Interactive literature is the name of the new game: letting the reader rewrite a book in the author’s words. As usual, Moreover Enterprises are one step ahead of the game – we’re computing famous works in other authors’ words.
Interested? Here’s a small sample for you which the computer did in its sleep last night: Raymond Chandler’s version of ‘Jabberwocky’.
‘Twas brillig. It had been that way all day, and it wasn’t getting any cooler. I had loosened my neck-tie so many times that the knot had worked its way down to my navel. Outside in the street the first lights had come on and the slithy toves were doing whatever they do in the wabe. Some days they gyre, some days they gimble. It’s no skin off my nose, but I wish they’d make their minds up, then we could all rest easy.
Five o’clock, and I still had no customer. The paper cup on my desk looked dry, so I eased some Bourbon into it. I heard a screech of brakes outside; some mome rath had decided to outgrabe and was paying for it. The pot of borogoves on my window-sill looked a little mimsy, so I poured half the Bourbon down my throat and the other half into the pot, figuring that it would be nice to share a drink with someone, even if only a borogove.
Then there was a knock at the door. I emerged from uffish thought and told the owner of the knock to come and join me. The door opened and there stood a young man with money written all over his face, the sort of nervous young man who has grown up in the shadow of a millionaire father and dreads the moment when Daddy tells him to take over.
I owned up. There was no law against being Mr Marlowe.
‘I need your help. My father has asked me to deal with the Jabberwock, and I simply don’t know how to go about it. You know the Jabberwock?’
Everyone knew the Jabberwock. It was a club on Ocean Parade, the sort where you went in rich and came out poor. They had a singer there called Jubjub who was reputed to eat men for breakfast and if being eaten for breakfast is your idea of a good time, then she was the girl to get in touch with. Personally, I prefer wrestling with anacondas.
‘I’m engaged to be married to a girl called Jubjub. My father disapproves and … do you know what this is?’
‘It’s a bandersnatch,’ I said. ‘Only a hundred are known to exist. They’re very valuable, except when they’re frumious, and then they’re very valuable indeed. This one is frumious. What’s it got to do with the Jabberwock?’
To cut a long story short, I went out to the Jabberwock that night, killed the owner, warned off Jubjub, did some burbling and went galumphing back. The young man wasn’t best pleased by my solution, but his father seemed to like the way things had turned out. Frabjous, he called it. He even embraced his beamish boy, and you could tell from the latter’s expression that this hadn’t happened in a long while.
‘I don’t know how to thank you, Marlowe,’ he said, chortling slightly.
‘Don’t bother,’ I said. ‘Just leave me the bandersnatch.’
He did, and they both left, hand in hand. It’s always nice to reunite father and son, even if it means leaving old Marlowe alone with a pot of borogoves. I poured myself a measure of Bourbon and listened to the toves gyring outside. Maybe they were gimbling. It’s hard to tell, especially when you don’t give a damn either way. I ran a finger round my collar. ‘Twas brillig. The borogoves looked mimsy on the window-sill. I gave them the ice and took all the Bourbon myself.
The Times and Moreover, Too…1985