More Amazing Coolness! Statement on Fanfic and Other Forms of Fan Art.

Milena Aijala, known on Tumblr as qwertyprophecy, recently finished creating an animated credits sequence for an imaginary Gentlemen Bastards television series. If you haven’t seen it, do follow that link. It’s lively, gorgeous, and superbly executed.

(Credit for the animated gif, I believe, goes to Tumblr user veecissitudes.)

Milena also has a series of captioned photographs detailing some of the laborious process (Weeks of work! Light tables! An actual tank of water! Her mom!) of creating this thing of beauty.

I’m so deeply pleased and flattered by this, and more or less as dumbstruck as I was by Kathryn Sutcliffe’s insanely beautiful costume sequence based on The Lies of Locke Lamora. It really breaks an author’s heart (well, this author’s heart) in the best possible way to see people with visual skills I can’t dream of possessing hanging such lovely cloth on the bare frames of my words.

It also has me thinking about fan activity, repurposing, re-imagining, and so forth. Cecilia Tan has a superb statement on fanfic that I happen to agree with almost entirely. Steve Brust has adopted that exact statement with Cecilia’s permission. It’s been an energetic couple of months for that portion of the Gentleman Bastard readership I’ve been able to track online, and I hope it’s going to stay energetic, so I think it’s time I also made a few things clear forever.

I like non-commercial fan art, fanfic, cosplay, and everything related. I am flattered by these activities and totally copacetic with them. If it brings you pleasure to create anything based on my work, I want you to know that you have my total support and encouragement. Please just keep the following points in mind:

1. All such activities have to be non-commercial.

2. All such activities have to be clearly labelled as non-commercial. They also have to be clearly labelled as not originating from me or being directly endorsed by me. Don’t pretend to be me, and I won’t pretend to be you. Fair?

3. I am not responsible for any laws you bend or break in the commission of your activities. It is possible to post something that is so egregious, in some fashion, or so blatant a misrepresentation of me or my work that I will be compelled to take action if it’s ever brought to my attention.

4. I’m never going to be able to keep track of all fan works posted online. I’m never even going to try. Never mistake my silence for any form of direct endorsement. In fact, never try to read anything into my silence. Don’t try to telepathically divine my intentions and I won’t telepathically make your head explode like in a David Cronenberg movie. Fair?

4a. Did I just imply that I have telepathic powers? Of course I did not. You say you read it with your own eyes? REMEMBER NOTHING. Now keep reading.

5. Understand that you create works based on my work and show them to other people at your own peril; that others may take inspiration from you, and you may find derived works being crafted from your work in turn. If you’re going to play with stuff originated by other people, don’t turn into an asshole when other people want to play with your stuff. Be generous. Give credit. Expect and demand credit be given in exchange.

I didn’t create The Lies of Locke Lamora in a vacuum; I drew from a vast number of public domain sources, including but not limited to the work of Dickens, Dumas, and Shakespeare. I didn’t lift anything directly, of course, but my work is also influenced by the thousands of novels and hundreds of films and TV programs and video games I’ve enjoyed over the years. We all live and create in the midst of a vast cloud of potential influences. The art and culture of the ages is ours to explore at the flip of a page or the touch of a keyboard.

Some day, my work is going into the public domain even if I have to directly will it so and bypass the increasingly ridiculous term extensions of default copyright protection (even if all I get is the traditional threescore and ten, some great-niece or great-nephew of mine could well be curating Weird Uncle Scott’s literary portfolio well into the 22nd century). In the meantime, I absolutely refuse to be the sort of tight-minded asshole who clenches up at the thought of someone re-imagining something I’ve done.

Nobody can take the Gentlemen Bastards away from me. Nobody will ever have to fear that I will refuse to share them (or anything else I ever write), to the limit of my abilities, with those that love ’em.



The Lies of Locke Lamora Read-Along Commentary

This morning I registered for a Tumblr, under the misapprehension that this would allow me to quickly and easily leave comments on other Tumblrs, specifically the ones holding discussions about the current group read-through of The Lies of Locke Lamora. What I discovered was that either a) I am old now and new things scare me, or maybe b) Tumblr was designed by crazy badgers with access to powerful hallucinogens. I prefer the theory with the badgers.

So, the sensible thing I’m going to do instead is post any comments I have here, in this corner of the internet where the buttons aren’t scary and they bring me my prune juice every day at three o’clock just the way I like it.

Thieves Prosper has reposted several lengthy responses to the question “Standard Fantasy Capitalization: Love it or hate it? Do you think it works here or does it make you roll your eyes?”, as regards the first sentence of TLOLL:

At the height of the long wet summer of the Seventy-Seventh Year of Sendovani, the Thiefmaker of Camorr paid a sudden and unannounced visit to the Eyeless Priest at the Temple of Perelandro, desperately hoping to sell him the Lamora boy.

I would say, peering at this sentence nearly nine years after I wrote it, that I did overdo it in a couple places. “Thiefmaker” is a proper noun, not merely a position, so it’s fine. Perelandro is a proper noun, but I’m not sure ‘temple’ needed to be capitalized. “Eyeless Priest” did not need to be capitalized at all. I think I must have intended for it to be the title by which all Camorri would generally refer to Father Chains, but as you all know that didn’t happen, and it really should have been “eyeless priest.” It’s a striking enough description that it doesn’t need the Added Emphasis of Standard Fantasy Capitalization.

As for the capitalization of “Seventy-Seventh Year of Sendovani,” that’s just part of the ornate and infuriatingly baroque way the Therin people name and track their years. The system was deliberately designed to be archaic and obtuse, just as the coinage of Camorr doesn’t slide neatly into divisions of ten like standard fantasy RPG loot.

In 2012, to support another group read-along of TLOLL, I did a series of blog posts discussing the development of the book, my visual inspirations, my discarded alternate approaches, and my criticism of my own work. For those currently reading TLOLL that haven’t seen them, you can find them linked below in reverse order:

Read-Along Bonus #4: YOU SUCK, LYNCH

Read-Along Bonus #3: Early Visual Aids

Read-Along Bonus #2: Other Roads Not Taken

Read-Along Bonus #1: It Came From Burger King

If you’re currently reading or re-reading TLOLL and you’d like to ask me something about it, please feel free to leave a comment here, or e-mail me (scott at, or even just flag a Tumblr post with something like WOO SCOTT LOOK AT ME WOO.

Vocabuvores and Ginger Scalds

A few months ago, José Luiz F. Cardoso conjured D&D3 / Pathfinder compatible stats for the vocabuvores from “In the Stacks” at his blog, Tower of the Lonely GM. My lovely better half noticed this, but I have been remiss in mentioning it since then. I’m utterly flattered. And a bit jealous, actually, since Cardoso managed to add a clever twist to the vocabuvore metabolism that I wish I’d thought of myself.

Food Through the Pages, a frankly amazing blog dedicated to recreating unlikely cuisine described in literature, has just posted their exploration of the Ginger Scald, the mouth-zinging cocktail described in The Lies of Locke Lamora. The level of effort they put into this stuff is astounding, and humbling. I am perturbed to discover that the process I described for creating this drink might be actively dangerous to anyone attempting it at home, so please heed all their warnings!