Thursday, October 1, 2009


There have been waves of anger and discontent sent through the writing community, particularly the online writing community, over the last few days, all centred upon the “writer” Richard Ridyard.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Mr Ridyard has been blatantly plagiarising the work of other writers and passing it off as his own. You can find out more about this whole sordid thing at Angel Zapata’s excellent blog ‘A Rage of Angel’:

Now, I am firmly of the opinion that there’s nothing wrong with carrying your influences on your sleeve and it’s no secret that I am hugely influenced by Clark Ashton Smith, Karl Edward Wagner, JG Ballard and a whole host of other writers but what I do is to try and emulate them rather than steal from them.

It does throw up a sticky moral point, however. If I try to capture the colour and mood and sense of other-worldliness of, say, Smith’s Zothique tales, does that make me a plagiarist too?

Hopefully not, since I have never knowingly lifted a line from Smith (or Wagner or Ballard or Vance or any of my other favourite writers) but rather tried to filter their brilliance through my own stories in the hope that a little of that brilliance might illuminate my own prose.

However, what Mr Ridyard has done is to simply take the words of other writers and pass them off as his own.

This isn’t influence. It isn’t emulation. It isn’t even a subtle or not so subtle homage. It’s theft, pure and simple. And it is wrong.

Thankfully, the reaction to all this has been rather swift and decisive. Try a Google search for “Richard Ridyard” and you will find that the vast majority of his "work" has disappeared from online magazines as this loathsome little shitehawk gets exactly what he deserves.

While it is true that synchronicity happens - and that it’s quite possible in an infinite universe for two or more unrelated writers to come up with the same sentence structure - let us never forget the words of the late Ian Fleming (via Auric Goldfinger):

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action, Mr Bond.”

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, James for presenting the distinction between emulation and theft. Too bad for Richard he didn't read this first, eh?