SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY

24. May 2007, 22:33 | by WD Milner | Full Article

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I suppose in many ways it is — emulating the style of a favorite athlete, artist, musician or writer. One needs to draw the line though at what amounts to plagiarism.

I was partway through reading “Shadow’s Son” by Shirley Meier, S.M. Stirling and Karen Wehrstein and published by Baen Publishing (ISBN 0-6671-72091-0) and distributed by Simon and Shuster when I was rather surprised to find, in the middle of page 165 an almost word-for-word stanza from Robert E. Howard’s “Road of Kings” poem that appears in several of his Conan stories.

I went to the front of the book looking for the attribution, then the back only to find no mention of Howard or his work anywhere. Not only am I disappointed in the authors but more than a little surprised that the editors at Baen should have let this go without including an acknowlegement.

To see what I mean the excerpts (with attribution) follow:

When I was a fighting man, the kettle drums they beat,
The people scattered gold dust before my horse’s feet.
But now I am a great king, assassins hound my track,
With poison in my wine cup, and daggers at my back.


   —“The Road of Kings” by Robert E. Howard
Note: that there are minor variations (such as “assassins” for “the people” in line three) from story to story in Howard’s writings.
When I was a warrior, the kettle drums they beat
The people scattered flowers before my horse’s feet.
Now I am a mighty king, the people dog my track,
Poison in the wine cup, daggers at my back.


   —“Shadow’s Son”, pg 165 by Shirley Meier, S.M. Stirling and Karen Wehrstein

An e-mail sent to Baen Publishing was bounced as my ISP apparently doesn’t have SPF implemented and Baen apparently requires it. So if anyone from Baen reads this, I tried to get a comment privately first.

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Categories: ,
Keywords: Eobert E. Howard,Conan,King,plagairism,Baen,Meier,Stirling,Wehrstein,Simon and Shuster

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