Having made a decision to write about creating online roleplay personas, inevitably I needed to address the murky world of freebooting, because essentially, that’s what fan communities do – pirate their literary or cinematic idols identities and worlds.
Here’s what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say on the subject…
“Definition of freebooter in English:
Synonyms: pirate, , raider;
, , robber;
Late 16th century: from vrijbuiter, from vrij 'free' + buit 'booty', + the noun suffix -er. Compare with filibuster.
Or, if you prefer something a little more up to date, this is what Wiktionary says about the act itself…
· Piracy or plundering.
· (computing) Software piracy, or plagiarism or unauthorized rehosting of digital content.
· 1982, InfoWorld (volume 4, number 15, page 30)
Your recent issue about the problems of electronic software piracy or "freebooting" — if you will — was excellent and timely. However, I wonder if both sides have failed to understand the social significance of the struggle.
· 2014, Brady Haran, Hello Internet: Episode #5: Freebooting (the first use of the term with this sense):
Oh those freebooters taking our videos! I'm sick of it. Freebooting, you know, it's a serious issue!
So – a big problem immediately arose because, although Tolkien had never written about a character called Janowyn, I’d placed her in a faux Rivendell, singing about original characters and events. I couldn’t write a book using the name of Rivendell, Imladris or The Last Homely House (the Professor was a great one for giving everything and everyone more than one name), or any other characters or locations from The Lord of the Rings universe, without getting into deep legal and fiscal doo-doo when I came to publish!
What to do… Well of course my recourse was to do what any other self-preserving hack does – change the names to protect the not so innocent! Jano was OK, but it was kind of fun finding other ways to ‘reinvent’ her tales of Middle Earth’s heroes and histories so that they had new labels, but still ‘worked’ in my reweaving, and at least retained some of the look and feel of the revered originals.
There was also the ‘problem’ of other people’s characters that Jano played with. I’d lost touch with some of them, though others are still my good friends and fellow authors. Where there’s a will there’s a way – I indulged in a little jiggery-pokery with the disclaimers and came up with this little catch-all…
This is a memoir with the focus on the author’s fantasy world. In the case of names, characters and places, from the fan websites, these have all been changed from the accepted canon of the original books and motion pictures to avoid copyright infringements, and where a fellow roleplayer’s permission has not been given to (or sought by) the author.
Luckily, the most important and significant roleplay characters I interacted with, were all happy for me to mention them in passing if needed. In fact, my friend who played Jano’s true love has written the foreword for me ‘in character’ – there’s not many authors who have an ennobled Wood Elf introducing their work!
Don’t worry about what freebooting is—that’ll be explained very soon if you’re not already familiar with the concept. For those of you who are, or at least know that ‘booting’ has something to do with going online (well computers anyway…), you’re on the right track, but it’s very much an inveterately human activity still.
As you can tell from the subtitle, this is a semi auto-biographical work, but the almanac assignment is a more truthful description of what goes on between the covers. This is because the tapestry of words contained within is essentially a series of snapshots taken during a lifetime’s journey, that encompasses one person’s struggles with health, achievement, emotion and, most of all, dreams and imagination. Yes, it’s me, me, me all the way through, but the fantasy twist is that often I’m behind a mask, or in shadow, or slipping a veil over things as I explore various personas and character facets. This may or may not be a conscious experience since we’re dealing with the Fantasia of Life and there’s been a fair amount of ‘making it up as I go’ action going on, alongside a great deal of ‘I have no idea what I’m doing’ prevarication.
All I can assure you of as you go further into this work of faction, is that it doesn’t matter whether it really happened or not—life is as much a journey of the mind as one of physical experience, through a series of events and encounters in the ‘real world’. After all, even if you think you don’t believe in fantasy or magic, your dreams are not always yours to command, or even to remember, and science is still left with plenty of work to do in unlocking the secrets our brains’ conjure within all that mushy grey matter and electrical impulses. Freebooting is a fluid and undefined undertaking, much like setting forth into uncharted waters without a map of any real description, or even an idea of what to expect, which is why an almanac is always handy, if only to use as a journal to jot down the course you chart.
‘Magic always happens for a reason, wherever and however it is created. Inside the fantasy, or springing from it...’