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A Few Last Words

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.


May. 9th, 2010 02:29 am (UTC)
So yeah, basically I just wanted to say thank you for being able to address the issue in a professional and respectful manner, if Diana's initial post had been more like yours then the reaction to it would've been less extreme.

Word to the nth degree.

It was very unfortunate that Ms Gabaldon opted to express her "No fanfiction" preferences via a little RPF vignette starring a hypothetical EveryFicWriter person putting forward their dim, timid arguments for writing fanfiction, in order to have The Mighty Published Author kindly show them the error of their ways, then pat them on the head and give them a cookie.

Because of course that left the ACTUAL fic writers who were being basically parodied, and whose perspective she was failing to represent, staring at the screen thusly: O_O

(Oh, the irony! She was writing us out of character, and we were immediately butthurt about the bad dialogue and inaccurate motivations ascribed to us even before coming on to the meat of the matter. Just say no to badfic, kids!)

Opening a discourse (which of course she didn't realise she was doing - she thought she was performing solely for the entertainment of her coterie of admirers, and didn't pause to consider the potential repercussions of being overheard by the people she was talking about) in this strident and dismissive fashion was not, as it turned out, the best of diplomatic moves, and it meant that automatically people were going to respond with indignation at seeing their position misrepresented (along with the unflattering & not particularly watertight analogies). So right from the get go you've got people being rude to one another and feeling emotional, rather than concentrating upon the actual discussion at hand.

As a feminist, I do find it quite saddening that this matter went down one way on the blog of a female writer (as a result of her own post), and very differently on the blog of a male writer - I really don't want to describe the former as more emotional and less consistent, damn it. But mad props to you, Mr Martin, for expressing your stance (which is essentially the same as Ms Gabaldon's) in such a measured and sensible fashion, and eschewing playing to the crowd or taking pot shots. It just makes it so much easier for a proper conversation to take place, and that's good for all involved.

So, yes - thank you very much for setting the tone of the discussion, and for your considered responses. I've found it all much more useful and thought-provoking than the conversation in Ms Gabaldon's blog (which felt, at times, all too much like this. For both sides, I dare say).


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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