When classical literature meets science fiction

So, there's a book that came out in April that I've been trying to avoid writing about. But I just can't take it anymore.

I can't resist writing about this book. I haven't had an opportunity to find it in a bookstore, buy it and read it, but I've been seeing it advertised all over the Internet. So, out of curiosity, I have read up on what it entails, and the topic alone is enough to capture your attention.

And trust me, when you lovers of classical, early 19th Century British literature find out what book this is, you'll either be up in arms, or rolling on the floor with laughter.

I'll give you a hint as to what this book is.

It ties Jane Austen to the world of the undead.

The book is entitled "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem." It is co-authored by Austen (I'll explain how in a bit) and Seth Grahame-Smith.

It is Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" re-cast by Grahame-Smith as a horror book. Because it uses the characters, settings, actions and vaguely uses the plot of Austen's book, she is given co-writing credit.

But, it is important to remember this is not Jane Austen's original vision of "Pride and Prejudice."

Just to illustrate how much of a departure this is from Austen's work, the book's main heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, is a zombie-hunting ninja (no lie). Mr. Darcy, who some people consider to be the epitome of the male heroes in Austen's books, is now a zombie hunter himself.

It's all because, you know, nothing says "Love" quite like a guy and a girl killing zombies together. It's just like the old parody saying goes - "The family that slays together, stays together."

This book has actually turned out to be quite popular. At the beginning of this week, it was at No. 26 on Amazon.com's list of top-selling books. It premiered at No. 3 on the New York Times' Best Sellers list in April. Thirteen weeks later, it had only dropped three spots, on the July 3 list.

Now, I would normally rip something like this for its absurdity, but for some reason, I actually wouldn't mind reading this 320-page book. It's the novelty of it all, really. How often do you get to read about early 19th Century characters wielding katana blades and fighting to the death? Heck, how often do you read about brain-eating zombies roaming the countryside in 19th Century England?

Now, the film rights to this book are reportedly out there, but after much searching on the World Wide Web, I cannot find out if the rights have been bought.

Now, a movie is where I draw the line. This is all fine for literature and everything, because the source material is, in fact, literature, but I can't see a film adaptation going anywhere but in a bad direction. The producers would either try to camp it up too much, or make it too serious.

Either way, the fans and the source material lose out in the end.

Personally, though, I wouldn't mind seeing Grahame-Smith re-writing more classic pieces of literature. I'd like to see "Moby Dick" re-done so that Capt. Ahab and the big whale get into a Matrix-style fight, or so the Pequod now carries photon torpedoes and laser-guided harpoons.

How about Macbeth trying to fight off an army of samurai aliens led by Macduff?

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.