Thursday, March 31, 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Galaktika Magazine: Theft on a Massive Scale

On March 23, 2016, Bence Pintér published an article at Mandiner Magazine regarding numerous stories published by Galaktika Magazine in 2015 - most of them translated and reprinted without the knowledge or consent of the original authors.

The summary of the article in English stated: "We started our investigation about Galaktika magazine upon coming across a warning about them on Doug Smith's website. Having reviewed each volume of last year's Galaktika, we found that the majority of the foreign stories were pirated from online portals such as Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed,, or Popular Science; and from certain anthologies (Years Best SF 14, eds. David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, Eos, 2014. and There Won't Be War, eds. Harry Harrison and Bruce McAllister, Tor, 1991.). We contacted the authors, the editors, and the websites, and have learned that Galaktika did not purchase the rights for most of these stories. The only exception we know of is Jason Sanford's short story. Also, there are reports from 2006 and 2012 about Galaktika publishing short stories without permission." [The full article is now available in English here.]

I spoke with Mr. Pintér via email on March 30, 2016, and he said that Jason Sanford's short story ("The Ships Like Clouds, Risen by Their Rain, Interzone 2008) had been submitted for translation and he was aware of its publication. Mr. Sanford confirmed that with me as well, but said his records did not indicate whether he had received payment for his story, and was not certain if he had received any sort of contributor copy either.

Mr. Pintér also said that following the publication of his article, he had confirmed that Kim Stanley Robinson's story (The Lucky Strike, Universe 14, ed. Terry Carr, Doubleday, 1984) had also be printed with permission. According to the article there were a few authors still unaccounted for (Tom Hanks, for example), but, Mr. Stanford and Mr. Robinson aside, the vast majority of the short stories were published without any permission from or compensation to the authors. [Edited to correct "Ms. Robinson" to Mr. Robinson.]

I asked Mr. Pintér if the pieces by Hungarian authors were also being published without their knowledge and he said "I just know about translations stolen. As I mention in the article, a translation of a Robert Bloch story was stolen from the Hungarian translator. But it is known that Galaktika pays the domestic authors long after the publication, if it pays at all." (We could speculate on whether Galaktika is targeting overseas authors due to lack of immediate legal remedy, but that would be speculation. I think it's fair to say that they are operating in such a way they prefer not to make a monetary investment in the content of their magazine, despite selling it for 1190 HUF (or approximately 4 Euros/US Dollars) per issue.)

Note that Doug Smith's website originally stated that Galaktika's terms for payment where "Pays $50-100US generally for short stories (plus contrib copy)." [It now contains a warning " DO NOT SUBMIT HERE RIGHT NOW! – Mar 2016: Once again, I've received multiple reports of stories being translated and printed without the author's permission. This has been going on since 2012. At that time, the editor said that he was working with publisher to identify and arrange for missing payments. If you've submitted here and never heard back, check their website. If you find your story was published, contact editor."

It was that warning that Bence Pintér stumbled across while researching Galaktika for an unrelated article he intended to write about the magazine, and prompted the investigation into the contents of every issue released in 2015. 

I first became aware of the unfolding story when an author acquaintance on Twitter began urging other authors to check and see if their work had also been stolen and pointed them to the thread at the Absolute Write Water Cooler which in turn linked to a FaceBook post by Sean Wallace (shared by Ellen Datlow) which contained the link to Bence Pintér's article at Mandiner. There was also a link to the Galaktika website, which I followed and began looking through the bibliography. (Possibly the only word I am able to recognize in Hungarian.) 

As I looked through the TOC for monthly magazines, I immediately began to recognize names and I reached out to a couple that I followed on Twitter. 

Aliette DeBodard was the first to respond. I asked her about the translation and publication of her short story "Shipbirth" (Asimov's Feb 2011) that had appeared in the June 2012 issue of Galaktika. She confirmed that it had been published without her consent and she had contacted them when she became aware. That inquiry was apparently ignored - the editor made no attempt to offer compensation for having printed her story, and, from what she can see reviewing the email at the time, did not bother to respond at all.

Elizabeth Bear (@matociquala on Twitter) also responded and said she first became aware of the publication of "Boojum" (with Sarah Monette - Fast Ships, Black Sails, ed. Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer, Night Shade Books, 2008) in the Aug 2015 issue of Galaktika was when Bence Pintér contacted her while researching his article. Nor was she aware, until I asked her about it in a follow-up email, of the publication of "Tideline" (Asimov's Jun 2007) in the October 2008 issue of Galaktika.

After posting a link to my first (very brief post) yesterday, I was contacted by Malcolm Cross via Twitter (@foozzzball) who had also found out his story (Pavlov's House, Strange Horizons Apr 21 2014) had been translated and published without his knowledge in the April 2015 issue of Galaktika when he was notified by the staff at Strange Horizons. He says: "At first I was contacted by one of the Strange Horizons staff (who are all amazing and supportive), and... I thought it must have been some kind of one off or mistake. I'd been contacted by Fantastyka - a fantastic sounding magazine from Poland - for reprint and translation rights quite a long time ago, which I was paid for. It wasn't a huge sum of money or anything, but they respected my rights. At first I thought Galaktika must have been related to Fantastyka somehow, maybe sold translation rights on, but, no. Nothing like that had happened. [...] A couple of days after the initial contact from Strange Horizons I discovered that, no, this was not some kind of one-off mistake, it's...apparently industrial level plagiarism, which is far from flattering."

He also said he was concerned about making waves because "science fiction matters." Given the historical role Galaktika has had in Hungary in the past he is concerned about the harm that might come to the magazine by talking about the plagiarism. He says this is complicated by the wider history of science fiction in Eastern Europe. "There's been difficulty in interacting with the wider world, both in the communist era and after it, a sense of being 'othered' from the English speaking fandom, a tricky situation where far more material is translated from English into Hungarian/Magyar, Czech, Polish, than gets translated back. Which is sad -- we got 'Rossum's Universal Robots' from Karel Capek, we got 'Solaris' from Stanislaw Lem... but all that's decades ago. These days eastern Europe's virtually cut off from us, we don't hear their voices, but they hear ours through translation." 

Mr. Cross expressed concern that criticism of the plagiarism would remove an outlet for the Hungarian SF fandom which should be "fostering and encouraging each other to produce the best they can, to have a dialogue, to discuss the issues that matters to them through their stories, and make it something so enticing that we have people over here so eager to hear their words that we stop waiting for translations and start learning how to speak Hungarian. "

I appreciate Mr. Cross' concern, but given Bence Pintér's assertion that Hungarian contributors are not being reasonably compensated for their work either, I'm afraid Galaktika may be unable to provide any legitimate outlet for the Hungarian SF authors if it continues as it has. 

Elizabeth Bear also said "I think this is a pretty ethically unsupportable action on their part, and I'm deeply disappointed in the people involved." 

And this is a part of the problem. No one wants to see a magazine disappear, especially in a country with only a couple Hungarian language SF/F markets, but if that publisher is depending on either stealing or otherwise acquiring work for free, I think they are doing more damage than good. Especially now that it's become apparent that this is not an occasional problem, but habitual theft of intellectual property. 

I asked Mr. Pintér if the publisher had responded to the allegations of theft and he said they had declined to comment on the matter during a separate interview. "After that they sent an email, which is in the article. The boss said that "the area of copyrights is a complicated stuff". Since then no word from them."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Galaktika Piracy : Original Article

The article is in Hungarian, written by Pinter Bence and can be found at

The summary in English states: "We started our investigation about Galaktika magazine upon coming across a warning about them on Doug Smith's website. Having reviewed each volume of last year's Galaktika, we found that the majority of the foreign stories were pirated from online portals such as Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed,, or Popular Science; and from certain anthologies (Years Best SF 14, eds. David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, Eos, 2014. and There Won't Be War, eds. Harry Harrison and Bruce McAllister, Tor, 1991.). We contacted the authors, the editors, and the websites, and have learned that Galaktika did not purchase the rights for most of these stories. The only exception we know of is Jason Sanford's short story. Also, there are reports from 2006 and 2012 about Galaktika publishing short stories without permission."

The article was linked to by Sean Wallace on FaceBook and then reposted by Ellen Datlow (among others, I assume) before being picked up and posted over at the Absolute Write Water Cooler. I'm trying to track down a more detailed summary in English. (Google Translate produces somewhat... muddy results.)

Galaktika Piracy

A few days ago Sean Wallace posted a link to an article that revealed Galaktika - a Hungarian magazine publishing primarily SF/F - had been pirating work. At this point it seems the extent of the piracy is undetermined. (It's been confirmed that some stories in past years were pirated, but it is not certain if all of them were.) It does appear that almost every story published in 2015 was done so without the authors or editors permission.

Frequent targets were pro-paying magazines (Asimov's, Strange Horizons, Popular Science, Playboy) and anthologies.

To share details on work that was stolen from you, please either comment on the new thread over at the Absolute Write Water Cooler (Galaktika Magazine - AWWC) or here. (You may also contact me directly if you are not comfortable sharing details in public - annagrace dot carpenter at gmail dot com)

To look and see if your story has been stolen you can check out this link : Galaktika Magazine - Bibliography Click on the Magazines link, then click on the year link next to the Galaktika heading. Each authors name in the TOC also links to a larger bibliography that will show any work by that author translated into Hungarian (including some that were published elsewhere legally).

I am currently working on simply collecting information on the situation and will post updates as they become available.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Steampunk Expo & Gothic Con Schedule

Just one month left 'til the 2016 Steampunk Expo & Gothic Con.

Below is my schedule for the event. (Subject to change, but I'll be sure to post any updates as necessary.)

Saturday (April 16th) 

2 PM - Is it steamy enough? Writing Steampunk: When writing, what elements, tropes, or styles are necessary to make a story Steampunk? Do you really need airships and corsets?

4 PM - Ladies writing Steampunk: Our ladies of steampunk discuss what they love best about writing, the struggles of women in the publishing world, and which guy they'd like to see on the cover of their next book.

Sunday (April 17th)

10 AM - Author Interviews - the great round table discussion: The Library Police spend sometime learning more about the convention's attending authors.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Nostalgia and New Blood

It's interesting, sometimes, being a fan of SF/F/H, but not being especially connected to a particular fandom. Among other things, it allows me to have a different perspective on things that are being remade, rebooted, or transferred from one medium to another. It means that I can usually approach those works from a place of "What story are they telling this time?" and less of a place of "OMG! They are so gonna fuck this up."

I dunno. Maybe this is where eight years of classical piano studies comes in handy. See, in classical music each performer has the opportunity to massage the original work into something special. Maybe not unique - in the sense that they still play all the same notes - but still different. Because each performer brings something new to the table. Their education, their own love of certain types of music, their emotional awareness, their technical skill. All of these things effecting minute changes. [For a concrete example you can check out this video on YouTube which compares five different pianists versions of Bach's Invention #1. Although I suggest stopping after the first four and listening to Gould's version here - he hums along as he plays.]

The point being that the same source can produce vastly different end results depending on the individual bringing it to life. And this is not necessarily a bad thing because it gives us a chance to see (or hear or read or whatever) something from a new perspective.

Does that mean it's always going to be good? No.
Does that mean every person has to like every version? No.
Does that mean that there aren't certain standards of quality to be applied? No.

What it does mean is that clinging to a single version of a song or type of story can mean you miss out on something else good.

Why am I mentioning this? Because yesterday the trailer for the new Ghostbusters movie came out. And there is a lot of hate for it. Some of it centers around the fact that the new team is all-female. Some of it centers around the fact that the sense of humor is different. But most of it boils down to "But I liked the original and this is different. Boohoo." (Seriously, the number of folks talking about how the new movie is ruining their (already in the past) childhood is just... stunning. Like the new movie is going to erase the old one.)

Remember when I mentioned being a fan, but not so much a member of particular fandoms? Here's where that becomes relevant.

I first saw Ghostbusters in my early teens (well, after it had first come out, although we were still using VHS tapes) and I loved it. I even daydreamed about what it would be like to be a Ghostbuster. I'm still a fan of the original movie. But here's the thing.

Yesterday, as the trailer was being rapidly disliked on YouTube by a bunch of butt-hurt older fans, I went and looked up the trailer for the 1984 movie - just by way of comparison. And... it's not great. (Partly because, you know, the 80s.) It's not terrible either. It's the sort of thing that will immediately appeal to some folks and not to others. The humor will make some people laugh, and miss completely with others.

Does the trailer for the new Ghostbusters make me dance around the room with excitement? No.
Are all of the jokes laugh out loud funny (to me)? No.
Do I think it looks like a complex and nuanced plot? No.

But it is going to be new riff on a story and world I like. And if it turns out to be awful it won't change the story and world I like. (Again. New versions of old movies are not like the Terminator - they don't travel back and change the past.) And if it turns out to be good, then all the more to love.

I won't let my nostalgia get in the way of enjoying something different.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

This Girl Needs to Get Paid: Or Why I Sell My (Self-published) Books Through Gumroad and Not Amazon

A few weeks ago I put my short story collection (The Weather's Always Fine in Paradise) up for pre-order on Gumroad. Another writer friend contacted me and said "I saw that you have a new book coming out, but when I looked for it on Amazon, I couldn't find it."

I told him I prefer to distribute my self-published* work through Gumroad because I get paid considerably more per sale that way. (If you aren't familiar with Amazon's rates they take 30% of the money and give you 70%. Unless you are selling something for $0.99, in which case they take 70% and give you 30%. Gumroad charges $0.25+5% of the price. Even on the $0.99 sales, I make a much higher percentage with Gumroad.)

"Yeah, but Amazon has such a big piece of the marketplace."

But I make more money with Gumroad.

See, here's the thing. I understand browsing for books. I understand that Amazon are not only a marketplace, but also an aggregator. (When was the last time you didn't use Amazon to look for that book you read a few years back but can't quite remember the title or author?) I understand that while bookstores still maintain 40%-ish of physical book sales, they only have 10% of ebook sales (while Amazon has 90%). I understand that they have Top Seller lists out the ass (a couple years back I was in the Fiction - Western - Science Fiction top 10 multiple times) and algorithms that (sometimes) recommend your book to folks looking at (supposedly) similar work.

But I make more money with Gumroad.

Based on observation during the period Eggplant Literary had my SF Western novella on Amazon, the vast majority of my sales come through personal referral. That is, when I told someone to check it out or I tweeted about it or posted a link to a review. When I didn't do those things... there was just the eerie silence of watching my book plummet through the sales rankings.

Just being on Amazon was not enough.
Let me repeat that.
As a debut author with a small publisher, just being on Amazon was not enough. Sales did not magically trickle through due to algorithms or Top 10 lists. (This, by the way, is not a surprise. Targeted promotion and marketing is fucking key for authors of any level with any size publisher selling books through any venue or marketplace.)

So, when my sales are still overwhelmingly coming from me telling folks "Hey, you should buy my book," where do you think I want to point them? A marketplace that takes 30% of my profit or a marketplace that takes a little over 5% of my profit?

"But Amazon!"

Yeah. But I make more money with Gumroad. And I need to get paid.

*A publisher is welcome to sell my books however they see fit. From the trunk of their car, on Amazon, even dropped from a helicopter like a near-flightless bird over Cincinnati.