Oliver writes for Thought Catalog and is the Associate Editor of The Faster Times. He is not a big fan of ha-ha funny bios, especially not ha-ha funny bios that get less funny each time you read them. Anyway, you can contact him at oliveramiller [at] gmail.com.
Take a photograph of your girlfriend or boyfriend, wife or husband or lover. Now, pixelate it — run it through an image processor on a computer. They dissolve into art when pixelized, don’t they? Into squares and abstract images of themselves. What does it all mean? Who can even answer these questions?
Below are ten all-new covers for famous novels, all rendered in pixelated form (building off the great work of artists at Make Pixel Art), as the makers of video games in 1983 might have rendered them. This combines my love of literature with my love of old video games, which I’ve explored here before. Enjoy.
I love pixels. I love old Sierra adventure games, and the way things were drawn in, say, Bard’s Tale II. Pixels make everything look kind of sad and off and retro, because of course they do. Because they’re pixels from 1984.
I also love short stories. I was an English major, and then I got an MFA in writing. Before that, I was a nerd who huddled in a basement, with his nerd friends, clicking with a mouse to play Bard’s Tale II. So basically, making 8-bit drawings of short stories encapsulates my whole life and, I hope, yours as well.
Here are 8-bit drawings of the beginnings of eight short stories. You can then click to read the complete stories, which I recommend that you do, because literature is good for you.
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
— John Rogers
When last we spoke, I had made a shocking scholarly discovery and revealed that Star Wars had been plagiarized from a lost play by William Shakespeare. Well, my literary research continues. As I was leafing through forgotten volumes in a dusty library, I came across the only copy of a lost manuscript. Written in 1944, it predates J.R.R. Tolkien’s series of novels by a decade.
And so it is clear that Ayn Rand, Objectivist philosopher and author of Atlas Shrugged, wrote the first draft of the most beloved fantasy series of all time. I present excerpts from her version of this classic:
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
by Ayn Rand
When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was a great stir in Hobbiton. Friends and relations gathered to pay tribute to this brave individualist. Bilbo was rich and therefore a good person, having gained wealth from a mysterious journey many years before. But the party-goers’ thoughts were occupied with a different mystery, one that had nothing to do with the source of Bilbo’s wealth. There was another question on the lips of the Tooks, the Sackville-Bagginses, the Brandybucks. And that question was this—
To the delight of people like me — who enjoy making easy pop-culture references for a living — a 37-year-old man named “Obiwan [sic] Kenobi” was arrested in Rosedale, California, in connection with a multi-car hit-and-run accident. Man, the Force is so not with this guy, amirite? …Which is about the quality-level of jokes that have been made so far by other news outlets, like, for example, CBS News, which says:
Though George Lucas claims that his 1977 film Star Wars is entirely original, based merely on his memories of the science fiction serials of his youth, new scholarly research has revealed the truth. Lucas was merely plagiarizing a much older work, a lost play by William Shakespeare. Shocking. Absolutely shocking.
Here, for the first time, I present selected excerpts from THE WAR OF THE STARRES. Enjoy:
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
THE WAR OF THE STARRES
A SUDDEN HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL
by Wm. Shakespeare
At the pleafure of her moft rightous maj. Queen Elisabeth
Anno domini 1604
♦ ♦ ♦
SCENE 1. INTERIOR. REBEL BLOCKADE RUNNER. HALLWAY.
Her highness Princess Leia Organa is led by a troupe of Stormtroopers. On her way, she encounters Sir Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith.
Leia: ‘Pon my soul! Lord Vader. I should have known’it.
Vader: The very one stands before you. Verily, thou hast said it.
Leia: Only you would be so bold, despised sir, as to enter the Blockade Runner Senatorial. In truth, the Senate will not hear of it! I am in their service, on a mission of greatest import–
Vader: Spare me your meaningless persiflage, your highness! I know the truth, I will have it from you!
Leia: [Aside] I am afeared that he will come to it, by and by–
Vader: You are a member of that foul rabble, those most accursed wretches. You know of whom I speak! Thou art a member of the Rebel Alliance!
I just spent a week living in a house on the Connecticut shore — a mansion, a kingdom by the sea, if you will — and during my time there I played the song “Born to Die” approximately 156 times. …I was worried that the police would be called. Not because I was playing the song too loudly, but just because eventually the neighbors might have been like, “I’m worried that our neighbor died and set a song on ‘repeat’ right before dying.”
There is nothing in my history to explain this, Lana — and yes, I’m currently directly addressing Lana Del Rey with this essay. So, Ms. Del Rey, a.k.a. Lana Del Rey, a.k.a. Lizzie Grant; here’s the thing. …Okay, Lana — here’s the thing — I don’t care about music that much. The last time that I paid sustained attention to music was back in 1998 or so, when I was a Young Person.
But I’m paying attention to you, Lana. Because you’re so hot, and thus I want to slam you. …Lana? Lana? Lana. Lana! You’re in the Danger Zone. From Top Gun.
80s nostalgia! It’s a big deal right now, for some reason. It’s either a sign of the End Times or a sign that our culture is dominated by tweens who will wear Super Mario T-shirts for completely random reasons, despite having been too youngto play Super Mario Bros. when it originally came out.
Or maybe there’s something else behind all of this. Did it ever occur to you that a sense of 80s nostalgia might be hardwired into our brains? Or hardwired into our brains-slash-bodies? …That would be one explanation, right? For the recent barrage of 80s crap that has assaulted our world? After all, what is the deal with the Transformers and Smurfs revivals — and, to a far, far lesser extent, what’s with the ThunderCats and G.I. Joe revivals?