The following is a guest post by Sci-Fi Bloggers. Sci-Fi Bloggers is an online magazine covering all things science fiction and fantasy: movies, TV, books, video games, comics and more.
We’ve all seen them by now. Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies; ; Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter; A Modest Proposal (obviously written by a ghoul or something). The truth is that in the past few years supernatural horror has infected every other kind of fiction—even literary classics—with a speed and efficiency that would depress most zombies and all but a few vampires. Well, I for one say that if there’s a media virus going around, science fiction needs to get in on it. This is:
The Top 5 Classics That Need to be Re-Imagined as Science Fiction
5) Gulliver’s Travels… in Space!
Some say that Gulliver’s Travels is one of the earliest works of science fiction, and it’s hard to argue, because to do so requires that you, a) have read Gulliver’s Travels, and b) agree on a comprehensive definition of science fiction. But at any rate:
Original Synopsis: A 1726 novel by Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels is about a man who goes on four journeys to magical, mysterious lands (and also Japan, briefly). A biting satire of 18th century England and its colonial mentality, Gulliver receives the reverse of the traditional “Englishman teaches the natives valuable information,” plot: instead, each trip warps his perspective, until he’s arguably quite insane by the end.
What would a sci-fi version look like: Well, the original does a lot of playing with size and perspective, how about a sentient race who are microscopic—or even subatomic? Does that fly in the face of what we know about scaling for living creatures? Sure! But science fiction is all about stretching the mind.
Oh, and the Houyhnhnms would still be talking horses, but space-faring. Animorphs fans, eat your hearts out.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary masterpiece gets a cyberpunk twist. This is sacrilegious on many levels isn’t it?
Original Synopsis: Nick Carraway is a Midwesterner back from World War I who moves out to New York to get into the bond business (what with stocks being infallible and all). There he meets up with his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom, as well as his mysterious next door neighbor, the wealthy and flamboyant Jay Gatsby. Soon he’s caught up in Gatsby’s attempts to rekindle an old romance with Daisy, and its increasingly disastrous consequences.
What a sci-fi version would look like: To be true to the spirit in which Fitzgerald wrote the original, this version would have to comment on modern society, so the story couldn’t be set too far into the future. And frankly, if you want a modern parallel to the decadence and wild abandon of the Jazz Age, the internet is probably where you want to start looking. Internet-induced apathy (in the original novel Daisy and Tom barely take any notice of their daughter, being far more interested in their social gatherings), the raised potential for false friends the internet presents, and the ability to completely reinvent oneself online, as Gatsby does in the novel, make cyberspace the ideal setting.
Which means, of course, that the far-off green light is probably somebody’s modem.
3) Les Miserables vs. the Galactic Empire
Victor Hugo’s classic tale of poverty, law, revolution, love, and frankly pretty much every other human experience that had been invented by 1862 has plenty of parallels in the dystopian futures of science fiction novels, so let’s see it become one!
Original Synopsis: Bad things happen to the poor in Paris for 20 years, until finally a group of concerned, activist students start a rebellion, which hardly anyone shows up for. They are promptly crushed. All the while, ex-convict Jean Valjean tries to reinvent himself and do good in the world, but is haunted by specters of the past (and inspectors from the past).
What would a scifi version look like: For one thing, Jean Valjean’s incredible strength could be chalked up to cybernetics of some sort. And Inspector Javert could straight-up be a robot. Cue a “We’re more alike than you think” speech.
Oh who am I kidding, I just want to see the musical version with its inevitable techno/upbeat take on “Stars.” Get Phillip Quast to sing it—his name even sounds like it comes from space.
2) The Iliad, but with Robots this Time
Ah the Iliad, the classic tale of Achilles’ role in the Trojan war, that skips over the start of the war, and never gets to the end of it, or the bit where Achilles actually dies.
Original Synopsis: Menelaus, Achilles’ boss, wants the woman Achilles took as a captive, and decides to take her without permission. Achilles flies into a hissy fit and swears that he will never help the Greeks fight the Trojans ever again, adding “You’ll be sorry!” before dramatically slamming the door to his tent. The Greeks go on to get beaten bloody for some thousands of lines until Achilles’ best friend is killed in action, and Achilles flies into a rage and rejoins the fight, killing the (rather more likable) enemy champion, Hector.
What it would look like as scifi: Two words. Giant robots. Heck, mecha anime have been borrowing from this one all the way back to Mobile Suit Gundam, when Amuro got pissy because his CO didn’t like that the fate of his ship was in the hands of 16-year-old whiner. That basic story arc (and the inevitable “meeting enemy soldiers while off-duty and realizing they’re not so bad” storyline that goes with it) has been reused a bunch of times, so you’d have to come up with something a little different. And probably give your lead something to do other than sit around while his friends get killed. Maybe he switches over to helping in a strictly nonviolent capacity until a friend’s death drags him back to the front? I don’t know, but I want a legitimate piece of science fiction that includes the phrase “Space Trojans.”
1) In Search of Lost Time
This one doesn’t even need a title change. Just throw the main character into a jumpsuit, give him a funky looking gun, and put him on a background that’s some sort of swirling time vortex, and you’ve got the cover.
Original Synopsis: A man recalls, with extreme difficulty, his life growing up, his first love, and a plethora of other experiences, exploring the complex, and often faulty nature of memory.
What a sci-fi version would look like: Jumpsuit. Funky gun. Vortex.
But in seriousness, there would have to be sort of time thieves for the main character to combat by jumping back to various points in his life. And along the way he’d learn something important about the nature of humanity and himself. Kind of like Slaughterhouse-Five, if it were an action movie.
Well, I think I hear the ghost of Kurt Vonnegut coming to do something horrible to me, which will probably be followed by the words “So it goes.” So I’m gonna stop before I ruin any more classic literature.