By Lin Stone
Is it possible to rewrite history? Sure, as long as you don't step on any copyright toes. Let's take the book 1984 by George Orwell, for example.
The original opening is on the left while the rewritten, rephrased and replenished opening is on the right. Yes, some mighty changes are sweeping through those dusty corridors already.
Why would any writer want to rewrite a classic that has endured unchanged for the last 30 years? Here are some of the major reasons..
It hasn't been that long ago that writing instructors were urging aspiring authors to type out selling stories so their fingers would start thinking like the fingers of a professional. That was a bunch of hooie, so far as I'm concerned. It is only when the author begins to create that s/he becomes creative. That's what I am suggesting here, start creating; become creative.
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.
Rewritten, rephrased and replenished
from the original novel produced By George Orwell
In the beginning it was one of those sparkling bright days in April that are bitterly cold and all the clocks downtown were striking thirteen in unison with only one of them slightly off-sync. Winston Smith had his chin nuzzled deep into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind as he hurried along the denuded sidewalk. He slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, but he wasn't fast enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from being sucked along with him.
The dark hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and damp old rag mats. At one end of the hallway a coloured poster had been tacked to the wall, being too large for indoor display. It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a yard wide and almost 2 yards tall. This was the face of a man of somewhere around 40 years old, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features. Winston kept his eyes averted from the poster as he made for the stairs. It was no use trying the lift. It never had worked well, it was whispered, even when first installed. 3 years later and even at the best of times it was seldom working, and at present the electric current was cut off during daylight hours any way. Cutting off the electric current was part of the economy drive surging up in preparation for Hate Week.
The flat was seven flights up, and Winston went slowly, pausing often to rest. Just a few days ago another birthday had caught up with him. Winston was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle.
On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.
|This is still the same story, but do you see how much difference there is?
When you are finished you can actually copyright the new product. (The
1984 on the left is now in the public domain. Do what you want to with it,
even as I have shown you here.) If you provide a picture of Big Brother --
hey, maybe put the President's caricature on there -- then you could license it.
Maybe bring it up to date and call it 2024 and have a fierce election sizzling
across a liquid plasma screen in the county jail where Winston Smith is
incarcerated and can't escape from it. Obama is running for President
against the incumbent George W. Wall Street is a shambles of shacks
Bush Barter Bucks have replaced the worthless Obama Bucks and all the doctors
have moved to India, leaving pharmacists in charge of mobile nursing stations.
The efficiency of the health care system is stunning; with surgeons out of the
loop there is no need for prescriptions.. Hospitals have been abandoned
because security could not keep the mob from swarming through to harvest
essential body parts. Opium is now the drug of choice for impoverished
addicts. A new drug named Snorter is now on the scene; it looks and tastes
like The Real Thing with a vodka twang. The mod squad wants to tax the
drink but can't track down where it is made or how it is sold. Water from
the faucets are brown mud under pressure.
Any work in the public domain can be overhauled in the same manner. Is there any real reason why Treasure Island can't be found in the HoneyCombs of Mars?
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