re-interpreting contemporary classics


2005-7-22

In my favorite literary genre - Science Fiction - there is a wealth of vibrant settings and compelling stories. So mayn in fact that there is hardly a shortcomming in thing to read and be entertained. But sometimes there are those things one should read but somehow never manages to. In my case I have a long tradition of being totally fascinated with Frank Herbert's DUNE cycle of books, but never managing to actually read the books themselves. I tried alright, several times. I never got far. I know the setting and the history of event outlines must be totally intriguing, and I see very many parralels in the Warhammer 40000 universe.

Now the problem with DUNE so far has been that - as fascinating as it is - it's not an easy read. As friends have confirmed, the DUNE cycle is actually mindnumbing in places. But that is only due to the writing style and not to the content. So I was thinking: how would it look if someone took the effort and love to re-interpret the story and setting? Same story, different style.

That's something that has worked wonderfull for fairytales in folklore and traditionals in music. Each interpret shines the light on a little defferently. Many perspecives give one big picture, help define the story far better.

But with contemporary classics like said DUNE the situation seems different, adverse to re-interpretion. Our modern copyright law is not exactly helpfull in this aspect. Dramatisation for cinena and television go into the right direction, although the change of medium makes a lot of compromises and adaptions neccessary. There are the 'guide to ...'s and compendiums, but that's not really what I have in mind.

That's why I like the game-inspired universe of Warhammer 40000 so much. It's a very vibrant background, but it's not defined by one single author. By now there is a very wide range of novels, short stories and also fan fiction written in this setting. It is very open to storytelling, all the while having a very specific theme and a very detailed setting that has evolved for a long time. The world/universe is very well defined, but also very open to drama and character contribution.

[update] Apparently this re-interpretion is called remediation:

Mark Bernstein quotes: Bolter and Grusin recoined the term "remediation" to describe the recreation of a work in a new medium. Remediation is important in the growth of all new media.

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