"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane
I has been so long since I felt a cause burning in my veins, but this one has been a long time coming.
Back when the current war got underway in Iraq, thousands of people tried to trademark and copyright the term “Shock and Awe” but the government owned it.
Trying to take a word out of the lexicon of the English language is wrong. And this is in effect what I am faced with.
There is a rebellion brewing among the masses over it.
People with money to throw around grab up every little thing that might potentially have value. Trademarks originated as a way to establish the creatorship of the item, usually weapons. My franco-prussian war cavalry sabre has a solingen trademark stamped into the steel. It’s good steel and that was one of the things that Solengin was famous for.
But their name was not removed from the language, it became part of the language.
About ten years or more ago, Arthur C. Clarke and another author simultaneously and without any knowledge of what the other was doing came up with the same concept and wrote a novel on it. Being gentlemen, they publicly acknowledged this and a phenomena was recognized called “an idea whose time had come.”
However, in the case of the word polymancer, the simple and obvious bringing together of two traditional words often added together with others, was inevitable.
Now, I have never had much to do with the RPG world. I did write some pieces of Flying Buffalo back in the early 80s, but that was it. I had my taste of their world and walked away. I don’t play or keep up with RPGs except for computer games to some extent and I do play Warcraft.
So when this email shows up in my box, I am angered and astounded to discover that someone else had my word and was threatening me over it. It’s a word, damnit. It’s just a word.
I went through something similar with my intelligent equines, the wynderjyn. An author thought they were too similar just because they existed. However, on research I discovered that such creatures went all the way back to the 1920s (if not earlier, remember Pegasus was intelligent).
If it had been another novelist, so long as the similarities otherwise were not too close, I would have shrugged and gone my happy way. That’s always been the way it is done in genre publishing.
However, clearly they do it differently in the RPG world.
It’s not a matter of money to me so much as it is a matter of principle. Oh dear, here I go again. Remember the last times that I let a matter of principle lead me onto the warpath.
It was the Strikethrough 2007.
Remember that one?
There is a revolution coming. I can see the stirrings in various actions taking place right now at the Hague.
For the past two decades the creative world had been more and more divided up like a pie by those with money.
They are taking our language away from us bit by bit with trademarks, patents, and copyright abuses.
I can imagine a day coming when all of the nouns will be stripped from our language by trademarks.
There was a fellow who got a patent on a novel premise. That fact that the patent office was too stupid to recognize the plot of Rip Van Winkle doesn’t seem have to have slowed them down, despite their becoming a laughing stock.
But what happens to writers when we dare not invent a new term (and I got the term so far back that my memories of its origins are cloudy) for fear that someone else has taken and trademarked it?
I have often written about how I come up with words. I called it the naming game. I go back through my philogical and etymological dictionary to find the root words (usually either Latin or Indo-European) and then extrapolate forward.
I have been digging through my notes and more and more it looks like just bad luck that it took me so long to sell that novel. Had I jumped on the ebook bandwagon, taken it away from my agent and just got it out there, I would not now be having these difficulties.