5 min read

Astrolabe Digest: 121923

The gargantuan Insomniac Games leak, that Goodreads one star thing, and why you should never sue the Tolkien estate
Astrolabe Digest: 121923
Photo by Alex Shute / Unsplash

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Insomniac Games hit by massive ransomware leak

  • After a ransomware attack on December 12th, 2023, Spider-Man 2 and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart developer Insomniac Games suffered a gargantuan data leak when they failed to pay the 50 BTC (~$2M USD) ransom to a group responsible for similar attacks across various industries over the past few years.
  • According to Polygon, among the 1.3M leaked files (across 1.67 terabytes of data) was sensitive corporate information (budgets, publishing agreements, etc.), personnel files (including private data about employees), game footage and files, and a release schedule spanning over a decade and revealing new game titles in development or planning all the way to 2035.
  • “Hearing about how massive this theft is I'm kind of shocked Sony didn't pay the ransom,” said Dan Stapleton, IGN director of reviews, on Bluesky. “Obviously that has its risks but it's hard to imagine this hasn't easily done $2 million worth of damage.” Stapleton also said he would not look at the contents of the leak, waiting instead for “when that team is ready to show it.”
  • No, I’m not going to provide you with specific details from the leaked data.
  • “Really feel for the Insomniac crew, not just because it’s putting all of their work out there but also their lives. It’s awful,” said GameSpot managing editor Tamoor Hussain on Twitter. “This isn’t a leak it’s a malicious breach that endangers people. Won’t be covering the contents of it on GameSpot.” VGC’s Andy Robinson made a similar statement.
  • It’s easy to look at corporate espionage as though it’s a victimless crime, affecting only an enormous, highly profitable corporation, but it’s important to remember that leaks—especially when they’re this big—have huge implications for everyday workers within these businesses, and the fallout can last years.

You get one star, you get one star, you ALL get one star!

  • If you’re a debut author with a 2024 novel receiving above average publisher support, what would you do? Well, in the case of Cait Corrain, you’d go on a revenge tour against a bunch of your fellow debut authors and tank your career before it even started.

  • “If you as a debut author are going to make a bunch of fake Goodreads accounts one-star-bombing fellow debuts you're threatened by can you at least not make it so obvious by upvoting your own book on a bajillion different lists with those same accounts,” wrote Xiran Jay Zhao on Twitter, kicking off the party.

  • If you’re not up-to-date on the fiasco, The Mary Sue has an excellent rundown of Corrain’s behaviour and the subsequent fallout. The gist is that she drummed up an army of fake Goodreads accounts and started review bombing her fellow 2024 debut authors—while also displaying an unsettling pattern of specifically targeting debut novels from writers of colour.

  • As a result of her catastrophic career choices, Corrain’s novel has been dropped by her publisher and agent. Goodreads has also addressed the issue by… asking users to help. It’s not like they have Amazon money backing them, or anything.

  • Corrain initially plead not guilty in the court of public opinion, blaming instead an overzealous friend. But, presumably after a long, hard talk with her ex-publisher and ex-agent, and, I dunno, her lawyer, she came clean. For most of it, at least. She didn’t mention the bias against writers of colour.

  • As I said on Bluesky:

    “The only way to find success (outside of being your publisher's *~*it*~* book of the season and getting a huge marketing push) is by building up genuine, strong relationships with your community of authors, readers, and fans. A rising tide floating all our boats is really all we've got.”

  • has a great piece about Goodreads that’s worth returning to now:

    Goodreads Has No Incentive to be Good
    When I was getting my start as a writer, there was a mildly infamous Amazon troll who left one-star reviews on every book in the indie lit scene. (“Indie” then meant published on small literary presses not self-published on Amazon.) Seemingly a failed writer, he took his frustrations out on authors he’d never met o…
  • Not to be outdone for the zaniest book-related event of the season, there’s also an author who’s… trying to copyright the sun? Discovery’s gonna be interesting on that one.

Art by by Justin Gerard

The Desolation of Demetrious Polychron

  • Back in early 2023, some guy named Demetrious Polychron1 sued Amazon and the Tolkien Estate claiming The Rings of Power, Amazon’s big-budget television take on Middle-earth, ripped off his 2017 fan fiction called, um, The Fellowship of the King. Polychron copyrighted the work in 2017, but didn’t published it until 2022, shortly before The Rings of Power hit Amazon Prime Video.

  • “Polychron claimed he left a copy of his manuscript at Tolkien’s grandson’s home in 2019,” reported RadarOnline.com’s Aaron Johnson. “He said he was never contacted.” Johnson revealed that in the contents of the lawsuit, Polychron “claims Amazon’s adaptation stole his ‘wholly original distinct and separate characters and storylines,’ and that the stolen work comprises ‘as much as one-half of the 8-episode series.’”

  • The Tolkien estate countersued in July, 2023. Bloomberg Law reported:

    The sequel “incorporates an astonishingly wide range of copyright-protected elements from the Tolkien Canon,” the estate’s complaint said. Among them are15 poems or other passages copied verbatim, hundreds of the original’s characters, and the recycling of the entire plot premise of the trilogy.

  • To the surprise of exactly nobody (except, perhaps, Demetrious Polychron), the original lawsuit was dismissed by a US district court. Polychron was ordered to destroy all copies of his book and cover 134,000 USD in legal fees.

  • One does not simply walk into litigation with the Tolkien estate.


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