version of Godzilla. For the same reasons I think Harry Potter might get a whole new audience if it was rewritten and set in the US. It could be called Chuck Pothead, and filled with sassy teenagers who use magical Apple products, like the iwand.

I often wondered how the world might change if women were in charge. Apart from less beer being drunk and no Police Academy movies, the world might be a more peaceful place, or we could all die horrible deaths. A perfect way to explore what would happen if women were in charge would be to rewrite Lord of the….you thought I was gonna write Lord of the Rings didn’t you? Well no, I reckon someone should rewrite William Golding’s classic Lord of the Flies, with an all-female school class being stranded on desert island. Instead of Jack we could have Jill. Instead of Ralph we could have Arya. Who would they vote off the island first? Would Arya take revenge on all the girls who had been mean to her? And the rewrite could fix up the big plot hole in the original, by coming up with some other way to create fire than using spectacles.

Apart from fixing up plot holes, rewrites could also fix woeful endings. And one of the worst novel endings I have read was in Stephen Baxter’s novel The Ark. [Spoiler Alert]. In that novel a specially trained group of young adults are launched into space from an earth that is slowly drowning in floodwaters. They spend years in space, only for a group of them to decide they want to return to earth. Morons. So they cut the ship into two and the morons return to earth. This is where the rewrite should really cut in, by having them return to a totally devastated Earth that imploded from the weight of surface water. That would teach the morons. Meanwhile the rest of the crew could actually make it to a hospitable planet.

Finally, I think the most over-rated novel in the history of the universe not only could but should be rewritten. Those who frequent this blog would correctly guess that novel to be The Great Gatsby. I think that meaningless assemblage of words would greatly benefit by being set during a zombie apocalypse. With Daisy having recently been infected, Jay Gatsby would be the only surviving human. Then we really could feel sorry for a bloke surrounded by zombie hangers-on.

Unlike many Hollywood film-makers who seem incapable of coming up with any original ideas, I could come up with many more books that not only could but should be rebooted. How about you?


Anthony J. Langford said...

Hilarious post Graham!

1984 rewrite sound awesome! I think its your next book! lol

As for women running the show, man, they are just evil, only more cunning lol.. As for Lord of the Flies, check out Mean Girls. lol.. or Heathers.. those chicks are scary.. they smile before they plunge the knife in..

As the the Great Gaspy, or The Great Yawny as it should be called, any change is a good thing...

Well I remember someone wrote a sequel to Catcher in the Rye and Salinger sued. Its a wonder rewrites haven't come out yet, though those piss-take books such as on Twilight and 50 Shades are pretty hilarious. For my birthday I received 50 Sheds of Grey lol.. or something ... funny stuff...

Graham Clements said...

Glad you got a laugh. Anthony. The more I think about rebooting books,the more I think why not? All those science fiction books of yesteryear that were set in the future that don't mention computers or mobile phones could be updated.

Helen V. said...

Very funny, Graham.

Karen E. Lund said...

Of course books get "rebooted." One that leaps to mind is Gone with the Wind, retold from Mammy's point of view as The Wind Done Gone. Caused a bit of a stir, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing.

Jane Austen has been rebooted, with a sequel to Pride and Prejudice about Elizabeth's marriage to Mr. D'Arcy and the future of the other sisters. Jane has also been turned into an amateur sleuth in the old English mystery story tradition. (So-so, in my opinion, but worth a try.) And then there's the whole zombie thing, which doesn't interest me at all, but incredibly inventive idea.

Rebooting is probably best done with older books, perhaps preferably after the author has passed on and can't sue (see Salinger above).

Love the idea of rewriting science fiction based on how things really turned out.

Graham Clements said...

thanks Helen, that's two people I now know who get my sense of humour.

Graham Clements said...

Hi Karen,

I was aware of the Jane Austen reboots, and a few other classics that have been turned into zombie books. So perhaps not such an original idea, but I thought that zombies really suited the themes of The Great Gatsby. Zombies are great hangers-on.

I have also heard of, but forget their names, of at least one author who has rebooted their own novels - as in updating and rewriting parts they did not like. With ebooks, this is going to become much easier to do.

Graham Clements said...

Just read in the Age that Alexander McCall Smith has rebooted Jane Austen's Emma.