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A Few Last Words

Spain
I've just locked the comments section of the previous post. We've had about four hundred comments since the post went up last night, and the whole thing is about to collapse under its own weight. I suspect that someone or other has already said everything that can be said on the subject, so now we're starting to go around in circles.

Also, with this many comments, it's becoming obvious that some of the later commenters aren't actually reading what went before. I'm starting to get asked the same questions over and over again -- what about Suvudu? what about the Vance book? what about fan art? what about role-playing games? All fair enough questions, but I have answered all of them in responses to earlier comments. Some I have answered two or three times by now. I am not going to answer them four, five, six, or twelve times, sorry. So if you've posted a question that has already been asked and answered, your post will likely be ignored or deleted. (Yes, I know it's a pain to have to read four hundred comments. Tough. If I have to read them all, so do you. That's the price of taking part in the discussion).

Some comments haven't been unscreened yet. There have been so many of them coming in so fast that it has been hard to keep up. A few have been buried by now, especially comments on comments on comments. Ty or I will get to all of them eventually, I hope, and everything will either be unscreened or deleted.

I want to thank ninety-five percent of the people who took the time to comment. I appreciate your thoughts, and even more, I appreciate the relative calm and thoughtful tone of this discussion, which never degenerated into the kind of ugliness I've seen (and am still seeing) in the comments over on Diana Gabaldon's blog, where the discussion has long since been derailed. I don't know how many minds were changed here, but all the major issues were thoroughly aired, it seems to me, and I hope this generated more light than heat.

There were a few issues raised during the debate that I'd like to address a bit further.

A number of commenters suggested that I was wrong in my assertion that copyrights need to be defended, and suggested that I was confusing copyrights with trademarks. Perhaps so. This was raised often enough that it is obviously something I need to look into further. There were also posters who agreed with what I wrote, however, including some who identified themselves as lawyers or law students, so I don't think the issue is as clear cut as the "trademark" folks are claiming. I'll investigate this, and if I was wrong about this, I will come back here and say so (eventually, this is not my top priority in life). If I was right, I'll come back and mention that as well.

ERB v HPL. I never said that allowing others to play with the Cthulhu mythos was the ONLY reason Lovecraft died in poverty. Actually, I am a huge Lovecraft fan, and not much of a Burroughs fan at all (though Melinda Snodgrass and I did once work on the screenplay for A PRINCESS OF MARS). I know a lot about HPL. His work has been hugely influential on modern horror. But my point stands. I could write a Cthulhu Mythos novel tomorrow, and I would not have to pay a dime to any Lovecraft estate (if such exists) or get their permission. I would never dare write a Barsoom novel, though surely PRINCESS is in the public domain by now. (The later John Carter and Tarzan novels may still be under copyright).

A few people have quoted or posted links to the other side of the Marion Zimmer Bradley incident, the account of the fan involved. Fine, two sides to every story, check it out. At this point, twenty years after the fact, it all becomes she said/ she said. But the version I posted was hardly "urban legend," as one commenter called it. It was the version given by Marion Zimmer Bradley herself in SFWA FORUM, what she told the rest of the writing community. If you want to believe she lied, well, that's your prerogative.

More thoughts as I have 'em. Just now, I have work to do.

Comments

anivad
May. 10th, 2010 09:06 am (UTC)
It's possible, certainly; I've also written one completely original continuation of that trilogy in which I did invent a TV series, but it lacked something in comparison to the fanfic versions; didn't feel as rich. I thought the same about The Last Action Hero.

But what I meant in terms of it being impossible was more along the lines of not being able to tell that particular story with those particular characters, because once the details are altered it's just not the same story any more, and the story I want to write will still remain unwritten.

Perhaps a better example in this case would be this Minesweeper fanfic I wrote ages ago -> http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1106180/1/Sunglasses about the story behind the smiley faces you see on the screen during the game. Once Minesweeper is out of the picture, the whole story ceases to make any sense. It can't exist without Minesweeper.

I know that laying down all that background could also be seen as a challenge, but there are times when I just want to write one story rather than create a whole world, and fanfic is often useful for that. If I want to write a short descriptive piece to stretch my vocabulary, sometimes I might find it easier to use an existing storyline and describe all I can out of a 10 second scene from a movie rather than create a whole new world just for that simple exercise. Plus, with fanfic, I can share it online without fear of plagiarism.

And yeah; sometimes the specific characters and world are important. I watched Star Trek XI and thought it would be awesome if Spock and Sylar were to meet, seeing as how they were both played by Zach Quinto, and if I had changed the names and created a whole new backstory for each they just wouldn't be the same and it would defeat the whole purpose of wanting to see what would happen if I put those two characters with their specific personalities together.

A lot of fanfic for me is a form of character study - to see how well I can capture another person's character and bring them across via dialogue and actions in written form. I enjoy that; it's one of my favourite things about writing fanfic, and that moment when I get the characterisation right, it's a wonderful feeling. I'd never be able to get that with original writing because whatever I write would basically be in character: I'm creating the character as I go along.

Nope, haven't seen Shadow Unit.

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