Friday, December 30, 2011

Nothing New Under the Sun

I suppose it is inevitable that as the world's population grows beyond all reasonable levels it becomes harder and harder to ever have a truly original idea. I like to think that many of the ideas in my work-in-progress, a sci-fi thriller set in the near future, are original. I've never heard of them or seen them anywhere, and I'm quite proud of coming up with these ideas.

Yesterday I was stunned to come across a book that has eerie similarities to some elements of my book. It's a completely different story, of course, and has none of my technological ideas, but it has...well, see for yourself:

My book is set in a near-future Moscow with the main male character named Artyom and a segment of the very poor populace living underground in the abandoned metro system.

The book Metro 2033 by Dmitri Glukhovski is set in a near-future Moscow with everyone living underground in the abandoned metro system and the main character is named Artyom.

I can just see it now, should my book ever be published, as some readers accuse me of copping my ideas from this book. I'm not going to change my details; I've had my story since the early 1990's. I never heard about this book until yesterday. I chose these details for my story for very specific reasons that are important to me.

The metro in Moscow played a big role in my life for the four years I lived there (1993 to 1997), and I always planned on it figuring into my mobster thriller. When that story morphed into a sci-fi, it only made sense that the metro would be abandoned, since it was already old and newer technologies would take its place. The idea of a group of poor taking residence there seemed fun and a bit creepy.

I chose the name Artyom very carefully, too. I wanted a name that wouldn't be too odd to an American audience, yet I wanted it to be slightly uncommon rather than the standard few Russian names that we see each time a Russian character is used in any movie or book. Artyom fit what I was after nicely. I used the name in my first novel, written several years ago since that book has a couple of the same characters as this sci-fi (the first book was a fantasy).

I guess my point is that this post serves both to air my frustration and incredulity over such rotten luck and also as a sort of proof that I did not steal my ideas from someone else's book. I came to my ideas honestly. If or when someone later accuses me of taking these ideas, I will refer them to this post, for whatever good it might do.

Happy New Year everyone! I only managed to write thirteen new chapters this year, which is disappointing even though I have the excuse of moving to a new country and settling into a new job. I hope to do better this coming year, perhaps even finish this new book.


  1. Happy New Year Ted! I hope the next year will bring you lots of luck and fortune :)

  2. That's a pretty big coincidence. Guess everything old is new again.

  3. Ted! Good to hear from you. Sucks you found a book similar to yours. Don't give up on it though. Keep pressing forward.

  4. I wouldn't worry about it. Maybe you can look at it from the point of view that if someone published that other book, then yours should also be interesting to someone to publish. Good luck!

  5. Lots of books have similar premises, but yours is bound to be unique because YOU wrote it (though you might want to rethink the character's name. That really is an incredible coincidence).

  6. That is a bit of a freaky coincidence. You might want to reconsider the name of your MC though, as annoying as that is. I know it's not what you want to do, but I'm sure your story will work just as well and you'll avoid unnecessary confusion. A very weird situation.


  7. I'd be disappointed too. I discovered a book with the same title as one of mine which was annoying but hopefully by the time mine comes out that other one will be long forgotten. And thirteen chapters is nothing to sneeze at - especially in light of everything else that's happened this year. Moving from one country to another is a serious hassle.

  8. Howdy i want to say that I wouldn't worry about it. Maybe you can look at it from the point of view that if someone published that other book and this is not good..

    resume writing service

  9. Hey Ted, good to see you around! I'm so sorry to hear about the distressing coincidences with that story and yours. If it's any consolation, something similar happened to me a couple years ago in the serial fiction I was writing.

    I put my heart and soul into writing for a character for three years or so, and I happened to find out quite by accident through a series of unlikely events that a similar character (setting totally different but a lot of things alike) had actually been written for- brace yourself- an American soap opera back in the early 90's. Apparently that character had been VERY popular- and so there was a website with clips from the old shows and when I watched them I cringed, and cringed, and wanted to scream.

    Even passages of romantic dialog I'd put my heart into were so close to some lines from that old show that if the person who wrote it read my work they'd surely have thought I stole it. But I didn't. My character was a time traveling Irishman set in the Star Trek universe- theirs was I think an ex-criminal very much earthbound. I had never watched that soap a day in my life. It was complete coincidence.

    But it still bugged me.

    I hope that you'll be able to make peace with it all. It can throw you- just don't let it stop you creating.

    I still feel greater pride in the writing I did for that character than anything else I've ever done. He's still mine.

    Wishing you all the best in 2012.


  10. Happy New Year everybody. The fireworks are going off right now here in Budapest, though they aren't anything close to what I experienced in Reykjavik. I strongly recomment checking out New Year's in Reykjavik if you can ever do it.

  11. Happy New year.

    Things like that happen all the time and there's naff all you can do about it except make a change and move on.

  12. That's so uncanny, it's kind of eerie. Yowsa.