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Comments on Plagiarism In Science Fiction
When is it plagiarism to borrow from another writer? An aspiring sf writer wants to know. (Read the complete story)

"To quote a Tom Lehrer song: "Plagiarise! Plagiarise! Plagiarise!! Only call it: Research." I was thinking of another concept actually. Not something as old and as well used as the space suit or tractor beam but the Ansible. The Ansible was invented by Le-Guin. She came up with the concept, as far as I know, and gave it a specific name, which is used in the book. What happened? She coined a phrase and Card, in writing Ender's Game, used the Ansible, The Ansible, as a piece of technology in his book. Basically, I think that if you need a piece of technology in your story and you have a name for it that fits into that specific theme, use that name. The characters should use words from their own vocabulary, not yours. But if a concept is so well know such as hover technology, a space suit, or laser weapons, you don't need to call it "Fly-Chassis", "Vacuum Shell" or... "Needler". (Heard Nightfall again recently, couldn't help but poke fun at it.)"
(Sabre Runner 4/10/2008 12:57:10 PM)
"The Ansible is a good example; LeGuin coined the name, but she did not create the concept. To name one example, James Blish writes about the Dirac transmitter in his famous 1950's Cities in Flight series. The Dirac transmitter provided instantaneous communication across the galaxy (and on a party line, no less - anyone could listen). The device was named after the real-life Nobel Laureate physicist Paul Dirac."
(Bill Christensen 4/10/2008 6:54:24 PM)
"Robert Heinlein (I believe) coined the term "Waldo" for remotely controlled manipulators and I have read numerous other books that also used this word for the same reason. I always took it as a tribute to a scifi master more than plagiarism."
(Ken V 4/12/2008 7:28:21 AM)
"And don't forget all the words like Gymbal, which were invented by Lewis Carrol."
(Ashley 4/13/2008 9:58:17 AM)
"Hi, I hope people are still likely to view this thread! I am very interested in this because I have written a novel which, byt its very nature, could be construed as plagiarism. Basically, it is a Star Trek parody - though I'd like to make it clear that I am Star Trek fan myself (the Kirk generation, that is) and the novel does celebrate the greatness of the series, as well and gently lampoon it. It features characters who are very similar to Kirk and crew, and this is a feature of the story. By that I mean it is not just a parody, but it is vital to the plot that the characters are so similar to the cast of Star Trek. There are also a couple of 20th Century characters who know all about - and are fans of - Star Trek, and are amazed to see these Kirk-like characters when they are accidentally zapped into the future. Anyway, I know how rubbish the idea sounds, but that's not the point! The point is, am I allowed to actually refer to the characters from the series? The characters in my novel do have different names (eg John T. Kork, Spoll, Sulin) and are definitely not the characters from Star Trek, but the similarity is obvious both to the audience and to the 20th century characters. In short, I have constantly refered to Star Trek, its characters and technologies, but the characters and technologies actually present in my story are different, so I haven't actually nicked anything from Star Trek, I've just refered to it. But I have refered to it by name. Is this plagiarism or breach of copyright? Any advice on this would be very welcome!"
(Antony W 7/1/2009 12:45:31 AM)

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