Flexibility among copyright holders? No way.

When does a reference to something from another work stop being an attempt to raise a wry smile and become plagiarism or infringe copyright?

Three examples I wanted in YLO:

  • a drug called semuta, as in Frank Herbert’s Dune
  • a minor character’s name taken from a John Wyndham short story
  • mere hints that a long-gone society might perhaps have been the one from the Handmaid’s Tale

There’s no attempt to exploit the original, we’re talking single words and names (not chunks of text), it’s not fan fiction (not even in the same “universe”) and in no way denigrating the original. Just perhaps making aficionados grin.

At least I had the smarts to check whether these minuscule, innocent homage-style references were okay. Three strikes and out: blunt and unequivocal refusals from Brian Herbert, the agents representing the estate of John Wyndham and Margaret Atwood’s publisher.

Here comes the artwork!

Well, a couple of weeks ago I took the plunge and started working with a designer for the cover for YLO and I’m delighted to say that it’s already starting to look pretty good. Hence the provisional version that’s now gracing the homepage: great work by Mike Beckom, with a nicely revamped logo and a grunge texture over it that instantly encapsulates the fact that this world is no paradise.