by Alison Flood)
The literary world is agog, reeling, aghast, at the news that Kristen Stewart is going to star in a romantic remake of 1984. You read that right. Romantic. Remake. 1984.
I've had to check to make sure it isn't 1 April. It isn't. This is happening, people. "Equals is an adaptation of the 1956 film 1984, which itself was based on George Orwell's classic novel about rebellion in a futuristic society," runs the story. Stewart told the AP that the remake is "a love story of epic, epic, epic proportion", where "things go wrong because you can't deny the humanity in everyone". "It's the most devastating story," she said. "I'm terrified of it. Though it's a movie with a really basic concept, it's overtly ambitious."
Anyway, the news has sent literary types into a flat spin. "THIS IS MY ROOM 101," bellowed Chocolat author Joanne Harris on Twitter. "This is more chilling than ANYTHING actually in 1984," said publisher Gollancz, adding: "Ministry of Truth announces 'romantic adaptation' of 1984. Then announces its own closure as there is nothing left for it to do." And "just to finish my terrible mood off, I read this about one of my favourite books. *head implodes*," tweeted author Sarah Pinborough.
Pinborough managed to find a bright spot, however - "I'm quite entertained by the thought of a million Twilight fans rushing out to buy 1984 after it". Let's hope she's right – and literary Twitter has been cheering itself up by imaging how, exactly, this Orwellian romance will play out. Will Big Brother be overthrown? Will Winston and Julia's love conquer all? And what about the rats – what place do they have in a love story of epic, epic, epic proportion?
A game of #romantic1984 soon kicked off. 'We'll always have room 101, won't we, Winston? We'll always have that, at least?" tweeted author Lavie Tidhar. "The glittery clock struck thirteen," might work well, decided writer Jon Courtenay Grimwood. "You had me at DOUBLEPLUSGOOD," wrote children's author Louie Stowell. And my favourite, from Gollancz: "Imagine a Jimmy Choo's stiletto on a red carpet stamping on a human face. FOREVER."
It's silly but fun, and might help lift us – just a little – out of the pit of despair into which anyone with any sense will have sunk at the news of Equals. "Big Brother is watching you … undress." Or is that more stalkerish than romantic? I've lost all perspective. Over to you.