Friday, March 21, 2008

What's In a Name?

If you're Tom Clancy, somewhere over $31 million:


Morrisville, N.C. — Tom Clancy doesn't own his brand any more.

Back in August of 2000, French videogame publisher Ubisoft purchased Tom Clancy's Morrisville-based game studio, Red Storm Entertainment, which gave them the rights to hit game franchises, including "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six," "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell," "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter" and the upcoming "Tom Clancy's EndWar."

Thursday, the publisher bought the Tom Clancy name outright, which eliminates the royalty for each game that the company previously paid the best-selling author.

Ubisoft has acquired all intellectual property rights to the Tom Clancy name, on a perpetual basis and free of all related future royalty payments, for use in videogames and ancillary products including related books, movies and merchandising products. That includes Ryan, the hero of best-sellers Clancy wrote including "Hunt for Red October," "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger."

Although terms of the deal were not disclosed, Ubisoft did say that that it expects to have a net cash position of 130 million euros ($201 million) at the end of fiscal 2007-2008, versus 150 million euros ($232 million) prior to the deal. Ubisoft will also make payments to Clancy in fiscal 2008-2009 and 2009-2010.

So does this apply to books, too? Can they just slap the Clancy name on any piece of poorly written dreck and sell it as a Tom Clancy book?

Oh, wait, they already do.

Understand, I mean no disrespect to Mr. Clancy's writing, since I'm a huge fan of his work, especially his early Jack Ryan stuff. For example, I learned a lot about building suspense using multiple viewpoints from reading THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER.

Which is why I was distressed a few years ago to find that the books written by others and put out under his name ("Tom Clancy's [fill in the blank]") are, I'm sorry, just not good. I once described one of the Op-Center books as "written for people who don't like reading."

How much would you sell your name for if you had no control over what was done with it?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

R.I.P. Arthur C. Clarke (Updated)

ABC News: Writer Arthur C. Clarke Dies at 90: Arthur C. Clarke, a visionary science fiction writer who wrote '2001: A Space Odyssey' and won worldwide acclaim with more than 100 books on space, science and the future, died Wednesday, an aide said. He was 90.

It would be hard to overstate the effect that reading Clarke's works had on me as a kid. RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA, 2001, CHILDHOOD'S END, A FALL OF MOONDUST, THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE, THE NINE BILLION NAMES OF GOD--all contributed to the development of the sense of wonder that made me a writer in the first place. I devoured every Clarke book I could find on the shelves of the library in Southern Pines and eventually joined the Science Fiction Book Club in part so I could snag the two-in-one-volume set that included PRELUDE TO SPACE and THE SANDS OF MARS.

The man was a genius, a visionary. The world is a richer and more interesting place because of his life and work.

Updated: Check out Patrick Nielsen Hayden's beautiful Eulogy at Making Light.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Terrible Beauty Is Born, Y'all.

In honor of Ireland on this day, I've translated one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite Irish poets into Redneck:

Look at that buzzard up yonder. Goin' up and up in circles like 'at, and acts like he's deaf as a dang post.

I tell you, things is fallin' all to hell. The dang center's completely busted, and good luck tryin’ to get parts for it. Plus, there’s blood all over ever’where, and it’s plumb pitiful they way they done the ceremony of innocence, drownin’ it like ‘at.

Can’t get the good folks to stir themselves to strike a lick at a snake, and the bad folks is runnin’ around like their shoes is on fire and their asses is catchin.

I tell you, somethin’s gettin’ ready to bust wide open. I’m thinkin’ maybe it’s even the Second Coming.

Whoa nelly! Minute that word’s out o’ my mouth, it’s like I'se havin’ one o’them hallucinations.

I’m seein’ a desert and a big, whadyyacallit, Sphinx kinda goomer, shuffling along through the sand like is feet are hurtin, with birds all around ‘im, and let me tell you, they ain’t happy one bit.

Wow. Now it’s gone. That was kinda freaky, y’all.

I got a real bad feelin’ about this. Somethin’s been snoozin’ for twenty-odd centuries, but now it’s awake, and I think it’s a little pissed off.

Somebody get on the cell phone and call Bethlehem.

Thanks to Cary writer Joan Conwell for the inspiration.

Words Fail Me, But They've Never Failed Her

My good friend Kristy Kiernan has written a truly gorgeous and deeply moving piece over at A Good Blog is Hard To Find.

Check it out and prepare to be knocked on your ass.

Damn, that woman can write.