License to Plagiarize?

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IceCreamEmpress

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A hotly hyped new book, Q. R. Markham's Assassin of Secrets, has been pulled off the market in response to allegations of plagiarism. Refunds, apologies, the whole nine yards.

The always coruscating Edward Champion runs it down for us, and it's pretty embarrassing for the author, and for his editors.

I'd love to hear what folks here think!
 

Calla Lily

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It's embarrassing for the editors and his agent--not everyone has the kind of memory that can retain exact phrasing. And people assume honesty.

Embarassing for that "writer" to be caught in a clever, detailed, blatant THEFT of other writers' ORIGINAL work? No. Just desserts.
 

blacbird

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Isn't the thread title a trifle misleading? Far from having a "license to plagiarize", this dipshit got caught doing it, and is now reaping his full benefit for doing so.

caw
 

Libbie

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Holy freaking CRAP. That is by far the worst/most glaring example of obvious plagiarism I've ever seen. My jaw actually, literally dropped open when I got all the way to the end of that massive list of evidence and I saw, "...and that's only through page 17." THAT MUCH in seventeen pages?

I know editors in X genre can't possibly be experts in the prose of every single book in their genre, but it really seems like somebody ought to have caught this before it got this far. I mean, this isn't just a few lines here and there, like in the Viswanathan case or the Cassie Edwards stuff. This is, like, THE ENTIRE BOOK, or just about, has been written as a composite of five other writers' works. So far. At page 17. I really wonder that nobody recognized any of this material before. But I guess it just goes to show, nobody can have an in-depth knowledge of everything in a genre. Yikes.

I often worry that I am inadvertently copying the particular arrangement of two or three words, or using a phrase I've read in another book, because I have the kind of memory that will pull up little bits of information like that without necessarily attaching a source to them. I don't ever want to be accused of plagiarism, though, so whenever the little warning bell tinkles in my head and I think I may have heard what I just wrote somewhere else before, I drop what I'm doing and Google the hell out of it to be sure I wasn't inadvertently inspired.

That -- the lapse of memory and the inability to positively identify where a particular phrase or line or scene came from -- is the excuse some past plagiarizers have tried to use. And I am sure in some cases where the similarities are there, but pretty small and extremely infrequent, it's a legitimate brainfart on the author's part.

Q. R. Markham is going to have a hell of a time coming up with an excuse for THIS, though. Wow. He must have typed up his manuscript with three or four other spy novels propped open all around his computer.
 
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IceCreamEmpress

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It's embarrassing for the editors and his agent--not everyone has the kind of memory that can retain exact phrasing.

But Ed's rundown is just of the first seventeen pages. The whole book is a tissue of cut and paste; I would be embarrassed, as an editor myself, not to have caught that.

And the plotline about "super hot young woman scientist is head of the secret spy lab" is such a direct lift from Gardner, that I would think an editor who works on mysteries and thrillers would feel embarrassed not to have spotted it. It's not like it's some obscure thing.

Embarassing for that "writer" to be caught in a clever, detailed, blatant THEFT of other writers' ORIGINAL work? No. Just desserts.

You make an excellent point--he should not be embarrassed, he should be ashamed.
 

gotchan

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If the publisher is recalling the book from booksellers and offering refunds to retail customers, yeah, they think it's genuine and serious.

Whenever someone is caught plagiarizing, I think there is a tendency to overreach and see plagiarism in mere similarity. I think there is a bit of that in the second link in the OP. But some of the comparisons? Wow. Red-handed, dude.

Q.R. Markham (Quentin Rowan) is clearly a dirty plagiarist. I can't imagine any acceptable defense.

As for his editors. It's a little less clear, but not good for them. Sometimes plagiarist select obscure works. But Q.R. stole from a whole raft of titles in the genre, not all obscure by any means. Any editor claiming knowledge and proficiency of the genre should have recognized at least a couple. They (assuming more than one editor read it closely) may have been confused by the sheer number of sources obscuring the problem. But Edward Champion's analysis suggests single works are represented in strings of stolen passages.

I can't imagine how Q.R. thought he could get away with it. I believe it's not worth trying to understand. He may not have thought at all. What is a worthwhile question is how did it get by so many people? Not just at Mullholland, where we might charitably assume sloppy standards and inattention, but also at Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly. As Jeremy Duns points out in his apology for blurbing the book and interviewing Q.R., http://jeremyduns.blogspot.com/2011/11/assassin-of-secrets.html, some people spotted it simply from excerpts posted online.
 
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IceCreamEmpress

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Isn't the thread title a trifle misleading? Far from having a "license to plagiarize", this dipshit got caught doing it, and is now reaping his full benefit for doing so.

Is joke, blacbird.

And the publisher gave him a license (and a contract) to plagiarize; it was only readers who called attention to it.
 

Libbie

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Wow...Jeremy Duns tells what he knows about the debacle. Pretty interesting stuff. And shocking.

"He seemed to have taken most of his action scenes and dialogue from post-Fleming Bond novels (at least six of Gardner’s), and added long poetic descriptions from several of McCarry’s books, as well as the back-story for his protagonist. A bizarre personal playlist of his favourite moments in the genre, I guess, all sewn together with the magic of Controls C and V."

ETA: Nuts, Gotchan beat me to it. I'm leaving the post up anyway...I love Duns' quote.
 
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Libbie

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Wait...maybe Q. R. Markham is trying to become...THE GREATEST BOND VILLAIN OF ALL TIME!
 

Jessianodel

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Oh god that's just...I mean it doesn't seem like he even tried to cover it up. Whole paragraphs with exact wording? Really? Not even similar with different adjectives or something, no. Exactly the same thing, copy-pasted. That's...awful. I feel sorry for the agent and publisher. That writer? May he never write again.
 

gotchan

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It must have taken some effort to stitch multiple sources into something coherent enough to land a two book deal. We're not talking Publish America and Atlanta Nights here. Or are we? Why not just write?
 

leahzero

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The book is still up on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/031617646X/?tag=absowrit-20

And the blurbs are inadvertently hilarious:

"Quirky, entertaining ... fine writing keeps the enterprise firmly on track, and the obvious Ian Fleming influence just adds to the appeal." (Publishers Weekly (starred review) )
"Brainy and enticing ... a narrative hall of mirrors in which nothing and no one are as they seem and emotion is a perilous thing to have ... A dazzling, deftly controlled debut that moves through familiar territory with wry sophistication." (Kirkus (starred review) )

"A fantastic, gleeful, chrome-plated-slick debut of a novel. In Jonathan Chase, Markham has created the perfect cliche-shattering super spy while honoring the progenitors. Dangerously sharp, and genuinely fun--and very, very, very smart. I want more books like this. I want more books from the mind of Mr. Markham!" (Greg Rucka, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Run and Queen & Country )
 

gotchan

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"A fantastic, gleeful, chrome-plated-slick debut of a novel. In Jonathan Chase, Markham has created the perfect cliche-shattering super spy while honoring the progenitors. Dangerously sharp, and genuinely fun--and very, very, very smart. I want more books like this. I want more books from the mind of Mr. Markham!" (Greg Rucka, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Run and Queen & Country )

I wonder if Mr Rucka will be penning a public apology a la Jeremy Duns?
 

joeyc

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I often worry that I am inadvertently copying the particular arrangement of two or three words, or using a phrase I've read in another book, because I have the kind of memory that will pull up little bits of information like that without necessarily attaching a source to them. I don't ever want to be accused of plagiarism, though, so whenever the little warning bell tinkles in my head and I think I may have heard what I just wrote somewhere else before, I drop what I'm doing and Google the hell out of it to be sure I wasn't inadvertently inspired.

This happens to everyone (I think, anyway). Pieces, names, descriptions. Everything comes from somewhere.

But this guy, man. I don't even know.
 

Libbie

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That writer? May he never write again.

I don't think this counts as writing in the first place.

Wait...wait...he's some kind of hipster, right? And this is all a giant condescending prank on the literary world? Because he did this ironically...? You stupid rubes...? Right...?

God, I am so confused as to what the hell this guy might have been thinking.
 

Libbie

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gotchan

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And he just ruined his entire career over his "debut".

Would that it were so. We'll probably see him pop up with a memoir about how he got caught plagiarizing.
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