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 Monday, 20 December 2004
Monday, 20 December 2004 14:33:12 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

Dan Brown isn't a particularly great author, but he does tell a good story. I've read several of his books, including The Da Vinci Code and they were generally fun romps.

His writing leaves a whole lot to be desired, especially when compared to Stephenson, Vinge or other authors I frequently read. But he does put together fun, fast-paced stories with reasonably interesting plotlines and lots of action. Very much the kind of thing that makes it into movies, but not the kind of thing that becomes a classic that will be read by future generations.

However, regardless of his talents he is now being sued by the authors of a factual work some 20 years back. Those authors claim that his fictional novel plagiarized their non-fiction study.

The best fiction is almost always inspired by works of non-fiction. Even much of the best fantasy out there is inspired or influenced by mythology, philosophy and a whole variety of non-fiction sources. But modern-day thrillers are almost always inspired and even influenced by non-fiction works, people and events.

To think that the creators of non-fiction works can sue novelists for drawing on their ideas as inspiration is dangerous. I was going to say silly, but here we are with this absurd lawsuit going on, so it moves from silly to dangerous just like that...

Ultimately it is obviously just greed. If you read the original article, you'll see that the non-fiction authors were widely ridiculed and had fallen into disrepute. But along comes Dan Brown and BOOM, their obscure little book also hits the top-seller category. Presumably this made them a pretty penny all by itself (at least compared to what they might have been making).

But then they caught wind of the money being made by the novel and they got greedy... This seems to happen every time a novel does really well - remember all the silliness around Harry Potter? Small-minded, greedy people come out of the woodwork.

If they were after money they should have written a novel to start with. Non-fiction books rarely sell enough to make much money directly...

Hopefully the lawsuit itself will be found to have no merit and novelists can continue to go about their business of writing interesting and compelling stories. Stories that are, at their best, based somewhat on events, people and observations of the real world.

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