Posts Tagged ‘Seth Grahame-Smith’

janeaustenhandbookInquiring readers, In honor of Pride and Prejudice’s 200 year anniversary, Quirk Books is offering 3 free copies of their books: a copy of The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret C. Sullivan and two copies of the deluxe edition of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame Smith.

Coincidentally, my blog’s counter turned over 6 million visits this weekend. That’s right! Six million! A true cause for celebration and handing out books. If you are interested in reading about the books, click on the links below to read the reviews.

pride_prejudice_zombies1wClick here to read Tony Grant’s review of The Jane Austen Handbook, which is the forerunner of many similar books that have been published in recent years; and click here to read my review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which began the Jane Austen mash-up craze several years back.

To Enter the Contest (open to those who live in the US, Canada, and UK), tell us how you are celebrating Pride and Prejudice’s 200th anniversary during this year! Contest is open until April 1st. This blog is holding another contest! A giveaway of Maggie Lane’s Jane Austen’s World, which is a reissue of the 1993 edition. Click on the link to enter his contest, open to those who live in the U.S. and open until April 3rd. Giveaway Closed! Congratulations Brenda, Rosalie and Monica Z.

More on the topic:

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Gentle readers, Due to my pressing duties as companion to a terror terrier and my inability to keep my house clean and blog at the same time, I asked my coffee house companion, Kate, to read Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters. The very fact that this book is offered on a site entitled Geeks of Doom speaks volumes. Here then is Kate’s review, which slithers with pithy insights. BEWARE! Those who purchase this fishy book, and who think that it is even remotely connected to Jane Austen’s genteel Regency tale, are bound to be DISAPPOINTED. If you are a sea monster afficionado, however, or a jaded cynic, you will be delighted.

“Mrs. Dashwood grasped a spare oar from its rigging, snapped it in twain upon her knee, and plunged the sharp, broken point into the gleaming, deep-set eye of the beast.”

sense and sensibility and sea monsters 2 With my book in hand, my local Starbucks barista, most likely in his late teens, offered the following commentary: “Wow! Is that like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? I hear that, you know, people who love Jane Austen like really hate these books.” And then he went back to making cappuccinos.

I am a full quarter of the way through Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and I feel that it is time to stop. I feel this strongly. During my quarter-length romp with this fascinating adaptation of the classic novel, I have laughed out loud, rolled my eyes so far into the back of my head that it hurt a little, and felt myself transported back into my seventh grade life science class, encountering a phylum of vocabulary I long since forgot.

However, once the novelty of encountering Marianne, Elinor, and Mrs. Dashwood in their new Amazonian personages wore off, so did my desire to finish the book.

This is by no means Austen, but the names are familiar, and the plot vaguely reminds me of a book I once read by Jane Austen. Occasionally, a line from the classic favorite works its way into the prose, but it is hard to continue any kind of comparison to the original when Elinor’s and Marianne’s worth as prospective wives is no longer measured in dowries or feminine accomplishments, but rather in their stamina as swimmers, in their lung capacity, and in the strength of their calves.

danger at seaInstead of arranging picnics and dinners to encourage courtship, Sir John hosts “tiki dances, crawfish fries, and bonfires,” taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of his guests, including “drawing a large quadrangle upon the beach in an admixture of squid ink and whale blood.”

In a cataclysm referred to as the Alteration (the source of which, the book explains, is unknown), the creatures of the deep turn against all land-roving mammals with untiring vengeance. This is the event around which all of Sea Monster society revolves.

A hammerhead shark ate Mr. Dashwood, leaving the widow Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters destitute and thrown into the company of Sir John, his exotic and ominously quiet wife, and the octopus-faced Colonel Brandon. Our beloved Dashwood women live in constant fear of marauding sea mammals (and crustaceans), and all the lovely sensibility of the original novel is gone.

I first found the novel wildly amusing and cleverly written, and then I found it sad, because I didn’t care about the characters whom I had loved in Sense and Sensibility. I’m genuinely happy that they can swim well and that they are strong women, capable of defending themselves from demonic sea creatures, but I miss their unconditional love for each other and their genuine struggles to find happiness in a world not at war with the sea. But most of all, I miss courtships that don’t necessitate a discussion of flipper size and writhing facial tentacles.

2009-07-15-sense_seamonstersWhile I’ve stopped reading the book for now, there are a few mysteries in the plot (for example, how an octopus ended up on Colonel Brandon’s face) that I dwell on, and they very well could induce me to pick it up again.

My barista’s comment about the reactions of devoted Austen fans may be true. But I cannot find a reason to be upset about this very liberal adaptation. In fact, this book made me appreciate the original even more. But that could be because I’m just not thirteen anymore.

Review submitted by Kate after ingesting gallons of Mr. Starbucke’s DARKE & Mysterious Caffeinated LIQUIDS.

tentaclesIncredulous reader: Our rating for this book is five out of eight tentacles. After all, Jane did write 60% of this book, which you can purchase at this link.

Not yet completely horrified? David Itzkoff at Arts Beat points out a few discussion questions suggested in the book, which leave the reader with no small impression that Mr. Winter’s enormous literaSEA effort might well be the result of his quest for the almighty dollar:

2. In “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters,” painful personal setbacks often occur at the same moment as sea-monster attacks, suggesting a metaphorical linkage of “monsters” with the pains of romantic disappointment; for example, Marianne is rebuffed by Willoughby at Hydra-Z precisely as the giant mutant lobsters are staging their mutiny. Have you ever been “attacked by giant lobsters,” either figuratively or literally?

5. Which would be worse: being eaten by a shark or consumed by the acidic stomach juice of a sand-shambling man-o’-war?

8. Have you ever been romantically involved with someone who turned out to be a sea witch?

10. Is Monsieur Pierre a symbol for something? Name three other well-known works of Western literature that feature orangutan valets. Are those characters also slain by pirates?

Is author Ben Winters into Sushi?

Is author Ben Winters into Sushi?

Other monsterly reviews on this blog:

The Geek Beat: More Sense and Sensibility and Less Sea Monsters

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pride_prejudice_zombies1wI read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and it made me chuckle, but purists will vomit from the moment they read the opening line: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains will be in want of more brains.” If ever a classic was treated with tongue in cheek irreverence, author Seth Grahame-Smith managed to do it. Oh, I imagine that the coldly calculated jingle of cash was also a great motivator. After all, Seth allowed Jane Austen to do the bulk of the writing (85% of the text is hers) and she had already plotted the basic outline of the book. To give him his due, he’s given her half the credit, although he and his publisher will be raking in all the profits of this high concept book.

So what’s all the fuss about and why are film studios fighting over film rights to this story? Well, long ago in the island of Britain a zombie plague threatened its inhabitants. Thankfully, zombies are slow moving, dead, and stupid, else they would have overwhelmed the English population, decimating the land. The longer zombies have been dead, the less recognizable as humans they become, having lost eyes and limbs and patches of skin, and wearing clothes that are rotten and in tatters. Some zombies are so gross in both looks and eating habits that they cause the observer to vomit, The merest scratch from a zombie will turn a human into one, as poor Charlotte Collins discovers. A comic character rather than a tragic one, her tongue and mouth degenerate early on, causing Charlotte to lisp and talk like, well, a zombie. The thing is, nobody but Elizabeth notices. Hah! In the land of the dead and stupid, even the living are stupid. This plague has been threatening England for at least a generation, but people are still dumb enough to sit near windows at Assembly Balls where zombies can get at them and scoop out their brains, or open doors and windows in steamy kitchens, as the cooks did at Netherfield Park, so that those who were making dinner BECAME dinner.


The Bennet family lives in an age when they must be ever vigilant if the girls are to survive until marriage and beyond. Mr. Bennet ships his girls off to China to learn the fine art of fighting zombies with sword and knife. Elizabeth Bennet becomes an especially talented fighter, and is renowned for the ease with which she can fend off an entire horde of zombies, slicing and dicing with the best of them. She had to do just that when she walked three miles to Netherfield Park to check on her ill sister, Jane. A skeptical Lady Catherine de Bourgh tests her mettle by siccing her Ninja Warriors on her at Rosings, but Elizabeth dispatches them so quickly that she nary raises a sweat. Mr. Darcy is a fine zombie slayer as well, but the Bingley sisters can’t even carry a sword or knife. You get the drift. In Seth’s book, if you’re a poor zombie slayer you are either the villain or your brain is toast. The entire book is a satire, from the inclusion of the gross but well-drawn illustrations to the suggested book club questions at the end, which are quite clever. You must read this novel with an open mind and maintain a sense of humor or, like the denizens of Meryton when they see a zombie feast on one of their friends, you will upchuck your lunch.

The Bennet Sisters in a perfect pentacle fight formation

The Bennet Sisters in a perfect pentacle fight formation

Seth makes one huge miscalculation in his otherwise spot on satire. Not knowing the workings of the female brain, he makes a mess of Wickham, a bad boy who is secretly admired by over half of Jane’s female fans. While they admit he is a scoundrel, they would not mind having a go at taming this deliciously fun male character. But Seth turns Wickham into a diapered mess of a man, who must be constantly tended after wetting his bed. Not well done, Seth. That’s like forcing Willoughby to drive a donkey cart when you know full well he is a phaeton man. This plot development tells me that Seth wrote the book more for teenage boys and girls, not women.

I predict that Seth Grahame-Smith will become rich and famous from this endeavor. Drat the man for thinking of this high concept first, but there are still five Jane Austen books left to cannibalize and I thought I’d pitch a few ideas of my own. Like Seth’s, my books will be co-written with Jane. I readily admit a desire for earning cold hard cash and that I am willing to prostitute my high ideals in order to obtain the wealth that I think I so richly deserve. Are you reading this blog Quirk Books and Random House? Please tell Dream Works and Universal to hop on over too. My plots are available to the highest bidder, starting at a cool mil and upward. Let the auction begin:

Rosemary’s and Henry Tilney’s Baby – Inspiration: Northanger Abbey and Rosemary’s Baby

The book opens with Catherine Morland feeling she is the luckiest woman alive in England. She has married her Mr. Tilney, who turns out to be as witty in bed as out of it. Better yet, General Tilney died of apoplexy upon hearing that his son was to wed her, and Captain Tilney died in a duel over cheating at cards, making Catherine the mistress of Northanger Abbey. She has spent her days and nights dismantling General Tilney’s improvements, including the Rumford fireplace,  and returning Northanger Abey to its Gothic, spider-webbed origins. One day, Catherine follows the sound of mewling down a long, dark, and dank corridor. Opening a creaking door, she enters a redecorated space that is light and airy and (quelle horreur) modern. Catherine approaches a cradle and peeks inside. She gasps when she sees the baby – a miniature Henry, only with yellow slanted eyes, two horn buds sprouting from its forehead, and cloven feet. Catherine doesn’t know which emotion affects her more: the one of betrayal or disappointment that the nursery has been remodeled in the modern neoclassical style.

Willoughby’s Tell-Tale Heart – Inspiration: Sense and Sensibility and The Tell-Tale Heart

After Willoughby’s rejection, Marianne Dashwood falls ill. When she awakens from her fever, she overhears Willoughby reveal to Elinor that he loves Marianne but that he has no choice but to marry for money. The knowledge pushes the poor girl over the edge. While everyone is asleep, a still weakened Marianne sneaks out of the house, rides to Comb Magnum, creeps into Willoughby’s bedroom and stabs him in the heart as he lies snoring. She cuts out his still beating heart, wanting something of Willoughby to remember him by. Marianne tries to live a normal life and agrees to marry Colonel Brandon. But not once can she take her mind off Willoughby (whose murder goes unsolved), or his heart, which has now shriveled and dessicated to 1/10th its size. Regardless, she still can hear it beating 24/7. Desperate to get away from the sound, Marianne encases the organ in a cement box and buries it under the floorboards in the basement, but the constant thump thump thump of Willoughby’s beating heart drives her wild. Colonel Brandon, not knowing what is wrong with his crazed bride, tries to tempt her with sweetmeats and poetry and lovemaking. One day, a wild-eyed Marianne hands the colonel a small cement box.”There”, she cries out. “There is Willoughby’s beating heart!” Upon opening the box, the colonel sees only a shriveled up prune and has his wife committed.

Dr. Jekyll and Fanny Price – Inspiration: Mansfield Park and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Angered that Fanny has attracted the attentions of rich Henry Crawford, Mrs. Norris arranges for Dr. Jekyll to create a potion that will turn the sweet girl into a vicious and nasty harridan. Unbeknownst to Dr. Jekyll as he was making the potion, drops of Mrs. Norris’s sweat plopped into the boiling cauldron as she watched him stir it, infusing her evil personality into the liquid. After Fanny drinks some tea (which to her mind was foul and bitter, but which she politely sipped anyway), she feels Mrs. Norris’s anger and spite invade her bloodstream. While she remains sweet and tractable during the day, she turns loathsome at night, waking the servants at all hours to do her bidding, clean every nook and cranny in the house, and muck out the stalls. One by one the staff drop dead from exhaustion or quit, unable to perform double duty without a moment’s rest. While Edmund is turned off by the new Fanny, Henry is enthralled with her transformation, for he had harbored some doubts that she’d be capable of overseeing the staff of his houses. Servants come a dime a dozen, but a capable wife comes only once in a lifetime.

Persuading Moby – Inspiration: Persuasion and Moby Dick

Captain Wentworth and his new bride Anne are sailing the high seas on his fine boat as they ply the waters defending England’s shores from pirates, boot-leggers, and invasions. Anne revels in her life on board ship, loving the rocking motion of both the boat and marital bed. Then one day Captain Wentworth spies a white whale and Anne’s life changes. Her husband becomes obsessed, wanting to hunt the whale down and kill it, for, as he tells his bride, albinos lead a tough life out in the wild. They can’t camouflage their color and hide from danger. “We might as well put the poor creature out of its misery,” he gallantly says. But the whale, whom Anne had secretly named Moby, was not easily persuaded to swim within catching distance. The captain, consumed by his obsession, begins to neglect Anne. After a few weeks of putting up with the Captain’s distraction and lack of amorous advances, Anne decides to take matters into her own hands. She commandeers a rowboat and heads towards the whale, who, not scared of a puny boat with a mere woman in it, stays around long enough to listen. This provides Anne with ample time to persuade Moby to leave under cover of night and go blow his blowhole elsewhere.

Bride of FrankChurchillStein – Inspiration: Emma and Bride of Frankenstein

Jane Fairfax is no longer beautiful, having fallen asleep in her tester bed waiting for Frank to return from a night of gambling, carousing, and drinking. The spark from a sputtering candle ignited the bedsheets, burning the house down and rendering poor Jane lifeless and burnt crisp to the bone. Frank, distraught and feeling guilty for neglecting his long-suffering bride, directs a dissipated priest to unearth Jane from her grave and return her to him by enacting an undead ritual he found in an ancient Egyptian manuscript. Jane does indeed come back to life, but she is not quite herself, looking more like a roasted quail than a human. Angered that Frank yanked her out of Heaven to resume her life of living hell with him, she extracts her revenge with cool and deliberate calculation, murdering all of Frank’s cronies and mistresses. Frank, desperate to undo the spell, discovers to his horror that Jane has killed the priest. Frank sinks into despair knowing his cushy days of debauchery are over for as long as his reconstituted Jane roams the earth.

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