Sunday, September 03, 2006

Back to the mailbox

Hi Neil,I was wondering, since you seem to know about such things. Who do I need to bother to get some audio recordings of Gene Wolfe's work. I once read that he didn't even have a publisher in England. That is truly wrong.-Adam

It is indeed truly wrong, in that there are lots of Gene Wolfe books in print in England. His publisher is Gollancz, as it has been for over twenty years, and the Fantasy Masterworks have several of his books in print. (How do I know? I thought it sounded unlikely enough that I went to and looked.)

The only Gene Wolfe audio I know of is Gene himself reading "The Island of Dr Death and Other Stories" and "A Solar Labyrinth", available in cassette and as an download.

I own a small business (we produce and sell educational posters to schools.) By popular demand, we are designing a set which demonstrates LITERARY TERMS.
EXAMPLE (imagine interesting literary design)
"...and nothing very notable occurred in the Shire until Mr. Baggins began the preparations for the celebration of his hundred-and-eleventh birthday. At this point this History began." THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS, JRR Tolkien

Here is what I cannot find out. Does this break COPYRIGHT LAWS? One sentence, listing the book and the author? If I used a simile or metaphor from one of your poems, would I get into trouble because you are alive?

Thanks for any help or direction in finding more help.

ps. Please stop working so hard. A red eyeball can't be good. You know the burning the candle at both ends thing!

Let's see... well, I'm not a copyright lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. There's one over at if you need one.

In terms of the amount of content you're using, it probably counts as fair use -- it would in a textbook, anyway. But it's not a textbook, it's a poster, with a big quote from a book on it, which might be perceived (with a certain amount of justification) as merchandise. Which is to say, in the example you give you've just made and sold a Lord of the Rings poster. And the Tolkien estate might feel that you owe them a big chunk of your profits and a slap on the wrist for doing it without permission, and a judge might well agree with them.

You would probably be much safer if you made, say, a Simile poster with ten similes on it from everyone from Douglas Adams to Shakespeare. Because that's obviously about Similes and not about, say, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

(I also think you're better off asking for permission from the various people you're quoting. But that's mostly manners, and most authors are very happy to allow things to be quoted when they're asked nicely, or at least this one is, and the ones who aren't are best avoided anyway.)

You seem to have posted a few entries about how your busy scedule leaves you barely enough time to sleep. Have you done a cost/benefit annalysis of all of that invested time? Is it worth the stress? Have you ever considered becoming one of those reclusive writers who never makes public appearances?

Sure. I don't think the problem is too many public appearances, though -- if you check WHERE'S NEIL you'll see much less than last year. Mostly it's a tendency to say yes to things because they sound interesting or fun or because I want to do them, and then finding the time at the other end that it might have been wiser to say no. (And that's probably a hangover from all the years of freelance life: you say yes to interesting things, because most of them won't happen. The trouble I've found recently is that simply by my saying yes to things, they do happen.)

In the case of the current crunch, it's because I've been trying to get a film script written in time I don't have, in order to makie things work for Penn's schedule and mine, while still doing everything else at the same time.

But I think I'll make 2007 an easier year, somehow. That's definitely part of the plan.