Monday Miscellany

10 Impressive Uses of Borrowed Characters in Literature

Kim Newman, whose latest book, Johnny Alucard, is out now, tells us: “In the Anno Dracula series, I’ve made use not only of characters and situations appropriated from Bram Stoker’s novel but a host of other preexisting fictional folk to populate the next-door-but-one world where Dracula defeated Van Helsing and became a dominant power in the 19th and 20th centuries. I didn’t invent this approach – in the wholesale borrowing of other authors’ creations, I was mostly inspired by Philip José Farmer’s interlocked series of books and stories which did something similar. Here are my favorite ten novels built around other novels.”

Female literary characters that deserve a second chance

Blogger Claudia Marina writes:

I started thinking about the vast amount of female characters that don’t get enough appreciation. Television is flooded with them, though it all started in books. I’m not talking about Bella Swan, but rather the female characters who weren’t always at the forefront of the story, who might have been disliked by readers but deserve some recognition. While not perfect, they represent all types of women, breaking the archetype that one has to be supporting, loving and in need of a male protagonist to satisfy readers’ appetites for normalcy in literature.

These women weren’t always favorites. They were obstacles, betrayers, burnt out, cynical and realistic.

Writers put in just as much effort to perfect a foil or antagonist as they would a hero. In order to affect readers, they’re undeniably based on real life. Here are some of my favorite non-favorite female characters in literature and why we should give them a chance.

See who made her list. Are there any others you’d add?

Margaret Atwood: Our Most Important Prophet of Doom

From Judith Shulevitz, science editor of The New Republic:

You can’t say what history will deem barbaric unless you feel a punch in the stomach every time you encounter it. This is why it was a novelist, not a statistician, who first sounded the alarm—for me—about a fast-tumbling cascade of changes I hadn’t thought hard about before.

The novelist is Margaret Atwood. What she made me think about is bioengineering.

See what Shulevitz has to say about Atwood’s trilogy that she began with Oryx and Crake in 2003 and ended with the recent publication of MaddAddam.