Opening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic — By Filers

Eli Grober’s “Opening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic” in The New Yorker humorously changes the beginnings of famous books to suit life as we knew it in the plague year of 2020.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

It was a dark and stormy night, so we stayed inside, just like we’d done every night for the last year. In that way, it was a perfectly normal night.

Filers answered the challenge to add to the list. Here is a collection from yesterday’s comments.

Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein

If a man walks in dressed like a hick and acting as if he doesn’t need to wear a mask, he’s a spaceman.

— Bill

Idle Days On The Yann by Lord Dunsany

So I came down through the wood to the bank of Yann and found, as had been prophesied, after seven days of quarantine and a negative virus test, the ship Bird of the River about to loose her cable.

— David Shallcross

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

During a pandemic, these things are ceaseless: case number charts and social distancing.

— Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed, being careful to maintain a distance of at least six feet.

–Nina Shepardson

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

I will make my report as if I told a story, because I was taught as a child during the pandemic that truth is a matter of the imagination.

— Vicki Rosenzweig

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that his eleventy-first birthday party was cancelled due to Covid restrictions, there was much disappointment throughout Hobbiton. Gandalf stayed out of the Shire bubble entirely, so no fireworks, either.

— Andrew (not Werdna)

Casey Agonistes by Richard McKenna

You can’t just die. You got to book an appointment first.

— Jim Janney

Pipe Dream by Fritz Leiber

It wan’t until the mermaid turned up in his bathtub that SImon Grue seriously began to wonder about the possibility of contagion from the Russians next door.

— Jim Janney

The Pride Of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh

There had been something contagious on the station dock all year, skulking in amongst the gantries and the lines and the canisters which were waiting to be moved, lurking wherever shadows fell among the rampway accesses of the many ships at dock at Meetpoint.

— BGrandrath

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

I could have become a mass murderer after a few weeks of lockdown, but I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays and music consumed.

— Lorien Gray

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Do you remember where you were when the Meteor hit? I’ve never understood why people phrase it as a question, because of course you were inside, just like everyone had been for the last year.

— Lorien Gray

Triplanetary (Lensman Series, Book 1) by E.E. “Doc” Smith

Two thousand million or so years ago, two galaxies were carefully maintaining social distancing from each other.

— Steve Wright

Neuromancer by William Gibson

The sky was a color, but nobody noticed which color because they were all indoors on lockdown.

— Xtifr

Dragonsinger: Harper of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

When Menolly, daughter of Yanus Sea-Holder, arrived at the Harper Hall she arrived in style, with a N-95 mask and complete vaccination paperwork.

— Nancy Sauer

17 thoughts on “Opening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic — By Filers

  1. Belweather by Connie Willis
    It’s almost impossible to pinpoint the beginning of a conspiracy theory. By the time it starts to look like one, it’s origins are far in the past and trying to unravel them is more difficult than trying to find the source of the coronavirus

  2. The body lay naked and facedown outside Paulk’s Tavern, a deathly gray, a ripped-open package of facemasks scattered in the snow around it.

  3. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, will have a nice home to be quarantined in.

  4. Thomas Pynchon, V:
    “A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but we were all indoors and missed it.”

  5. Joyce, A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man:
    “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road sneezed so we shot it.”

  6. Toward the end of a stormy summer afternoon, with the sun finally breaking out under ragged black rain clouds, Castle Janeil’s quarantine was overwhelmed and its population infected.

  7. The last man on Earth sat alone in the room…or was he the last man on Earth? Who would know? Nobody had knocked on his door for what seemed eternity. So he sat. Alone.

  8. Once upon a lockdown dreary, as I pondered, weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious mask from the online store

  9. Slow eighties-style clap
    These are incredible. Excellent work all.
    I also can’t help but think that the first line of The Martian really wouldn’t need to be changed much at all….

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