I'm looking for the titles of a military space opera trilogy (I think) that was more or less directly copied from an earlier series or a non-SF military series.

My memory is quite vague but I think it was published quite a few years after Dune, maybe in the 1980s or 1990s. It was a fairly big best seller in the UK at least, before it was identified as being plagiarised from the earlier series.

I think the original was based around the time of the second world war - possibly in the Soviet Union?

I think there was a court case resulting in a small amount in royalties being paid to the original author.

I'd be interested to know the original books' titles and author as well as any other details.

  • 3
    Do you recall anything about the books other than "military space opera trilogy"? Basic plot? Names/descriptions of characters? Locations?
    – phantom42
    Dec 26 '13 at 14:53

The Sunfall series by William James isn't space opera, but it is a plagiarized SF trilogy with military elements. The original doesn't take place during WWII, but it does happen during the Mongol conquest of Russia. The Science Fiction Encyclopedia's entry for the author says,

Pseudonym of Scottish teacher and writer James William Bell whose Sunfall sequence – comprising The Earth is the Lord's (dated 1992 but 1993), The Other Side of Heaven (1993) and Before the Sun Falls (1993) – is told in a Ruined Earth tone, though it is in fact set on a world whose geography is dominated by deserts and steppes, where epic conflicts among Mongol-like barbarians and others flourish. Its frequent close resemblance to Cecelia Holland's Until the Sun Falls (1989), an historical novel about Mongol hordes, drew considerable comment. Holland considered that this and two of her other (unrelated) historical novels had been directly plagiarized by James, and protested strongly through the US Authors Guild: the Sunfall books were withdrawn by their UK publisher, Orbit, in late 1994.

By the way, have I mentioned today that the SF Encyclopedia is a marvel and a joy?

  • That's the one - thanks it's been bugging me for ages. I'm glad you recognised it despite my mangled memory!
    – Mike
    Dec 30 '13 at 18:15
  • Glad to help out!
    – sjl
    Dec 31 '13 at 5:27

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