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Martian Chronicles
January 30, 2012 10:29 PM   Subscribe

In Martian Chronicles, a young-adult novella by Cory Doctorow, colonists leave a bloated earth and head towards the economic promise land of Mars. There's a fascinating spin on this tale that isn't summarize-able so go listen to it. Part 1, 2, 3.
posted by Taft (132 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sorry Cory, you're a brilliant author in your own right, but you can't appropriate one of Ray Bradbury's seminal titles any more than you can name your next novel about extra-dimensional entities that feed off the the information entropy gradient found in trans-pacific telco cables 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Yes yes re-purposing of cultural landmarks is a postmodern form of tribute and sampling and mashup and dubstep and go fuck yourself.
posted by clarknova at 10:41 PM on January 30, 2012 [93 favorites]


Is it trolling to wonder what Bradbury would/will think of this?
posted by stinkycheese at 10:43 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


extra-dimensional entities that feed off the the information entropy gradient found in trans-pacific telco cables 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:45 PM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


I heard Cory talking about this on his own podcast, Doug Loves Movies.
posted by mintcake! at 10:46 PM on January 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


Yeah, the title is confusing, and somewhat irreverent. It makes Fahrenheit 911 look subtle by comparison.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:51 PM on January 30, 2012


I see these aren't "THE Martian Chronicles", but rather, generically, SOME "Martian Chronicles". So it's okay.

Also, please purchase my new comic, "A Superman".
posted by scrowdid at 10:52 PM on January 30, 2012 [54 favorites]


SPOILERSZ (or TL;DR moral of the story)
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Libertarian society isn't quite as awesome in real life as it is in video games.
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posted by Winnemac at 10:53 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


clarknova, have some Whuffie for that comment.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:58 PM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


How dare that bastard rip off Lord British.
posted by benzenedream at 10:59 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


If only there were a transcript of the story.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:24 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry Cory, you're a brilliant author in your own right, but you can't appropriate one of Ray Bradbury's seminal titles any more than you can name your next novel about extra-dimensional entities that feed off the the information entropy gradient found in trans-pacific telco cables 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

This seems to be a bit of A Thing at the moment - Cory also wrote short stories called 'To Go Boldly' and 'I, Row-Boat' (plus 'Little Brother'); John Scalzi has novels called 'The Android's Dream' and 'The High Castle', there's Charlie Stross' Laundry series, which doesn't reference anything in the titles, but is obviously incredibly referential otherwise...I'm sure someone else can suggest lots more examples...
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:00 AM on January 31, 2012


Unfortunately this hits a mefi sweetspot for attracting griefy, threadshitting comments, to the point where you're probably regretting having posted it right now, because it's actually a pretty neat little story. Probably a little more deserving of a Heinleinish title than a Bradburyish, but there you go.
posted by Artw at 12:16 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


As far as repurposed titles go - I love this version of Little Lost Robot.
posted by Artw at 12:20 AM on January 31, 2012


colonists leave a bloated earth and head towards the economic promise land of Mars.

And this time, instead of finding primitive peoples that could easily be subdued and enslaved, the Martians turned on their ray-guns and blasted the colonist's ships from the sky - one at a time as they came within range. The End.
posted by three blind mice at 12:44 AM on January 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


IIRC Doctorow did a bunch of stories with title variants on I, Robot, but I, Row-boat is my favorite.
posted by Artw at 1:01 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


In other sci-fi news, when is somebody going to make a movie of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, or Stranger in a Strange Land?
posted by thewalrus at 1:17 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


This seems to be a bit of A Thing at the moment - Cory also wrote short stories called 'To Go Boldly' and 'I, Row-Boat' (plus 'Little Brother'); John Scalzi has novels called 'The Android's Dream' and 'The High Castle', there's Charlie Stross' Laundry series, which doesn't reference anything in the titles, but is obviously incredibly referential otherwise...I'm sure someone else can suggest lots more examples... posted by Infinite Jest at 7:00 on January 31 [+] [!]

Eponypropriate.
posted by him at 1:41 AM on January 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


"John Scalzi has novels called 'The Android's Dream' and 'The High Castle'"

I have a novel called The Android's Dream, and vaporware called The High Castle. The latter was contracted but not written (I eventually gave them something else for that contract). I'll get around to it eventually. That said, my next novel is called Redshirts, which is obviously referential of something.

I think me and Cory and Charlie are well aware we work in a genre with its own history, and have fun with that fact.
posted by jscalzi at 1:54 AM on January 31, 2012 [17 favorites]


And this time, instead of finding primitive peoples that could easily be subdued and enslaved, the Martians turned on their ray-guns and blasted the colonist's ships from the sky - one at a time as they came within range. The End.

this is the theme of a surprising number of early and pretty darn good p k dick short stories, before he discovered pink laser beam jesus.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:58 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Earth-That-Was couldn't support our numbers...

Oh wait, wrong pastiche, sorry.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:09 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


So when they get to Mars, the find Walt Disney?
posted by jdfan at 2:53 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I knew that he did or didn't at least get Bradbury's permission, I would have an opinion about this. Without that information, I can't hink one way or the other about it. Does anyone know?

That said, my son and his posse have been in talks for a few years with Bradbury regarding rebooting The Illustrated Man. He's spent some time with him and says that he is a delightful and interesting individual.
posted by HuronBob at 2:58 AM on January 31, 2012


Unfortunately this hits a mefi sweetspot for attracting griefy, threadshitting comments --- What Cory needs is a good pseudonym.
posted by crunchland at 3:25 AM on January 31, 2012


I have a novel called The Android's Dream, and vaporware called The High Castle. ...That said, my next novel is called Redshirts,

Didn't realise the status of The High Castle - that's what I get for doing a quick lookup on Wikipedia. I'd forgotten about Redshirts, too - thanks. And if I wasn't clear in my first comment, I certainly wasn't trying to be negative about any of those works, just offering an observation that 'Martian Chronicles' wasn't the only recent example (FWIW, haven't read yours yet, enjoy the Laundry stories and think 'To Go Boldly' is great both as pastiche and at saying something new and interesting about its subject).
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:26 AM on January 31, 2012


The big difference between this and the Laundry is that Lovecraft loved to share his toys, and were he still with us, would have written in cstross as the ancient Valusian Seer Charl Ztroz in his next story.

The problem here is that the title of a seminal work has been outright stolen by a much lesser light than the original author. I'd bet he had his EFF buddy lawyers check to see if Bradbury, in his 80's now, had a registered trademark or not. What a dick move. If he had some real balls, and not pretend ones, he'd have called it Six Flags over Mars. Or Pepsi Cola, the Novel.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:30 AM on January 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


And while Android's Dream was a fine novel, it was cheapened by it's irrellevant coat-tail riding of PKD's brilliant title. There. I said it and I'm not sorry.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:35 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I waiting for 'Fuck Me, Cory Doctorow' sung by Violet Blue.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:41 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Arguments against the subject of the post:

Yes yes re-purposing of cultural landmarks is a postmodern form of tribute and sampling and mashup and dubstep and go fuck yourself.
--actually, "go fuck yourself" isn't an argument

Also, please purchase my new comic, "A Superman". No, wait, this is a... grammar joke? I'm not sure?

If he had some real balls, and not pretend ones, he'd have called it Six Flags over Mars

Were you thinking of his first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom? Used a lot of Disney trademarks and Disney didn't seem to care.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:44 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


--actually, "go fuck yourself" isn't an argument

No, it isn't. It's a position statement.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:48 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah wow... there's absolutely nothing wrong with reusing a title, or a variation on a title. I don't really understand how this is even riling people up, to be honest. It's not like it's called 'The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury by Cory Doctorow.'

Winnemac: Libertarian society isn't quite as awesome in real life as it is in video games.

As anyone who follows Eve Online can tell you, libertarian society doesn't even work in video games!
posted by Kattullus at 4:52 AM on January 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


How does a planet become bloated anyway?
posted by oddman at 4:52 AM on January 31, 2012


Good grief, such pearl-clutching. Heaven forfend that any of you should encounter a musical genre called "hip hop" whose practitioners often adopt pseudonyms based on Star Trek characters or cult comic strips--you'll be beside yourselves, I'm sure.

Look, people. Writers like Doctorow and Scalzi aren't stealing jack from shit; they're using deliberate, obvious allusions to very well-known classic sf works partially in tribute and partially as an acknowledgement as to how these works have profoundly shaped the genre and their own work. Doctorow isn't "stealing" in any meaningful sense of the word. If this really bothers you, I'm sure that there's someone associated with Ralph Ellison's estate that you can bother on behalf of H.G. Wells' estate regarding The Invisible Man.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:56 AM on January 31, 2012 [17 favorites]


How does a planet become bloated anyway?

By eating too many beans. Many, many plates of them.
posted by panaceanot at 5:03 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Heaven forfend that any of you should encounter a musical genre called "hip hop"

If someone put out a rap album titled "The Bigger and the Deffer" or "A Blueprint" there would be blood on the streets before sundown.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:06 AM on January 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's not like it's called 'The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury by Cory Doctorow.'

Only Gene Wolfe could get away with that.
posted by aught at 5:06 AM on January 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


I've heard the lead character is a declawed kitten.
posted by The Monkey at 5:07 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


No one seemed mad when The Replacements did it.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 5:14 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Writers like Doctorow and Scalzi aren't stealing jack from shit; they're using deliberate, obvious allusions to very well-known classic sf works partially in tribute and partially as an acknowledgement as to how these works have profoundly shaped the genre and their own work.

Yes, and we don't like it.
posted by Edogy at 5:16 AM on January 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


To me, Cory's appropriation of the title irks me greatly, given his famed "copyfighting" stance. His use of "Martian Chronicles", to me, just seems to almost be a "I fuckin' dare you" taunt to Bradbury's lawyers (or the publisher) to start an IP row, in order to further elevate Cory's anti-IP arguments and get his light shining even brighter in that crowd.

It just seems to be an unnecessary move, except, perhaps, in the name of attention-whoring.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:37 AM on January 31, 2012 [14 favorites]


If someone put out a rap album titled "The Bigger and the Deffer" or "A Blueprint" there would be blood on the streets before sundown.

Man, you're not going to like the history of jazz and blues.
posted by jaduncan at 5:37 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry Cory, you're a brilliant author in your own right, but you can't appropriate one of Ray Bradbury's seminal titles any more than you can name your next novel about extra-dimensional entities that feed off the the information entropy gradient found in trans-pacific telco cables 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

How The Replacements wish somebody had told them that when they named their third studio album, which Rolling Stone declared the 15th best of the 1980's, "Let It Be."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:38 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


How The Replacements wish somebody had told them that when they named their third studio album, which Rolling Stone declared the 15th best of the 1980's, "Let It Be."

Or the Manics when they released "The Holy Bible". That was a confusing day at the Vatican, let me tell you.
posted by jaduncan at 5:39 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


And while Android's Dream was a fine novel, it was cheapened by it's irrellevant coat-tail riding of PKD's brilliant title.

Yeah, PKD himself would never have done that.
posted by rory at 5:58 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wait a minute. Are you telling me that something new which references something old, is upsetting people on the internet?!
posted by Fizz at 6:00 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


His use of "Martian Chronicles", to me, just seems to almost be a "I fuckin' dare you" taunt to Bradbury's lawyers

Actually, supposing that the references benefit the story somehow, he doesn't need a lawsuit; he's made some evidence that copying produces new stuff worth producing.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:07 AM on January 31, 2012


Yes yes re-purposing of cultural landmarks is a postmodern form of tribute and sampling and mashup and dubstep and go fuck yourself.

Didn't James Joyce write a novel called Ulysses? Isn't C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces a reworking of Lucius Apuleius' story about Cupid and Psyche? How many versions of Crestien de Troyes' Perceval (the Grail story) are there? How many Tristan and Isoldas? How many takes on Euripides' Phaedra? Did Shakespeare write any plays that haven't been reworked in other genres?

There's nothing particularly postmodern about this. People have been doing this as long as there's been literature. It just means that science fiction is mature enough to have it own classics that people reference and play off of this way.

I realize that Doctorow is a controversial figure, and I hope this is really meant as just "fuck Cory". If you mean this as matter of principle, think of the corner your backing yourself into. Seriously, fuck Joyce, fuck Lewis, fuck Eschenbach, fuck Chaucer, fuck Seneca, fuck Racine ...? This position, if taken seriously, would eliminate a lot of literature.
posted by nangar at 6:09 AM on January 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


IIRC Doctorow did a bunch of stories with title variants on I, Robot, but I, Row-boat is my favorite.

He ripped that off from Harlan Ellison, IIRC.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:14 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, PKD himself would never have done that.

You mean Donald Wollheim, his editor at Ace, right? And you're aware that it's a crummy title?

f you mean this as matter of principle, think of the corner your backing yourself into.

The "slippery slope" is a logical fallacy. Clever references are one thing, but this is a problem for two reasons:

1) It's SyFy cheesey, along the lines of the "Transmorphers" or putting out a "Thor" movie on cable the day a big-budget Marvel property hits the big screen. Yes you can do it, but people think less of you.

2) It shows he doesn't take his own story seriously. It's a cheap throwaway stunt title, so why should I read the cheap, throwaway story that goes with it? What? What's that? It's not a cheap throwaway story? Then there's a problem with the title, because the content will be =forever= overshadowed by what the title is so "cleverly" referencing. It will only be known as the story that wasn't The Martian Chronicles but said it was.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:22 AM on January 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


So here's the book that contains Doctorow's short story. And here's the Amazon blurb, which reads like it might be the book's own blurb:

Mars! The Red Planet! For generations, people have wondered what it would be like to travel to and live there. That curiosity has inspired some of the most durable science fiction, including Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and the work of Isaac Asimov. Now the award-winning anthologist Jonathan Strahan has brought together thirteen original stories to explore the possibilities. After reading Life on Mars, readers will never look at the fourth planet from the sun the same way again.

What's the bet that the editor's introduction talks about Bradbury's book? And what's the bet that Doctorow's story, in that context, makes perfect sense as an allusion to the collection's inspiration?

But let's preserve SF landmarks in aspic by all means. I'm sure the SF authors of tomorrow will be happy enough to allude to Shakespeare or W. B. Yeats instead.
posted by rory at 6:23 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I see these aren't "THE Martian Chronicles", but rather, generically, SOME "Martian Chronicles"

It seems to say "The Martian Chronicles" on his web page: Main Fiction: The Martian Chronicles Pt 1 by Cory Doctorow 01:50
posted by DarkForest at 6:27 AM on January 31, 2012


You mean Donald Wollheim, his editor at Ace, right? And you're aware that it's a crummy title?

Yeah, of course it's a crummy title. But if Dick hadn't been happy to go along with his editor's suggestion, he presumably could have objected. (I can't remember enough of Sutin's bio to remember one way or the other.)

Okay, so how about A Scanner Darkly? Or are Shakespeare allusions okay? He wasn't an important SF writer, after all.
posted by rory at 6:28 AM on January 31, 2012


How does a planet become bloated anyway?

It's the comets. Eat a few of those, and you wouldn't believe the gas.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:32 AM on January 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


It seems to say "The Martian Chronicles" on his web page

If you look at the table of contents on the Amazon page for the Mars anthology you'll see that there is no "The." The website linked to by the FPP is not the author's.
posted by nobody at 6:38 AM on January 31, 2012


He's spent some time with him and says that he is a delightful and interesting individual.

My single encounter with the man was equally delightful. He patiently signed books and chatted with fans for hours. Then, at the dinner for him, he turned down the entree and asked for a burger and fries. So someone went out to get him a burger and fries. He still gets points in my book for that.

Nangar gets it right. However dickish or non-dickish or stunty Doctorow's choice of the title might have been, in principle it's no different than what thousands of writers, artists, and musicians have done throughout history.

(Aside: To me, "Doctorow" refers to E.L. I say, it takes some nerve to profit off another writer's name!)
posted by octobersurprise at 6:43 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


In other sci-fi news, when is somebody going to make a movie of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, or Stranger in a Strange Land?

I would go see the first, but the rough reception of "Starship Troopers" may have dampened interest in other Heinlein movies. (I would also like to see "Tunnel in the Sky" do well and lead to greater interest in scifi novels-into-movies, or "Citizen of the Galaxy" -- but I'd feel guilty taking Libertarians' and teens' money like that.)

As for the second, the teens who would want to watch all the nudie bits wouldn't be old enough to get into the theaters (so the studio would lose money) but would instead all torrent it….thereby making Heinlein a proof of the MPAA's position, and causing him to begin spinning (faster?) in his grave.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:50 AM on January 31, 2012


Okay, so how about A Scanner Darkly? Or are Shakespeare allusions okay? He wasn't an important SF writer, after all.

Shakespeare wrote a play called "A Scanner Darkly?" Wow, I was not aware. Oh, wait, you're making a strawman argument. Nevermind.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:53 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look, people. Writers like Doctorow and Scalzi aren't stealing jack from shit; they're using deliberate, obvious allusions to very well-known classic sf works partially in tribute and partially as an acknowledgement as to how these works have profoundly shaped the genre and their own work.

But the thing is, when a current writer either post-modernly or ironically or as a tribute appropriates the name of a classic work with something new he or she has written, it dramatically raises the stakes on the work that's doing the appropriation. So it better be something damn worthy of the appropriation, or the writer's going to look like an opportunist, or just a damn fool. Ellison's Invisible Man, cited up thread, would be an example of a work that stands up to the challenge.

Not having read Doctorow's new work, I can't say whether he's up to the job or not (Down and Out... and Eastern Standard Tribe were pretty good, though not great, books). Also, it's pretty clear that Doctorow operates under the "there's no such thing as bad press" mindset, so all this angst about his titles possibly being offensive to the genre or whatever might be playing right into his market-savvy hand; I mean, we'll all definitely remember the title of his new book now, right?

Also, it seems like John Scalzi's PKD-allusive titles are more oblique than having the chutzpah to call your new work Martian Chronicles, so I don't know about lumping those in as part of the same issue.
posted by aught at 6:57 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shakespeare wrote a play called "A Scanner Darkly?" Wow, I was not aware. Oh, wait, you're making a strawman argument. Nevermind.

Yes, I got my allusions mixed up. A Scanner Darkly references 1 Corinthians - and therefore, one might argue, the most important SF/fantasy book of all.
posted by rory at 7:04 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


nangar: Didn't James Joyce write a novel called Ulysses? Isn't C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces a reworking of Lucius Apuleius' story about Cupid and Psyche? How many versions of Crestien de Troyes' Perceval (the Grail story) are there? How many Tristan and Isoldas? How many takes on Euripides' Phaedra? Did Shakespeare write any plays that haven't been reworked in other genres?

Ray Bradbury may be 91, but the difference to the above is that The Martian Chronicles isn't an ancient piece of culturally-shared literature. Yet, anyway. Ray is still alive and still making money from his novels.

Even before I clicked through to the comments, this immediately struck me as tone-deaf and disrespectful, not as a clever homage. It may not be illegal (not my field), but I would think it's professional courtesy not to lift a title, word for word, from a living author.
posted by gilrain at 7:04 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


having the chutzpah to call your new work Martian Chronicles

It was a short story written for a specific collection, not a novel or a trilogy or some other major statement of the author's importance.

How about if he titled a blog post Martian Chronicles? Would that be okay? Just checking the boundaries here.
posted by rory at 7:09 AM on January 31, 2012


Ray Bradbury may be 91, but the difference to the above is that The Martian Chronicles isn't an ancient piece of culturally-shared literature. Yet, anyway. Ray is still alive and still making money from his novels.

Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles was published 61 years before Doctorow's short story.

Bradbury published The Golden Apples of the Sun 54 years after the poem by Yeats from which he drew its title.
posted by rory at 7:13 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


rory: Bradbury published The Golden Apples of the Sun 54 years after the poem by Yeats from which he drew its title.

Yeats, however, was fourteen years dead at that point. My argument had less to do with time passed and more to do with respecting living authors.
posted by gilrain at 7:17 AM on January 31, 2012



Is it any good, or are we just gonna argue about the first two words ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:22 AM on January 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


Also, the title of the Yeats poem was "The Wind Among the Reeds". "The Golden Apples of the Sun" was taken from a line within the poem. I feel that that's a bit different. I'd have no problem if Doctorow's book was titled after a turn of phrase he liked from the novel. Using the title of the novel itself for his own title is what irks.
posted by gilrain at 7:23 AM on January 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Living authors can speak for themselves, surely. Has Bradbury complained in the nine months since the story was published? Maybe Cory can tell us, seeing as how he linked to this thread on Twitter.
posted by rory at 7:23 AM on January 31, 2012


Also, the title of the Yeats poem was "The Wind Among the Reeds".

No, the title was "The Song of Wandering Aengus". It was part of a collection called The Wind Among the Reeds.

And it's Doctorow's short story, not book. Which makes a difference.
posted by rory at 7:25 AM on January 31, 2012


I'm not claiming that Bradbury would object at all, actually. He might, or he might not. I'm just trying to explain why, upon seeing it, my very first reaction was very negative.
posted by gilrain at 7:27 AM on January 31, 2012


The origin of the whole repurposed title thing:

Bradbury goes nuts over Fahrenheit 9/11 title
Ray Bradbury has ripped into Michael Moore, calling him an "asshole" for "stealing" the title for Fahrenheit 9/11 from Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451. Yeesh. You'd think that someone who's worked all his life in a genre where practically everyone has written a book or story called "Nightfall" would have figured out by now that there's no copyright in title, period, end of story. God, I hate it when my literary heroes turn out to have feet of clay. This is even worse than the time that he dismissed the Internet as a scam and compared MMOs to pinball machines.


(Someone also helpfully points out that "Something Wicked This Way Comes", "I Sing the Body Electric" and "The Women" are all lifts)

Then, later:
In spring 2004, in the wake of Ray Bradbury pitching a tantrum over Michael Moore appropriating the title of Fahrenheit 451 to make Fahrenheit 9/11, I conceived of a plan to write a series of stories with the same titles as famous sf shorts, which would pick apart the totalitarian assumptions underpinning some of sf's classic narratives.

TBH I'm a little suprised to see one cropping up now, asd AFAIK he hasn't done it for a while.

/awaits total MeFi meltdown having introduced the eeeeevil Michael Moore to the conversation.
posted by Artw at 7:28 AM on January 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh dear, you're all going to pan my story "Total Recall of The Chronicles of Moving Red Mars on Desolation Road" without even reading it.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 7:28 AM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Total Recall of The Chronicles of Moving Red Mars on Desolation Road"

Now that's an elevator pitch. ;)
posted by jaduncan at 7:30 AM on January 31, 2012


Thanks, Artw. Well, so from his own mouth Doctorow admits the title is, indeed, meant to be a thumbing of the nose at the stated preference of Bradbury not to have his titles used for other works. He's making a point by doing so, of course, but I'd say the classier move is to let the 91-year-old author have his way for just a few more years, no?

I can see the opposing viewpoint, though.
posted by gilrain at 7:31 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's almost like the ("fair", almost) use of material for critique or parody.
posted by jaduncan at 7:32 AM on January 31, 2012


Also, rory, The Martian Chronicles itself has a chapter, "There Will Come Soft Rains", which in turn is based on a Sara Teasdale poem of the same title.

aught, I basically agree with you, but I don't think that the bar has to be set particularly high and that it's dependent on the context of the original work and the degree of appropriation. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is certainly much more derivative of Hamlet than just appropriating the title from the body of the play, but given that it's a very good play that works on a number of levels, no one seems to mind. I doubt that Doctorow aspires to such lofty levels for his own work; it's just a short story in a larger collection (wait, what was it called again? Quick, someone call Bowie's lawyer! Although, if he hasn't sued Peter Schilling...).
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:34 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Total Recall of The Chronicles of Moving Red Mars on Desolation Road"

That's the new title for Disney's John Carter movie.

(They had managed to get it down to just J.C., after hearing that "John" was patriacal and might offend feminists and "Carter" might offend Michael Caine fans. However after some test screenings in the evangelical south some new problems with thsi title quickly emerged)
posted by Artw at 7:35 AM on January 31, 2012


Yeats wrote science fiction? Then I guess it was terrible of Bradbury. Oh, wait, another straw man. Cross-cultural influences are great. There's a documentary called "Waiting for Superman", but it's a documentary, using Superman and Waiting For Godot as metaphors and a cultural markers. It's not actually a comic book or a play about people waiting for someone named Superman.

This isn't a cross-cultural influence. It's a science fiction author swiping the title of a work by a much more respected and talented author for a stupid publicity stunt.

Think I'll start an Electronics Freedom Foundation to publish free schematics online. Make your donations check out to EFF and send it to us.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:37 AM on January 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


jaduncan: It's almost like the ("fair", almost) use of material for critique or parody.

I wasn't calling for legal action. I was more echoing The Dude: "You're not wrong, Cory; you're just an asshole!" I'll bow out, now.
posted by gilrain at 7:38 AM on January 31, 2012


IIRC Doctorow did a bunch of stories with title variants on I, Robot, but I, Row-boat is my favorite.

He ripped that off from Harlan Ellison, IIRC.


Or possibly The Onion.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:39 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thanks, Artw. Well, so from his own mouth Doctorow admits the title is, indeed, meant to be a thumbing of the nose at the stated preference of Bradbury not to have his titles used for other works. He's making a point by doing so, of course, but I'd say the classier move is to let the 91-year-old author have his way for just a few more years, no?

Yes, thanks, Artw, I'd forgotten all about that, but remember seeing it at the time. In that case, it's a much more amusing title from Cory, and as for classiness, Bradbury lost that battle when he moaned about Fahrenheit 9/11. And I say that as someone who ranks The Illustrated Man as one of the most influential books of his childhood.

Yeats wrote science fiction? Then I guess it was terrible of Bradbury. Oh, wait, another straw man.

My points have been in response to all the people complaining upthread that Doctorow dared to reference a work by the mighty Bradbury, who is supposedly a much better writer and therefore off-limits. Since when is any writer off-limits for referencing, homage or critique? And what do genre boundaries have to do with it? Apart from the reference being unintelligible to anyone who doesn't read SF, that is.
posted by rory at 7:44 AM on January 31, 2012


let the 91-year-old author have his way for just a few more years, no?

Or you could treat him like a thinking human being who is not dead yet, and engage with him any way you see fit, be it through parody, critique, awestruck adulation, or whatever. Consciously waiting until he's dead to criticize his position would surely be pretty gutless.
posted by rory at 7:53 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


An example of a perfectly reasonable appropriation when referencing another work but telling a completely different story is to alter the title but keep the reference clear: The Chronicles of Mars, The Red Planet Chronicles, The Martian Books, etc

An alternative that is also reasonable is to title the new work referencing something from the other work: The Settlers, There Will Come Soft Rains, etc

But what I object to (and I think some of the others do as well) is using the exact same title to tell a related, but completely different story. It's rude. If it was rude to just the author of the original work, I wouldn't care, but it's rude to the readers of the original work as well. It sows confusion: "oh, you mean *that* Martian Chronicles", and reeks of trying to ride on the coat-tails of the previous works success.

For example, I'm fine with all the different interpretations of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", because they try to tell essentially the same story and most make it clear that it's taking liberty with interpretation. What would not be cool is to make a play called "A Midsummer Night's Dream" that had a completely different plot altogether, but just happened to be set in a fairy forest.
posted by forforf at 7:54 AM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


In other sci-fi news, when is somebody going to make a movie of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, or Stranger in a Strange Land?

There was a Moon is a Harsh Mistress movie in development a few years ago, but I think it's dead. Tim Minear (Angel, Firefly, Wonderfalls) wrote a script for it anyway.
posted by kmz at 7:55 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


FWIW it's "Martian Chronicles" plural, no "the", for reasons that are apparent in the story.
posted by Artw at 7:58 AM on January 31, 2012


I don't really understand how this is even riling people up, to be honest.

It's Cory Doctorow. People here have a thing about him. I can pretty well guarantee if it was anyone else (with the exception, perhaps, of Bruce Sterling), this thread would be half as long and have a third the GRAAR.

For what its worth, the story itself seemed pretty good. I haven't read much of anything by Doctorow since Little Brother, due to finding the latter a bit too preachy and unconvincing. This was refreshing.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:01 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I'm a regular donator to the EFF, and like Doctorow's SF, especially "To Go Boldly." I'd probably have read and enjoyed the story, but won't, as I'm pissed off over the stunt, and if he tries to tie it into his work with the EFF, they will get no check from me this year. But no publicity is bad publicity, yaddayadda.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:09 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is the origin of Metafilter's axegrinding against Cory Doctorow anyway? There must of been a time when his name could be mentioned without a total meltdown. The Violet Blue thing may have been the turning point, but he was barely involved in that.
posted by Artw at 8:11 AM on January 31, 2012


Slap*happy:

"And while Android's Dream was a fine novel, it was cheapened by it's irrelevant coat-tail riding of PKD's brilliant title. There. I said it and I'm not sorry."

You don't have to be sorry, at least not on my account. When one plays with titles like that, one recognizes the potential for people to be annoyed. I've actually gotten less grief for it than I thought I might.

But of course, I'm not sorry I used the title, either. From my point of view the title wasn't irrelevant, since it refers to a breed of sheep in the story which is central to the plot, whose name is, of course, a direct allusion to PDK's book (although most people in the book itself don't get the reference). But I knew people reading the book would be likely to get the allusion, and I think it's fun to put things like that in there. It's why I have the soldiers in The Ghost Brigades reading Frankenstein and Starship Troopers and Ender's Game, for example, and why in Fuzzy Nation (itself a reinterpretation of Little Fuzzy), I have the fuzzies watch Return of the Jedi and cheer on the ewoks.

It's easy to dismiss this as nerd fan service, because of course it's what it is. It's also a way of making the point as an author that these things exist in your worldview and that you are as cognizant of them as the reader, and that you're perfectly fine in acknowledging this shared understanding. Some people like it; some people don't. I like it, so it goes into the books (and occasionally, into the titles).
posted by jscalzi at 8:31 AM on January 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


What is the origin of Metafilter's axegrinding against Cory Doctorow anyway?

That's been puzzling me too... and so, Meta
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:36 AM on January 31, 2012


What is the origin of Metafilter's axegrinding against Cory Doctorow anyway?

Cynical answer: He hasn't used his MetaFilter account since 2006, so people feel abandoned by him.

Non-cynical answer: Doctorow pushes the self-promotion envelope pretty hard and that often pisses people off.
posted by aught at 8:36 AM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd probably have read and enjoyed the story, but won't, as I'm pissed off over the stunt, and if he tries to tie it into his work with the EFF, they will get no check from me this year.

See, I'm barely acquainted with Doctorow (Cory, that is), haven't read his fiction, probably won't, but can't quite grasp what he's guilty of besides, maybe, at worst, bad taste or self-aggrandizement. Sins enough, maybe, but it isn't as if he's committed lèse majesté. Bradbury's an enduring writer and The Martian Chronicles is a classic of 20th century fantasy. Neither are likely to be diminished by a short story by Cory Doctorow.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:36 AM on January 31, 2012


I'm sorry Cory, you're a brilliant author in your own right, but you can't appropriate one of Ray Bradbury's seminal titles any more than you can name your next novel about extra-dimensional entities that feed off the the information entropy gradient found in trans-pacific telco cables 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

I felt the same way when Mercedes Lackey reused the title "Foundation." Of course, no one objected to complaining about that--because it's Mercedes Lackey.

(Title reuse is legal, but also kind of stupid when it's a famous work?)

Anyway, this is YA SF. It's relevant to my interests. Yay! Only . . . is there a non-podcast version of this anywhere?

(From everything I know about YA SF, which is a lot, it's that teens don't listen to podcast stories. I'd like to review this, but possessing a 16-year-old's brain in a 28-year-old's body, I need a book version.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:38 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Title reuse is legal,

Well as long as your intention is not to con someone into buying something under false pretences (see 'passing off')..
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:49 AM on January 31, 2012


The arguments being used to bash Doctorow here are akin to the depth of arguments used to rationalize bigoted opinions.

'But this one is alive, so it's bad'
'He's stealing but the others aren't' (imo, none of them are stealing)
'He didn't make a clever use of the title'

The excuse-making to 'loophole' authors that the negative commenters like is offensive in the extreme. Grow up and stop bashing everything that happens to come from boing boing just because it came from there. We get it, a lot of Mefites don't like boingboing.

Maybe that should be in the FAQ so the thread shitting can end.
posted by Fuka at 8:53 AM on January 31, 2012


Honestly, I don't feel strongly either way about Doctorow (haven't even read him(, but pointing out the reused title doesn't seem like thread shitting at all to me. It seems like relevant conversation.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:55 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


For those of you who are not going to listen to or read the story, there's a game in Doctorow's story called "Martian Chronicles" which is presumably named after Bradbury's Martian Chronicles. I don't think this is disrespectful.
posted by nangar at 8:59 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is the origin of Metafilter's axegrinding against Cory Doctorow anyway?

It depends whether or not you can remember a time before email or not. CD has been a pretty constant, self-aggrandizing presence since basically the birth of the internet, and he can get tiresome after 15 years or so But he does good work sometimes, such as the recent SOPA/PIPA fight, and his lonely activism against similar Canadian copyright legislation.

But we're talking about Ray fucking Bradbury here. I may be an atheist, but there are some things and some people I regard with reverence. Hence the snark.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:03 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


But we're talking about Ray fucking Bradbury here. I may be an atheist, but there are some things and some people I regard with reverence. Hence the snark.

Then you probably won't enjoy my new album 'Kill Yr Idols'.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:06 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd be ok with your new album because your clear in your title. But, if your album was hair-band power ballads trashing my idols, and you titled the album "Back in Black", I'd think that'd be rude and stunt-ish. On the other hand, if you titled it "For Whom the Bell Tools"* I'd probably fall in love.

*This sentence was intended to be: On the other hand, if you titled it "For Whom the Bell Tolls" I'd cut you some slack for the double entendre that title allows.
However, a slight typo and I've now given you a new album title that rocks. You're Welcome.

posted by forforf at 9:15 AM on January 31, 2012


It seems like relevant conversation.

From the first comment: Yes yes re-purposing of cultural landmarks is a postmodern form of tribute and sampling and mashup and dubstep and go fuck yourself.

Those last three words are relevant conversation how? Find another author who gets that kind of vitriol at the top of the comments here. This isn't about relevant conversation, it's about a small portion of Metafilter demonizing someone they find 'tiresome.' IMO, it's immature, irrational and rude.
posted by Fuka at 9:18 AM on January 31, 2012


From the first comment: Yes yes re-purposing of cultural landmarks is a postmodern form of tribute and sampling and mashup and dubstep and go fuck yourself.

I read that as a dismissal of the counterarguments about title repurposing, etc., not as a comment that had anything to do with Doctorow himself.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:20 AM on January 31, 2012


But, if your album was hair-band power ballads trashing my idols, and you titled the album "Back in Black", I'd think that'd be rude and stunt-ish.

Provide me with a list of your idols and I'll get right on it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:30 AM on January 31, 2012


So, once everyone is done discussing whatever a boing boing is, anyone want to provide a link where I can read the damn thing, or do I have to sift through these multipart embedded hour long podcasts to know what everyone is talking about?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:39 AM on January 31, 2012


From what I can tell, there's no print version available online, though there is one in an anthology you can buy.

Which makes me insanely curious about the YA label, because it doesn't seem like it's being offered anywhere that teens are likely to read it. Can someone who has listened clue me in--is it teen protags that lend it to being labeled YA?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:42 AM on January 31, 2012


Yeah, it's got teen protags.
posted by nangar at 9:49 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks! Interesting--just noticed that the antho was published by Viking Juvenile. Might be worth a buy for me, then. Must investigate.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:58 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Over a hundred comments in and no-one has mentioned that the story is a post-cold war reinterpretation of Ender's Game? Seriously?

SPOILERS:

Child excels at video game. Child goes into space. Adults conspire and manipulate child. Child discovers that video game is real. Child rebels.

Key difference is that the video game isn't about repelling a mindless, collectivist invader, it's about corporate governance and diversified portfolio management.


That said, I enjoyed the story. It's definitely shallowly polemical and pretty simplistic but, you know, YA. What I'd enjoy seeing is a sarcastic take on the Space Libertarian trope along the lines of the film version of Starship Troopers, a completely deadpan skewering a perfect libertarian utopia. This, of course, would make The Hunger Games look like Swallows and Amazons, so it might not be the best idea unless we want to raise a generations of really, really bleak nerds.

BONUS SPOILERS:

Firefly takes place in the same universe as Star Trek. Seriously. It all fits, people! Wake up!
posted by stet at 10:31 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


pointing out the reused title doesn't seem like thread shitting at all to me. It seems like relevant conversation.

"Threadshitting" is a term for what happens when people disagree with you. "Relevant conversation" is when you don't feel strongly either way, or when you feel strongly but are open-minded.

What this has to do with boingboing I have no idea.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:35 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kattullus: "Yeah wow... there's absolutely nothing wrong with reusing a title, or a variation on a title. I don't really understand how this is even riling people up, to be honest. It's not like it's called 'The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury by Cory Doctorow.'"

My problem with it is that it takes a cultural icon's most seminal work--and I assure you that Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles is a seminal work that influenced many young readers, and future writers--and appropriates it entirely. It is not an homage, it's a fuck you.

Writing a work with a title that includes a cultural allusion is fine. It's an accepted mark of respect for the original. Even sampling, like hip hop artists do, gives a nod to the work that came first and then creates something new and different with it.

Writing a work in the same genre, with the same title entirely? That's a dick move.

The "slippery slope" is a logical fallacy. Clever references are one thing, but this is a problem for two reasons:

1) It's SyFy cheesey, along the lines of the "Transmorphers" or putting out a "Thor" movie on cable the day a big-budget Marvel property hits the big screen. Yes you can do it, but people think less of you.

2) It shows he doesn't take his own story seriously. It's a cheap throwaway stunt title, so why should I read the cheap, throwaway story that goes with it? What? What's that? It's not a cheap throwaway story? Then there's a problem with the title, because the content will be =forever= overshadowed by what the title is so "cleverly" referencing. It will only be known as the story that wasn't The Martian Chronicles but said it was."


Agreed, and well said.

rory: "Thanks, Artw. Well, so from his own mouth Doctorow admits the title is, indeed, meant to be a thumbing of the nose at the stated preference of Bradbury not to have his titles used for other works.

And what do genre boundaries have to do with it? Apart from the reference being unintelligible to anyone who doesn't read SF, that is.
"

octobersurprise: "Bradbury's an enduring writer and The Martian Chronicles is a classic of 20th century fantasy. Neither are likely to be diminished by a short story by Cory Doctorow."

This is the crux of the problem, though. People who are just beginning to read SciFi should not be confused at all which one of these works to read. And the way Doctorow has set this up, they could be.

Doctorow's made this a podcast, an internet-optimized work. He is well aware of the power of the internet for promotional purposes. You enter "Martian Chronicles" into Google, Google doesn't know that you are looking for the ground-breaking, landmark science fiction anthology Bradbury wrote half a century ago. It's not like you are actually asking a reference librarian which one you should read. With Google, or Bling or whatever search engine you use, you're just as likely to turn up Doctorow's work as Bradbury's.

On a purely emotional level, thats just wrong to me. It gives Doctorow's work the same standing as Bradbury's, when the two writers are not even close to being equals.

Make no mistake, giving his work the same title is a calculated act of promotion, intended to get people who normally wouldn't be interested in his stuff to start debates like this one, and move him right up in the page ranks.
posted by misha at 11:01 AM on January 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


With Google, or Bling or whatever search engine you use, you're just as likely to turn up Doctorow's work as Bradbury's.

That seems seriously unlikely. First Google result for "Martian Chronicles" is for the Wikipedia article. After that it's IMDB, Amazon and Google Books. Between them those are pretty much unshakeable.
posted by Artw at 11:26 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


As someone fairly unfamiliar with Doctorow but engaged in this thread's discussion, my take is similar to Slap*Happy's. I agree that many of the "arguments" offered in-thread to defend Doctorow's title choice are indeed straw men: the problem isn't the reference, it's the the title is almost identical. Additionally, you're talking about a living author, and a contemporary work which is still very much in the public conscious--the fact that each work is within the same genre creates further tension.

It would be like publishing a book of introspective, naturalistic poetry in 1850 and titling it "Lyrical Ballad." Illegal? Probably not. Morally reprehensible? Probably not. Cheap and/or tacky? I think so. Again, "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" is not a valid counterargument--different title, different kind of work (it's not an Elizabethan tragedy, in other words, or even a contemporary tragedy). Similarly, "Invisible Man" transcends the reference, and again, is not in the same genre. I think the fact that this is almost an identical title within the same genre riles people up, and understandably so.
posted by nonmerci at 11:47 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is far from the first time C. Doctorow has borrowed from a more famous author.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:48 AM on January 31, 2012


Make no mistake, giving his work the same title is a calculated act of promotion, intended to get people who normally wouldn't be interested in his stuff to start debates like this one, and move him right up in the page ranks.


I've never heard of this bozo before now, but I've read everything by Bradbury. I guess it's working.
posted by Avenger50 at 12:19 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cynical answer: He hasn't used his MetaFilter account since 2006, so people feel abandoned by him.

Non-cynical answer: Doctorow pushes the self-promotion envelope pretty hard and that often pisses people off.


He's pushed the self-promotion envelope so hard that he hasn't posted on Metafilter since 2006...

Sure, sometimes he posts on Boing Boing, which he co-edits, and the very appearance of his name there counts as self-promotion, or something. And sometimes people post about him on Metafilter, other people, not him, and that counts as Cory promotion too.

I haven't actually read any of his fiction yet, partly because Mefi criticisms had stifled my interest. But I kept liking his IP-related articles that cropped up in the Guardian, so a few months ago I loaded his first essay collection onto my Kindle and read it in one sitting. He's a good writer, and he's fighting the good fight.

Yes, Bradbury is still alive. We've established that Doctorow's use of the title was effectively a critique. Are we really suggesting that only certain kinds of criticism of authors are acceptable until they're dead? What if Bradbury wants to have a crack at Doctorow? Should the 91-year-old wait until the 40-year-old is dead?

This is the crux of the problem, though. People who are just beginning to read SciFi should not be confused at all which one of these works to read. And the way Doctorow has set this up, they could be.

Really? The young reader of SF who has made it far enough into the genre that they'll purchase an edited collection of YA stories about Mars won't ever have noticed Bradbury's book way up the list of great SF? They won't have noticed that same book lauded on the blurb for the edited collection they just bought?

It's not as if Ray Bradbury has a trademark on stories about Mars, which some of the objections about the stories having the same setting tread close to suggesting.

Still, at least you've all got me wanting to re-read The Martian Chronicles now. Maybe I'll try the UK edition, which isn't even called that.
posted by rory at 1:04 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


How does a planet become bloated anyway?

"bla bla, meta joke about the earth actually getting lighter "
posted by delmoi at 1:10 PM on January 31, 2012


It would be like publishing a book of introspective, naturalistic poetry in 1850 and titling it "Lyrical Ballad." Illegal? Probably not. Morally reprehensible? Probably not. Cheap and/or tacky? I think so.

In the years following the publication of Burns' Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect, dozens of (or more) minor poets, some of them popular at the time, used variations of Poems, chiefly in the ... to title their works.

People who are just beginning to read SciFi should not be confused at all which one of these works to read. And the way Doctorow has set this up, they could be.

It's almost inevitable that someone someday will read Doctorow's story before Bradbury's book and that their experience of Bradbury will be informed by this story in a way ours isn't. Short of placing Martian stories off limits to future writers, or retiring the title, there isn't much to be done about that. At some point, books stand or fall on their own. The Martian Chronicles is a great piece of American fantasy. I don't think the existence of a similarly named short story is going to make it any less great.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:26 PM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's not as if Ray Bradbury has a trademark on stories about Mars

I should bloody well hope not - I've never even met the guy.

sorry. sometimes I just can't resist those.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:28 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


>get home from school
>OH WOW 115 comments!
>I can't wait to read the discussion people are having about the story and the ethical issues addressed in it!
posted by Taft at 1:50 PM on January 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's almost inevitable that someone someday will read Doctorow's story before Bradbury's book and that their experience of Bradbury will be informed by this story in a way ours isn't.

This reminds me of people who thought David Lynch's film of Dune totally ripped off Star Wars' setting on a desert planet.
posted by aught at 2:03 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, the fact the linked recording was part of the StarShipSofa podcast reminds me to complain how I wish SSS would break out their short story recordings also to be available as a separate podcast from the rest of the (often VERY long) show. I'm not all that interested in their sf poetry and essays and reviews and the lengthy ramblings of the chatty and endearing but extremely talkative Tony C Smith, but I really like the audio versions of the short stories they include, and usually just wish I could listen only to those.

That is all.
posted by aught at 2:15 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


People who are just beginning to read SciFi should not be confused at all which one of these works to read. And the way Doctorow has set this up, they could be

I'm not sure you need to fear that the inclusion of a short story in a forgettable anthology called "Life on Mars" published in 2011 is effectively going to erase from history any trace of an anthology called "The Martian Chronicles" by one of science fiction's most celebrated authors that contains classic short stories like "There Will Come Soft Rains".

I am not terribly familiar with Doctorow, but judging by Wikipedia he is Canadian and born in the 1970s, so there's a good chance that like it was for me, in school Ray Bradbury short stories are on the curriculum. I've read plenty of Bradbury short stories, including There Will Come Soft Rains, The Veldt, and A Sound of Thunder without ever knowing what anthology they might be a part of. I'd never heard of The Martian Chronicles anthology before this thread. I don't read a lot of sci fi. I don't find it the least bit confusing that there is an anthology by Ray Bradbury with the same title as a short story by Cory Doctorow.
posted by Hoopo at 2:45 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


...Joyce...Lewis...de Troyes...Euripides...Eschenbach...Chaucer...Seneca...Racine...

...Doctorow.

Doctorow riffing on Bradbury is a state of affairs that can only bring about laughter and derision. James fuckin' Joyce riffing on fuckin' Homer the Ionian is...well, actually, that pretty much fit only for laughter and derision as well as Ulysses is a breathtaking catastrophe of a book. And yeah I ain't read much more'n twenty pages of that shit, FEEL IT BITCHES. That's right. You wasted a month of your life on that thing and have spent every second since then wondering why everything seems so relentlessly grey and odourless. That's because you had all your pleasure-juice sucked out of you.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:23 PM on January 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I will forgive CD if the damn story is any good at all. Quality is its own excuse. But the story sounds like its another one his goddamn YA fictions wherein some remarkably precoucious youth makes his in the world using his immense technopostivist faith in Internet related thingys and then meets some incredibly beautiful girl who is available and immeadiately falls in love in with him etc etc etc. Then I start vomiting.

Scalzi and Stross have made extensive reuse in some of their recent works...but they're fucking good at it. CD just writes the same YA empowerment wank over and over again.
posted by Chekhovian at 4:27 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've envisioned my own homage/parody/rewrite/um-just-took-the-title-of version of George Orwell's 1984.

The part where Emmanuel Goldstein's face appears in the video and everyone just starts yelling is the text of this thread.

(I can re-use my old jokes here, because everyone else does).
posted by ovvl at 4:39 PM on January 31, 2012


Then, at the dinner for him, he turned down the entree and asked for a burger and fries. So someone went out to get him a burger and fries. He still gets points in my book for that.

So he turned down the meal prepared in his honor and put people to more trouble so he could be his wacky, unconventional, refreshingly down-to-earth self? LMAO.
posted by jayder at 4:56 PM on January 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've envisioned my own homage/parody/rewrite/um-just-took-the-title-of version of George Orwell's 1984.

Haruki Murakami basically called his latest novel 1984. Maybe that's okay due to the use of a pun.
posted by dng at 6:53 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


So he turned down the meal prepared in his honor and put people to more trouble...

Yeah, what the heck? Sounds like a frickin' tool. Get a burger and fries on your own time, Mr. Writey-Man.
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:03 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


A nod and a wink to a well-known work which inspired the author is cool. If the reader is familiar with it, they get an extra layer of insight into the author and the story. If not, no harm.

Appropriating the name of a seminal work in the your genre without explicit acknowledgement is pretty fucking arrogant. It says you're not capable of nodding, winking, remixing, or subtle tributes. You just want eyeballs.

I'm not that familiar with Cory Doctorow's writing but I thought from his posts on BoingBoing that he was all about The Creative Commons philosophy, whose most permissive license terms still require attribution. By that principle he's a bit of a hypocrite.
posted by SakuraK at 10:00 PM on January 31, 2012


1Q84
posted by BurnChao at 11:49 PM on January 31, 2012


So he turned down the meal prepared in his honor and put people to more trouble so he could be his wacky, unconventional, refreshingly down-to-earth self?

The only trouble was calling a restaurant and sending someone several blocks to get a to-go order. Unexpected, but a little endearing. (He's old! He's Ray Bradbury! He wants a burger!) In retrospect, I still think it's funny. Now the M&Ms rider in his contract, that was trouble.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:40 AM on February 1, 2012


(He's old! He's Ray Bradbury! He wants a burger!)

What's the bet that some of these later responses had forgotten you were talking about Bradbury and were assuming that Mr. Writey-Man was Doctorow. (Well, I'd forgotten, anyway.)
posted by rory at 9:14 AM on February 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ha ha, Rory, you nailed it. That's exactly what I thought.
posted by jayder at 11:45 AM on February 1, 2012


Haruki Murakami basically called his latest novel 1984. Maybe that's okay due to the use of a pun.

Well, it's also okay because Murakami is a well-respected novelist with a substantial body of important novels behind him, and his works hold their own against the history of the genre.

But then I'm not in the camp that reflexively disapproves of this sort of meta-titling and postmodern play. (I mean, I read Kathy Acker and enjoyed a lot -- okay, some -- of her work, back in the day.) I just think you raise the stakes on your own writing when you do this sort of thing, and if your own work is not up to playing with the big kids, it can well bite you in the ass with readers and critics. It's kind of like athletes talking trash about other teams to the press; your game better be up to your words.
posted by aught at 12:27 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love the "honesty" around the protagonists ignorance, and growing awareness of 'privilege', one standout example of this is about his societies (corporate sponsor's) ignorant position around "english", and "easy english".

Comment 1: I'm sorry Cory, you're a brilliant author in your own right, but you can't appropriate one of Ray Bradbury's seminal titles

I have no idea what Mr. Brabury's Semen and titling choices in the Sci-Fi genre has to do with the line in the sand saying what he can do, as opposed to what others may do, Re: acknowledging that a work exists in a context where the "alluded to" work exists, and could have some "impact" on a character involved (jscalzi explained that idea really well, or best [thank you for explaining why that is important for any author to feel 'allowed' to do])...

To me, regulating 'allusion' is not far from being hostile to the way video media use "music" overlaid to generate an emotion, or draw out a feeling from a viewer. There are so many tools in existence to generate or rouse feeling from a viewer/reader/consumer of a story or communication of ideas. Diminishing, or deprecating such a wonderful tool as allusion would be to steal some fraction of the illusion of creating a universe in an act of poesis.

Anyway, the story so far (pt 2) is a really great examination of privilege, a rousing call to avoid an unexamined life (for young people, mostly, maybe, perhaps adults are expecting something that a younger person might take from this [like, it is sort of explaining all the people who play the RPG online games... which... probably isn't something that most adults want to hear a nice "exposition", or "Defence" of]) particularly having the "first person" being the character with unexamined assumption, biases, a life lived sheltered from the real working of the world. THis is great, discussion of labour relations, business ethics... wuh, this is great stuff.

Anyone else hearing that in the story?

Someone above made a joke about their new idea for a story called "A superman"... and my heart sank, realizing that some people actually would find that unacceptable, or worthy of "scrutiny", or derision before getting deeper than the cover or title, or that only certain "good enough", "approved" artists or authors could do so.

I mean, not a "guy in tights flying with laser eyes with an s on his chest", but something else?

A superman is a SEMINAL idea in human thinking... our empires and kingdoms and cities and nations and politics are predicated on the nature of some humans to desire to come to dominate over others, to be "the superman among the many".

I can think of hundreds of possible awesome potential stories with the title "a superman".

The 'raiders' are Romney [as described by his political team recently], are vulture capitalism.
Awesome. And describing how shell companies can protect in liability for manufacturing disasters. Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's good.

Ahh, now I get why people dislike his activism; he is putting dangerous ideas into children's thinking. Also, he is explicating the privilege of unthinking judgement, which is the wonderful power of privilege. This would have been a nice short piece to listen to when I was younger.

I dunno why anyone would refuse to listen, solely because of the cover, lots of interesting here, reminds me of "Feed", in pacing, framing, and telling; the visceral "line in the sand". The absolutism saying "if you are not 'this tall', or this level of arbitrary "seminal-ness", then forget about allusions, or covers.

Thanks for sharing, I never would have seen or heard this. Who or what is a Brad Barry? Why would they name their story the same thing as Doctorow (confusion with the original? Doubtful).
This is great, so is Bradbury. Neither crowds out the other. Bradbudy is not like "in the front of most peoples minds"... this made me want to go back to some Bradbury. There is enough room for fans of both, either or neither alike. This will do little but lead to more young people being curious, and ultimately choosing to read the original Bradbury. :)

Things I also appreciate the existence of that ostensibly could be called thievery of 'greater' works:
Song Covers by popular and unpopular bands
Super-Cuts
Musical Montage Sequences
Stargate studios year end portfolio clips
vernacular readings of the bible
vernacular re-imaginings of movies (sued-ing [also, that star wars UnCut] did people get upset at that? Or is Star Wars arbitrarily not good enough to rile up, or was the uncut good enough.)
posted by infinite intimation at 2:16 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


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