Monday, 7 January 2013

the Black Plagiarist

In the early 1990s a young boy was recognized as top of his class by his English teacher. The boy wrote independently of school, a passion for writing fiction and anecdotes from experience, often where the two merged into fantastical collusion, was remarkable. A lonely child, he had been brought up to be a reader; stayed up late every night so he could read by torch light beneath his covers, and was asleep all morning in school most days, missing out boring lessons, excited only during Creative Writing which was on the syllabus back then. The English teacher, also his form tutor, lent him rare out of print Ray Bradbury science fiction from his own bookshelf, which fucked the young boys head up for a quite few years because it is so far out there; the lad was already reading Philip K Dick by that age and found it softer edged.

This story begins when a woman from Cardiff the city where the young boy was born, in a hospital that was then torn down, doing her apprentice teaching certificate, took over the lessons and assigned the class a particular essay to be written. He stayed up late for two weeks working on it, re-drafting it; the first story he had ever written that went to three drafts, all made by hand. It was many pages long.

The story was inspired by three things; the struggle of a young boy to be recognized as important in this world, exploring the morality systems used to keep people in check in society. The famous Wales Flower Festival that the story was a competition for, the winner to receive some lucrative reward. And the kids enjoyment of tabletop roleplaying games from Games Workshop, specifically the stories which in the tradition of movies such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and John Landis the Thing, that had grown out of HG Wells War of the Worlds book, pitted inhuman aliens against humanity.

The story overview of this great work of genius is that the protagonist, first person perspective, kept a diary of his activities in which he was supposed to be attending the Flower Festival with his school (as was arranged), except unbeknownst to all, a spaceship had landed and had been disturbed by the erection of the festival site. Out from it came several aliens, whose ability to touch a living being and absorb its DNA into its own, so that it could shapeshift into a variety of different beings. This was before the child had read about the voodoo-assassin Ghola in Frank Herberts Dune sextet.

As he wrote wrote, the boy could not reconcile how truthful he should be in naming the alien creatures. The obvious answer was to call them what they are; gene stealers, because that is what they do. The dishonest answer seemed to be to change their name and disguise the influence of Games Workshop upon the story. In the GW mythos, Warhammer 40K, the planet earth is never mentioned, long gone into antiquity. In this kids story, the aliens buried beneath the Flower Festival emerged to capture and slay the ordinary festival goers. Only because he had strayed away from the line of identically clad uniformed school children, lined up like soldiers like the rows of flowers in the hillside, and found his way into a crack in the mountain from there the nasty had leaked, did the boy discover and stand agog at a genuine alien spacecraft. Naturally the careless aliens had left he door open and naturally the boy discovered an arms cabinet within, and an alien laser gun.

The rest of the story is about the boy contemplating theft. Should he take the laser gun, should he leave it where it is? Theft is a criminal event and people go to jail for it. Theft is wrong. It is against the law. The boys curious nature and flowing with the forces of righteousness cause him to leave the spaceship armed with the gun, only to encounter the aliens in the cave, returning from their recon mission. Naturally they are wearing the bodies of the teacher and school children and naturally the boy can see from their behaviour that hey are not the original genuine schoolkids. The boy decides to save the earth and massacres them with a surprise volley of laser beams, which causes an avalanche and the cave falls in. Luckily he escapes, with the lasergun, just in time.In this instance, following instinct over what the teacher says, and breaking & entering, and theft, are all vital to the saving of the planet which otherwise would have been utterly doomed.

On the news that night the bodies pulled from the landslide are seen to be those of a school load of kids and their teacher, and the boy as the only survivor from his class is questioned about it because he had wandered off instead of listening to the teacher.

I cannot recall how much of this story ended up in the third draft because I was exhausted by then, much of it was a loose collection of notes and intentions for what paragraphs should contain. The stand-in English trainee teacher gave me a first degree bollocking for stealing the name “gene stealer” from Games Workshop, and did not return any of the manuscripts to me. I was disgraced, humiliated in front of my classmates as a thief of ideas, made example of, threatened with suspension from school due to the gravity which this sort of thing is taken in the adult world, and discredited as a writer. I felt terrible for many years.

Twenty years later there was a 2005 episode of Dr Who written by a guy who lives in Cardiff, Russel T Grant, that had a storyline where Slitheen - gene-copying aliens - were taking over the government, and another episode by the same guy, The Christmas Invasion, a 60-min special, where the Doctor foils an earth-invasion attempt by the GW Eldar Warlocks renamed Sycorax, wearing exact same clothes design taken directly from Games Workshop - with absolutely no reference to GW accredited whatsoever!

Additional Related Information:

On 21st October 1966 a landslide brought about by the perpetual rain of South Wales UK caused a colliery tip on a Merthyr Vale mountainside above village of Aberfan to collapse onto the Pantglas Junior School and twenty nearby houses, tragically killing 116 children 28 adults. 

This link to Games Workshop reveals their policy on suing the crap out of anybody who uses their trademarks without consent, even when GW have themselves stolen the very same words from earlier writers, eg; Bob Olsen, circa 1932; E E Doc Smith, 1950; 1959, Heinlein. This link to trademark bullying shows the result of this particular case in which GW backed down after realising they didn't in fact own the specific trademark in the first place.

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