They all tell stories about a world where, when you reach a certain age, you are expected--even covertly forced--to get extensive plastic surgery to make you beautiful.
Perhaps best known is Scott Westerfeld's series starting with the book Uglies. In it, Tally is about to get the surgery to make her pretty when she discovers that the surgery does more than change your outside.
(Also: HILARIOUS--Rod Sterling says in the beginning that we're supposed to imagine this in the future, "Say, in the year 2000." HAHAHA!)
Here's a short version of it (less than five minutes long), but there are longer whole versions available online, too.
And while The Twilight Zone is clearly old--this episode aired in 1964--the source of it is a short story by Charles Beaumont in 1952 called "Beautiful People."
Mind-Rain. As reviewer RJ Carter says, "There are two special shorts in this collection that are actually pre-Uglies publications, and Westerfeld explains how both impacted his writing of the series. The first is Charles Beaumont's "The Beautiful People," a short story about a society where, at a certain age, everyone gets the operation that makes them beautiful. Society is thrown for a loop, however, when a young girl discovers ancient texts -- actually printed on paper, if you can believe that! -- and decides she wants to keep her natural appearance. Sound familiar? Maybe you saw it on television: Beaumont's 1952 story was turned into an episode of The Twilight Zone, a story titled "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" which aired in 1964."
I love that Westerfeld embraces the sources of his inspiration, and that we, as readers, can see how these differences play out. To me, it's interesting to compare how in 1964, the story ended with the girl falling to the surgery and coming out, as Rod Sterling says it, "A girl in love...with herself." But in Westerfeld's story--which progresses through four volumes--the heroine becomes a true heroine fighting back against the establishment and the idea of being pretty.
While the differences in the outcomes of the girls isn't the only thing that distinguishes these three works from each other, it is the one I find most intriguing. Is the difference one based on time? Were we expecting the worst in 1964, but expecting to fight in 2005? Or is it more a matter of telling different stories?
Robert Goolrick, author of The Reliable Wife. (Photo from Fireside Books, my local indie.) He mentioned that authors really only have two or three or maybe six things to say--but no more. Every writer has a basic thing to say--Does true love exist? Does good triumph over evil? Is God real?--and every book is the writer's attempt to answer that question.
So, what was the difference between Charles Beaumont, The Twilight Zone, and Scott Westerfeld? What different thing were they saying--and what similar things were they saying? What do you think? Why would these authors take the same concept--a "pretty world"--and have such drastically different endings? And which ending do you prefer?