Before I start, let me just say that I did, indeed, drop off the face of the internet for a while. It’s been a helluva summer.
In April 2011, my short story, “Items Found In a Box Belonging to Jonas Connolly,” appeared in Strange Horizons. I was, and still am, really excited that they published my story–working with then-editor Jed Hartman was a great experience; “Items” got some really nice response out in the larger internet, and it won the Strange Horizons Reader’s Poll for Best Story for that year.
Last week, I found out that a poet named David R. Morgan plagiarized a lot of works from Strange Horizons, including “Items.” According to the Guardian website, he was caught plagiarizing from other poets as well, though that article doesn’t mention the prose works he’s plagiarized.
From what I’ve been told, since he’s admitted to it, apologized, his plagiarized stuff (I hesitate to call it “work,” since it’s not, in fact, his work) has been taken down (mostly–apparently this is still ongoing), and his publications were in small venues/by small presses, there’s not a lot to be gained from legal action. I’m not sure at this point how much further I’m going to look into that–I have very little money, for one thing.
But I am not best pleased. Y’all, I’ve spent about six and a half years of my life teaching people not to plagiarize. I have heard every excuse out there, quite a few of which Mr. Morgan has used to justify what he did. I’ve never bought those excuses before, and I certainly don’t now.
Because here’s the thing–this news is the most recent irritating, obnoxious thing in what has been, quite frankly, one of the most stressful, difficult, and saddest summers of my life. And you know one of the ways I’ve been dealing with it all? By writing stories–my own stories.
Anyway. I do want to thank Ira Lightman for digging through Mr. Morgan’s book and finding all the work he plagiarized from the Strange Horizons site, and Ansible for making sure to mention Strange Horizons in their report. The editors at Strange Horizons have been keeping their authors updated, which I also appreciate. There are good people on the internet, and it’s nice to see them in response to this sort of thing.
(If you go and look at that list I linked to, also go read the original stories and poems. I know I feel like the only bright side to something like this is the idea that maybe someone will go track down the original work and read it; I hope that might be a balm to some of the other angry authors on the list, as well.)