Warehouse 13, meet Warehouse 23
(UPDATE 10/26 2:55: See below.) There’s a new show from Universal slotted for the Sci Fi Channel written by Rockne S. O’Bannon (Farscape, Alien Nation, Seaquest) and Jane Epsenson (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica). The press release from SciFi.com – Warehouse 13 Green Lighted:
SCI FI Channel has given a green light to Warehouse 13, a two-hour pilot it describes as part The X-Files, part Raiders of the Lost Ark and part Moonlighting. The pilot for a one-hour drama comedy comes from Universal Media Studios and is slated to begin production in December, with an eye toward a summer 2008 premiere.
After saving the life of the president, two FBI agents find themselves abruptly "promoted" and relocated to windswept South Dakota, to a top-secret location called Warehouse 13: a massive, secret storage facility that houses every strange artifact, mysterious relic, fantastical object and supernatural souvenir ever collected by the U.S. government over the centuries. The duo search the country for several missing objects while monitoring for reports of supernatural and paranormal activity that could indicate the presence of other objects they must retrieve.
Now compare that with this description from Steve Jackson Games for their GURPS RPG supplement Warehouse 23, a book originally published in 1999 that gave SJ Games the name of their online shop, with a very popular basement:
The Ark of the Covenant rests in a crate next to the gold plates of Moroni and the dissected corpses of the Martian invaders. Frozen in ice you’ll find the Jersey Devil, a Yeti, and a bacteria that can eat any metal – it just can’t STOP. Growing in a hidden hydroponics facility is a plant with a fruit that tastes like steak, with enough nutrition in a single serving to sustain you for a week. The plates they serve it on in the cafeteria are made of a 100% biodegradable plastic that – while it’s still fresh – can absorb the kinetic energy of a tank shell without even spilling your drink. You don’t want to know what’s in the drink.
The global power balance teeters on the brink of chaos. We touch too much too soon. We discover things we were never meant to comprehend: Relics created by the whim of mad genius, or aliens, or gods – or godlike DEMONS . . . substances so potent that a handful could destroy our world, computers so subtle that no network is secure from their manipulation, sorceries dark enough to annihilate the purest soul.
Somewhere, those with true Power have built a facility to imprison these forces . . . for proper study. For our own good. To insure order. Until THEY decide to unleash them. They know WE aren’t yet ready for the contents of Warehouse 23. But are they?
Sounds like there’s some, ahh, overlap in these two concepts. And in these two names. Yet there’s no mention of Steve Jackson Games in Sci Fi’s release. Stand back and watch the fireworks.
It should be noted that Steve Jackson Games is notorious for having sued the federal government, winning damages of $50,000 and attorneys’ fees of $250,000 for a Secret Service raid that had been carelessly executed, illegal, and completely unjustified. Bruce Sterling discussed the case in his book The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier. The case also helped to prompt the formation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
UPDATE 10/26 2:55: Phil from the Marketing Department of Steve Jackson Games said that he couldn’t comment on the issue at this time.
I rather doubt it. "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" was released in 1981. So, if anyone will sue, it'll be Lucasarts. The SJG idea surely came from "Raiders" anyway.
Why would Steve Jackson sue Universal when Jackson was blatently stealing his concept from the last scene in Raiders?
The last scene in Raiders INSPIRED Warehouse 23. Warehouse 13 sounds like someone bought GURPS Warehouse 23 and then decided they could make a series based on it without actually giving any credit where credit is due.Sci-Fi apparently has no clue who Steve Jackson is, or how he went after the government and won.This should be fun.
Raiders was hardly the first place where anybody suggested the government locks up stuff. Anybody who has ever seen or heard about the storage rooms in courthouses, police stations, museums, libraries, law offices, and Al Capone headquarters knows all about this. BTW, when I was 17 I actually worked in one of Capone's many old storage vaults. The J.C. Whitney auto parts company used one under State Street about a half-mike from his Metropole Hotel; that's where (no kidding) they stored their Ford Model-T and Model-A parts!
Too be fair, I'm assuming J.E. got her idea from Raiders than from the game. I've read her blog…lots. I've never seen her mention games, role-playing or any mention of an interest or knowledge of the world that is gaming. Being a gamer myself…I'VE never even heard of this one, so a non-gamer would most likely not have either.Oh, and the X-Files had references to Warehouses that stored 'interesting' artifacts, too. Not an uncommon idea in the conspiracy theory world…
As the above comment points out … the whole thing is the Warehouse hinted at at the end of Raiders (filtered through fannish memes, a famous Usenet thread, and some GURPSy fun). Lots of other folks did their take on it, too (I remember an issue of Cutey Bunny …) and the name is just a twist on other stuff as well (Majestic 12, Area 51, etc).And I'd know, because while I didn't initiate the project (it was a company title that was handed to me as a Work For Hire) I surely did write it. :)I would hope that this is just some overzealous lawyer who doesn't understand the fannish context, rather than Steve Jackson himself. If it's Steve … well, I just hope it isn't Steve :)
Even still, you must admit that there sure seems to be a cursory similarity between the two, yes?While I don't think Jane or Rockne lifted the material, the third name involved– D. Brent Mote– is unknown to me. Other than being the writer of Atomic Train.
I'll just go ahead and quote my own Mailing List to save some keystrokes :)As a loyal browncoat and buffyholic, you can bet I check in at Whedonesque (http://whedonesque.com/) regularly, and this morning it caused confused facial contortions. I mean, I like seeing my name in pixels, sure, but not in a context like this. Yeek!http://www.comicmix.com/news/2007/10/25/warehouse…My hope is that this is some baseless rumor (that there's really no legal trouble brewing), or maybe some lawyer sent someone a rude letter without first considering the fannish context (the book itself explicitly lists the debts owed for the simple Raiders/Usenet/etc notion it builds on, and mentions the predecessors for the title, as well [Area 51, Majestic 12]).I’ve never been so happy to have written a Work For Hire (which means, it may have my eyes, but it is not my baby).And as long as we're getting paranoid about legalities: the contents of this Blue Room Mailing List post are Copyright (c) 2007 by S. John Ross, and may not be reproduced without permission. Take that!Next up: Blink 182 in legal tussle with Maroon 5.- S. John Ross(and I do hereby give myself permission to repost this here) ;)
I'm sure someone will forward the press release link to Steve Jackson… at which point we'll see whether he considers the concept close enough — and original enough with him — to sue over
You know, oddly enough, I OWN a copy of Warehouse 23 (the GURPS book) which I bought via Warehouse 23 (the online bookshop of SJG) back when all the 3rd ed GURPS stuff was discounted to $9.95 two years ago; and yet my first thought was: "Gee, it's Friday the 13th (the series) with Mulder and Skully!" Also, aside from Raiders, haven't other people seen Hanger 18 and Independence Day and any number of OTHER movies that played off of the same riff? Now if some of the actual items from the game book showed up in the show (excepting Public Domain IP like The Ark) THEN they'd have a case.
Warehouse 13 sounds a lot more like Tri Tac's RPG Bureau 13 and the 4 Novels licensed to Nick Pollotta. Combination of Both.