pride-and-prejudice-and-zombies thumbnail

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: How to Write a Public Domain Mashup


Reviewers are surprised that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies follows the plot of Jane Austen’s original novel so closely, but they shouldn’t be. The book of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is mostly made up of the original text. The author made a fortune by just adding a few paragraphs here and there to an existing book. This is the start of a new genre: classic book mashups.

Book remixes are possible because copyrights do not last forever. Copyrights are designed to increase the earnings of authors and their immediate descendents. Most expire between 50 and 90 years after the author’s death since it’s a little silly to think that Jane Austen’s great-great-great-great grandnephews deserve a cut of her book sales.

Once a copyright expires, the book enters public domain. Public domain works have no restrictions at all. They can be stolen, republished, edited, used in music, movies, or video game, or just zombified. The public domain includes millions of books ready to be butchered.

In this lesson, we’ll be doing the messing. Why stop with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? How about a romantic comedy, Moby Dick in Manhattan? Or a sci-fi Romeo and Juliet? There are many possibilities, but executing them is harder than it appears.

Just like mixing music, mashing up classic literature takes some real thought. The newly edited portions need to match up to the original text, in grammar, cadence, word choice, and structure. In this lesson, we do a deep dive into how classic literature and modern genre fiction work, so that we can mix the two together flawlessly.



What are your odds of surviving a zombie apocalypse?

In the cliffhanger Season 6 finale of the Walking Dead, the group once again got themselves into a terrible situation that is definitely going to end with one of them dying. And this won’t be the last time. It seems like Rick can’t get it together. This got us wondering, “Could we do better?”

We built mathematical projections for zombie survival strategies and ran the numbers, and came up with the quiz below. Check it out and see how your personal zombie survival plan will work out.

Turns out that no, none of us would do better than Rick. By our count, of people who followed Rick’s lead, about 4% are still alive. 4% is almost double the maximum survival project in our model (1.9%).  Rick defied not just the odds, but also the basic realities of the U.S. food and ammo supplies and the extreme difficulty of just walking down a city street. He might have seemed like an idiot in Season 1 (and also Season 2, and arguably about half the episodes in Season 3), but you can’t argue with results.

In the lesson below, students will  learn how we arrived at our quiz’s model, and make a model of their own to predict additional zombie survival strategies.