1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rehashing sci-fi concepts

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by OurJud, Jul 29, 2015.

    Some years ago as I lay in bed one night, mulling over some ideas for a future dystopia, I imagined a society in which suicide was not only legal, but, for a fee, could even be assisted.

    Years later I watched the film Soylent Green and, as anyone who has seen it will be aware, it features a world where people who have decided they want to end their life, can go to a clinic and do just that.

    Not only was this the same basic concept I had imagined, but the clinic's methods and services were exactly as I'd imagined them too; a huge domed room in which images of your choice are projected while your favourite music is piped in.

    I'm at a point now where I desperately want to use this concept, but how do I do it without being accused of plagiarising Soylent Green?

    I could simply change the way the service is administered, but to me the Soylent Green method is perfect.
     
  2. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    I have a similar idea, but am working on too many plots at the moment to finish, so I'll share my resources.

    I wouldn't worry about plagiarism, Soylent Green was a movie based on a book with two clear-cut 'future problems' - the suicide assist and the re-use of human flesh. As long as you don't copy verbatim, then your idea should be fine. Plus, I don't think you can plagiarize an idea. (It's my understanding, and I'm not 100% sure, that it is not possible under current U.S. law to copyright or protect an idea. See: http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2014/02/15/protecting-ideas-can-ideas-be-protected-or-patented/id=48009/)

    I have a couple of resources:
    < -- I used this book to set the setting for my futuristic society. It's full of facts -- for example, did you know the current world population is some 7 billion, but we'll add another 2 billion between now and 2050.

    [​IMG]
    The image above isn't the best, but note at around 1990, the curve shoots, 'almost', straight up.

    Also, I recently read: Glen Beck's Agenda 21 (an okay book, but it did give me some ideas, and was loosely based on 'geo-political' facts). And I had planned on reading Suzanne Young's novel, The Program.

    I did eventually write the first draft of my dystopian novel, but it's been on the shelf now for a year -- I was never happy with the ending...

    Maybe those resources will spark an idea for you.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015
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  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks, AN.

    Just to clarify, I'm not concerned with any legal issues when I talk about plagiarism, I merely used the word to mean 'copy'.

    Thanks for those resources - it's always helpful to have 'facts' about the future, especially when writing the kind of story I am.
     
  4. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    Found this, it's only audio, but it's Darnell.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It's all going to be in your execution of the idea, and what purpose you give it because story props get reused all the time in genre fic, sometimes rather quickly.

    Example:

    The sci-fi films A.I. Artificial Intelligence; I, Robot; Her; and Ex Machina arguably explore a similar concept, but all of them use this prop of artificial intelligence for very different reasons. The films A.I. Artificial Intelligence and I, Robot explore a very classic sci-fi theme of what will be our legacy, what does it mean to play god and if we are gods, what is our accountability to our creations, and by extension of this idea, what is God's accountability to us? Her is a total thought experiment having to do with human emotional interaction and bonding (or the lack thereof), and actually has nothing at all to do with artificial intelligence. Ex Machina is a more tactile (in many senses of that word) take on the idea, and is a little more selfish in its engagement of the concept: how will our creations affect us?

    So, my question to you becomes: what is the reason - both inside your story, and inside yourself as the writer - for including the element of assisted suicide as a simple service one can contract? Never mind the similarity in basic, flat presentation. That means nothing. What are you saying with this? And how is the answer to that question different to the answer within the classic story of Soylent Green?
     
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  6. Jaina
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    Jaina Member

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    I also think you can't plagiarize an idea. Maybe you have to deal with people who are comparing your story to the other one or even assuming you've gotten "inspired" by this work, but if you keep characters, plot and meaning different, I don't see the problem. Nearly every idea in fiction has been used multiple times. It's difficult to invent something completely new and even if you've mastered this it can easily happen that another writer has your idea the very same time and will publish his novel before you. Bad luck or bad timing.

    The sf story I write this very moment also includes Artificial Intelligence and one could think it has the same theme as those films, but in the end it's about an entirely different topic and has nothing to do with AI at all. So, I think Wreybies put it best: You have to ask yourself what you want to tell your readers with your story.
     
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  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I'm with @Jaina and @Wreybies , OP. My sci-fi is just your average 'space captain and crew explores and has adventures in space with a few moral/philosophical lessons here and there'. Like that hasn't be done before.

    As Cogito used to say, "Concepts and ideas mean nothing. I can tell you now, it's all been done before." Just think of what you want to tell using this concept.
     
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  8. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's a great question, Wreybies, and if I'm perfectly honest I can't give you a reason, other than to say I love the concept and I love the plausibility of the concept.

    That said, unless I'm completely missing something in Soylent Green, there was no real explanation / justification for it's use there either.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015
  9. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    There will inevitably be someone who accuses you of plagiarism or at least unoriginality because there will always be people who read books and miss the forest for the trees. (Or the trees for the forest?)

    However, an exercise you can do is to describe your book and gloss over the points that resemble Soylent Green. Instead of going into detail about what happens at the suicide clinic, just write something like "people can go to suicide clinics like in Soylent Green". And from there, go into detail about what the concept means to you and about what you think are the philosophical and social consequences. Go into detail about a character's internal conflict, etc.
     
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  10. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    If I recall, the euthanasia clinics were a government program for the depressed. I read some where that Switzerland has these types of clinics today, and that Delaware had a bill come up for assisted suicide legalization (not sure if it passed or not). < -- might want to research and if true, find all the legal precedent, public phrases, etc for/in Switzerland. (That could be your model, and if true, all the better.)

    On a side note: A long time ago, I'd sneak into our empty conference room and write, "What's the secret of Soylent Green?" on the whiteboard. (That was the movies marketing phrase in some strange computer voice). The next day or two after, I'd sneak back in and write: "People crackers." :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015
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  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The snack that smiles back. :bigwink::-D
     
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  12. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    Hahaha... Funny.
     
  13. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    I found the essay, Johnathan Swift, A Modest Proposal. Yes, J. Swift from way back when, was talking of suicide and cannibalism. It's satirical piece.
     

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