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Kathl33n
12-17-2011, 05:44 AM
Does anybody believe that this woman was ripped off or do you believe it is a hoax or false claim?

IceCreamEmpress
12-17-2011, 05:46 AM
Could you give a link, or more information?

cameron_chapman
12-17-2011, 05:51 AM
That case was thrown out in 2004, according to Snopes (http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/matrix.asp). Also, she says that she submitted her script in 1986, and that not only The Matrix, but also the Terminator franchise were based on her work. Which might be a tiny bit believable if the first Terminator film hadn't come out in 1984...

Ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution is everything. Maybe the Matrix films or the Terminator films do resemble her basic idea, but that doesn't mean they were "stolen" from her. It's entirely possible that the ideas sat in the back of someone's mind for a decade and by the time they actually did something with it, they had no idea where it even came from. Happens all the time. I've had it happen with minor things in my own work, where I then realize after the fact that I included some little detail that's identical to another book. As long as it's nothing substantial, I don't worry about it.

Kathl33n
12-17-2011, 05:53 AM
http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/sophia-stewart-the-matrix-lawsuit-conspiracy-or-hoax

This is one... but there are a few more out there too.

Calla Lily
12-17-2011, 05:59 AM
AFAIR, The Terminator was loosely based on a Harlan Ellison ss, "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream." When I saw it in theaters I remember thinking how much of the story it resembled, and was surprised not to see an acknowledgement to him in the credits. Then when I rented the VHS, they'd tacked on a screen that did just that. (Nobody messes with Ellison!)


ETA: I do not have a source for this, only my memory. Which is pretty good, but not useful as a source for citing. :)

IceCreamEmpress
12-17-2011, 06:11 AM
Oh, yes, now I remember reading about this (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/blogs/thr-esq/myth-sophia-stewart-endures-63474).

I think Ms. Stewart really believes that her material was the source, but I don't think she's made a convincing case. (I see that she later sued her attorneys for malpractice, so perhaps she agrees.)

That blog you linked to, Kathleen, was pretty tendentious, and didn't really weigh the objective merits and demerits of Ms. Stewart's arguments. Which is fine--not every piece of writing has to be an objective analysis of someone's claims--but it's not a great single source of information.

Since she couldn't document that the Wachowskis advertised for stories, that she answered the ad, that she sent her story in, and that they read the story, it's hard to see how she could have won her case.*

To be honest, it's not like the idea of the world being a big fake game run by aliens or similar hadn't been done several times before Ms. Stewart wrote her story--Philip K. Dick's 1959 novel Time Out of Joint and 1969 novel Ubik both explore similar themes.




* See this, for instance, from this LA Times story (http://lists.indymedia.org/pipermail/mediapolitics/2005-August/0804-1x.html):

In 1986, she says, she saw an advertisement posted in a national magazine by the Wachowski brothers soliciting science fiction manuscripts to make into comic books and she sent them all of her materials for "The Third Eye," including a copy of her original manuscript. "My dream was to have my work seen as a movie and a comic book," she says. Stewart says she never heard from the Wachowskis, and never had her materials returned. Morrow's ruling notes, however, that Stewart did not produce the ad as evidence. In denying that they ever placed such an ad, the Wachowskis said that, in 1986, Andy was just 18 and brother Larry was a 21-year-old college student.

mario_c
12-17-2011, 06:15 AM
Movies and major novels are routinely threatened by frivolous suits claiming plagiarism, and sometimes the plaintiff's case is quite credible. Some filmmakers made an indie movie about a dysfunctional family running a funeral home - yep, they sued Alan Ball for stealing their concept to make Six Feet Under. And we all know about Art Buchwald and Coming To America. And Ellison is fightin' mad again (so, what else is new?) about In Time ripping off his Repent, Harlequin short story (as a "authorized" version of the story was in development!)
Parallel development...it's a mother.
My uninformed opinion: If she's so good, how come she's written and published absolutely nothing else in 30 years? (See above, again.)

IceCreamEmpress
12-17-2011, 06:18 AM
Well, Art Buchwald won his case (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buchwald_v._Paramount) about Coming to America because he was able to document that Paramount had seen his treatment of a similar idea and attempted to make it into a movie.

Perhaps the lesson we all need to take away from this as writers is the importance of keeping good records. If Ms. Stewart had had a copy of the ad she remembered having answered, or even had remembered in which magazine she had seen it, perhaps that would have clarified things a bit.

Kathl33n
12-17-2011, 07:12 AM
In response to nothing being written since in 30 years I will have to say that Margaret Mitchell only wrote one book in her lifetime.

ChaosTitan
12-17-2011, 06:54 PM
In response to nothing being written since in 30 years I will have to say that Margaret Mitchell only wrote one book in her lifetime.

That's not much of an argument, especially considering you're comparing a novelist to a screenwriter (apples to rhubarb, if you will).

Ryan David Jahn
12-17-2011, 08:14 PM
AFAIR, The Terminator was loosely based on a Harlan Ellison ss, "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream." When I saw it in theaters I remember thinking how much of the story it resembled, and was surprised not to see an acknowledgement to him in the credits. Then when I rented the VHS, they'd tacked on a screen that did just that. (Nobody messes with Ellison!)


ETA: I do not have a source for this, only my memory. Which is pretty good, but not useful as a source for citing. :)

You're close: it was based on an Outer Limits episode that Harlan Ellison wrote called "Soldier."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soldier_%28The_Outer_Limits%29

Williebee
12-17-2011, 08:37 PM
AFAIR, The Terminator was loosely based on a Harlan Ellison ss, "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream." When I saw it in theaters I remember thinking how much of the story it resembled, and was surprised not to see an acknowledgement to him in the credits. Then when I rented the VHS, they'd tacked on a screen that did just that. (Nobody messes with Ellison!)


ETA: I do not have a source for this, only my memory. Which is pretty good, but not useful as a source for citing. :)

There is a great documentary about Ellison up on Netflix right now that talks about this, "Dreams With Sharp Teeth" (http://www.creatvdiff.com/harlan_ellison.php) (link is to a trailer for it)

Earlier this year Ellison filed suit re: the movie "In Time", which appeared to be based on "Repent, Harlequin, said the Tick Tock Man". He later dropped the suit, "with prejudice". (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/in-time-harlan-ellison-lawsuit-dropped-267567)

IceCreamEmpress
12-17-2011, 09:55 PM
I am sure Ms. Stewart wrote that story in 1981.

And she may well have sent it to someone in response to a 1986 ad.

The likelihood that that "someone" was the Wachowski siblings, based on their being in high school and college respectively at that time, is pretty slim. Unless she can show that they ever saw the story, she doesn't have a case.

So I don't think she's committing a hoax or knowingly making a false claim. But I do think that her emotions have made it hard for her to see the illogic of her claim.

Mac H.
12-18-2011, 08:22 AM
I read her court submissions where she argued that 'Terminator' was stolen from her.

This is the passage from her synopsis ... the 'smoking gun' .. which makes it clear that the idea was stolen from her:


One of the major research and weapon systems development organizations on Earth was headed by a philosopher-scientist, Ikahan. His organization was instrumental in building the Spacestar, a huge vehicle . . . designed for inter-planetary warfare and space travel. . . .

[i]t contained the most secret and highly advanced devices known at that time. The [leaders] commanded Ikahan to use the Spacestar as a vehicle for war against any people who resisted their tyranny. .

. . When all of the preparations were completed, the vessel left the orbiting dock where it had been constructed. . . . These orders clearly stated [that the] rebels on board the Spacestar [engage in interplanetary travel] and destroy . . . the consciousness of God from the population on Earth. .

. . The Spacestar fights many battles with Earth's fleet, pirates, and experiences space storms. Many are wounded, and others die. . . . Eventually, they are forced to land on the planet Sorr, ruled by Queen Johnny, that is completely operated by Machines powered by energy from the "Black Moons". The light from planet Sorr is such that it encompasses everything in darkness . . .

As they stand in the open, the surrounding heavens blaze with fire, lightning, thunderous roars, and other phenomenon. [The director] moves in for a medium close shot of Ikahn who is now standing . . . They are all naked and without shame. Ikahn retired to his quarters for meditation, and received notification from the [leaders] to open his secret orders.

These orders clearly specified . . . that the parties [engage in an] expedition of destruction . . . on Earth [for systematic termination of its future leaders].Yep - that's it. That's her case.

It is pretty sad.

Mac

Manuel Royal
12-18-2011, 06:15 PM
You're close: it was based on an Outer Limits episode that Harlan Ellison wrote called "Soldier."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soldier_%28The_Outer_Limits%29
And, I'd say, also (partly) on another Outer Limits episode, also written by Ellison, Demon With a Glass Hand. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon_with_a_Glass_Hand)

Cameron must really like The Outer Limits, by the way. As often noted, Avatar is quite reminiscent of two different Outer Limits episodes (The Chameleon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chameleon_%28The_Outer_Limits%29) and another I can't think of at the moment). As well as (blatantly) a Poul Anderson short story ("Call Me Joe"), and also a Clifford Simak story ("Desertion"). And pretty much any "white man going native" story.

The Matrix is derivative of a whole bunch of stuff, going back at least to Plato, but I don't think Ms. Stewart had much of a case.

And I don't think Ellison has a case for In Time. It's not really that close to his Hugo-winning story "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktocman". They're conceptually and thematically different, and don't share that many common details.

If Ellison can sue for that, then Poul Anderson's estate should sure as Hell sue the producers of the tv show Terra Nova, which uses exactly the same premise as his story "Wildcat".

MDSchafer
12-20-2011, 02:41 AM
In response to nothing being written since in 30 years I will have to say that Margaret Mitchell only wrote one book in her lifetime.

She was fairly young when she died... I just passed the corner she was killed on today actually.

Jamesaritchie
12-20-2011, 09:15 PM
In response to nothing being written since in 30 years I will have to say that Margaret Mitchell only wrote one book in her lifetime.

Well, she actually wrote one novel as a teenager before Gone With the Wind, but never tried to have it published. And who knows, she may have written another novel or three had she not been killed in the prime of life. Getting killed tends to interfere with any career.

IceCreamEmpress
12-21-2011, 02:56 AM
Mitchell was also a prolific newspaper feature journalist and columnist. Which is how she got the book deal in the first place--someone who was familiar with her work and liked her style asked if she had any fiction, and she hauled out the draft of GWTW. The myth that it was rejected by {largenum} publishers is just that; a myth.

And, yes, as James says she wrote other books that were published posthumously, and as MDSchafer says she was killed just 12 years after GWTW was published.

Harper Lee of To Kill a Mockingbird fame is a much better example of the writer who only wrote one book.