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February 21, 2010 6:26 PM   Subscribe

Teresa Nielsen Hayden dismantles the latest claims of plagarism leveled at JK Rowling's Harry Potter series.
posted by Artw (110 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
A wizard did it.
posted by Babblesort at 6:29 PM on February 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


Trs Nlsn Hydn dsmntls th ltst clms f plgrsm lvld t JK Rwlng's Hrry Pttr Srs.
posted by sciurus at 6:30 PM on February 21, 2010 [24 favorites]


Plagiarism suits against J.K. Rowling are like buying lottery tickets. Sure there's almost no chance of winning, but think of the huge payout if you do!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:32 PM on February 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Trs Nlsn Hydn dsmntls th ltst clms f plgrsm lvld t JK Rwlng's Hrry Pttr Srs.

Heh, yes. But it's interesting reading nonetheless.
posted by Artw at 6:33 PM on February 21, 2010


Teresa Nielsen Hayden, actually. Feel free to call her TNH. I know you need moderator help on the post, but could you fix the tag, please?

As to TNH demolishing another idiot? I never get tired of watching her work.
posted by eriko at 6:34 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


There should be a warning about reading the excerpts. Really.
posted by dilettante at 6:35 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


That mistake never would have happened if it weren't for vowels.
posted by sciurus at 6:37 PM on February 21, 2010


There should be a warning about reading the excerpts. Really.

As someone mentions in the comments, they are indeed almost Eye of Argon level bad.
posted by Artw at 6:39 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: a question of nose muscle control and delicate lacquering of the air with thought pellets.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:41 PM on February 21, 2010


If I were plagiarizing whatever source JKR allegedly used, I would first strike all five trillion extraneous adverbs from the text, thereby saving a whole forest of slash pine.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:42 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


3. People who aren’t accustomed to having a lot of ideas of their own have a very poor grasp of the odds that others might independently come up with the same ideas.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:44 PM on February 21, 2010 [15 favorites]


Incredibly, that post is less readable than Harry Potter itself.
posted by DU at 6:46 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Teresa Nielsen Hayden, actually.

If you remove all the vowels, then the spelling is the same.
posted by grouse at 6:50 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Orson Scott Card?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:52 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Crabbe and Goyle sniggered.
posted by pianomover at 6:54 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe the goal is to get Rowling to... unpublish the work?
posted by mark242 at 6:55 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I never get tired of watching her work.

I do.

I wouldn't call a comparative analysis of Willy The Wizard, the 36-page self-published crapfest to be demolishing exactly. And since she's a self-promoting parvenue and not a licensed attorney, I think it's recomendable to allow the court system to run its course and not make foolish predictions that bolster ones own analysis.

Bt thn gn, wh th fck crs wht tht brdg trll hs t sy? Not me.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:56 PM on February 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


Some of these people may think that they have a case--Nancy Stouffer, one of the most prominent Rowling-suers, seemed to in an interview I read--but this seems to be an effort to embarrass Rowling into settling. In William Goldman's book Heat, he describes a couple of small-time Vegas cons who send letters with fictitious law-firm letterheads to whichever musician's got the latest top single, claiming that their equally bogus client wrote it, and "settle" for piddling sums like $5000 because it would cost the artist more than that in legal fees just to get the suit dismissed. Of course, if someone decided not to pay the legal Danegeld and actually dared them to go ahead with it, they'd probably end up in jail, but it seemed like a plausible enough idea anyway. Certainly here there's a lot of emphasis placed on how Adrian Jacobs died penniless.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:06 PM on February 21, 2010


And since she's a self-promoting parvenue and not a licensed attorney, I think it's recomendable to allow the court system to run its course and not make foolish predictions that bolster ones own analysis.

She's a veteran book editor who could probably teach most would-be copyright lawyers a thing or three about the subject. She's not demolishing the book, but the legal case.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:09 PM on February 21, 2010


since she's a self-promoting parvenue

I learned a new word!
posted by nanojath at 7:23 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, that's the thing.

I'm told Teresa Nelson Hayden has put in the time and work to be good at something, and I'm sure she is. But when I see her name, all I think of is disemvoweling and moderator overzealousness at Boing-Boing and Cory's self-promotion.

It's really sad, but basically her reputation outside of publishing has been hijacked and destroyed by her willing association with Cory's strange and over-dramatic little blogging world.
posted by orthogonality at 7:29 PM on February 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Fixed the spelling in the post. If you want to turn this entire thread into GRAR TNH I really really suggest MeTa. Don't like her? Fine. Want to call her shitty names? Do it elsewhere, preferably not on MeFi at all.
posted by jessamyn at 7:37 PM on February 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


That's because you can't tell the difference between "You're wrong, Cory, here's evidence" and "You suck, Doctorow."

The former will stand -- has stood. The latter? Fuck, I'd just ban them. You haven't seen the cesspool that attempts to post at Boing Boing, and the only reason they have comments now is that TNH and her merry band will happily embarrass asshole posters.

Just like *we* do. Moderation -- sometimes harsh and public -- makes these communities work. The willingness to mock, and if need, whip out the banhammer, is why MeFi works.

As to HuronBob's idiocy. The last nine characters of his post explains why he'd been repeatedly embarrassed on one of the 'net's high traffic sites.

It's because he's a fucking idiot. TNH has merely decided that people who are such should be allowed to show that they're fucking idiots without destroying the flow of conversation.
posted by eriko at 7:38 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought TNH was a terrible moderator. But I probably would have been no better. It only means she was unsuited for a particular job. I can think of many others who would have been worse. If you've never failed, you've never tried much. That failure doesn't make her some black-hearted bitch nor wrong about the subject at hand.
posted by tyllwin at 7:39 PM on February 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


(Oh, and thanks, Artw, for the tag fix -- and, arguably, leaving the original tags is the exact correct answer.)
posted by eriko at 7:40 PM on February 21, 2010


I once wrote a 36-page "book" about a misunderstood guy called Harry who lived with an adopted family. A lawyer took my money and told me he'd get results from Rowling and the makers of Harry and the Hendersons. Lawyers take money for lots of things.
posted by graventy at 7:43 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


he describes a couple of small-time Vegas cons who send letters with fictitious law-firm letterheads to whichever musician's got the latest top single

I remember a similar stunt that somebody published as a social "experiment." He went to an office-supply store and bought a pad of blank invoices, then filled them out with bogus amounts and mailed them to various companies. Roughly half the companies paid. The theory was, those companies probably had so much red tape that the people disbursing checks never recognized most of the bills that crossed their desks anyway.
posted by cribcage at 7:48 PM on February 21, 2010


I thought TNH was a terrible moderator.

She was a terrible boingboing moderator, but she does fine at her own blog.

There's a particular kind of 'benevolent dictator' moderation that goes wonderfully well on sites built around personalities, if the personality is the dictator, or at least sets the tone. I think a perfect example of that is Warren Ellis on his delphi forum.

When I started moderating a messageboard for a nightclub, I aped Warren Ellis's style a little bit and it was fucking disastrous, because the message board wasn't about me, and I couldn't get away with 'my way or the highway'. I seriously had to moderate my tone and let the messageboard be what it was, poor spelling and idiocy and flame wars and everything. And once I stepped back and let it develop it's own voice, I think it ended up being better for it.

I think the problem with TNH at boingboing is that her moderation style didn't match AT ALL the supposed ethos of boing boing. I think that was more boingboing's fault for asking her to moderate there, though.

In my experience, when you're moderating a community that isn't about you, the best approach is a light touch and consensus building.
posted by empath at 8:13 PM on February 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


This is going to sound like a quip, but it's an honestly meant analogy: for me, hearing about a thoughtful analysis TNH may have done is like seeing Dubya on those public service spots asking for people to contribute to Haiti.

In both cases, each person has been a big enough ass that has spread enough negativity and unhappiness to others' lives that, pretty much for the rest of their lives, I'm not too interested in whatever they might have to contribute to the public square. That's not to say that whatever they have to say isn't worth being said -- it's that I'm not interested in it if they're the messenger of choice.

And I'm utterly blown away at eriko's comment relating Metafilter's moderation and TNH's antimoderation. The two are diametric opposites. There's plenty of documented occasions where TNH and her submoderators have selectively pruned arguments that they disagree with out of a thread, despite being civilly stated, simply because they're positions that TNH & subs disagree with -- and far from keeping a civil discourse, TNH's and her subs' comments in threads often raise, enflame and heighten the emotional tone of threads on Boing Boing. She's quite literally an antimoderator, as opposed to the mods on Metafilter who do an amazing job of keeping this a pretty cool place.

To liken Metafilter and TNH's moderation styles, eriko, is like saying Dick Cheney and Timothy Leary have common political platforms.
posted by WCityMike at 8:19 PM on February 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


She's not demolishing the book, but the legal case.

She did no such thing. A one-legged baboon could ascertain at first glance that the use of Mr. Jacob's pamphlet BY HIS HEIRS in a frivolous case against Ms. Rowling's work has very little chance of success. Those are the facts and they are indisputable.

Spending more than five minutes thinking about it would be a waste of time unless you had the desire to demonstrate that you possess some editorial skills and are dying to prove it by using a case against, oh I dunno, a VERY FAMOUS AUTHOR WHOSE WORK YOU ADMIRE AND WHOSE ATTENTION YOU SEEK. But before I pass judgement on that little piece of bumkissing, I'd have to see all the pro-bono analysis she's done for defendants of lesser stature just to be sure this isn't a one time thing.

In regards to her legal entreaties, I'm sure Ms. Rowling has competent counsel and will require very little legal advice from an obscure science-fiction fan who when not working at a forum-moderator job a friend hooked up for her, busies herself molesting the internets with her rambling blog posts. Talk about vanity and jumping the queue.

What Ms. Teresa Beria Numbskull did, in fact, was to attack the character of a deceased person, a man like many others who actually believed that he had something to share with the world although his literary abilities simply were not up to the publishing standards of the time. That he died broke and penniless in a hospice are brought in to further bolster her argument that he was an unsavory character who, devoid of editorial oversight committed the cardinal sin of doing business with the vanity press without using a human spell-checker and was thus punished with economic failure and obscurity. Unfortunately, Mr. Jacobs isn't here to defend himself. Because he's dead. An the dead easy target for scumbags of the world like Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

That Mr. Jacobs himself never brought suit against Ms. Rowling or was even aware of her existence prior to his death seem to be of little consequence to this parasite as she sums up her analysis by poo-pooing the plaintiff's [weak] argument for recognition, an acknowledgement that she herself seeks with every word of her poorly organized blog post.

This entry is copyrighted © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 by jsavimbi and you're not allowed to even read it without my consent.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:33 PM on February 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


Man in 2013 I'll make a mint off your work you sneaky bastard.
posted by graventy at 8:46 PM on February 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


None of this would have happened if I'd have taken a minute and spelled her name right.
posted by Artw at 8:49 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I leave out the unlucky years. Proceed at your own risk.

And I apologize for the name-calling. Still getting over the Violet Blue thing. Which brings up something else, and it's unfortunate that it took a reference to Ms. Hayden to remind me of it, but I met Cory in '08 while diving somewhere and I briefly asked him about the VB vs. Xeni thing and he just laughed it off. According to him, he doesn't exercise any day-to-day control over the content and management of BB and it's more of an uncoordinated association beween friends. His answer satisfied any doubts in my mind and him being a really nice guy as well I'd cut him some slack.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:52 PM on February 21, 2010


jsavimbi, your rancor towards TNH doesn't include much in the way of a rationale for itself in the topic at hand, except in the phrase "attack the character of a deceased person" and the ensuing paragraph. I've just gone and read the blog post again, and she doesn't say a word about the author's character. She's hard on the author's writing, but not as hard as she might justifiably be given how execrable that writing is. She says rather a lot about the character of those in the author's estate who filed the suit, which is also justified. It's pretty obvious (Teresa Beria Numskull???) that you have some issues with her that go well beyond the topic of this post.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:56 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess people need to vent Artw, tho I don't understand why the olympic level hate towards BB and TNH. Boing Boing as a blog has pretty much run it's course, which was to be expected given how long it's been online. It was wonderful for many many years but others copied the model and made it better.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:57 PM on February 21, 2010


That Orson Scott Card essay is weird. It's so loaded with weird apples-to-oranges comparisons that you actually wonder if he was even aware of the details of the case.
posted by Artw at 9:06 PM on February 21, 2010


doesn't include much in the way of a rationale for itself in the topic at hand

That's because you're probably missing the topic at hand. The guy is dead, his writing was crap, who cares? Like I said before, anyone with 50% of their faculties would be able to discern, at first glance, that the heirs of Mr. Jacobs are fishing for some cash and hoping for a quick settlement. The publisher's lawyers will make quick work of this.

Translation: no mystery here, the case is very low-hanging fruit.

The topic, as I see it, is not the frivolous lawsuit but the disgusting effort of a person to insert themselves into a situation involving a prominent third party in order to gain notoriety amongst a cabal of equally despicable sycophants at the expense of someone who is no longer here to defend themselves and who did nothing wrong in the first place. Aside from being an incompetent writer and investor.

Translation: attention whoring works best when you can link your whoring to a topic your followers can relate to and nobody is around to refute your actions.

And who is she to be casting aspersions about the character of the parties involved in the lawsuit? Isn't she making her own hay about the very same story she's so mad exists in the first place? If anything, she gone way, way overboard taking advantage of the situation to showcase content for the people who read her blog.

Translation: she's a parasite and a hypocrite.

And yes, for the record, I find people like her to be a detriment to intellectual progress and I don't hide my dislike for them.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:32 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Isn't she making her own hay about the very same story she's so mad exists in the first place? If anything, she gone way, way overboard taking advantage of the situation to showcase content for the people who read her blog.

Translation: she used it as a topic of a post in her blog. And you've used that as the topic for some commentary on a community blog. By extension, I think I must be some kind of contemptible attention whore myself, because I've used your comment as the subject of mine, clearly for some kind of self-aggrandizement which I will swiftly and mysteriously turn to my profit. And anyone who comments on what I've written here is similarly dirtied. My god, it's like blog leprosy! Unclean! Unclean! Mods, quick, seal the thread and put a blogohazard label on it!
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:50 PM on February 21, 2010


jsavimbi, you're throwing off really creepy stalker vibes, you might want to dial it back a notch.
posted by empath at 10:02 PM on February 21, 2010


If you read TNH's website regularly, or browse the archives, you will find a great number of posts dedicated to related topics. Since publishing is in fact her career, I don't think that is terribly surprising. What would be surprising would be any evidence, or even a coherent case, for the post being some kind of attempt to woo JKR.
posted by Nothing at 10:31 PM on February 21, 2010


I dunno. Disemvoweling always gave me the creeps. I just never liked anything that's a cutesy association with torture. Just doesn't feel right for the times, ya know?

Anyway, the only reason I know of TNH is because of the invention, and I'll say it wasn't the nicest of ways to learn about someone.
posted by effugas at 11:28 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the hell, jsavimbi?

I think TNH is not a good moderator, either in style or in philosophy. The kind of moderation she champions leads not to a vibrant, diverse community but to a clique of insiders -vs- everyone else, and in many ways leads to a big echo chamber. And, no, Metafilter is nothing like that (relatively speaking).

All of that said, TNH is a great editor and has forgotten more about editing in general, science fiction in particular, and the craft of writing than you or I could possibly know. She's also, by all accounts, a great person. Yes, her online persona (as well as PNHs) can be irritating, arrogant, and combative. It's been that way for at least the nearly twenty years I've been aware of it, since the RASFF days in the early 90s. I hardly think that we at Metafilter are in much of a position to cast aspersions based on a combative online persona. Well, I'm sure nobody could ever say that I have ever in any way been combative, arrogant, or irritating. Of course. But the rest of you, I mean.

Uh, this got a little muddled. The point is you're being a jerk about someone who doesn't deserve it. And I say that as someone who think her moderation style is the polar opposite of what I believe makes for a vibrant, diverse online community. So I would advise that you should stop digging.
posted by Justinian at 11:29 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Translation: she's a parasite and a hypocrite.

This line made me go back and read the entire comment in Andrew Ryan's voice.

"Is a man not entitled to the vowels in his commentary? NO, says the moderator at BoingBoing, they belong to Cory Doctorow!"
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:21 AM on February 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


Justinian: She's also, by all accounts, a great person. Yes, her online persona (as well as PNHs) can be irritating, arrogant, and combative. It's been that way for at least the nearly twenty years I've been aware of it, since the RASFF days in the early 90s.

You know, though, you really don't get to do that. ("You" in the more generalized sense, not you specifically, Justinian.)

An online persona is a part of a person; it's not some reflection, or distorted reflection, or what have you. If she has an irritating, arrogant, and combative online persona, that means she IS irritating, arrogant, and combative. Maybe she only manifests those personality traits when she is online, but it's not an online persona as one thing and a great person as another thing. Even if it's a fake persona different from how you act in real life, it's the same mind at work, purposefully choosing to act in certain ways -- I suppose in a way it harkens back to the whole idea of simulations versus reality. If, within the cyberverse1 you "simulate" the behavior of someone who likes to irritate, are you then really someone who likes to irritate? I say, "Yup."

So, it means that you were fortunate enough to be exposed to situations where she did whatever things make you call her a great person, and you also have -- as most of us now have -- been witness to situations where she did things that make you call her irritating, arrogant and combative. Not "her persona", because the only thing that differentiates the two communications is that for the latter, she chose to sit down at a keyboard and type words onto a keyboard. But they were still her physical fingers, hands, nerve pathways, and flesh-and-blood brain.

So, I think she deserves people being a jerk at her. Because, at least in my own opinion, her behavior is classic trolldom. That's why Boing Boing sometimes has the same allure to me as the WTF subreddit ... because it's the answer to a really bizarre what-if: what if a classic troll, one that lives up to the classic 'troll' paradigm that's existed since the days of BBSes, was in charge of the comment forums of one of the most popular websites in the world? For a man who grew up reading Marvel What If? titles like What if Dr. Doom Took Over the World?, TNH's fiefdoms is like a comic book "alternate dytopia" come to life.

That having been said, though, I'm really not sure why jsavimbi is running the Rage Train quite so full throttle as he is. That level of emotion is far too heavy tonnage to be carrying around in one's psyche.

     1I can't believe I just used that word.
posted by WCityMike at 12:27 AM on February 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm really not sure why jsavimbi is running the Rage Train quite so full throttle as he is.

I don't know why he's doing it, but it sure does make for some tasty reading.
posted by rodgerd at 12:41 AM on February 22, 2010


If I were plagiarizing whatever source JKR allegedly used, I would first strike all five trillion extraneous adverbs from the text, thereby saving a whole forest of slash pine.

Some of the adjectives need to go too. Like, oh, say, her repeated use of the word "frozen" before "air". Air doesn't freeze, though it may freeze matter. And no, she was not using the phrase in magical terms.
posted by orange swan at 2:36 AM on February 22, 2010


Air doesn't freeze

Sure it does. Nitrogen freezes at −210 °C and oxygen at −218.79 °C. I'm sure Rowling didn't mean that the air was that cold, of course.

her repeated use of the word "frozen" before "air"

"Frozen air" is a little silly, as per the above. "Freezing air" however is different, as it clearly means "air cold enough to freeze water" because in common usage (and especially in the pre-industrial wizarding world) water is the only thing that freezes in most people's experience.
posted by jedicus at 5:08 AM on February 22, 2010


"Is a man not entitled to the vowels in his commentary? NO, says the moderator at BoingBoing, they belong to Cory Doctorow!"

"In light of the site to come, your post is nothing. Out of your disemvoweling, paradise was born. Like all I have done, this is an act of love."

posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:17 AM on February 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


> It's really sad, but basically her reputation outside of publishing has been hijacked and destroyed by her willing association with Cory's strange and over-dramatic little blogging world.

You mean "her reputation among the tiny group of MetaFilter commenters who not only followed that stupid BB saga but are still seething about it all this time later." Among the rest of the world that's heard of her, her reputation is deservedly high. She's a good person and a good editor. She was a lousy moderator at BB, but she hasn't been doing that for quite a while now. You might want to get over it.
posted by languagehat at 6:21 AM on February 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


And I apologize for the name-calling.

I know this is hours later, but if you're sorry, then stop.

I think she deserves people being a jerk at her.

No one deserves people "being a jerk at them" at least here on MetaFilter.

You know who else is irritating, arrogant and combative? Pretty much everyone on the Internet. You know how easy it is to get smart irritating people to act decently to each other? Pretty well impossible. I've said before I'm not a fan of TNH-as-mod (though I admire her for other things), but I know if there was a huge blow-up on MetaFilter of a VB scale and mathowie for some reason decided to just not check in and leave me twisting in the wind with a 24/7 mess [something I can confidently say he would never do] that quickly spread all over the internet, I'd probably handle it about as well.

I'm not saying that BB as a site handled that at all well, but it was pretty clear to me that while TNH didn't really handle things as well as she personally could have, she also got shafted standing out there in front trying to enforce her idea of policy while the people who really materially benefited from the site more significantly Did Not Help.

The greatest thing about the Internet, to me, is how easy it is to not go someplace you don't like. And the thing that confuses me about the BB hate and the TNH hate is why if people don't like them, they carry them so closely to their heart. Walk away. TNH isn't even there doing that job anymore. Walk away.
posted by jessamyn at 6:35 AM on February 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


jsavimbi, you're throwing off really creepy stalker vibes, you might want to dial it back a notch.

Without needing to crawl through my comments, the only times that I have commented on this person were in the epic Violet Blue thread and in this one. Matter of fact, had Artw not spelled her name out in full, she would've remained removed from my memory forever. Also, if I were to stalk someone, as in having some compulsive sexual interest in a person, it would not be the aforementioned author, editor and great person. I hope you were kidding.

As to TNH demolishing another idiot? I never get tired of watching her work.

It's sycophantic commentary like the above that makes me wonder what draws a person to Metafilter. People who harbor inner rage to that degree and encourage it to be manifested by third parties are not the type of people with whom I would place much confidence in their ability to discern between right and wrong and usually leads to the suppression of ideas which in itself runs counter to the flow of MeFi.

She is not, nor has ever been successful in the literary world. She's probably better than most of us, but a superstar she is not. And I'm willing to guess that it's not solely based on her mediocrity (that post of hers was borderline readable), but also her notoriety as being difficult, simple-minded and petty. Those characteristics do well in academia, but not in the real world.

Hopefully I will never hear of this person again.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:47 AM on February 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Look, jsavimbi, I believe that everybody potentially has a topic or two that they'll rant on at length, bringing in everything and the kitchen sink to support their thesis and justify their ire. Even stipulating to that, though, things like this:
Spending more than five minutes thinking about it would be a waste of time unless you had the desire to demonstrate that you possess some editorial skills and are dying to prove it by using a case against, oh I dunno, a VERY FAMOUS AUTHOR WHOSE WORK YOU ADMIRE AND WHOSE ATTENTION YOU SEEK.
[assuming that that was her sole motivation; I'd remind you again that issues of copyright and plagiarism are directly germane to what she does for a living]

and:
Still getting over the Violet Blue thing.
[which will be two years old this June]

and:
It's sycophantic commentary like the above that makes me wonder what draws a person to Metafilter. People who harbor inner rage to that degree and encourage it to be manifested by third parties are not the type of people with whom I would place much confidence in their ability to discern between right and wrong and usually leads to the suppression of ideas which in itself runs counter to the flow of MeFi.
["harbor[ing] inner rage"? Really? Pot-kettle-black much?]

are really going beyond the pale. And I'm saying this as someone who also thinks that TNH was ill-suited for the job, and even emailed her directly once when I thought that a comment that I'd made in a contentious thread was unjustly deleted (to her credit, she reversed that decision and admitted that she'd gotten a little delete-happy). You've made your case badly and now you're just thrashing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:38 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


You've made your case badly and now you're just thrashing.

That would not be a first. Also, I rage at complicated sign-up forms and bartenders who don't know that baseball games start at 7:05, not 7:05ish and therefore should already have the TV tuned into the game prior to 7pm, but that's neither here nor there.

My mind was made up about her and people like her long ago and I'm not going to try and convince you otherwise. And yes, I will continue to ridicule them.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:07 AM on February 22, 2010


Rage against the machine, jsavimbi.
posted by Justinian at 9:29 AM on February 22, 2010


This discussion is very confusing to anyone who does not follow BoingBoing or know anything about the editting world -- it's all without context and not really related to the post. Could we make it a discussion about Harry Potter and ideas and stuff, please?

Now, if anyone could sue for "plagiarism" of ideas, it's Neil Gaimen and John Bolton, because Harry Potter is a magical dark-haired boy with glasses. And Gaimen has already said he wouldn't, because that would be silly -- there are lots of magical boys/girls, with or without glasses.

If we want to complain, let's complain about how Rowling has brilliant plotting, but mediocre world creation, or how she writes kids very well, but has failed to capture the feeling of adolescence. I found it difficult to finish the series (I stopped after book 6) because of the latter -- the characters were feeling less real as I got older. But that's just me - character matters more to me than most things in a book.
posted by jb at 9:32 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Halloween Jack: "[[Still getting over the Violet Blue thing.]]

which will be two years old this June
"

You don't forget a thread with 2,500+ comments that quickly.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:39 AM on February 22, 2010


This discussion is very confusing to anyone who does not follow BoingBoing or know anything about the editting world

I'd be all for the entire BoingBoing derail being deleted by the harsh hands of Stalinist-style moderators, to be honest.
posted by Artw at 10:00 AM on February 22, 2010


[few comments removed - jsavimbi you need to go to MeTa if you want to keep this up, everyone else, maybe try discussing the article topic?]
posted by jessamyn at 10:30 AM on February 22, 2010


Now, if anyone could sue for "plagiarism" of ideas, it's Neil Gaimen and John Bolton, because Harry Potter is a magical dark-haired boy with glasses.

Don't forget Jane Yolen and Debra Doyle and James MacDonald and Ursula LeGuin, who all wrote about Magical Schools attended by tousle-haired, sometimes awkward, and/or divinely chosen boys.

It's a pretty common story, and had been for awhile when Rowling picked it up. Which doesn't make Orson Scott Card's claim anymore weird (for what it's worth, I always thought that Mercedes Lackey's Arrows of the Queen was pretty close to Ender's Game, plotwise. Except with magical horses.).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:31 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does he actually beleive that? I thought he was just trying to make a point.

It's a point that happens to be fairly irrelevant to the actual case, but it still makes some degree of sense if you look at it that way. For him to actually believe Rowling was ripping him off... nah, he's not THAT insane.
posted by Artw at 10:44 AM on February 22, 2010


I think dismantling this claim is shooting fish in a barrel. It has as much going for it as that other one trying to sue Rowling based on previous use of the word "muggle" in a children's book, with no other commonality.

I know. I'll write a story about some hard-luck boy who finds out he's really secretly a superhero in a hidden secret magical world where a Bad Person has taken over (or maybe is threatening to take over.) Some old man with a white beard "trains" him (this will mainly consist of him discovering how awesome he was all along.) Then he goes on some sort of quest to defeat the Bad Person in which he faces challenges, overcomes monsters, and acquires sidekicks (one of whom is a love interest.) Then he loses everything! A sidekick (but not the love interest) or the old man dies! All seems hopeless! Then he remembers something the old man said, or the love interest gives him a pep talk, or a downtrodden peasant reminds him of how desperately the common people need him, so he gets off his ass. And then all the things he learned and gained along the quest allow him to defeat Bad Person (who, after being offered mercy by the boy, tries one last evil thing, but is hoist with his or her own petard! How ironic! Crime doesn't pay!) Finally, he marries the love interest, and is awarded the secret magical world's highest honors.

Then I'll self-publish and sue the creator of every subsequent fantasy book and movie for ripping me off. Profit!
posted by Zed at 10:48 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


This sentiment seemed pretty genuine to me:
"It's true that we writers borrow words from each other-- but we're supposed to admit it and not pretend we're original when we're not. I took the word ansible from Ursula K. LeGuin, and have always said so. Rowling, however, denies everything. [. . .] Rowling claims Vander Ark's book 'constitutes wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work.'

Seventeen years? What a crock. Apparently she includes in that total the timeframe in which she was reading--and borrowing from--the work of other writers."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:49 AM on February 22, 2010


PhoBWanKenobi - your comment just got me thinking that "Except with magical horses" ought to replace "in bed" as the universal tag-on for all fortune cookies. Also, it very accurately describes most of the books set in that world.
posted by jb at 10:55 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm with ArtW -- Card is characterizing Harry Potter as derivative of Ender's Game as polemic to demonstrate that Harry Potter has a whole lot of precedents that Rowling has declined to acknowledge, while she's lambased others for being derivative of her work. He's not suggesting that Ender's Game doesn't, itself, have a whole lot of precedents.

Now please don't make me act as apologist for Card again. kthxbye.
posted by Zed at 11:03 AM on February 22, 2010


Just as a note, I didn't apologize; that was someone else you were quoting for that part. The one thing I love about the MefiQuote script is it tacks on attribution, so that when you're responding to two different people, as you were, there isn't any confusion that it was one person saying both things.

jessamyn: No one deserves people "being a jerk at them" at least here on MetaFilter.

So, even if someone is a complete jerk, they don't deserve people being a jerk back at them? That's not consistent with how I've seen your moderation done on Metafilter in the past. There've been plenty of instances where some troll has "deserved" the lashing back from civilized users that their trollish provocations have earned them. I'll admit I'm not invested enough to start reading thread-by-thread to track down examples to cite, but I'm completely certain I've seen them.

jessamyn: I'm not saying that BB as a site handled that at all well, but it was pretty clear to me that while TNH didn't really handle things as well as she personally could have, she also got shafted standing out there in front trying to enforce her idea of policy while the people who really materially benefited from the site more significantly Did Not Help.

I don't have any particular opinion about TNH's role during the Violet Blue scandal; I think she was just as lousy an antimoderator during that period as she is pretty much in her totality.

jessamyn: The greatest thing about the Internet, to me, is how easy it is to not go someplace you don't like. And the thing that confuses me about the BB hate and the TNH hate is why if people don't like them, they carry them so closely to their heart. Walk away. TNH isn't even there doing that job anymore. Walk away.

I don't carry TNH hate close to my heart. When it crosses my radar (say, in the form of a discussion about her as moderator on one of my favorite websites, whether or not that discussion is on-topic), then I'm reminded of her numbskullery, and, like I do on any of a few dozen other subjects, join the discussion.

Hell, me, I don't even hate her; it's more a form of aggravation and annoyance that I don't carry in my heart, but that are attachments to the soured opinion of her, itself an inactive file in my back memory until pulled up. That's kind of why I suggested to jsavimbi that he pull back on the Rage Throttle. When you're frothing quite that much, it's a sign that the rage is doing more harm to you than it is to your target. I can speak directly from personal experience on that one.

As well as, as aforementioned, some honest fascination in how quickly and in such totality BoingBoing became its own opposite. I'm glad you briefly brought some class to the joint, Jessamyn, but it's a site that has well-earned its reputation of hypocrisy and censorship – and I marvel at that given how bringing down such used to be part of its lifeblood. It's a case in something, I don't know what: Lord Acton's comment about power, perhaps?
posted by WCityMike at 11:12 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


He's not suggesting that Ender's Game doesn't, itself, have a whole lot of precedents.

Arrows of the Queen actually came after Ender's Game, FWIW. I read the article as a bit less tongue-in-cheek than I suspect ArtW did--not, "there are many books like these, so what's she talking about?" but rather "Rowling ripped me off, along with many other authors, and doesn't admit it, but my books sell okay so I'll say I don't care while still sounding pretty ticked off about it." Which is weird to me because Harry Potter and Ender's Game are so ridiculously different. This isn't, say, Eragon and Star Wars we're talking about.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:12 AM on February 22, 2010


PhoBWankKenobi: I think you're attributing far too much subtlety to Card. He is not a subtle man. He's a nutcase crank to the point where it is impossible to tell when he is being serious and when he is using hyperbole to make a point, because the times when he is being serious are so hyperbolic.
posted by Justinian at 11:25 AM on February 22, 2010


On rereading it, you may be right. I'm not sure now whether his indictment was just the polemic I read it as.
posted by Zed at 11:26 AM on February 22, 2010


Nobody owns tropes.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:28 AM on February 22, 2010


That's not consistent with how I've seen your moderation done on Metafilter in the past.

I know you're tight with BB and all, but censoring me was lame.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:38 AM on February 22, 2010


Like i say, it;s apples to oranges - "has similar plot and themes" is radically different from "contains huge excerpts of someone else's text", whatever the arguments for or against that.
posted by Artw at 11:42 AM on February 22, 2010


jsavimbi - please go to meta or something. Or away.
posted by Artw at 11:43 AM on February 22, 2010


So, even if someone is a complete jerk, they don't deserve people being a jerk back at them?

Yes. Because there is no airtight definition of "jerk" and savaging people who are not at all on MeFi is weak sauce. Please consider taking the TNH derail to MeTa.
posted by jessamyn at 11:48 AM on February 22, 2010


Meta
posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on February 22, 2010


Not sure if JK Rowling could even get through this crap, it's almost unintelligible:

Willy sat in his bath. It was here in his yellow bathroom-come-study that he did his best thinking. He lay full length....

Relaxed he was able to study, as the green treated water toned his body with Aqua Superba, a newly developed water additive from Health Clinic in Puerto Rico. This additive only available to wizards with 5 stars had the ability to drain all superstar mind-clogging pressures and re-charge the system for endurance, excitement contests.
The screen concealed the selector mechanism. Willy had fed in the contest details that he had been given at the wizards’ conference and having adjusted the selector, every detail of the text was magnified so that he could peruse it at his leisure.
GAIN ENTRANCE TO LIVID LAND! AND RELEASE FEMALE PRISONERS FROM ANGRY SAM’S COMPOUND. FORTY POINTS AWARDED FOR EACH PRISONER RESCUED. Willy pressed the activator remote control and scanned the prize awards list. Wizards achieving more than 1000 stars would receive life membership of Stellar Land.... I’ll be ready for a contest conference in 30 minutes. Be in your cubicles....

posted by KokuRyu at 12:11 PM on February 22, 2010


I know you're tight with BB and all, but censoring me was lame.

She deleted it because I didn't get there first. You need to drop this. Go to Metatalk if you have anything more to say about it, but leave it alone in here.
posted by cortex at 12:13 PM on February 22, 2010


KokoRyu, that was pretty hot
posted by jtron at 12:50 PM on February 22, 2010


Library Journal writer Lauren Barack:
"'Given the success of Rowling’s Potter series it seems unlikely that she’ll stop being a lightning rod for suits of this nature,' Barack wrote. 'While her stories are hugely popular, they do mirror many archetypes and story arcs found in popular tales.'"
People see J.K. Rowling as a 'gravy train.' She'll likely see more suits in the future.
posted by ericb at 1:35 PM on February 22, 2010


'While her stories are hugely popular, they do mirror many archetypes and story arcs found in popular tales.'"

Harry Potter influences and analogues.
posted by ericb at 1:36 PM on February 22, 2010


The Harry Potter influence on Avatar is pretty clear.
posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm kinda boggled by the concept of some of the finest legal brains money can buy having to wade through the semi-literate dreck that is Wizard Willy as they prepare the case.

And I'm going to sue Rowling for using too many adverts. Which I invented years ago.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:19 PM on February 22, 2010


Over use of adverts is Lovecraftian.
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on February 22, 2010


Ooops Freudian slip there...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:49 PM on February 22, 2010


Over use of adverts is Lovecraftian.

Well obviously I'll just have to doctor up some proof that I'm his descent and then I'll sue... (though it'll be a long long queue of appropriators including... well, eerrr, myself)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:51 PM on February 22, 2010


Artw, thanks for mentioning "Eye of Argon level bad" at the beginning, I didn't know of that particula bit of geekery and found it hilarious.
posted by Omon Ra at 4:33 PM on February 22, 2010


Eye of Argon (MiST'ed).
posted by jb at 5:56 PM on February 22, 2010


jb: If we want to complain, let's complain about how Rowling has brilliant plotting, but mediocre world creation...

Actually, this is the second time I've noticed somebody saying this in just a few days, and the grounds for it aren't obvious to me. Why do you say so?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:44 PM on February 22, 2010


her repeated use of the word "frozen" before "air"

no, seriously, adverbs.

...Harry said, dully...

...Harry thought, dully...

...Harry sneezed, dully...

just eliminate the dullys and that's 100 pages
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:15 PM on February 22, 2010


two... - the wizard world doesn't work. It's been a while since I read the books, but one example would be: where do wizard kids go to junior school? They can't go to their local schools, or they would know about muggles. Come to think of it, if they live among us, they should know more about muggles than they do, but some of them don't know what telephones are. It's little things like this that really bothered me. Other writers with secret magic societies - Diane Duane, Gaiman - they tend to have the magic users existing among us, knowing about us, but secret from us. Or they live in an entirely different world, ala Narnia.

Other parts of her world just seem a bit trite. There are all these little bits -- the fireplace flues, wizarding street, the werewolves and shape shifters -- which are individually interesting, but they don't add up to another world, a fictional universe which nonetheless seems to fit together. Lots of little things, but it doesn't all fit together into a compelling world. Now, maybe it's because I was an adult while reading the books, but I didn't find myself imagining myself into her world like I did with Narnia.

I guess I just felt like the fictional universe felt like a hodge-podge of fairy tales and folklore -- good folklore (a botanist who has written on plant folklore told my husband that Rowling knows as much about traditional plant folklore as he does, or more, and all the bits about magical plants really are the traditional uses/magics), but more of a pastiche than a fresh, alien world. You can kind of tell that Rowling didn't read much fantasy -- as she claims. Because she's not really working in the fantasy/speculative fiction genre (where world creation is a bigger deal than in other genres). So it's a not very original world with world-creation holes you could drive a truck through -- every so often, I would just be jared out of the story by something that didn't really make sense. Also, how many wizarding schools in the world? There must be more than 4 - else where do the German, American, South African, Malaysian, etc, wizards go to school? And where do UK wizards who don't get into Hogwarts go to school? Can they actually threaten Harry with expelling him from Hogwarts if it's the only wizard school in the whole country? I mean, you couldn't just send him to a Muggle school, or his magic would never be trained and you don't really want untrained wizards about. This is the sort of stuff I think about.

That's not to say that the books are all bad -- Rowling is hands down the best writer I've ever read for compelling plotting and pacing. But between the lackluster world and the increasingly unrelatable characters, she sort of lost me.
posted by jb at 8:14 PM on February 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Obviously, I ignored all the problems with the world creation to read the first 6 novels -- they were fun and I'm not that anal. I just dislike hearing praise for how "original" and "compelling" the world creation is, when it's not that coherent and lots of things are just taken straight from myths and folklore. Other kids' writers have thought up kingdoms and empires, new magical systems, compelling mythos and battles between good and evil.

Even with magical horses.
posted by jb at 8:19 PM on February 22, 2010


I just want to make certain I'm following all this - BoingBoing still sucks, right?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:28 PM on February 22, 2010


You're a picky fucker, jb. I like that.
posted by Artw at 10:34 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


And where do UK wizards who don't get into Hogwarts go to school?

Friend of mine has had published a series of short stories set in a wizarding school, that's more akin to Grange Hill meets Scum for those who don't quite make it to Hogwarts....
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:51 AM on February 23, 2010


jb, thanks for the explanation. I suppose I still don't really see it that way...

I do find the Wizarding World compelling (I read the books between the ages of eleven and seventeen if that matters). Apart from the obvious appeal of all the enchanted ceilings, ancient evil, etc, there's the way Rowling pays so much attention to the institutions that make her world run: shops, banks, newspapers, hospitals, prisons, courtrooms, government, and of course, schools. That's one reason I don't think it's fair to say, for instance, that the wizards are unconvincing as people who 'live among us'. They don't, not really. The reason magical people in HP are so provincial is that their world is self-sufficient enough to stay mostly isolated from ours.

(And while it's true that Rowling never explains where young magical children go to school, I don't see why she needs to? It's not relevant, even if it might be nice to know, especially in a book that's already 800 pages long. In an interview, btw, she apparently said they're homeschooled.)

I get that the world isn't quite, as you say, 'fresh' or 'alien', but then it's not meant to be. What makes it (yes) compelling to so many people is that for all its cool stuff and magicking, it is comfortable and familiar. (Some people are obviously bound to find that incredibly off-putting.) It's not only that the world is constructed out of random bits of folklore and fantasy/boarding school tropes, but that it's so much like our own, just with these here differences - and people kind of delight in hearing what they are. I think there is a place for that kind of creation, even if it is a little oppressive how big of a place it turned out to be.

Not that I haven't had some Fridge Logic moments. Like, the Weasleys and Lupin and Voldemort's family being poor and/or shabby-looking to one degree or another. How possible is that sort of economic deprivation, really, under the circumstances? What stops them from just conjuring up a fancier pair of boots or whatever?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:22 AM on February 23, 2010


Also... what about the fact that the entire plot of Goblet of Fire is totally unnecessary and irrelevant to the outcome? Why weren't some of the more tedious plotlines (Hagrid's brother) cut? And why is Rowling's characterization and treatment of the Slytherins so at odds with the explicit philosophy of the books? My problems with the series (which I do love) are much more along those lines.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:28 AM on February 23, 2010


a botanist who has written on plant folklore told my husband that Rowling knows as much about traditional plant folklore as he does, or more, and all the bits about magical plants really are the traditional uses/magics)

In one of the interviews/profiles I've seen with JK she hefted up this massive encyclopaedia on herbalism she uses for references for stuff like that.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:35 AM on February 23, 2010


two... (sorry, your name is quite long - can I just call you "two"?) -- those are all good points. I should point out that I was 18 when I read the first book, and that does make a difference. But maybe it's also that I've been a science-fiction/fantasy fan since I was a kid, and I'm a collector of kid's SF&F. And I feel like Harry Potter is an ok, but not great, fantasy/world creation when compared to the other SF&F I have read before. That said, it clearly is a more compelling story, or at least more accessible to all sorts, because none of those books have appealled to anywhere near the numbers of people of all ages.

Your points about the Slytherins are great -- I also dislike the idea that evil may be hereditary. I kept hoping Draco would turn around and say, "Hey, I might be a spoiled bully, but I'm not doing THAT" and joining the good guys to show that he had free will and could make his own choices regardless of his parentage. Maybe he does? (You can spoil me if he does -- but don't tell me if he doesn't. That way I can keep imagining that he does.)
posted by jb at 7:16 AM on February 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Now, maybe it's because I was an adult while reading the books, but I didn't find myself imagining myself into her world like I did with Narnia.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's that you were an adult. You can't argue with six billion enchanted younger readers. But:

> Rowling is hands down the best writer I've ever read for compelling plotting and pacing.

Really? I read the first book at the insistence of a friend and found it utterly lacking in writerly virtues of the sort an adult tends to look for; she's got the magic, but she doesn't have the chops. But maybe I'm so allergic to her prose I don't get caught up in the plotting and pacing.
posted by languagehat at 7:41 AM on February 23, 2010


And why is Rowling's characterization and treatment of the Slytherins so at odds with the explicit philosophy of the books?

Pfft. When I entered secondary school I was sorted into Evil House, and as it turns out, I'm an axe murderer. But that's just the way I am; nothing to do with living and socialising exclusively with other children who were told they'd grow up to be axe murderers, or the way all the teachers but that one evil one who never washed his hair looked down on us and were constantly favouring those pricks in Brave House, Boffin House and Boring House; I'm an axe murderer by nature.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:13 AM on February 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


languagehat -- age does matter for a book's personal effect on a reader. But at the same time, I'm thinking of the world in comparison to other children's fantasy/SF authors, and thinking of how there are better world creators; if some of the young Harry Potter fans moved from Harry Potter to the other books, they would find even richer worlds to explore. Some would be very alien (ala Michael Ende's Neverending Story), while others have sort of our own world but different -- like Pinkwater's Alan Mendelsohn, the boy from Mars, or Diane Duane's So you want to be a Wizard?. But you're right to point out that none of these books have had the wide appeal of Rowling's.

And yeah, I wasn't talking about literary qualities of style, just plotting. That said, I'm not sure that most adults really are looking for literary style over plotting. Not that style isn't important, but I've been reading more pulp fiction lately, and the literary style of some popular authors can make Rowling look like Jeanette Winterson (for those not familier, a brilliant stylist -- though not a great plotter). But, like Rowling, they have the pull of the story working for them. Even I find that when my brain is more tired, I tend away from the better stylists, and frankly the better writers, to more pulpy and predictable fiction because it is comfortable easy in the way that watching tv is.
posted by jb at 8:18 AM on February 23, 2010


Weirdly relevant article on Hogwarts up at tor.com.

My feelings about the Wizarding World in terms of world building are close to jb's, though I didn't read the first book until I was 16 or 17. I was a little scifi and fantasy nut--immersed myself in stuff like Pern and those pesky horse books at thirteen and fourteen. I was a big fan of Edward Eager as a kid, and in tone Rowling's work always felt very close to that, but maybe not quite as seamless. Seamlessness was important to me (I remember watching that episode of Star Trek: TNG where Scotty appears, introducing huge continuity errors into the series, in middle school and feeling totally batty about it). Loose edges bothered me, and there are plenty of them in Rowling's work.

Though what I like about her work is the evident planning and rich on-going timeline of the series. The world building isn't perfect, but we watch these characters grow. Honestly? I've only read the first two, but I was engaged enough with the characters to look into what happened to them later in the series. There were other kids' series that do the same--Animorphs comes to mind--but few as well or with as much meat. Contrast this to, say, The Babysitter's Club, which was released a little over a decade before the Harry Potter books. The characters there relive the same year over and over again, with few major changes to the continuity. That bugged me even at 8.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:29 AM on February 23, 2010


I think the worst part of the Harry Potter worldbuilding is that it progressively made less and less sense as she added things in the later books whose existence would have had an impact on the earlier books (several of which should already have been known to Harry when he encountered them, but he was still playing the naive outsider to justify someone explaining it in small words.)

The one of these I found most glaring was the magic loyalty oath introduced in the 6th or 7th book. Why hadn't Voldemort already demanded it of all his followers before the series even began?
posted by Zed at 9:38 AM on February 23, 2010


PhoB -- the growing is a good part. I think I would refuse to read any series that didn't have character growth and change. It's bad enough that there are TV shows like that with adults, let alone children.

But I did feel like the later books didn't quite ring true to adolescent thinking. In the first books, Harry et al felt like real kids and I liked that a lot. But by the time he was 15 or 16, I couldn't believe him as a teenager. He didn't seem to talk or relate like a teenager, other than being a bit more grumpy. Part of the problem is the age range of the readers -- as a friend pointed out, if he were like many boys, about 14 or 15 years old Harry's thoughts would have turned into "sex, sex, oh, Voldemorte, sex". But that just couldn't happen in a mass market book for 8-12 year olds. Some books go ahead with this, but discretely, but even when they do it still might be too much for adults. I remember my mum having a problem with how the 17-year old Alanna had relationship issues and a physical relationship when I was reading that series at age 10 or so. I didn't tell her I'd been reading way less discrete books from her shelf.
posted by jb at 10:24 AM on February 23, 2010


Oh -- and Star Trek continuity drives me batty!

Clearly there should be 100 years between TOS and TNG, not 75 as many chronologies have it -- after all, McCoy is 137 when he appears in the first episode of TNG, and Sarak is 102 on TOS and over 200 when he appears on TNG.

Also, everything I like from the novels ought to be canon, but nothing I don't like :P
posted by jb at 10:29 AM on February 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, you could be trying to reconcile Dr. Who's continuity...
posted by Artw at 2:12 PM on February 23, 2010


It's the Time War, Artw. It's always the Time War.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:20 PM on February 23, 2010


It seems to me that these complaints I hear about Rowling's writing or world-building—too many adverbs!, or it's dumb, where do wizard kids go to grade school?—always miss the point. She gets compared to Philip Pullman and C. S. Lewis, but I think someone like Charles Dickens is a much more precise analogue.

Rowling is, as Dickens was, a magpie-like conjurer of popular entertainment, a storyteller whose fluency with character, dialogue, and suspense is more than enough to distract us from the soggy patches in her prose and the occasionally rickety scaffolding of her plots. For most people who read them—including zillions of adolescents for whom Potter was the doorway to a life of reading—the books are like friends. Humor, adventure, mystery, romance! What's wrong with any of this? Doesn't the world have enough dull-as-horsecrap "literary fiction" these days, however few adverbs it uses?

I have to agree with Sleary's lisped admonition to Gradgrind in Hard Times:
"People mutht be amuthed, Thquire, thomehow," continued Sleary, rendered more pursy than ever, by so much talking; "they can't be alwayth a working, nor yet they can't be alwayth a learning."
They have their faults as literature or philosophy, but as witty, moving, page-turning Dickensian entertainment, I think the Potter books are pretty sound.
posted by cirripede at 5:14 PM on February 24, 2010


Dude, acknowledging fault in Rowling's work doesn't mean we're all literary snobs. I'm a big fan of LJ Smith, for crissake.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:19 PM on February 24, 2010


PhoBWanKenobi, sorry! That's not at all what I meant to imply. You're probably a great deal less snobbish about your reading than I am—and I have many of my own criticisms of Rowling. I meant only to argue that the objections I most frequently see, to her continuity problems or clichéd prose, don't matter a great deal within the kind of storytelling she does.
posted by cirripede at 5:34 PM on February 24, 2010


Oh my god. I just realised I spelled "Sarek" wrong. I'm so embarressed, I want to sink through the floor.
posted by jb at 6:26 PM on February 24, 2010


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