This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The disclaimer itself is a brilliant work of legal fiction. I think everybody knows by now that authors filch shamelessly from real life. Resemblances are far from coincidental. Everybody just pretends otherwise when it comes time to go to court.
That disclaimer shall have to be expanded when I publish my magnum opus:
This work of fiction is entirely made up (aside from those bits the author filched from real life, like the entire city of Seattle, WA), and should not be used as a manual, scripture, handbook or other guide to live your life by. No matter how much you make like and/or agree with the gods, spirits, xenospecies, characters, ideas, faiths, worldviews, etc. contained herein, any attempts to start a religion in the author's and/or characters' names is strictly prohibited. Willing suspension of disbelief should only be employed within the pages of this book. Critical faculties
should be fully utilized once the cover is closed. The author is not responsible for the havoc wreaked by over-enthusiastic fans and their inability to separate fictional reality from actual reality.
And if you attempt to name your children after the aliens, planets, offworld locales, ships, or other completely made up shit contained within this book, the author reserves the right to fetch you a right ding round the earhole on behalf of your humiliated offspring.
All right, so I'll need a lawyer to couch that in legalise, but you get the idea.
I seriously worry about this stuff, and with good reason. I've heard of the spate of Galadriels and Arawens that occurred after people read too much Lord of the Rings. I've seen the lines of folks dressed up in Star Wars gear, camped out for days waiting for the next giant turd George Lucas serves up. I knew a man who regularly wore his Star Trek: TNG captain's uniform and knew how to say "Take your ticket and get on the damned boat" in Klingon. The fact he worked for a boat rental outfit on Lake Powell and thus had good reason for learning that particular phrase is beside the point.
But the worst, absolute most horrifying, moment was when a college roommate perused my map of Athesea, plunked her finger down on it, and said, "If I have a son, I'm going to name him Daneth!"
I explained to her in no uncertain terms that no, she bloody well would not name her son after a valley on Athesea. No child should have to suffer the massive bullshit a name like that would bring down on him. After I explained the taunting, teasing, and incomprehension that poor child would likely endure, she agreed that Daneth was probably not a very good name for a boy after all.
But I can't be there for every fan. I can't tell each of them personally that while I'm flattered they loved my story so much they want to dress like my characters, learn their language, follow their gods, and destroy children's lives with names that sound wonderful in the book, if they do any of the aforementioned things, I shall be forced to beat some sense into them.
Some of it would be harmless, yes. We all have fun playing someone else for a while. It's just that I don't know how the hell I'd react at a book signing if faced with some poor dipshit dressed to the nines with two fake swords swinging from his or her hips, bubbling over with enthusiasm about how utterly awesome the Xtaleans are. And what people might do trying to imitate my Unicorns doesn't even bear thinking about. I'm either going to burst out laughing, sobbing, screaming, or all three.
I don't mind folks taking inspiration from what I write. Some of the issues I write about, I'd love it if that's the way the world worked. If my book inspires some people to give up their fear of teh gays, stop killing each other over religion, and treat the planet with more respect, that's fantastic. That's part of what I'd like them to think more about. Fiction is, after all, a way of telling the truth through lies. You can learn a lot about yourself, fellow humans, and the world by approaching it through the eyes of fictional characters.
I do not, repeat not, want to hear that the Church of Scientology suddenly has a rival based off a novel by Dana Hunter.
I don't want to hear about people worshipping Tarlah, because a) he's a construct of my mind and b) he's not even a bloody god nor c) a bloody he, when it comes right down to it.
And there's going to be at least one person who swears up and down they've heard my message and they're prepared for the secret war against Sha'daal. I can see that one coming ten thousand miles away. After all, I hung about with a guy in high school who thought Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series wasn't so much excellent fantasy as concise history. OMFG. Shoot me now.
So I'm putting this out here now, so that I can refer the wankers who can't separate fantasy from reality back here before I try to bash some sense back into them with a three-pound hardcover book. I want them to read the following sentence carefully:
Do not under any circumstances mistake fiction for reality.
My characters can and should seem real. My worlds can and should seem like actual places. That's what the willing suspension of disbelief is all about. But they aren't bleeding real.
And it shall go very hard for any reader who believes otherwise.
Do any of you other fiction writers in the audience ever worry about this kind of shit?