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    Updating fiction

    My 12 year old daughter has recently got into the American author Lois Duncan, who wrote suspense fiction for teenagers in the 1970s and 1980s.

    My daughter was raving about "I Know What You Did Last Summer", and my wife was enthusing about it as well (she read it back in the 1980s), so I started it yesterday to see what the fuss was about.

    I knew the book was written in 1973, and was enjoying it immensely when I came to a reference to mobile phones, and then to a webcast! I was stumped, knowing that the novel was written before these things were invented.

    Apparently Duncan herself updated the books in 2010, adding references to the internet and mobile phones in order to make the books more appealing to a modern audience.

    This is the first time I have heard of this practice. I know that non fiction books are revised so that they are up to date, but revising fiction to make it more modern seems odd.

    Are there any other instances of fiction being updated in this way?


    #2
    You mean apart from replacing the golliwogs in Noddy with monkeys, and that sort of thing?

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      #3
      The Stand by Stephen King was first published in the late seventies ('79 I think) and an expanded version was published around 1991,he added chapters that were edited out and updated technology and political references, the second time the plague would have wiped us all out in the middle of the 1990 world cup which would have been a bummer.

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        #4
        John Fowles brought out a revised and updated version of The Magus about a decade after the original's publication in which he added what I suppose you'd call "deleted scenes" and a few other things that enriched the text. But he did it out of an impulse to improve a work that was very personal and important to him, not to make it relevant to modern readers.

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          #5
          American Gods by Neil Gaiman was re-released with additional material.

          Terry Pratchett completely rewrote the Carpet People after he made it big with the Discworld.

          Arthur C Clarke didn't rewrite 2001: A Space Odyssey after the movie came out but he started the sequel from where the movie left off. So 2010 starts in orbit of Jupiter rather than Iapetus.

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            #6
            I think it used to be fairly common, especially when stories were serialised before being published as novels. Charles Dickens famously altered the ending of Martin Chuzzlewit because readers disliked it, and I'm pretty sure he tweaked a few others.

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              #7
              In a similar vein is Spielberg recutting ET with the FBI agents carrying walkie talkies instead of guns, as he thought the guns sent the wrong message to young viewers.

              Recent editions of Huck Finn remove the n word, which sort of feels like a different thing than what this thread is about.

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                #8
                I suppose it's OK for kids' books but I wouldn't want anybody updating detective fiction, thrillers and the like. Part of the fun is seeing the plot develop within the constraints of the technology of the time. Messages left under doors, rushing to find a phone booth, that kind of thing. I also have a thoroughly nerdy fondness for tracing the history of the Internet through old Grishams, Turows etc. Recently I picked up Pleading Guilty again, one of Scott Turow's earlier ones, published in 1993. The protagonist is shown how to use e-mail (so I was reading about it in the novel before I had done it*). The terms used are explained to us, via him.

                (edit: originally, not last week)

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                  #9
                  Awful phenomenon, which seems to kind of erase history and impoverish the reader's vicarious experience of different times. Author's privilege I guess, but at least they could flag it up on the title so the reader is warned that it's not the original text.

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                    #10
                    While I was on a week's retreat in 1997 and at a very loose end, something possessed me to pick Twice Shy by Dick Francis from the shelf. Perhaps it seemed plausible at first publication in 1981 that a four-line program on the ZX81 could provide a horse-race prediction system to clean out the bookies.

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                      #11
                      SPOILERS!

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                        #12
                        Even something as relatively recent as The Ghost by Robert Harris (2010) has sections where physical storage rather than cloud storage are needed and a main character being surprised at the capacity of a flash drive.

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                          #13
                          Stephen King also spoke of his desire to rewrite the climax of It, when the film came out - anyone who read the original will understand why they adapted that in the film. He says he was off his tits when he wrote it but actually it does make sense, from the point of the story; even so you'd have thought someone at his publishing house would have had a word, even in 1984 or whenever it was.

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