Jane Austen in Space

To mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death (which was July 18), the current issue of the New Yorker predicts a variety of Austen adaptations that the next 200 years will bring. Writer Blythe Roberson imagines such delights as “Persuasion” with the naval officers alarmed by rising sea levels, and movies, plays, and miniseries starring Colin Firth’s hologram.

My personal favorite? “In 2158, the last remaining human who has ever heard of ‘Northanger Abbey’ will die.”

Who’s the Worst Jane of Them All?

Here’s your chance to help choose the winner of the Bad Austen contest, a writing competition in the grand tradition of the Bulwer Lytton, Bad Hemingway and Bad Faulkner contests.

To enter the contest, which ended March 1, participants had to pen a scene, 800 words max, in the style of Jane Austen, and make it as entertainingly bad as possible. The top entry will win $250, and the best entries will be collected in a book.

Here’s hoping that like those other contests, Bad Austen will become an annual event.

In the meantime, cast your votes for some deliciously terrible Austen-inspired prose at the Bad Austen site.

McAvoy to Fight Zombies as Darcy?

Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy lit up the screen in "Becoming Jane." Will they be fighting zombies together?

Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy lit up the screen in “Becoming Jane.” Will they be fighting zombies together?

James McAvoy will play Mr. Darcy in the screen version of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” according to Scotland’s Daily Record, although other news sources and websites merely say that he’s “in talks” to play the part.

No one knows yet who’s playing Lizzy. Natalie Portman originally had the role but withdrew, though she’s still a producer. Scarlett Johansson was rumored as the lead, but the Daily Record claims Anne Hathaway is “top contender” for the role.

One can only hope that the two pair up in another Austen-inspired film. McAvoy and Hathaway lit up the screen in “Becoming Jane,” the charming 2007 chick flick based on Jane Austen’s romance with young lawyer-to-be Tom Lefroy.

The talented McAvoy has played everything from Lefroy to a violent assassin in “Wanted,” so slaying zombies while wearing a cravat should be right up his alley.

“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” Seth Grahame-Smith’s literary mashup of Jane Austen and undead mayhem, was one of the surprise bestsellers of 2009. The movie, directed by Mike White, is expected to be released in 2011.

Jane Austen Meets Fight Club

It’s amazing what creatively twisted minds can do with Jane Austen. Take “Jane Austen’s Fight Club,” which is just what it sounds like. This YouTube video is very funny indeed as the genteel set escapes “an endless surrender to propriety.” No corsets, no hatpins and no crying, ladies!

A Video Tribute to Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy

I’ve been playing around with iMovie, trying to put together a decent video tribute to Jane Austen’s beloved Mr. Darcy of “Pride and Prejudice,” featuring the various actors who have portrayed him. I did manage to cobble something together and get it uploaded to YouTube. I’ve had a lot of fun doing it, but rest assured that I have no plans to quit my day job…

A Feast of Austen and Zombies

prideandzombiesIt is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single reader in possession of a good Austen zombie romance, must be in want of more. It is only a matter of time before we are imposed upon by Northanger Abbey and Vampires. Mansfield Park and Werewolves. Emma and the Exorcist.

Yes, I have succumbed to that plague sweeping the land: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which has infested so many that the book, by Jane Austen with a bit of help from screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith, is on the New York Times bestseller list.

The genius of this novel (and I use the term loosely) is that 85 percent of it is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, word for word. The remaining 15 percent is zombies (or unmentionables, as the residents of Regency England prefer to call them) and ninjas. (Ninjas? Yes, really. But then again, who could do a better job of warding off the undead?) Elizabeth catches Darcy’s fancy for the liveliness of her wit and her superior fighting skills. Darcy’s pretty good at beheading zombies himself, though not quite as much a fighting legend as his fearsome aunt, Lady Catherine.

Published this spring and billed as a book that “transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read,” Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is also illustrated with disgusting drawings of zombies and ninjas doing, well, what zombies and ninjas do.

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Pride and Prejudice in the Twitterverse


How would Austen’s most famous novel read if Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy forged their relationship on Twitter? Under the Mad Hat has answered that question with a clever retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as a series of tweets. As a fellow writer, I appreciate the skill involved, and think it’s one of the funniest things I’ve read in ages.

I have to wonder—could this be where fan fiction is headed? Who has time to write 60-chapter adaptations of one’s favorite work, when one could simply tweet the whole thing?

Please note: The above Twitter profile for Mr. Darcy exists only in my fevered imagination and the file I created in Photoshop. There is a user called Darcy on Twitter, but I haven’t the foggiest idea who he/she is, except that it’s almost certainly not Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley.

Real Guys Have Fun with Austen

YouTube is filled with romantic tributes to Austen’s characters and movies of her books, nearly all of them created by women. As a bit of a refreshing break, I often watch two of my favorite Austen-related videos on YouTube, guys taking a decidedly humorous approach to the author and her characters: