Craig is flying solo again today (don’t worry, we’re recording a regular episode this weekend), and the topic at hand is literary homage vs outright theft. Where is the line? How should we go about thinking about books that some say are TOO directly tied to their inspirations?

Email us questions using the contact form at TheLegendarium.com

Support the show on Patreon

Subscribe to The Legendarium Podcast in Apple Podcasts (and leave a 5-star review, please!), or by RSS feed. For all our podcasts in one place, subscribe to the Ricochet Audio Network Superfeed in Apple Podcasts or by RSS feed.

There are 8 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    There are a million new ways to be bad.

    Edited to add: But most “creatives’ use the tried-and-true ways to make their work suck.

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    On the idea of “covers” for novels, it may be that Scalzi did that with H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy. I haven’t read it, and I’m not sure that I wouldn’t hate it if I did and then be forced to take out a contract on Scalzi, and that’s why I refuse to read it. I’m not sure how good of an idea “covers” for novels are. It isn’t like songs. In songs, the songwriting is separate from the interpretation. The composers/songwriters are compensated separately from the singer/band. Both get money as part of the deal. If someone wants to re-write one of my novels, that’s great, but I’d better get at least fifty percent of the royalties, thank you very much.

    The insistence on novelty is a result of copyright law. Before that, novelty really wasn’t much of a thing. For instance, someone might take a play that had been set in Spain, and move it to Denmark, then change a few other details, and mash it up with some other sub-plots, and boom! We have Hamlet.

    • #2
  3. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    The inspiration for Tolkien’s walking trees was probably English science fiction writer John Wyndham‘s The Day of the Triffids.  

    This was nominated for the International Fantasy Award five years before The Lord of the Rings won it, so Tolkien was probably aware of it.

    • #3
  4. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    Arahant (View Comment):

    On the idea of “covers” for novels, it may be that Scalzi did that with H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy. I haven’t read it, and I’m not sure that I wouldn’t hate it if I did and then be forced to take out a contract on Scalzi, and that’s why I refuse to read it. I’m not sure how good of an idea “covers” for novels are. It isn’t like songs. In songs, the songwriting is separate from the interpretation. The composers/songwriters are compensated separately from the singer/band. Both get money as part of the deal. If someone wants to re-write one of my novels, that’s great, but I’d better get at least fifty percent of the royalties, thank you very much.

    The insistence on novelty is a result of copyright law. Before that, novelty really wasn’t much of a thing. For instance, someone might take a play that had been set in Spain, and move it to Denmark, then change a few other details, and mash it up with some other sub-plots, and boom! We have Hamlet.

    Actually almost the entire story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet is included in the Scandinavian legend of Amleth, first recorded in the Middle Ages.

    • #4
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Taras (View Comment):
    Actually almost the entire story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet is included in the Scandinavian legend of Amleth, first recorded in the Middle Ages.

    Sure, but Shakespeare would have more likely been familiar with Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy.

    • #5
  6. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Taras (View Comment):
    Actually almost the entire story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet is included in the Scandinavian legend of Amleth, first recorded in the Middle Ages.

    Sure, but Shakespeare would have more likely been familiar with Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy.

    … Which, critics believe, may have inspired the play-within-the-play in Hamlet, but little or nothing else.  It’s simply a different story.

    • #6
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Taras (View Comment):
    … Which, critics believe, may have inspired the play-within-the-play in Hamlet, but little or nothing else.  It’s simply a different story.

    Uh, no, not that different. Now, Shakespeare did it much better, I’ll be happy to say. In Kyd’s play, the protagonist holds up a noose and a stiletto, asking, “This way or that way?” (I’m being lazy and not looking up exact wording.) Shakespeare turned that into:

    To be or not to be? That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or take arms against a sea of troubles, etc.

    • #7
  8. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Taras (View Comment):
    … Which, critics believe, may have inspired the play-within-the-play in Hamlet, but little or nothing else. It’s simply a different story.

    Uh, no, not that different. Now, Shakespeare did it much better, I’ll be happy to say. In Kyd’s play, the protagonist holds up a noose and a stiletto, asking, “This way or that way?” (I’m being lazy and not looking up exact wording.) Shakespeare turned that into:

    To be or not to be? That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or take arms against a sea of troubles, etc.

    The story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet was derived from the legend of Amleth, preserved by 13th-century chronicler Saxo Grammaticus in his Gesta Danorum, as subsequently retold by the 16th-century scholar François de Belleforest. Shakespeare may also have drawn on an earlier Elizabethan play known today as the Ur-Hamlet, though some scholars believe Shakespeare wrote the Ur-Hamlet, later revising it to create the version of Hamlet that exists today. — Wikipedia 

    Just compare the plots!  The confusion may have arisen because some scholars have speculated that Kyd may have written the lost Ur-Hamlet.  Also, Shakespeare as script doctor may have added 300 lines to the 1602 version of Kyd’s play.

    My own, unscholarly feeling is that The Spanish Tragedy was more likely an influence on Shakespeare’s late Roman horrorshow, Titus Andronicus, than Hamlet.

    • #8
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.