Writer S.J. Chambers on "The Monster Mashup"--Austen, Lincoln, Zombies, John Kessel, and Beyond

Abraham_lincoln_vampire_hunter Queen Pride-zombies 
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.)

    SJ Chambers

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.

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Comments (3)

I have heard about S.J. Chambers and she is one of the personality who does have some interesting reviews to write about the books she read, that will indeed make those reading her article to rave about the possibility of its occurrence. I love reading her reviews. The way she analyses the books is quite interesting and that's what she is known for. I have read some of her works too and I must say she does write well too. I liked coming across a brief interview of a thoughtful person as her.

Posted by: rickshaw advertising | Thursday May 27, 2010 at 5:00 AM

This interview was written and published before one of the latest monster mashups was released. Yes, I'm talking about Jane Slayre, which mixes Jane Eyre with vampires, zombies and a couple of werewolves. I would love to hear what S.J. Chambers thinks of this book as I've just read it myself. I can't comment on his take of the Quirk Classics as I haven't read any yet, but I remember being completely put off when I first saw Pride And Prejudice And Zombies on the shelves of a local bookstore.

On the other hand, I've always been a HUGE Jane Eyre fan, and with the monster mashup movement now in full swing, I really wanted to see for myself what all the hype was about. I was weary of it at first, but as I began reading I really got into the narrative. Sherri Browning Erwin definitely adds the unexpected to this classic novel, though for the most part, it merely adds a bit of humor to what was there before. However, the monster elements seem to make sense - Erwin doesn't just throw them in for comic relief in my opinion. She does it in a way that blends with the plot and occasionally, adds a level of irony and depth to the isolation that Jane feels, which wasn't there before.

Posted by: Melissa | Friday May 14, 2010 at 6:00 AM


Posted by: Drax | Wednesday March 31, 2010 at 9:15 AM

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