Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Arthur C. Clarke's "Herbert George Morley Roberts Wells, Esq": Who wrote this tale?

It's a dark tale about idea plagiarisms among story tellers, & a possible murder.

", Esq" at end of title is apparently a slightly more flattering version of "Mr " prefix to a name, & is archaic. See this discussion on usenet. There is also a suggestion in this discussion thread, & also the one on "Pre-Plagiarism" (attributing this claim to commentary in "The Wind From The Sun"), that this is not a work of fiction, but an essay on actual confusion of Clarke about the authorship of "The Anticipator".

I originally read this piece as fiction - at least the end justifies this opinion. And there is no commentary about this being an essay in "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke" - the collection I have.

Herbert George Wells of title is H G Wells - the well known story teller.

Story summary.
Narrator is speculating about the authorship of a short story called "The Anticipator" - where one author A always plagiarizes the works of another B before B has actually written them! B eventually decides to kill A; but even this murder act is anticipated & B ends up dying!

Narrator thinks story was written by H G Wells. Some digging later, he finds the author was Morley Roberts. And wonders if it was a true story!

The final speculation is: "If H G Wells's contemporary Morley Roberts was ever found murdered in a dark alley..."

Fact sheet.
"Herbert George Morley Roberts Wells, Esq", short story, review
First published: If, December 1967
Rating: C

This story is included in the following collections.

  1. "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke"
  2. "The Wind from the Sun"
  3. "More Than One Universe"