Hooray! Today marks the UK/R.o.W release of Craig Cormick‘s The Floating City, the second novel in The Shadow Master Series.
Described as Romeo & Juliet by way of Scott Lynch, you will definitely spy influences of the famous Bard running throughout the novel. As a famous plagiariser of the works of others, we thought we’d interview our old chum Will, to see how he feels about Craig taking inspiration from his work.
So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, William Shakespeare!
ANGRY ROBOT: Will – can I call you Will? – I wanted to begin by asking you about your influences.
SHAKESPEARE: What influences? All things are ready, if our mind be so.
ANGRY ROBOT: Ah, yes, but there has been some talk about copyright breaches in your work.
SHAKESPEARE: Are they a new fashion in pants?
ANGRY ROBOT: No. Breaches. As in once more unto the breach dear friends. Accusations that you have copied most of your stories and characters.
SHAKESPEARE: Well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, you know. I can’t remember who said that originally. It might have been me.
ANGRY ROBOT: I think it was actually the author Charles Colton.
SHAKESPEARE: Oh. But anyway, I think it more helpful if you consider me having improved on those works.
ANGRY ROBOT: I see. So I wanted to know what you thought of our new release, The Floating City, as it uses the original Italian stories that you – uh – improved into three of your plays. They are Luigi da Porto’s Giulietta e Romeo of 1530, Giraldi Cinthio’s Hecatommithi of 1565 – that you adapted into Othello, and Ser Giovanni’s Il Pecorone of 1558, that you adapted into the Merchant of Venice.
SHAKESPEARE: Yes. Not a novel idea for a novel, of course, since I’ve done it already.
ANGRY ROBOT: But most people adapt your plays and characters rather than go back to the originals. So what do you think it shows us about your own work?
SHAKESPEARE: I think it shows just how brilliant it is. Though I do like this author’s idea of combining the three different stories together, and I do like the way he’s treated Desdemona – or Disdemona using the original name. I always had a soft spot for her.
ANGRY ROBOT: What about the treatment of Romeo and Giulietta, as a pair of spoiled, rich brats?
SHAKESPEARE: It was not as poignant as my own characterisation, of course, but it worked well in the story.
ANGRY ROBOT: Anything else that you thought worked well for you?
SHAKESPEARE: I did like the scribe character. Somebody I could relate to, telling the story behind the action.
ANGRY ROBOT: And the Shadow Master figure?
SHAKESPEARE: I felt it was a rip-off of Prospero. With a mix of Macbeth, Henry V and Hamlet. Maybe a bit of Oberon thrown in there as well.
ANGRY ROBOT: So you’re saying that the character is a rip-off from your own work?
SHAKESPEARE: You said that, not me.
ANGRY ROBOT: Hmm. Okay. So what are you working on now?
SHAKESPEARE: I’m working on a new play. I call it, Much Ado about the City that Floats.
ANGRY ROBOT: What’s it about?
SHAKESPEARE: I don’t like to talk too much about work in progress.
ANGRY ROBOT: Just an outline then?
SHAKESPEARE: No, no. I really don’t like to talk about it.
ANGRY ROBOT: It wouldn’t be about three sisters in a Venice-like city that is besieged by fearful Othmen invaders would it?
SHAKESPEARE: Well, yes, something like that.
ANGRY ROBOT: And it wouldn’t have four sets of magical seers who protect the city, but are being killed by fearsome Djinn that rise out of the canals at night? Nor assassins killing the members of the city’s ruling Council? Nor would it have a mysterious and deadly figure, with a name something like the Shadow Master, who seems to be directing everyone like players in a game, until he finds the game might be beyond even his control?
SHAKESPEARE: Well, again, yes perhaps some of that.
ANGRY ROBOT: So basically it’s a rip-off of the plot of the Floating City?
SHAKESPEARE: A rip-off? No, no, no. I prefer to call it sampling. But let’s not make too much ado about it. It is, after all, just a conflaburation.
ANGRY ROBOT: A what?
SHAKESPEARE: A conflaburation. A work that is so fantastical that no author can lay claim to owning it.
ANGRY ROBOT: Did you just make that word up?
SHAKESPEARE: Of course. If there isn’t a good word when you need one, then you make one up. Like worsted-stocking knave. That’s one of my favourites. Or amazement, assassination, castigate, countless, submerge, dwindle, frugal, impartial, majestic, pious, suspicious and critic. They are all mine. And you don’t hear me whining about breaches of copyright when people use them do you?
ANGRY ROBOT: I think single words might be different.
SHAKESPEARE: What about phrases then. Do any of these sound familiar? Wyrd Sisters, Time Out of Joint, Infinite Jest, The Dogs of War, The Gods Themselves, The Way to a Dusty Death, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Sound and the Fury, The Seeds of Time, Brave New World, In Cold Blood, Fools of Fortune, The Darling Buds of May, Remembrance of Things Past. – They were all mine, and people ripped them off for their book titles!
ANGRY ROBOT: You’ve been collecting those and saving them up for a moment like this, haven’t you?
SHAKESPEARE: What makes you say that?
ANGRY ROBOT: Just a hunch. Well any last comments , as we are time’s subjects, and time bids be gone.
SHAKESPEARE: Hang on, that’s one of mine, isn’t it! You’re not going to use that without my permission are you?
ANGRY ROBOT: It’s okay. I’m just sampling. I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.
SHAKESPEARE: That’s one of mine too!
ANGRY ROBOT: Don’t be such a worsted-stocking knave.