ATTN JMS: Question on Ethics in Writing

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Wed Feb 26 06:17:49 EST 1997

Subject: ATTN JMS: Question on Ethics in Writing
 No. | DATE        |  FROM
s  1: Feb 25, 1997: jiraad at (Jiraad)
*  2: Feb 26, 1997: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)


From: jiraad at (Jiraad)
Lines: 30

First off, thanks again for a wonderful show.

Second, I hope you won't take this post wrong -- you are a wonderful
writer and I ask these questions out of a desire to learn.  I'm a writer
trying to break into the professional field with Short stories.

In several episodes, I have noticed lines spoken by characters that are,
for wont of a better word, "lifted" from other TV shows or movies.  Some
of them, as Durano's line to Londo in ITF ("If you cannot say what you
mean, you can never mean what you say") may not have been original when I
first heard them (I first heard that line spoken by Peter O'Toole as R.F.
Johnston in "The Last Emperor"); others I believe were.  For example: The
entire Cartagia storyline was filled with nods to the Caligula story in
"I, Claudius", especially in regard to the line about the poor senator's

While I love these things, it's been disturbing me lately.  How close
would you say this comes to dangerous ground, or are these thigns in the
public domain, and how does someone like me know what can and can not be

"The war we fight isn't against powers and principalities, it is against chaos and despair.
 Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender."    -- Narn Citizen G'kar, "Z'ha'dum" (Babylon 5 Season 3 Finale)                          ---- Written by J. Michael Stracynski


From: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)
Lines: 20

The line about meaning what you say is an old saying that goes 'way, way
back, long before the O'Toole movie.  And as far as Caligula goes, the
sense of it is there, but not the details...and even if they *were*,
basing part of a story on historical precedent, on actual events, is
hardly inappropriate.  (And in this case, again, it isn't based on
that...evocative of it, yes, but nothing more.)

The notion of the Vorlons and Shadows representing Order and Chaos goes
back to the Babylonian creation myths, that the universe was born in the
conflict between order and chaos, hence part of the reason I decided to
name this show after Babylon.  That's called *research*.  It informs the
show, but it is not the show.


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