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Thursday, May 1, 2014

"Malice Aforethought" by Donald A. Wollheim

First appeared in Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Reprinted by Judith Merril, Martin H. Greenberg, Terry Carr, Isaac Asimov.

Clever story about writers and where their ideas come from. Writers Allen San Sebastian and Marvin Dane are often confused by fans as they wrote similar material.  Trouble grew worse for Sebastian because Dane was the faster writer. The editor at Grimoire rejected his stories when Dane turned in something very similar, earlier.  The editor insinuates that Sebastian has been seeing Dane's work. Sebastian is furious, but there's no way that either could have seen the other's work.  He toys with the theory that writers pluck ideas from a common ether.  Since Dane is the faster writer, Dane will always have the drop on Sebastian. How can he take out his rival?  Not murder but...

*spoiler* by copying a famous horror story by H.P.Lovecraft:  "The Rats in the Walls".  The editor, who isn't as well read as his readers, publishes it and hears an outcry against plagiarism.  Dane never writes again and Sebastian can pull ideas from the ether without worry of Dane's competition.

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