Buffy writers and the Evils of Synchronicity

Glenn Hauman

Glenn is VP of Production at ComicMix. He has written Star Trek and X-Men stories and worked for DC Comics, Simon & Schuster, Random House, arrogant/MGMS and Apple Comics. He's also what happens when a Young Turk of publishing gets old.

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13 Responses

  1. mike weber says:

    Not to belittle the situation, but that's not precisely an idea that Anthony alone has used and, to be honest, what little i recall (basically enjoying them well enough when i read them to read all three, but not enough to be interested in *re*reading them – and i re-read some truly awesomely bad books from time to time) of those books didn't include it.One suspects that it's basically coincidence, or, at worst, subconscious – i know, as a mediocre and non-professional writer myself, that anything i read, see or expewrience is likely to surface later as something i write. Look at "The Terminator", which Harlan took after over similarities to "Soldier" and "Demon with a Glass Hand", which, it seems to me, is rather more similar to a Philip K. Dick story in its most important element, or "The Running Man" ("Bachman"'s original book, not the movie), which is amazingly close in concept to a Robert Sheckley story.Or then we have "Fistful of Dollars", an unauthorised but officially acknowledged remake of "Yojimbo", itself a not-officially-recognised version of Hammett's "Red Harvest" (and Walter Hill's "Last Man Standing", officially a remake of Yojimbo, but more nearly a straight film of the Hammett original)…Or "Star Wars", which, in some sequences, is a virtual shot-for-shot remake of Kurosawa's "Hidden Fortress", with a"Yojimbo" sequence thrown in for good measure… Some of these were probably accidental, some of them were probably of the "they'll never catch me" variety, but all of them are examples of how the film/tv business work, and Joss is hardly the first to wind up in such a situation.

    • Glenn Hauman says:

      I gave the books a fast read before I posted; there's enough of a similarity that if I was Piers, I'd call a lawyer.And as I said, the surprise problem is that as of Monday 12:01, Dollhouse is frozen as is. No rewriting until the strike ends. Which means it's a dangling sword.I remind you that with Terminator, Harlan sued and won. King acknowledged that he might have lifted Sheckley's "Prize of Peril", and certainly apologized, I don't know if money changed hands there.

    • Marilee J. Layman says:


  2. mike weber says:

    Did Harlan actually sue, or did they settle? As i recalled it, they settled. Personally, i'd have been tempted to tell him to fibble off … of course, the defense might lead to a bad result, as "Terminator" is, in my opinion, a *lot* closer to "Second Variety" than it is to "Soldier" or "Demon…" (the time travel-to-prevent-something-you-don't-like-from-happening bit is pretty much a cliche, and i don't really see it as that close to either of the Ellison stories otherwise, except in ways that are pretty much incidental to the story) fighting the case might have gotten the Dick estate involved…Rmemeber "Arena" on "Star Trek"? (Or was the ST Episode "The Arena"?) That one was just about to begin shooting when someone realised it was basically a Fredric Brown story – complete accident (As i recall, it was one of those "read it years ago" things.). And if Heinlein had been the kind of touchy character Harlen sometimes is, he probably could have sued over "The Trouble with Tribbles".But, yeah, the strike problem is Definitely Not Good.

    • Glenn Hauman says:

      Harlan sued Cameron; the suit was settled out of court and newer prints of the film acknowledge Ellison.As for tribbles, Heinlein himself noted he might have gotten the idea for flatcats from the children story "Pigs Is Pigs". David Gerrold thought he was telling the story of rabbits coming to Australia.

    • Alan Coil says:

      Ellison sued Paramount and Cameron. Paramount insisted on settling. Cameron wanted to fight it out.The final product of Terminator was not what he sued about. Earlier scripts were heavily cribbed from the Ellison work. Cameron bragged about it in one interview or more.

  3. Marilee J. Layman says:

    I've read these recently — they're the only Anthony I've kept — and I'm with mike. Ghu knows, Anthony wasn't the first to use wiped agents, and the housing aspect of it seems to be more important in Dollhouse than in other variations. Forex, PKD wrote Paycheck in 1953 where agents' minds were wiped (we see one after the the mind-wipe).

  4. mike weber says:

    Since Harlan's suit was not filed till after the film was in release, i doubt it was about "earlier drafts" – and it would have had even less merit than it did, if it had been – i doubt you could get the courts to accept a suit based on something that was never filmed.My basic position is that, if Harlan had standing to sue, several other people did as well, and probably better cases – similarities to PKD's "Second Variety", for instance, or "The Forbin Project/Colossus" came to my mind immediately; it wasn't till io heard Harlan was cutting up cranky that i even thought of his stuff.

    • Alan Coil says:

      "Since Harlan's suit was not filed till after the film was in release, i doubt it was about "earlier drafts"…"—–It was what it was. It WAS after the movie came out, because that is when Cameron made his comments.I understand you don't like Ellison. That's fine. You're interpretation of Ellison as being "cranky" is your priviledge. Some people get 'determined' when they think they are wronged; some get 'angry'. Ellison is a man of passion about protecting his legal rights. That is why he sued.

      • Marilee J. Layman says:

        Oh good grief. Ellison is a cranky old man. He also likes to put his hands where he shouldn't and women don't like him nearly as much as Asimov.

        • Alan Coil says:

          Great Pumpkin. :)

          • Marilee J. Layman says:

            I stage-managed You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown for local theatre when I was in high school, although I think my language comes more from being reared in a very strict fundamentalist household. I kept one of the giant prop pencils and it confuses every new cleaning lady.

  5. mike weber says:

    It's jot that i don't like Harlan; i do think that he tends to be a bit of a drama queen who's overly sensitive to perceived wrongs and fails to understand how anyone could take offense at his perfectly reasonable actions.He's a brilliant writer, and i am so sorry that the version of Eisner's "Spirit" that he was working on for a TV movie many years ago (with William Friedkin, i think) never got made – i think it would have come as close as it's possible with live actors to doing justice to Esiner's work.It's just that i really think that Harlan's position in that matter was basically wrong, as opposed to his position in regard to ABC's robot cop show – what was the name? – that pretty much knocked off his and Bova's "Brillo", and that he was likely right in advising van Vogt to take action over "Alien".Generally, when it comes to creators' rights, i find myself and Harlan to be fellow travellers onmost issues. (I still cherish his reaction to the letter he got asking him to join in in support of creators' right on the colourisation issue, though – "Directors want *writers* to defend the integrity of *directors'* creative vision?!?")So, yeah – it's just that i think he was somewhat out of line over this particular one. I really think that PKDick or his estate would have had a better case.And i'm still very dubious over the possibility of successfully suing over early drafts when the final published version is different.Essentially, that's the situation that the Glenn's original post was looking at – that creators can protect themselves with changes made to early (possibly infringing, possibly unconsciously so) versions before the final product is released… and that the strike may prevent Joss from making those changes and thus give Fox an excuse to kill the project entirely.