What was the plagiarised story published by Asimov’s? refers to an essay published in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, after the magazine apparently published a story which was later determined to be plagiarized. The question specifically asks to identify the story.

Asimov apparently took pains in the essay to avoid identifying the specific story. Assuming there's no other authoritative information about the event on the Internet, what other kind of answer would be acceptable?

Some of the comments suggest searching previous issues of the magazine for possible stories. But any answer that identifies a story based on circumstantial evidence would be speculative, with the added problem of possibly libeling an innocent author as a plagiarist.

2 Answers 2


As long as you can reasonably back up your assertion it's not libel, it's fair comment and there are a number of ways you could answer this question in a high quality fashion;

  1. Locate an authoritative source that outright identifies the plagiarising author.


  1. Identify the story in question and which story it's a copy of.

You also have the option of going for option #3

  1. Provide a partial answer (they need love too), by identifying which author/s meet the criteria described in the essay (e.g. male, never published in that magazine again, etc., etc.)
  • 2
    Huh, I had focused on #2, and missed #3. You're right, a list of possibilities without making a specific accusation would be safe too.
    – DavidW
    Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 19:34

I think the libel concern isn't really very large. An answer (that isn't rapidly downvoted and probably deleted) will have to meet all the criteria of the question and the comments (published January 1983 to April 1985, male author, no further stories in Asimov's) and will only really answer the question if the story that is plagiarized can be identified as well.

Note that we're mostly reasonable people here, and angry, trolling, or other unpleasant posts will either get cleaned up or rapidly deleted. There won't be a string of posts randomly accusing members of the SF community of rampant plagiarism.

That an answer should identify the original story also creates a sufficiently high bar that there are unlikely to be any misidentifications, and would also (in the U.S., where SE is headquartered) fail to reach the bar of ill intent and blatant falsehood that is required for a charge of libel against an individual. (I am not a lawyer, but I read Popehat and, according to Ken White, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the U.S. permits the expression of opinions formed from the available facts.)

At the very worst a cease-and-desist order will be entered and the post taken down.

  • As far as I'm aware SFF:SE has never received a DMCA or takedown request and has never responded to a libel allegation.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 19:32
  • 1
    @Valorum Considering some of the posts I've reviewed, I'd probably put that down to good (rapid, responsive) moderation more than anything.
    – DavidW
    Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 19:35
  • @Valorum even if there were DMCA/takedown requests, they would be mostly invisible/done in the background rather than announced publicly.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Nov 8, 2023 at 8:48
  • @AndrewT.- Yes, but there would be evidence of them. If you're on the site daily, like a lot of people are, you notice when things go missing
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 8, 2023 at 9:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .