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PLAGIARISM OR PARADOX: A CASE OF CONVERGENT FICTIONS IN THE WORK OF ARTHUR C. CLARKE AND RAY BRADBURY

The well-known Arthur C. Clarke short story “History Lesson” (1949) closely resembles in theme, content and structure, an obscure, early short story by Ray Bradbury, “The Secret” (ca. 1940). This article examines the likelihood and difficulty of making a case for plagiarism against other possible explanations for this close similarity, considered in the literary, social and historical context of science fiction and pulp writing in the mid-twentieth century.
“I've been writing Arthur C. Clarke ripoffs for years, I can highly recommend this approach, as my Sri Lankan houseboys will attest.” – Arthur C. Clarke (apocryphal)
The Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008) short story, “History Lesson”, first published in Startling Stories in May 1949, is widely regarded as a classic, having been anthologized on at least a hundred occasions in multiple languages since first publication (Internet Speculative Fiction Database). The story consists of two parts, the first part describes the last humans on a…

WHY CHRIS TROTTER IS A "USEFUL IDIOT"

Sometimes I haul on the hazmat suit and read the Daily Blog. This particular bloviating pontification by Chris Trotter caught my eye on the whole business with that Canadian dollar store Tomi Lahren, Lauren Southern, and that creepy Renfew thing, Stefan Molyneux, being denied use of the Bruce Mason Centre by Phil Goff and Auckland Council for their little Nuremberg Rally Lite, and I felt I had to respond. I quote Trotts in italics. THAT THE INSPIRATION for this posting came from a man who spent his life studying grizzly bears is entirely fitting. The free speech debate of the past fortnight has seen more than a few angry grizzlies come galloping out of the woods. The question in most need of an urgent answer is – why? What is it that leads the Right to defend the principle of free speech so vigorously? And why has the contemporary Left departed so dramatically from Noam Chomsky’s free-speech absolutism? Well, Chris, the answer to that is because the Far Right overlapping with the Alt Ri…

THINKING ABOUT LUKE WILLIS THOMPSON

This online article criticising Luke Willis Thompson 2018 Turner Prize-nominated work for essentially being appropriation because he has light skin and, in the author’s estimation, “passes” for “white” has recently provoked discussion on social media.
It has raised some interesting points, but (acknowledging I really can’t speak to the indigenous perspective and don’t claim to) notions of a melanin pantone chart being applied to indigenous people in colonised places is spectacularly grotesque. Putting aside the quite natural variations in complexion among Polynesian and Melanesian peoples, Thompson’s indigeneity is inalienable from his genealogy/whakapapa and his being raised as iTaukei. This sort of discourse has been insinuating itself in postcolonial discourse in New Zealand lately. It has been very popular with neocolonialists seeking to alienate indigenous people from their identity, and more disconcertingly, turns up in internal Māori and Pasifika politics (shades of Deleuzian…

WHY PETER GILDERDALE CAN GET STUFFED

Recently the Spinoff published an opinion piece by Peter Gilderdale of AUT contending that Auckland University’s threatened closure of specialty libraries represents some kind of internal schism within the bourgeoisie, and that the outrage expressed doesn’t go, “beyond cost-cutting and general ideological antipathy as an explanation for what the university is doing. ...Well written as they are, the articles boil down to arty people expressing outrage to other arty people. And the people doing these cuts don’t care about arty folks.” Gilderdale opens his explanation for his view like this: “I sometimes wonder whether the arts community entirely realise the depth of the antipathy for, or (what is worse) indifference towards them which these cuts represent. If you live in Grey Lynn, Titirangi (or Wellington), read the Listener, go to the theatre, and listen to RNZ, your cultural support networks mean you are barely going encounter people for whom the arts are not a vital part of our cultu…

INTERVIEW WITH JEWELLER KARL FRITSCH

This was an interview originally commissioned by the New Zealand Listener last year, which they never used, never paid for, and so I'm putting it here:

Categorising what Karl Fritsch does – jeweller, artist, craftsman – isn’t easy. “I make rings,” he says. “A jeweller makes rings, so that suits well. I think jewellery can be art as much as anything nowadays. I wouldn’t create a new art form for what I’m doing; I’ll stick to making rings and being a jeweller… Or goldsmith, I quite like that. And I certainly agree that the outcome can be art. People in that art world can see it as art as much as a book or anything can be art today.  “I like making rings. I like the form and I like the size. It’s made with your hands and it’s worn on your hand. It touches everything we touch. It’s what it is. It sounds like a limit, but actually I can’t reduce it to a solitaire ring, it’s a great challenge every day to make a new version of a simple solitaire ring.”
A leading figure in contemporary i…

FLIPPING THE BIRD: NOTES ON HLB

I don’t dislike Hera Lindsay Bird’s poetry – It’s worth the devotion of some solemn thinking time to it. I take it that seriously. Playa respects game, and in the kangaroo courts of social media one has felt somewhat misrepresented. It’s easy to misconstrue description as hostility when trying to unpick postmodern irony, anti-aesthetic and literary persona, when, in the space of reading Bird’s poetry, I find myself trying to match it, sarcasm for sarcasm. It’s not particularly my cup of tea, but it deserves to exist and clearly has a readership. At worst, like Bill Manhire, it’s a matter of hits and misses; the hits knock you on your arse and the misses leave you shrugging. In the spirit of Richard Rorty’s ironic pragmatism, it’s not the end that matters but the means the author chooses to try and get there.
The persona that forms the kernel about which it is constructed is evidence of Bird’s skill and talent. Some of the extended metaphors are striking enough to linger in the memory…