Recently, S.J. Chambers wrote a fascinating analysis of the current spate of monster mashup novels over at Bookslut. Given the popularity of these books, it seemed the perfect opportunity to interview someone who has studied them in-depth and talk more about this new trend. S.J. Chambers is a senior editor at Strange Horizons magazine. Her work has appeared in Fantasy, Tor.com, Yankee Pot Roast, Mungbeing, and Bookslut. (Full disclosure: Chambers is currently working as the assistant editor and senior researcher on my book The Steampunk Bible coming out from Abrams Image next year.)
Amazon.com: In this current trend, when’s the line crossed between pastiche and mash-up into something that’s genuinely unique?
S.J. Chambers: The line is crossed when the two disparate parts begin to complement each other and reveal things about beloved classical characters that were either never emphasized much in the original or were overlooked. The best example I have seen so far is John Kessel's "Pride and Prometheus," which was published in Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, and is now reprinted in Best American Fantasy 3. Kessel takes two disparate characters--Mary from Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and Victor from Shelley's Frankenstein--and have them form a relationship that reveals much more of themselves, as well as the novels they lived in. This creates a new context for both works, while making a strong story in its own right, and I think is the potential of a trend like monster lit.