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Sunday 1 April 2007

K.J. Anderson in Hostile Takeover of Niven's Known Space

by Paoli du Flippi

WALL STREET - Shareholders in Larry Niven's legendary "Known Space" franchise — sometimes called "readers" or "fans" — were shocked today to receive a hostile takeover offer from best-selling writer Kevin J. Anderson.

From his corporate headquarters secretly buried a mile below bustling Denver, Colorado, the famed sequeler-by-other-hands, known for his extension of Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Frank Herbert's Dune-iverse, issued an explanation for his unprecedented hard-charging offensive in the formerly genteel literary marketplace.

"Underperforming companies are routinely swallowed up against their will by aggressive corporations that recognize a gem in the dust. I think it's about time that such bare-knuckle tactics came to the over-sheltered world of intellectual properties.

"Niven's 'Known Space' franchise has been neglected for far too long. Sure, Larry created it brilliantly out of whole cloth, and carried it forward with bravura genius for decades. But we have to face facts. His productivity nowdays can't hold a candle to his peak years. One new Ringworld novel every five years or so, and the occasional Man-Kzinti War anthology from Baen? C'mon, that's just pitiful! Consumers would eagerly snap up at least three or four new 'Known Space' books per year. And that's what I'm promising."

Anderson went on to detail how the hostile takeover would work. Every shareholder with proof of purchase of a Niven-authored 'Known Space' volume would receive a coupon for a free Anderson-authored volume — one coupon for every volume previously purchased — in exchange for their vote to transfer ownership of the franchise to Anderson. When the number of shareholders consenting to the takeover reached a majority of historical purchasers, the rights to "Known Space" would automatically pass to Anderson, according to a recent Supreme Court decision (Alan Dean Foster vs. Phantom Tollbooth) along the lines of the court's famous "eminent domain" ruling.

Anderson seemed completely confident of the success of his scheme. "I've already taken over Frank Herbert's mammoth Dune-iverse — with the help of an 'insider trader' in the form of his son, Brian — and proven that I can deliver the goods when it comes to generating fresh product. I've got several multi-track digital voice recorders ready so that I can dictate several novels simultaneously, to meet my deadlines with all the publishers who have already jumped onboard.

"And I'm prepared to retain Larry himself as a consultant, unless he wants to exercise his 'golden parachute' option. There's nothing standing between the shareholders and a wealth of new product — except for the remote possibility that Larry might pull a 'poison pill' maneuver. I mean that literally, of course. He might be so horrified by the fate of his brain child that he commits suicide. That would tangle up his estate in so much legal maneuvering that I'd be forced to withdraw my offer. But let's hope it doesn't come to that."

If this stunning new strategy works, Anderson plans to make similar moves on two famously unfinished series: John Crowley's Aegypt quartet; and Samuel Delany's The Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand duology.

© 2007 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.