My second ebook with Musa Publishing, Kaishaku, went through extensive editing. It went from about 10,000 words down to 7,000, and then back up to 12,000. The entire beginning was chopped out, then partially restored, and the middle significantly buttressed. Anyway, all of this got me to thinking about famous books that had two or more versions. You’ll find some examples below.
Books With Different Published Versions
1) The Stand, by Stephen King: This was the first example that I thought of, being a huge horror fan. King’s story (first published in 1978) was an 1152 page tome, but the publisher convinced him that it would sell better if he axed about 150,000 words, or over 300 pages. However, in 1990 he put out the long version as The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition. Which among other changes switched the story’s setting from 1980 to 1990, and updated the pop cultural references, etc. I’ve read both, and the longer version is better—more information and new characters in a book I love.
2) A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess: This one’s a little stranger. This 1962 novella had 21 chapters. However, the publisher convinced Burgess that Americans wouldn’t accept the ending 21st chapter, so the
editions only had 20 chapters and a darker ending. (SPOILERS AHEAD) The 20th chapter has Alex recovered from the Ludovico Technique, and starting a new gang, continuing with his violent lifestyle. The 21st, though, has him meeting up with old gang member Pete, and being inspired to stop his violent ways, and settle down, get married, have kids, etc. (END SPOILERS) The publisher thought Americans would find this happier ending to be unrealistic, and it wasn’t included in U.S. versions for over 15 years. Interestingly, Stanley Kubrick, the director of the film version, initially didn’t know of the missing 21st chapter, and when he did, rejected it, going with the darker, 20 chapter version. Author Burgess hated the movie, thinking that it glorified meaningless sex and violence. Furthermore, he hated the fact that he was best known for this book, as he considered it a lesser work, one he’d knocked off in three weeks for money. The story was based on a real tragedy in Burgess’s life, as his wife was beaten (and subsequently miscarried) by U.S. service members during World War II. U.S.
3) Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. This novel was first published in 1860 in serialized form. (SPOILERS AHEAD) In the original ending, Pip meets Estella in the streets, and learns that she’s remarried after her abusive husband died. Pip remains single. However, some of Dicken’s friends thought this ending was too sad, and got him to rewrite it. In this new ending Pip meets Estella again, after the death of her husband, but she’s single, and the implication is that she and Pip might marry. (END SPOILERS) Most modern editions have the second, happier ending, but some include the first, sad one later in the book. Literary critics seem to be split on which version is superior.
4) Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein. This 1961 science fiction classic’s situation is similar to The Stand. Heinlein’s publisher thought that his original version was too long, and convinced him to cut out about 60,000 words, or roughly 200 pages. After he died, his wife had the original version published (in 1991). Most readers seem to prefer the long version.
5) The Bible, by various authors. I don’t think I need to include much detail on this—probably everybody knows that there’s many different versions, different languages, and about the extreme controversy which often accompanied these edits.
Different Plot/Endings Within One Published Book
6) Hopscotch, by Julio Cortazar. This 1963 book by Argentine Cortazar is definitely different, to say the least. It can be read in a linear or non-linear fashion. The book has 155 chapters—1-56 are designed to be read linearly, and the remaining 99 can be read in sequence, or completely out of sequence based on an included “Table of Instructions,” or however else the reader chooses, as they “hopscotch” through the story. The writing style changes throughout—first person to third, and grammar and spelling change from chapter to chapter, too. Some chapters are supposedly written by other authors, or purportedly from other novels, which may or may not even exist. Haven’t read this one, but I’m certainly intrigued—if nothing else, it sounds extremely creative and atypical.
7) Choose Your Own Adventure series, by Edward Packard, Ray Montgomery, et. al. I used to love these as a kid. Packard invented the concept, in which the reader is presented as being the main character, and goes through a page or two, and then is presented with two or three choices at the bottom of the page of what they want to do (i.e., “If you want to fight the monster, turn to page 74. If you want to flee the room, turn to page 56.”). Each choice leads to different results, then you go a page or two, make another choice, and so on, until “you” get to one of the 40 or so possible endings (many of which resulting in “your” death). Packard hooked up with Ray Montgomery, and they started putting these out as a series in the mid 1970’s, starting with 1975’s The Cave of Time. They’re up to over 185 books in the series, and still going strong. This type of book invented what’s called the gamebook genre, and there have been many imitators. Two of the best known are the Give Yourself Goosebumps series (by R. L. Stine) and the Fighting Fantasy books (by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone).
8) Pretty Little Mistakes, by Heather McElhatton. This is another Choose Your Own Adventure-inspired book, billed as one for adults. This 2007 book has 150 endings—75 good and 75 bad. Like in Packard’s series the bad endings can result in the death of “your” friends and “you.”
Different Version of One Story, in Various Entertainment Formats
9) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. As
Adams admits in the forward to a later edition of the book, this story is hopelessly convoluted. It started as a radio series in 1978, and then was eventually written as a novel, and then a series of books—five by Adams in the “trilogy,” and one more authorized book by someone else after Adam’s untimely death. Because of this the original beginning of the tale has multiple versions. One of my favorite series, too—certainly the funniest sci-fi stories I’ve read.