The book you don't like that most everyone else seems to like ...

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by TomTB, Apr 26, 2015.

  1. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Became a Faceless Man

    Okay, so as I understand it, the argument for The Magicians being original places much more emphasis on the journey/ end point rather than the strikingly similar starting point.

    So let's say I wrote a trilogy called Baron of the Bracelets. And in this fantasy world there's a village of small, hairy-handed humanoids called Bobbits. And as the great evil creature that used to rule this world, Bauron, begins to raise new armies, one of these Bobbits inherits a magical bracelet that used to belong to Bauron. So this Bobbit needs to destroy the bracelet by dropping it in a far-away crevasse. And this Bobbit, let's call him Dodo, teams up with a human wizard that never uses magic, three other Bobbits, and a smattering of other humans/ elves/ dwarves to go on this crevasse quest. Also, there will be a lot of walking, an untrustworthy hunchback guide, a spider, some wraiths, some boring songs/ poems, and a whole lot more walking.

    But, on their many adventures on the way to the crevasse, Dodo becomes swayed by the evil bracelet and starts acting out on his psychopathic impulses, eventually sacrificing every one of his allies before defeating Bauron, only to take his place and rule the world with an iron (and still sort of hairy) fist.

    So instead of all those familiar and unoriginal epic/ high fantasy tropes like good against and ultimately triumphing over evil, I instead offer a treatise on ultimate power corrupting ultimately. It's now a character study of a once honorable chosen-one farm-boy slowly sliding into psychopathy.

    Now, is this new trilogy of mine original? I mean, it ends entirely differently and has a totally different theme to it. Do those two aspects alone make it unique?
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  2. Peat

    Peat Ran bridges next to Kaladin

    It means you've written The First Law :p

    More seriously, it is a matter of subjective taste. If a book pings several similarities highly - not "Oh, same trope", but "Its just this with the serial numbers filed off" - then yes, calling the originality into question is fair. But nobody ever gets the same feedback. I know I'm not reading the Alex Verus books because, good as they are, they have some rrrrreal strong Dresden parallels that I can't shake off. I know others who have no idea what I'm talking about.
     
  3. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Became a Faceless Man

    Ha! I'm actually starting First Law in less than an hour when I take my car in for service. Now I will have to test the validity of your statement.

    Good point on the difference between tropes and "just this with the serial numbers filed off" (a great quote that I'm going to appropriate btw). Tropes don't bug me in the least. But once you've got the same setting, basic protag, and conflict/ conceit between the two of them, I cry foul.
     
  4. Darwin

    Darwin Journeyed there and back again

    Imagine you created an urban fantasy in which the characters had grown up reading LotR. Or Heinlein. Or Dune. And then your characters find out that the fantasy universe they'd read about was actually accessible by portal magic according to the rules of your fantasy world. They go and have their own unique experiences in this world and find out that the conventional tale was just the tip of the iceberg of the real stuff going on there.

    That's not the same thing as plagiarizing ideas.
     
  5. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Became a Faceless Man

    Not plagiarizing I'll give you though I still disagree. I do think you're making my fan fic argument for me though.
     
  6. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Became a Faceless Man

    Also, I'll note that you're invoking the appropriation of the Narnia aspects to defend the originality of the Harry Potter aspects.
     
  7. Darwin

    Darwin Journeyed there and back again

    There's no Harry Potter aspects. They're kids in America who learn magic at a school for magic. They're aware Harry Potter exists, but nothing about their experience is similar to Harry Potter. In most respects its basically the opposite. Discworld has a school for magic. Did Harry Potter copy that? Did The Magicians copy Discworld or Harry Potter? Or any of the preceding stories about magical schools? Kids learning magic in a school is not a trope established first by HP.
     
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  8. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Became a Faceless Man

    Alright, I withdraw the HP comparison, though I suspect folks are being intentionally difficult when not admitting the striking similarities. Let's instead focus on your other example of modern characters who are familiar with Heinlein/ Tolkien and then get to portal hop to those worlds and learn they're not as wonderful as depicted. That would be an author inserting their own characters into another author's already established world/ story. Which is pretty much the dictionary definition of fanfic in my mind.
     
  9. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    Sooo... more like a,sequel, but with name changes?
    Like if I wrote a sequel to Tom sawyer (or huck finn) but right before publishing I changed all the proper nouns.?
     
  10. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Became a Faceless Man

    You tell me. I have my own opinion, but I'd like to know what you'd call this situation you brought up.

    Alan Moore uses a lot of existing characters in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and I am entirely on the fence as to if it's fanfic. There's another thread around here where people are arguing if it's okay to appropriate mythic characters (Thor, specifically), which could be argued as fanfic as well since everyone is putting their own spin on existing characters. But that's a significantly more tenuous argument since these characters have been around so long they've worked their way into the cultural cannon. The same could sort of be argued for LoEG in that all the characters Moore appropriates have been around so long that their copyright has expired (whatever that term is eludes me).

    I have a burgeoning idea that fanfic/ derivative work has more to do with how recently the appropriated idea has been created. I mean, no one gets mad when someone reuses Robin Hood for the xmillionth time. But when you appropriate a work that still in the best seller lists? That's a lot harder to excuse.
     
  11. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    WHOA!! I did not bring it up you did. I was just looking for clarification as I have been following this conversation, out of curiosity. I have not read the magicians (not reading the magicians is the source of my curiosity) and am trying to see the negative and positive aspects of each argument in its whole.

    I am just asking you to clarify what you mean in this whole, "it's this, but not plagiarizing, fanfic" argument.
     
  12. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Became a Faceless Man

    Sorry, I thought we were discussing the Sawyer/ Finn example you put forth and was asking your opinion as to what you thought your own example was.

    To me it's not plagiarism (though plagiarism does live on the same apartment complex), but it's certainly a derivative work, which is to say not original. It may be legal, but it sure ain't right.
     
  13. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    No, I was offering as an alternative example to what you were describing.

    Edit: one I would understand having not read magicians.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  14. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    Well everything is derivative, ( Unless you invented a new language without ever meeting a human) but that's not the same as saying unoriginal.

    Hey more curiosity, for anyone to answer. Is the TV show a good interpretation of the book?.

    I already stated I didn't like the TV show, but is it a good representation?
     
  15. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater Journeyed there and back again

    A bit of topic but that is actually is something I would really want to read. I guess it is a bit like Tad Williams Otherland series (I like all his other stuff but quit this one after one book) but IMO this is better.
     
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  16. ExTended

    ExTended Ran bridges next to Kaladin

    Matticus, a question for you, since this thread continues to be tiresome.

    Is a hypothetical detective fiction book written in 2014, which has totally original characters, plot and setting, but happens to mention that the main character was a fan of the Sherlock Holmes books as a kid( and ends with bringing up Sherlock Holmes right then and there), a derivative work of the old Sherlock Holmes books?

    If yes - then by your logic The Magicians could be a derivative work of Narnia. If no - then, it's quite obvious, isn't it?

    A simple yes or no from you would suffice.
     
  17. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Became a Faceless Man

    If it's tiresome, then why are you encouraging me by replying?

    Rhetorical questions aside, you can wear your influences on your sleeves as an author. The show Elementary, for instance, is an American take on Sherlock Holmes with (I believe, I haven't watched it) a female Watson. But there's still the Sherlock/ Watson dynamic, complete with mystery de jour per week. The work is clearly derivative of the original, but at least has the good form to not claim to be original itself. Because it's playing with core conceits of Sherlock Holmes; things everyone immediately identifies with the original series.

    So yeah, have a mystery series where the main character is aware/ inspired by Holmes. Great. You've got a starting point there that I'm all in for. But once you have an assistant whose sole purpose is there to work as a proxy for the audience so the genius protag can espouse his/ her theories, I'm going to raise an eyebrow. And if your protag starts using specifically deductive reasoning to solve the case, I'm going to call foul.

    To me, using a conceit from another writer and then saying the characters in your own work, which is clearly derivative, are aware of it just screams of lampshading.

    So no, explaining your similarity by just saying the characters are aware of it is not an out. It's an excuse. For lazy writing.

    And if you're going to be a lazy writer, which is to say someone playing with another author's ideas, at least own up to it.
     
  18. ExTended

    ExTended Ran bridges next to Kaladin

    How are the characters the same - you've never explained which character is supposedly similar to another character from another series and how they are similar.

    Two people not of France, but knowling of its existence, and visiting France at some point of their lives does not mean the people are similar. Chances are - they are as different as any two people you can pick from the 6 billion of us living on this planet.

    Explain the reasons for your conclusions, not just what they are, and then maybe, just maybe, your points might start to make sense.

    The analogy in me previous post is the perfect representations between the similaries of The Magicians and Narnia. If you cannot say it's derivative, then I guess we have our answer. Still, feel free to answer me, with some solid arguments, not with personal opinions.
     
  19. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Became a Faceless Man

    I'm going to have to say that I liked the show a lot better (obviously not a fan of the book, though I do love to discuss it). I think it has a lot to do with other writers instilling traditional tropes/ narrative devices into a decidedly/ intentionally non-traditional story. So though it's made up of very similar material, it's woven into (in my opinion) better patterns. If nothing else, the show enjoyably kills a few hours rather than being aggravating.

    All this aside, has anyone on the forum read/ watched The Magicians without having read Harry Potter/ Narnia? I know that's too much to ask, but I would love to get the perspective of someone who has consumed this series out of context of the other/ previous series.
     
  20. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Became a Faceless Man

    Okay then, it's derivative. Decidedly so. So much so that it has to make excuses for itself. Because it knows it's doing so.
     

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