[DWJ] Big Bad Read

Elizabeth G. Holtrop elizabeth at bouma-holtrop.com
Fri Jun 23 12:15:50 EDT 2006

  Paul wrote:
> > 'The Man from the Diogenes Club', by Kim Newman. It's a collection of
> > stories about a section of the British secret service tasked with
> > dealing with rogue magicians, bloodthirsty ghosts, murderous voodoo
> > practicioners, etc. (Also a Blofeld-type supervillain, a plot to take
> > over the world by an advanced computer, and - just for a change of
> > pace - an sf writer clubbed to death with his own Hugo award.)

  And Minnow wrote: 
> Oh, if it's Kim it has *got* to be an /homage/, I think.  He knows DWJ,
> after all, and I'm sure that he's read her books.
  I've always wondered where to draw the line between homage and  plagiarism.  This sounds like a clear case of an author who knows  the other author, was involved in a project with some other authors,  and is continuing a delighful idea with a nod to a friend who has cool  literary ideas.  But I've been thinking about other forms of  homage and/or stealing of ideas, and when I read this I thought I'd  solicit opinions.  What if a newbie author uses her/his favorite  character name in her/his ms?  Is that an homage or is it  stealing?  Does it depend on whether the original character is  from a classic or from a newer work -- the classic being both possibly  in the public domain and also more "owned" by the public by being so  well-loved?  For example, if a new fantasy writer used the names  Romeo, Harry Potter, and Chrestomanci, I think the first would be  totally acceptable, the second would slip by, and the third might be  plagiarism.
  These are musings and I'm interested in your responses.  I suppose  this comes from my stance as a reader but also as an aspiring novelist;  at times I've run into a name I love, but I do not to use other  authors' character names because I figure it would be stealing to do so.
  (I know this discussion wasn't about names, so I admit to changing the topic....)

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