Fans usually have to pay writers to make up stories about them – lots of sf/fantasy authors have raised money for charities by auctioning off the privilege of being Tuckerized in their fiction. But this summer Richard Fox, Larry Corriea, and Jon Del Arroz decided to write a pirate fantasy about me for free. And being them, it was scurrilous.
Larry and JDA you know. Who’s Richard Fox? He’s the author of a large number of MilSF novels, however, in 2018 he also had a short story, “Going Dark” in Ellen Campbell’s Backblast Area Clear anthology. An author page was created on the SFWA site making the story available to the public while it was being promoted for consideration for the 2018 Nebula Awards. That must have worked: “Going Dark” was a finalist. (Click on screencaps for larger images.)
Jonathan Brazee also put “Going Dark” on the list of 26 works he circulated to the 20BooksTo50K writers group, calling on the group’s SFWA members to nominate them for the Nebula. Maybe that helped even more. Five of those works made the final ballot, including Fox’s “Going Dark.” The apprehension that this was the product of slate voting triggered an uproar among some SFWA members, Brazee apologized and SFWA issued a statement.
Nevertheless, Fox’s story was on the ballot. So when JJ researched the finalists for File 770’s “Where To Find The 2018 Nebula Finalists For Free Online” link collection, JJ discovered the public copy of “Going Dark” linked from the SFWA page [Internet Archive link].
The Google Drive URL copied into JJ’s post was this one:
And that was that.
Until the middle of August when Richard Fox tried to add these comments on JJ’s post.
I thought What the hell is that about? because – we weren’t hosting a copy of the story, we were pointing to the same link as the recommendation post on SFWA’s site. Please note: on that SFWA page it states “Links are added by members and not endorsed by SFWA.” Which SFWA member do you suppose put his story there? Fox’s email address was in the comment, so I reminded him of these facts but said I would take down the link anyway:
The file is not hosted by me. I have removed the link because I have no interest in publicizing someone who would make such an unfounded accusation.
That wasn’t enough for Fox, who replied:
You put the link up to a pirated copy. Asshole.
We continued our increasingly unpleasant exchange with Fox addressing me by Larry Correia’s pet nickname for me, and insisting that I was pirating his work and stealing from him (by pointing to a file linked on a SFWA page that he created to promote his work?), and waving threats of legal action. I hadn’t done anything wrong in the first place and I wasn’t going to be pushed around. I put the link back up.
By then I’d discovered I wasn’t even the first person Fox had harassed with claims that the very same file was pirated. He’d done it before in February, making the accusation in comments to Camestros Felapton’s blog. At the time JJ told him exactly where the link came from. The file itself was a double-spaced manuscript in PDF form that only Fox or his editor would be likely to have. How could Fox pretend not to know this?
I came to suspect the complaint was a set-up because the very next day both Jon Del Arroz and Larry Correia blogged versions of it. JDA trumpeted “Hate Website File 770 Pirates Bestselling Author’s Work, Refuses To Apologize” [Internet Archive link]. Larry Correia interrupted the pleonasm about his latest Facebook suspension and worked in a shot: “Banned Again. Facebook Gets Even Dumber, Part III: The Saga Continues” [Internet Archive link].
And also yesterday I heard from a different author how China Mike put up a pirate link to one of this author’s stories, and when that author contacted Glyer demanding it to be taken down, Glyer got all self-righteous and started bitching about civility again. Sure. He’s stealing from you, but how rude of you to be upset that you caught him stealing from you.
My name was smeared all over both posts but strangely, JDA and Larry never refer to author Fox by name or specify that his Nebula-nominated story is the pirated work. Why? Because anyone could have spent five minutes with Google, found the SFWA page and the story link, and seen for themselves the claim was a lie.
Richard Fox remained determined to harass me for pointing to his story and found that so long as he was willing to lie under penalty of perjury he could submit a DMCA takedown notice to my ISP and get them to shut down the page. So he did. I was informed by my ISP:
We have received a formal DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice regarding allegedly infringing content hosted on your site. The specific content in question is as follows:
Specifically, the following section and links:
“Going Dark” by Richard Fox (Backblast Area Clear) (PDF) (audio version)”
The party making the complaint,
Richard Fox claims under penalty of perjury to be or represent the copyright owner ofthis content. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 512(c), we have removed access to the content in question by setting its post status to draft….
JJ’s post was taken down and kept on ice until I filed my DMCA counter notice and the time expired for Fox to tell them he’d filed suit against me. He never did, and I put the post back online last weekend.
While I was waiting, I wrote a complaint to SFWA about the harassing conduct of member Richard Fox, who is damaging me by telling people I host a pirated copy of his story, by threatening a lawsuit (which is what a DMCA takedown notice does), and whose unethical behavior is bringing SFWA into disrepute by implying his material is illegally hosted in the organization’s public online spaces. They are considering the issue. (They promptly removed SFWA’s “Going Dark” page, showing how easily SFWA member Fox might have arranged for that himself, if he’d wanted to. The Wayback Machine has an archive snapshot of how the page used to look.)
For JDA it was just another day spent dishing out harassment. Correia doesn’t have the integrity to apologize for his role in spreading these false charges. As for Richard Fox?
Brian Niemeier recently pointed out, “Building a following by stirring up drama is the Dark Side of author branding. It’s quick & easy, but once it becomes your brand, rebranding takes heroic effort. You pretty much have to start again from square one.”
Having chosen to imitate a couple of poor role models, it’s back to square one for Richard Fox.