Adam Griffey is living two lives. By day, he teaches literature. At night, he steals it. Adam is a plagiarist, an expert reader with an eye for great works. He prowls simulated worlds perusing virtual texts, looking for the next big thing. And when he finds it, he memorizes it page by page, line by line, word for word. And then he brings it back to his world, the real world, and he sells it. But what happens when these virtual worlds begin to seem more real than his own? What happens when the people within them mean more to him than flesh and blood? What happens when a living thing falls in love with someone who does not actually exist?
©2009- Hugh Howey (P)2013 Hugh Howey
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally published at Fantasy Literature.
The Plagiarist is a science fiction novella written by Hugh Howey, who recently became famous for his self-published WOOL series. The plagiarist of the title is Adam Griffey, a college professor who uses newly discovered technology at his university to visit virtual worlds where he seeks out brilliant authors, memorizes their works, and brings them back to our world. Everyone knows the works are plagiarized, but since the author doesn’t live in our world, it doesn’t count, and our protagonist gets the credit for discovering the talent and, most importantly, he gets the money for the sales. This sort of plagiarism isn’t just for literature, though. Adam has colleagues in other departments who do the same thing, and now all fields of knowledge — science, technology, art, etc. — are advancing rapidly because of the discoveries made in virtual worlds.
All is going well for Adam — his work has made him famous — until he falls in love with Bellatrix, a woman in the latest universe he’s been visiting. When he goes there, he spends all his time making a virtual life with her instead of doing his job. His relationship with his real online girlfriend is suffering and, of course, so is his teaching and research. Like a true plagiarist, he is “faking his real life so he can live his fake one.” Just when it seems that Adam can’t maintain his plagiarized life any longer, his university announces that Bellatrix’s world is about to be wiped from the servers because it’s taking up too much space. That means that the virtual woman he loves will no longer exist, so Adam goes on a mad scramble to try to save their relationship.
Okay, if I had just read my synopsis above, I wouldn’t even need to read the rest of this review — I’d already be pressing the “buy” button ‘cause that just sounds awesome. But for those who want to know more, I’m happy to report that I loved this story. If Philip K. Dick had lived twenty years longer, he would have written The Plagiarist.
Not only is the plot exciting, but for such a short story (58 pages in the 99¢ ebook, 1.5 hours for the $2 audiobook) there’s a lot to think about: online dating; how spending time in virtual worlds might affect our real lives and relationships; parallel universes; the meaning of art; the way that rapidly advancing technology has led to information overload, mass consumerism, and perhaps a decline (or at least an inability to recognize) genuine talent. And there’s more that I don’t want to tell you about so as not to ruin the plot.
The Plagiarist is a perfect introduction to Hugh Howey. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Alexander J. Masters. At first I was slightly put off by his stilted cadence, but as the story progressed, I found that it fit nicely.
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
I still haven't gotten around to listening to Wool and the other better known works of Hugh Howey, but I did enjoy The Hurricane, and The Plagiarist was the perfect length and perfect price for me.
What a neat surprise, and what a great ending.
I suppose what I like most is Howey's ability to craft a character who is unable to connect to others (other than in a sims environment), yet we are able to feel so much for him. Truly, what a likable protagonist. The way he comforts the love of his life will break your heart.
And the ending! No spoilers, but what a great twist, deftly handled.
This is a well-written book, perfectly edited, the only drawback being some heavy-handed narration that you kinda sorta get used to.
I've REALLY gotta get around to listening to Wool!
While the concept isn't wholly original, The Plagiarist is so well-executed and well-told that you don't really care. If you loved Snow Crash, and/or you like thinking about books and their provenance, you'll probably enjoy this little nugget of a novella.
Interested in mostly history, biographies, autobiographies, classics, and Great Courses...with some Sci Fi thrown in for fun!
This book addresses the future and the thought experiments of this future in such an interesting way. If you wonder what the future will look like with the adevent of virtual reality and a loss of self-awareness in the coming society, get this book.
Hugh Howey spins a novella exploring the nature of reality in a virtual era. It is a good read. I was distracted by the narrator's deep dead pan voice initially but became accustomed to his tenor and lost in the story.
interesting concept. Poorly executed.
More emotional. The whole story was read almost monotone.
Look for better books
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
In Hugh Howey's novella, some people go into the many worlds available via simulators to conduct scientific research, some to have some fun, some, as in the case of the main title character, to find works of literary art, memorize them, and publish them in the real world as their own. The nature of creativity is but one of several themes explored in this very short work, along with happiness in the world of fantasy vs. reality.
I prefer longer audiobooks to short ones. Nevertheless, I've listened to a number of short works recently. To be honest, that's because they are less expensive. I don't understand why the 17-hour, 242 MB Wool Omnibus is four times as costly as the 90-minute, 42MB Plagiarist -- yes, that's more storage, and a costlier audio production, but these are not variable costs. But that's the way audiobooks are priced, based on value no doubt.
I've come to a simple conclusion: A good novella makes you wish it was a full length novel, makes you long for more. A lesser work of lesser length makes you see why it could not have been longer -- there's just not enough there to begin with. The Plagiarist, for me, falls squarely in the former category -- it's a neat little novella, with a nice twist at the end (fairly predictable), but I would have loved to learn more about these worlds, real and simulated, and the characters that inhabit them.
I did have a bit a problem with the narration. Too slow, too ponderous, a bit depressing. I sped up the playback to 1.25, which helped, but made it even shorter. Is it possible that this is the first entry in what will eventually be a full length omnibus, as Howey has created in the past? I hope so -- if so, I hope a new narrator is utilized.
overall a good listen. had sort of a matrix type of concept going. I sa2 the end coming but didn't mind.
Life is too short to skip a great story, and ice cream.
I thought the story was good, well written. Characters are well developed and easy to follow. The technical description of the story sounds convincing (I am not a techie). My first book by this author, and would check out his other and more famous work "The Silo Saga".
The narrator sounds fine to me; however, I did speed up the narration to 1.25x.
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