More Blended Titles

Continuing the prior meme

* Behold the Man in the High Castle by Phillip K Moorecock
* Brave New Worlds of the Imperium by Aldous Laumer
* The Man Who Sold the Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A Heinlein II
* The Eyes of the Dragonriders of Pern by Stephen McCaffrey

Title Blender Meme

I’ve caught another meme from the SF Signal Blog (patient zero for the meme being Literary Compass) The idea is to blend two book titles together by using the last word of one title and the first word of the second title. If you want, you can blend the authors’ names too.

Here’re my books:

* Trader to the Stars My Destination by Poul Bester
* Lucifer’s Hammer’s Slammers by David Niven and Jerry Drake
* Mission of Gravity’s Rainbow by Hal Pynchon
* Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Look Up? by Philip K. Brunner
* Lord of Light of Other Days by Roger C Clarke and Stephen Zelazny

If you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged with this meme.

An Expression of Gratitude

[This is a copy of a letter I just sent to the SFWA Forum]

For the past three years I’ve been involved in a legal dispute with Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast over one of their d20 products. So far, I’ve remained mum about this in public, but fortunately the issue has just reached a mutually satisfactory conclusion. While I cannot go too deeply into the details of the matter, I can give some props where props are due. I cannot express my appreciation enough for the folks at SFWA. If it wasn’t for Griefcom and a couple of much needed loans from the SFWA Legal Fund, I would find it hard to believe that this matter would have ever reached a resolution. Having the support of a professional organization like SFWA is invaluable for leveling the playing field between individual authors like myself, and corporate behemoths like Hasbro.

I offer my sincere thanks to everyone involved,

Steven Swiniarski
S Andrew Swann

Since We’re Talking About Intellectual Property Law. . .

Microsoft seems to be in the vanguard, defending a 19th Century economic model for IP law. Not only has it deformed the purpose of its operating system into one giant copy-protection scheme, but now it’s attacking open-source software vendors with vague threats of patent violations.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell: copy protection is essentially impossible. The defenders of old-style IP law are throwing money, lawyers and technology at an insoluble problem. The fact is, if you allow a user to see content, that user can reproduce the content. Throw whatever technical hurdles you want at the issue, in the end, you have to give the user access to the content or there’s nothing to read, watch or listen to.

Everyone seems to focus on the wrong end of the problem. The economic issue is not how we force all the consumers to pay for that Metallica song— tain’t going to happen, as everyone who owned a radio-cassette player in the 80s will attest to. The economic issue is how do we compensate content creators for the effort used to produce the content? Paying royalties on copies of the work is a model from the industrial revolution, back when books were just another widget coming off an assembly line. Not a good model in a digital world where one book/cd/movie/article can be replicated ad infinitum with little or no central control. (Ironic example: look here then here)

The fact is that lack of control has already happened. And draconian measures by Microsoft, the RIAA and the motion picture industry actually worsens the problem by pissing off average end users and eroding the moral compunction against wholesale piracy— which is the only real clothing the emperor has at this point.

The other fact is, I’m not one of those that believe you can legislate the economy. Sure, you can make things worse, or inconvenient, or dangerous— but eventually a new mode of operation will emerge. The corporations that adapt will survive, and those that don’t adapt will collapse, throwing their last few millions at lawyers and legislators trying to make it stop. As for individuals, I am not as pessimistic as the luddite Dr. Hendrix. If anything, the need for entertainment in this economy is increasing exponentially, and there will be no shortage of opportunities for writers, musicians and actors to make a living. Just don’t expect your work to stay in a nice little box after you cash the check.

Plagurizing is Stoopid too

Another story popped up on the web from our favorite Kent, Ohio serial plagiarist sheriff’s detective. Two thoughts occur to me.

One: Why is it that he has heard of e-mail, but not spell-checking software? Quoth the article:

When Herman was caught last fall, he confessed his plagiarism in an e-mail full of misspellings to a now-former friend who runs the theater in L.A. that staged the play.

“As you’ve probably already guessed, I am guilty of plagurizing (sic) …,” Herman wrote on Sept. 27 to former Northeast Ohio actor Bill Wolski, whose Torrance, Calif.-based Coconut Productions had opened a production of Herman’s Sherlock Holmes play just a few days earlier.

Two: Why does he seem to plagiarize plays based on derivative work? (Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes) Is he so uncreative he can’t even steal original work?

We have a novel. . .

I just crossed the 70K threshold. Wolfbreed has officially crossed (my) minimum threshold for novel length. While there’s still 30,000 words left to reach my initial estimate, the word-count is no longer my barometer of completion. We’re at the point where the story is going to determine when it is finished. It is wrapping up a little quicker than I expected, right now we’re about to reach the nadir for just about all my major characters, evil is nearly triumphant, and— needless to say— all Hell is about to break loose.

Plagerizm is Stoopid

From the Edmonton Journal, we have the story of a Kent, Ohio police officer, Det. Jack L. Herman, who was quite a thief, apparently buying a series of Canadian plays and slapping his name on them. A blog post has an extended transcript of David Staples’ interview with this literary vampire, some quotes of which are particularly revealing:

Staples: “How do feel about it having done what you did, plagiarized it?”
Herman: “Horrible. I talked to Mr. Belke myself and I apologized profusely. I feel horrible about what I did. It’s not something that I’m proud of. As I said, it didn’t seem bad at the time. It didn’t seem like it was going to affect or hurt anybody. Of course, looking back now, I realize now it was completely the wrong thing to do. I wouldn’t appreciate it if someone had done it to me.”

Staples: “Did you realize that it was fraud and theft when you were doing it?”
Herman: “No, I didn’t really think about it at that time, and I should have, because of the position I am in.”

Of course, in the interview, Det. Herman insisted that this one play, The Unexpected Return of Sherlock Holmes, was the only one he plagiarized. An assertion that was simple enough for Mr. Staples to check, since there are records of Det. Herman’s script purchases from the Canadian playwright’s union. . .

It goes to prove that direct word-for-word plagiarism is rare because it is an incredibly stupid practice to engage in. Especially for serial plagiarists like Det. Herman. The fact that your crime will remain on public display until someone figures out you stole it means that potential for eventual discovery is about as close to 100% as you can get.

To compound the stupidity, Herman was particularly conscious of his own intellectual property rights, to the point of stapling to the front page of his stolen script a note saying;

“Copyright, 1999 Herman Plays & Publications. Caution: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that The Unexpected Return of Sherlock Holmes is subject to royalty. It is fully protected under copyright laws.”

Well, if this sick little sleaze was looking for recognition, he got it.

ADDENDUM: Here’s the Plain Dealer story about this character; apparently being smacked with his own stupidity by the Canadian press left him reluctant to talk to any more reporters.

ADDENDUM 2: Another local paper, the Record-Courier has a story about our plagercop. Apparently the Portage county sheriff’s department has him on “paid administrative leave.”

Two Thirds. . .

I hit the two-thirds point, and plot-wise it’s all downhill from here. I also just sent out my first query letter in my renewed search for a new agent. So things are proceeding. . .

I have, however, just hit the point I do in every single novel where I have pretty much convinced myself that everything I’ve been writing is complete crap. The only thing that gets me over that particular wall is the fact that it happens with every single effing novel. What is up with that? I can really do without the angst, but there it is, regular as clockwork. At least I’ve written enough to know that the feeling will pass. . .