50 thoughts on “How You Know You’ve Arrived As an Author, 2013 Edition

  1. Wait, if he downloads it and it’s his book from the future, is he plagiarizing himself? Does he owe himself copyright fines?

  2. Tessa –

    Nah. He just needs to download it now and register the copyright, and sue his future self. If invests the proceeds, he’ll be able to pay the judgement with interest left over. Unless the economy crashes, in which case he asks for a bailout.

  3. Is that how you know you’ve made it? Books you haven’t written are already pirated? I’m sure what you actually write while be better… Unless they’ve found a way to download your brain…

  4. Dude, copy that shit, publish it, and then announce the titles of your next 30 or 40 books.

    You may be the first author to match Asimov’s output…

  5. Just think, you’d be able to read your own work exactly like your readers do. Then you could blurb yourself!

    “I really am that good.”

    “I can’t put me down!”

    “The best book I’ve ever written.”

  6. I think I’ll download it, put my name on it and try to get it published. You can’t provide any evidence that you wrote it, after all!

  7. Harry Turtledove did a story about this– “Hindsight”. An author sees a book published and thinks: “hey, I was thinking about writing something like this. I wonder what this author has done with this idea?”

    He then finds that the writing style of the author is very similar to his own….

  8. Philip Kerr was about to publish his Bernie Gunther noir mystery, The Man With The Iron Heart, about the assassination of SS monster Reinhardt Heydrich, when he learned that Harry Turtledove’s book The Man With The Iron Heart, about the same bastard, had just been released. Kerr changed the title to Prague Fatale.

    How do you think Turtledove became Grand Master of Alternate History? He’s obviously got a time machine.

  9. Harry Turtledove did a story about this– “Hindsight”. An author sees a book published and thinks: “hey, I was thinking about writing something like this. I wonder what this author has done with this idea?”

    He then finds that the writing style of the author is very similar to his own….

    Damn – I was just going to comment on that being a great idea for a story – you find that the novel you just downloaded was the one you intended to write, except for stylistic and editorial changes that look like successful editi-

    Hey wait, maybe when time machines are created I WILL BECOME HARRY TURTLEDOVE!!!

  10. Not all visitors to this site may know, but in November 1948 someone wrote a letter to Astounding Science Fiction in response to the November 1949 issue. The letter, which named all the stories and their authors as well as the cover artist, was published, and a year later the “predicted” issue appeared, with a few necessary adjustments (such as the first installment of “Gulf” appearing with the byline Robert Heinlein instead of Anson McDonald, a pen name he’d abandoned). I’ve just found a good summary of all this at http://www.andrew-may.com/asf/prophecy.htm.

    I’ve always enjoyed any form of this idea: that some future already exists and we’re just not able to fully observe it yet. Another sort of example is when Heinlein, at carefully chosen moments, breaks into present tense in Citizen of the Galaxy – starting right on the first page: “The boy […] stood tense while his feral eyes darted around, taking in what he had not been able to see from the pen. The slave market lies on the spaceport side of the famous Plaza of Liberty, facing the hill crowned by the still more famous Praesidium of the Sargon, capital of the Nine Worlds. The boy did not recognize it; he did not even know what planet he was on.”

  11. This is an opportunity for those of us here in this comment section to help out: we could, collectively write the novel Lock In by John Scalzi‘s weblog’s commenters. Then there’d be something to distribute!

    Anyone want to start?

  12. See also “The Anticipator” by Morley Roberts, and Arthur C. Clarke’s essay “Herbert George Morley Roberts Wells Esq” about his mistakenly attributing it to HG Wells in “The Longest Science Fiction Story In The World”.

    “The Anticipator” is about an author whose stories are plagiarized before he writes them.

  13. Douglas Adams had the Greatest Poet Ever victimized by the white-out industry, who descended on him using time travel, convinced him to release a manuscript of his greatest work written with errors he’d corrected with white-out. (Eventually the poet spends so much time appearing on various eras’ chat shows to extol the benefits of white-out to the aspiring writer that the poem never gets written).

  14. “Writing long books is a laborious and impoverishing act of foolishness: expanding in five hundred pages an idea that could be perfectly explained in a few minutes. A better procedure is to pretend that those books already exist and to offer a summary, a commentary.”
    ― Jorge Luis Borges

  15. Who’s going to sue him?

    “Yes I’m John Scalzi, the real John Scalzi, will you other John Scalzis please shut up, please shut up, please shut up…”

  16. We got a load of Analog magazines donated, which I scoped up for the bathroom reading bin. In the March 2013 issue, there is a short story by Don D’Ammassa, Pre-Pirates, about this very idea. Maybe it’s actually a knockoff written by John Scolzi for a sweatshop NaNOWriMo in an unnamed third world country.

  17. Days have passed since this post, hasn’t anybody downloaded the file just to see what it is? Where is everybody’s curiosity?

    If nobody steps up then I’m going to have to risk the virus and/or malware just to find out what this is. Won’t somebody take that risk instead of me?

  18. Foible: I tried. I’m not seeing it in the searches, though, so it probably had malware and was removed by TPB themselves because they’re not stupid: They actively remove fake torrents and malware torrents when they find ‘em.

  19. There is a small software company that created a game about running a business that created software. They put a ‘stolen’ version up on the web. It had a poison pill. Your company always failed because of people stealing your software and costing you profits. They blogged about the number of people asking on the forums about how to get passed this because they were stuck. This ‘feature’ was not in the pay version.

    I can’t remember the name of the company. It was in the last year or two. I thought it was brilliant.

  20. I’m reminded of that scene in Spaceballs where the bad guys get the “instant videotape” of Spaceballs, and fast-forward past their point in the film (after a brief stop at “now”) to see where the good guys are headed.

  21. You’ve really made it when the future pirates aren’t just torrenting books that don’t exist yet, they’re selling the e-book version on Ebay.

    No really, while searching for a D&D book I saw a company offering e-book versions, rather interesting as selling files on e-bay is pretty iffy to begin with, plus there was no official e-book version of the book in question. So I checked out the seller with plans to report as many of their ‘sales’ as possible. Imagine my surprise at seeing the next Harry Potter book available, some three months before its publication. I reported it, but really, some things you’re tempted to leave alone just because anyone dumb enough to buy it deserves their fate.

  22. If you have a spare computer you could use to download it (so that if it’s a bunch of malware you can just burn the damned thing in the yard), it would be fun to read it and then write a book which is entirely unlike the pirate version. Just to mess with them.

  23. There is a small software company that created a game about running a business that created software. They put a ‘stolen’ version up on the web. It had a poison pill. Your company always failed because of people stealing your software and costing you profits. They blogged about the number of people asking on the forums about how to get passed this because they were stuck. This ‘feature’ was not in the pay version.

    I can’t remember the name of the company. It was in the last year or two. I thought it was brilliant.

    The game is called “Game Dev Tycoon” by Greenheart Games – and I made a point of buying it when it came out on Steam.

    It’s not too bad.

  24. Hello.

    I work for a major copyright enforcement agency. I write/manage bots that scan the listings and pre-sales and publicity feeds for major publishers and then create fake torrents/trackers, and offer for them downloading.

    This is part of our monetization of our privacy prevention, detection, and interdiction program.

    We are often out in front of the release of books, planting trackers that have a good chance of drawing in people who are looking for a new title or release.

  25. Of course, that’s precisely what time-traveling criminals WOULD say to cover their tracks…

  26. I’d worry that my short story “Jar of the Atlantic” is on torrent, if only for the horrifying dread that it’s better written than what’s currently on my laptop hard drive… :(

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