Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Banned in Amsterdam?!

The Hindustan Times reports that J.K. Rowling's lawyers are trying to prevent Dmitri Yemets' Tanya Grotter books from being released in the Netherlands, by claiming they were plagiarized from Harry Potter.

I'm currently gotten through my unofficial translation (if I wanna read it, I gotta translate it) all the way to the beginning of chapter 5 of Tanya Grotter and the Magical Double Bass. As yet, I have not encountered a single plagiarized word or phrase. This is a bogus case, my friends.

Or did Rowling write like this?

At times she took the bow in hand and steeled herself to draw it across the strings. The sounds the instrument gave off were always unexpected and therefore unpredictable. The first time, a swarm of wasps appeared on the loge. The second, it began to smell terribly like food gone rotten, and from somewhere above her head fell a monstrous number of shinbones. The third time, Tanya succeeded in summoning from nowhere a jar full of jam that tasted like frog's eggs. She could have gotten sort of used to this, if the jar hadn't periodically opened its eyes. Tanya stuck it back a little farther in the closet, hiding it in the middle of some old books.

Or like this?

"See that you take ninety grams of ground dinosaur bone, add a few rusalka scales, three fingernails from a kikimora, seven feathers from a white crow, and then dissolve all this in dragon's blood. Carefully stir the resulting solution with a coffin splinter and drink it on the night of the new moon. Got it? And now the rest! Until the following new moon, you will be completely seductive and irresistable. During this time you can take action to get married. True, there is one side effect with this method. After one month thick whiskers will begin to grow on you, and your weight will be increased by forty kilograms. However, if you consider that in the magical community marriages are never annulled, you certainly might risk it. This was the well-known healer Griziana Pripyatskaya...."

*Oho-ho,* thought Tanya. *Among wizards there are still problems similar to Aunt Ninel' could you tell if anyone sold her such a potion back when she was hunting down Uncle German? Very similar, even!*

And Harry's always going on field trips to the Kremlin like this:

"Eh-eh-eh...before you is a rr-ing given by Catherine II to Count Orlov...Selling this ring might have been worth 10,000 p-easants...And this diadem given to the Tsaritsa by Prince Potemkin...From it one might have fetched 15,000 p-easants...."

All these numbers the tour guide uttered so condescendingly and matter-of-factly that at the time he might have been only on a break from busily dealing in serfs, exchanging them on the sly for exhibits in his museum.

I love Rowling dearly, and her lawyers had a bit of a point in Russia (using the lightningbolt font and all....). But their only legitimate argument was the "look and feel" of the cover. The actual book was very much different from Harry Potter. Unless there are a bunch of wizard sportscasters being mistaken for mummies or skinflint hypochondriacal paranoids with 117 bad moods, in some secret bonus chapter of Rowling's books that I haven't yet discovered, where:

From window and cellar to playground and tiny park, on the tops of the trees and in the sky hung with sponges of stormcloud, off cats' eyes and women's purses, from automobiles' exhaust pipes to stores' marquees and all of their summer visitors' scorched noses -- from everywhere, rubbing its carrot-orange palms, stared the tiny young newborn, October.


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