Mentioning other author's ideas in my book

Reif

ralphschilden
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Apr 12, 2018
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5
Hi all,

I am new to this community and excited to meet people who enjoy reading sci-fi novels and writing one like I do. Here is my question as I work on my new book about AI.

Can I treat authors/philosophers/scientists/... in the real world as a character in the past in my novel? For example, my story is based on a world 500 years after ours where AI has been more advanced. My protagonist is discussing with her fellow scientist that 'laws of robotics' by Asimov is outdated and so on.

Not sure how much I am allowed to blend the reality into a fiction.

Thank you!

Chieh
 

The Judge

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Hello and Welcome to the Chrons!

The short answer is yes, you can, as long as you're not (a) infringing copyright and/or trademarked creations and (b) defaming anyone still alive.

So referring to Stephen Hawking is fine, and even having your characters make disparaging remarks about him would be allowed, (though in slightly poor taste if the book were to come out too soon after of his death or near its anniversary). Also it would be fine for your characters to discuss Asimov and his ideas/characters and make what comments you like about him as an author and/or scientist.

What I'd be wary of, though, is the slightly different issue of treating any fictional characters as real in your universe, unless you're going the comic route as Jasper Fforde does. So have your protagonist refer to Asimov's characters if she wants, but only as characters in a novel she might or might not enjoy, not as eg real life scientists.

That help?
 

Reif

ralphschilden
Joined
Apr 12, 2018
Messages
5
Hello and Welcome to the Chrons!

The short answer is yes, you can, as long as you're not (a) infringing copyright and/or trademarked creations and (b) defaming anyone still alive.

So referring to Stephen Hawking is fine, and even having your characters make disparaging remarks about him would be allowed, (though in slightly poor taste if the book were to come out too soon after of his death or near its anniversary). Also it would be fine for your characters to discuss Asimov and his ideas/characters and make what comments you like about him as an author and/or scientist.

What I'd be wary of, though, is the slightly different issue of treating any fictional characters as real in your universe, unless you're going the comic route as Jasper Fforde does. So have your protagonist refer to Asimov's characters if she wants, but only as characters in a novel she might or might not enjoy, not as eg real life scientists.

That help?

Thank you so much The Judge! I was struggling with this since my character will talk about Asimov's ideas and give it a new interpretation, and I am afraid of infringing copyright. So, does this also mean that I can use some ideas from journal papers? I have been reading research papers on artificial intelligence and would like to refer to them at some point but not sure if I should put a notation when I mention them (which I thought be disruptive if I were a reader and saw this * in the middle of a conversation.), or if I should mention the aurthor's name and date of the paper (which also sounds weird in a fiction), or I could mention nothing nor put an asterisk but just spend some pages at the back of the book for references.

I guess the reason I have these questions is that I have written some novels with these references or asterisks but they didn't look right to me. Another reason is that I am in the AI and ML industry and I am writing because I have some exciting and geeky ideas to share, so I care more about what I convey to the readers rather than just fun and exciting stories. So, I am not sure how far should I go.

Thanks a lot again!

Chieh
 

The Judge

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As far as copyright is concerned, you should be OK if you're merely referring to the three laws of robotics, even if that extends to saying what they are. Quoting extensively from one of his books would be a different matter though, so err on the side of caution.

As far as journal papers are concerned, again the odd quote or two should be OK, but anything more than that is going to be problematic, so if you want to quote at length, it would be best to seek permission from whoever wrote it. If it's merely a passing reference to eg "Browne's work on microwhatsitthingummibobs"** then there's no problem at all (as long as you don't make defamatory references to Browne!). No need for notations or asterisks or footnotes in the body of the novel, but by all means give the citation at the end in an author's note. I have read a Clarke where he spent several pages setting out the science behind his ideas in the book, but I think a brief mention of the research is enough, and if you want to talk about it at length you could always set up a website with all the details where those interested could read it.


** yep, hard SF technical jargon is my forte! :p
 

Reif

ralphschilden
Joined
Apr 12, 2018
Messages
5
As far as copyright is concerned, you should be OK if you're merely referring to the three laws of robotics, even if that extends to saying what they are. Quoting extensively from one of his books would be a different matter though, so err on the side of caution.

As far as journal papers are concerned, again the odd quote or two should be OK, but anything more than that is going to be problematic, so if you want to quote at length, it would be best to seek permission from whoever wrote it. If it's merely a passing reference to eg "Browne's work on microwhatsitthingummibobs"** then there's no problem at all (as long as you don't make defamatory references to Browne!). No need for notations or asterisks or footnotes in the body of the novel, but by all means give the citation at the end in an author's note. I have read a Clarke where he spent several pages setting out the science behind his ideas in the book, but I think a brief mention of the research is enough, and if you want to talk about it at length you could always set up a website with all the details where those interested could read it.


** yep, hard SF technical jargon is my forte! :p

Great advice! I think a website is a cool way to do so. I like sharing info and ideas!! Thanks!
Chieh
 

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