Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Imitation May Flatter, but Copying May End in Court

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Imitation May Flatter, but Copying May End in Court

Article excerpt

HIS name was Steven. He was cynical, arrogant, a bit of a show-off and a fantasy and science-fiction fan.

At this particular party where our paths met, he was loudly sharing his views on the quality of writers in that genre. With a superior yawn, he declared: "All fantasy and science-fiction writers are Tolkien-derivative."

A sweeping statement. Dismissive; irritating and patronising if anyone who fancied themselves as a fantasy or science-fiction writer was in earshot.

Years later, when I "discovered" a fantasy writer blazing his own breathtaking path, I wished I could shove it into Steven's hands with a "there!".

I say "discovered" with a self-mocking smile. This author's books were hardly lying around waiting for me to somehow find them. He already had a legion of loyal fans. But somehow with books, we readers always feel as though they didn't exist until we became aware of them.

Truthfully though, I was well behind the rest of the world in "discovering" George RR Martin.

His Song of Ice and Fire series is so detailed, his "fantasy" world so sweeping, his characters and plots so chillingly real, I was awe-struck.

Martin does not spare his readers; he brutally kills off characters you've become attached to. For at least one death, I'll never forgive him.

But despite my misery at the loss of this character, all I kept thinking after I read the first book in this series, A Game of Thrones, was: I wish I'd written this. Or, I wish I could write like this.

I suppose it's a natural thing that a formula, a style, that works, will influence others. Maybe it will even be copied. In the wake of Dan Brown's success, it seemed every second book became a thriller interwoven with a historical mystery, for example.

Not that I'm complaining. Dan Brown probably isn't either.

Don't they say, after all, that imitation is the best form of flattery?

Except in business.

I doubt a company called Led Technologies felt particularly flattered when Chinese-made copies of its products appeared on the Australian market. …

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