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Author Topic: Sepulchre of Songs vs. Ship Who Sang?
Member # 9506

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I just finished watching a production of the play version of A Sepulchre of Songs. One of my friends, who also attended the performance, told me that he was surprised and somewhat offended by the play. After asking why, he told me that the entire concept of *SPOILERS* Anansa the starship (and her relation to cripples) was all-too-similar to Anne McCaffrey's short story cycle The Ship Who Sang.

He was offended by the fact that no mention of this short story cycle was given on the program. He felt that at least some credit should have been given to McCaffrey.

So, I have to ask: did Orson Scott Card get any of his inspiration from McCaffrey, or is this just a major coincidence?

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I also thought of McCaffrey's books (I'm not clear why anyone would call the Brainship books short stories, although they did start with one) when I saw OSC's play. There are definitely similarities.

However, there are some important differences. And McCaffrey was not the first author to write about similar ideas. I'm a huge McCaffrey fan, but I think your friend's offense on her behalf is uncalled for.

Is he going to get offended on behalf of Roberta Flack next? [Wink]

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I saw the same performance, I think. I was more offended by the poor preparation.

Also, OSC wrote the short story. The play is based on it, but written by someone else. I think that's worth mentioning.

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Member # 8980

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OSC: "Sepulcher of Songs" Omni Jun 81; BeOm #6; 2nd Omni Book of Science Fiction ed. Ellen Datlow.

McCaffrey: * The Ship Who Sang, 1961
* The Ship Who Mourned, 1966
* The Ship Who Killed, 1966
* Dramatic Mission, 1969
* The Ship Who Dissembled, 1969
* PartnerShip
* The Ship Who Searched, 1992
* The City Who Fought, 1993
* The Ship Who Won, 1994
* The Ship Errant (by Jody Lynn Nye), 1996
* The Ship Avenged (by S.M. Stirling), 1997
* Brain Ships, 2003
* The Ship who Saved the Worlds, 2003
* The City and the Ship, 2004

The play was written by OSC's daughter, Emily Janice Card.

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I asked OSC about your concerns. Here is his response:

I was aware of the premise of "Ship Who Sang" and "Sepulchre" was an obvious hommage. It is hardly concealed or a "discovery." Anne McCaffrey did not invent the idea of human brains hooked up to starships but hers was the best-known treatment of it. When I wrote it, it could be safely assumed that EVERYONE would see and recognize that I was using the same premise.

My story bears the same relation to her story that Haldeman's "Forever War" bears to Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" and much LESS than Asimov's "Foundation" bears to Gibbon's "Decline and Fall" or Gardner's "Grendel" to "Beowulf" or Joyce's "Ulysses" to "The Odyssey." Have they found a single word or passage or scene that was copied? Then they should be very careful about suggesting that I'm guilty of plagiarism or copying. The right to refer to and build on other authors' work is part of the poetic license: If it were not so, Shakespeare would not have had a career.

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Member # 8980

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KACARD, thank you for asking about it. I certainly appreciate reading OSC's response. And to be blunt, while I've read several of McCaffrey's brain ship stories, I liked Sepulchre of Songs MUCH better! I listed the story/books in the post above just to clarify things for people.
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