Sword and Laser Podcast 161: What Harry Potter Stole from Earthsea


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What an odd headline for a blog whose main theme is the how culture benefits from re-use of themes and ideas from previous works.

I haven’t listened to the podcast, but I really hope the “stole” is hyperbole. We really need to get past the idea that individual story elements can be off limits.

“Good writers borrow. Great writers steal.” - T.S Elliot or Oscar Wilde - sources conflct.

It’s a compliment.

I like the quote, and I don’t know if the term was used in the podcast or not, but I think its a pretty good bet that the author of the headline did not mean it as a complement, and would likely take offense if accused of stealing an idea of theme from elsewhere.

Steal simply has too many negative connotations in our language to be used as a complement, except in the occasional epigram.

I suspect this is a case of the successful “steal” from the less successful (although calling LeGuin less than successful is ludicrous) but the less successful “borrow from” or “are inspired by” the successful.

You may want to actually listen to the podcast before digging in any deeper.

The discussion is quite specific on LeGuinn’s statements regarding Rowling’s work, and it is all in the context of Earthsea being this month’s book discussion.

LeGuinn went to High School with Philip K. Dick? Holy crap!

Mutual influences aside, I’d love to hear more about their writing teachers!

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