Jan 11 2008
Given the statement by Ms. Edwards that she took materials but didn’t realize that you need to footnote it; the original Signet response that her use was fair use and the fact that the original sources were mostly public domain, it’s illuminating and disturbing to see the following by commenter Em at the SBTB site which provides two passages from Robert Hughes’ Fatal Shore published in 1987. Fatal Shore is described at Amazon as a non fiction book that “reads like the finest of novels” and that Hughes’ “narrative finesse . . drives the reader ever-deeper into specific facts and greater understanding.”
Maybe Signet would like to check out Ms Edwards’ Australian historical romance Touch the Wild Wind, since large chunks of descriptive passages are taken from Robert Hughes’ The Fatal Shore (published in 1987 and therefore not out of copyright).
TtWW ch 4: "The trees were filled with the thumping, scrabbling, and chittering of nocturnal creatures. Sugar-gliders with wide, furry airfoils slung between their fore and hind feet parachuted from tree to tree in wobbly swoops."
Hughes: "After sundown, their trees were filled with the thumping, scrabbling and chattering of other nocturnals–fat brushtailed possums, ringtails and sugar-gliders, which had wide furry airfoils slung between their fore and hind feet and parachuted from tree to tree in wobbly swoops." (wobbly swoops? There’s only one way to write that?)
TtWW ch 8: "The dragon of the outback, a carrion-eating lizard known as a goanna, rushed up a tree at Sasha’s right side and clung there staring at her as she passed by, its throat puffed out in soundless alarm. Other animals crept, slid, and waddled through the dry brush ahead. A silvery-coated eastern gray kangaroo bounded away, emitting a faint, querulous sort of bleat."
Hughes (3 separate quotes): "Even the dragon of the bush, a carrion-eating monitor lizard known as a goanna, would rush up a tree when approached and cling there, its throat puffed out in soundless alarm, until the intruder went away."
"Many of them were camouflaged fossils, throwbacks that crept, slid, waddled or bounded through the dry brush."
"The silvery-coated Eastern Gray kangaroo, Macropus giganteus, moved in flocks of dozens; "the noise they make," a colonial diarist was to note, "is a faint bleat, querulous, but not easy to describe.”"
And many more.
Even these short examples provide a view of Hughes’ narrative elegance: “wobbly swoops” and “soundless alarm”. This is just one example of how non fiction can be prose and not just dry facts. This makes eight books of Edwards that contain text copied from other sources: public domain and works under copyright.
If RWA, Signet, Dorchester, or Kensington has a serious interest in pursuing the truth behind the enormity of the plagiarism, it looks like every book in Ms. Edwards backlist must be examined. Moreover, the individuals who authored the works that are copyrighted deserve to know how their hard earned prose is being used. When you read the First Sale stories here at Dear Author, you recognize how difficult the path to publication is. There is no reason to believe that non fiction authors haven’t sweated the same agony in search of a publisher who will believe in their works.
In light of this, I offer you Janet (Robin) piece on the Neutrality Fallacy.