Yesterday Eric sent me a link to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a mashup novel by Seth Grahame-Smith coming out in April. Eric wasn’t sure how zombies could be wedged into P&P, but I gotta say I don’t think any wedging is required — P&P practically begs to be redone with zombies. I have no idea what the actual content of Grahame-Smith’s book is, but here’s how I would do it:
You can pretty much stick with the original plot until Jane takes ill at Netherfield. She is, of course, ill with a slow-manifesting zombie virus so she can infect everyone at the Netherfield ball via the Bingley’s. How’d she get it? Oh, let’s say she pricks her finger on strange, imported hat decoration while browsing at the milliner’s.
Jane survives the illness and becomes a non-zombie carrier of the now-airborne virus, so she also takes it with her on her trip to London. In fact, all the Bennet sisters are NZCs, and Lydia spreads it to Brighton.
Note: once people start turning into zombies, all Bennet sisters successfully fight them off, except for Mary, who gets eaten. And maybe also Kitty.
Oh, and when the Bennet sisters are discovered to be NZC, there must be blame-oriented fuss between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, more or less reflective of the “Why Is Lydia a Spoiled Slut?” part of P&P.
Of course, Elizabeth ends up with Zombie Darcy, who, because he was so terribly terribly buttoned up to begin with, shows his zombie condition not by feasting on flesh of the living but by chilling out and professing his love to Elizabeth (he is still attracted to brains). She then struggles with but eventually overcomes her prejudice against zombies (“Mr. Darcy, you astonish me! I am in the habit of shooting zombies, not marrying them.”) when she discovers she is a non-zombie carrier and all her potential partners would become zombies anyway, and thus Zombie Darcy starts to look pretty good.
And then they live happily ever after in a zombie-devastated Britain. The end.
All of that seemed pretty straightforward to me, and I got to wondering how well other classics would convert to zombie stories. And that’s when I realized that Pride and Prejudice was special — it mapped to the zombie apocalypse better than anything I else I could think of. The only thing that came close was Zombie Hamlet:
Before the action of the play Claudius kills Hamlet’s father with an exotic poison which, yes, turns Hamlet Sr. into a zombie. Marcellus and Bernardo see Zombie Hamlet Sr. wandering aimlessly below the battlements, freak out, tell Horatio, and the play proceeds as before, except that when Zombie Hamlet Sr. confronts/attacks his son, Hamlet (uninjured) pushes him into a wardrobe and locks him in. Play continues as in original, only Hamlet’s madness is a little less faked, what with keeping his zombie father in a closet. When Hamlet returns from England he opens the closet, as Hamlet Sr. has gone quiet and Hamlet has convinced himself that he imagined the whole thing. Of course, Zombie Hamlet Sr. jumps out and gets a good bite in before his son lops off his zombie head.
Things start moving pretty quickly now:
Infected Hamlet goes to Gertrude’s chamber and turns zombie while berating her for marrying Claudius. Polonius gets attacked while attempting to save her. She runs off. Zombie Hamlet wanders the castle. Horatio sees him and goes for help. Wandering Zombie Hamlet attacks Ophelia before finding Laertes, Gertrude, and Claudius together.
Laertes tries to protect his king and queen from Zombie Hamlet, but of course his sword is a) useless and b) carrying the zombie virus after a few good thrusts through ZH. During the struggle Laertes accidentally cuts himself with his own sword and flees. Zombie Hamlet makes short work of Gertrude and Claudius.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern escape hanging in England and return to Elsinore, where they are eaten by Zombie Polonius, Zombie Ophelia, and Zombie Laertes.
Horatio returns with Fortinbras and his army, and together they behead the zombie Danes. Goodnight, sweet prince.
Up next: Zombie Mill on the Floss.