Deathlands and True Plagiarism

Chris Van Deelen

Chris Van Deelen is the author of the Skirmisher Publishing LLC sourcebook Creatures of the Tropical Wastes sourcebook and co-author of its Wisdom from the Wastelands game supplement.

Last week I mentioned that there were quite a few changes taking place at my work, and these changes were impairing my ability to write during my lunch and coffee breaks. Unfortunately these changes were still in full swing during this week and the end result is only about another thousand words were written for the short story ‘Reunion’.

I am hoping that the coming week will be different and that I can get more work done. Some readers may be wondering why I haven’t been working on this material after I get home. There are several reasons. First I have to admit that unlike when I was writing ‘Sword of Kos: Dark Inheritance’ I really had a set goal, a specific date by which time I wanted to have this novel complete. So I really put the effort into achieving that goal.

But now between training three times a week and fighting off some sort of nasty bug (which has left me feeling more tired than ever after I’m finished the day), I haven’t had the energy to work on the material.

And lastly the other major factor is that believe it or not, writing up new creatures to post for free on this page does require around an hour of my time for each entry. It might be suggested that I cut down on the detail I put into each entry, and lay off the background story that I tend to write. All I can say is that such a thing will never happen.

Sure it means that a sourcebook may have far less entries than other similar books, but truth be told I don’t care. I’m a writer, first and foremost and I will only write material that I want to write, not what some people may demand.

Don’t take this the wrong way; at least my entries tend to be entertaining as well as useful!

My blog a few weeks back touched on what I thought was a fine line between plagiarism and paying homage to the original source. I now have a true story about plagiarism and the potential ramifications of stealing another’s work.

Well over a decade ago I was a huge fan of a series of novels called ‘Deathlands’. People who enjoy the post-apocalyptic genre should be quite familiar with this series. It has been running since I was in high-school and there are currently well over 100 novels. I was a massive fan. I even ran back in the day what was considered to be the best source on the net for all things Deathlands related.  In fact I wanted to be a contributor to this series, hell I wanted to be the MAIN WRITER for it.

Then several things happened. First the series author, a British gentleman named Laurence James grew quite ill and had to leave the series. At first this was not too bad as a number of the fill-in writers; including my friend and mentor Mark Ellis worked closely together to maintain a cohesive timeline and continuity.

The powers that be in Gold Eagle, the company that produces the novels, quickly put an end to that. The end result was that all continuity flew out the window and each story (with the exception of those written by the same authors) was stand-alone and had nothing to do with the others in the series.

Despite this I continued to maintain my site for several years until it became a moot point. People did not seem to care and when one considered the effort I put into writing, researching and maintaining the site and never saw anything from it, not even a free book, I just decided that enough was enough and I let it fall into obscurity.

Eventually it was absorbed into the Jamesaxler.com site and that it where it remains to this very day. For years afterwards I maintained a presence on the site, participating in the forum discussions and making my presence known. So did Mark Ellis and some of the other authors of the series.

During these years we had to deal with a lot of trolls and trouble-makers, including several who would be banned, only to return under a new alias and continue with their stupid games. One in particular was a man named Michael Goodwin. He went by the handle ‘One Eye Chills’

And just for the hell of it, here is a link regarding the personality traits of online trolls. Makes for very interesting reading and confirms several things that Goodwin did over the years. This man needs help. I won’t take credit for the link, Mark Ellis provided it for me and has posted it elsewhere.

At first this individual seemed alright. He was amiable and would write nice reviews for Mark’s Outlanders novels. It did not take too terribly long for his true side to come out. He is what one would call a classic troll, someone who went out of his way to cause strife and be as mean as possible, all the while maintaining how brilliant he was.

He was banned time and time again but somehow kept coming back until the owner of the site finally banned his IP address.

Years passed and other than bad reviews we thought he had disappeared into the ether. But that was not the case. As it turns out, Goodwin (who now goes by the name Mace Gannon) had begun his ‘career’ as a professional author.

But as it also turns out, he has been caught outright stealing other people’s work and using it almost word for word in his own. One particular author, David Morrell (the man behind Rambo) discovered that this individual had stolen from him. Here is the link on the official Casca site regarding this incident.

Here is another link, this one on facebook, where Mr. Morrell finds out about it for the first time. Oddly enough this isn’t the first time. Here is a Wikipedia link to where he had to deal with this sort of issue once before, although it was not linked to Goodwin. You’ll find it under the literature heading.

And one last link to one of the so-called books he wrote called Cain the Wanderer. Look down at the reviews and you’ll see where he was called out.

Most of this rather loathsome individual’s works have been removed from Amazon and Morrell has threatened to sue him. On a personal note, because I am a professional author, I want to see this man pay for his crimes. Yes, it is crime – stealing another’s work and then trying to pass it off as your own?  I take a great deal of pride in my work and even though some of it is inspired by other sources, I would never, EVER try to lay claim to someone else’s hard work.

The sheer arrogance this individual displays, believing that he could get away with stealing another man’s work and then pass it off as his own – frankly it boggles my mind.

I believe strongly in Karma and what goes around, comes around. So eventually Mr. Goodwin (or Gannon, whichever he is going by now) is going to reap the rewards for his theft and all the trouble and strife he has caused over the years.

At the very least, his name is getting around and same with the story of what he has done here. He has effectively destroyed any possible career he might have had.

This individual is quite the fool and clearly not as brilliant as he had thought himself to be. The bottom line is very simple. Don’t plagiarize someone’s work!

The image for this week’s blog comes from Chapter 11. Jarem meets a denizen of the deep. Artwork has been provided by the talented Giorgio Alfonso Maesa.

Until next week, peace!