October 7th, 2011

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Review - Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song

The improbable plagiarist

Every so often a famous writer gets taken down for plagiarism. Usually it's something pretty blatant, words and concepts lifted almost verbatim from a well-known work, as if it had improbably never occurred to the culprit that he or she might get caught.

When they do get caught, they typically claim it was an accident, that they must have done it sub-consciously. And the rest of us wonder, How stupid do you think we are? Give us a break and just 'fess up!

But I am suddenly much more sympathetic to those claims than I once was.

In my ostensible leisure time this week, I've been working pretty hard on my response to The Wedding of River Song and, yesterday, had what I thought was a well-argued two thousand words merely in need of a little polishing.

Towards the end of it, I made reference to a review I wrote earlier this year. Decided to link to it. And, linking, re-read it.

Guess what? I had been plagiarizing myself.

It wasn't word-for-word, but it was close. It was was a dismaying, a frustrating and a scary discovery. I really do try to credit sources, to quote directly or to paraphrase with attribution — and here I was, ripping off my own work!

Honest go god, your Honour! It was all sub-conscious!.

And so it is that my review of The Wedding of River Song, now plagiarism-free (I hope!), is a lot shorter than I had expected it to be, with a very conscious link to that which I have written before. As usual, spoilers and snark below the icing ... of The Wedding Cake of River Song.

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