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on April 19, 2012
Published in 1981, the short story "They Died Twice" by Alan Hathaway included, among other things, a machine developed for the express purpose of delving into ancestral memories. "Link" is a clear rip-off of this now 31 year old classic tale. While this reviewer would nominally ignore such things as there is no such thing as a new idea, the author's insistence of suing a company for essentially the same thing he did in 2003 deserves a low rating.


As an addendum to the above explanation, as many sites throughout he blogosphere and tumblrverse quoting my wording misunderstand the content and message. In no way am I accusing Mr. Beiswenger of stealing or otherwise plagiarizing "They Died Twice". The purpose was to demonstrate that creative minds can, and frequently do, create works with plot devices that are remarkably similar to one another. Ancient societies have creation stories that are similar to one another in ways that almost indicate that such creation stories could be true. For example, the Maya have story elements that could be confused for the Biblical story of Noah's Ark despite the two cultures never having come in contact until thousands of years after the stories were originally developed. "They Died Twice" was selected as it is an incredibly obscure book that Mr. Beiswenger could not have possibly known about. The only references I've been able to find on this book were a 12 year old defunct website that provided a short summary of the story and, when doing research to find out the publication of the story, was only able to find reference of it in a book called "Literary Afterlife: The Posthumous Continuations of Author's Fictional Characters". In other words, an obscure website and a book referencing what could possibly make "They Died Twice" professional fanfic. Because of the confusing content of "Literary Afterlife" and how it lists works, I'm not sure if "They Died Twice" is a continuation of a work from November 1942, and if it is, when the various genetic memory themes an other elements present in Link were originated in this universe, so I defaulted to 1981. If it was in 1942, it only makes the point more poignant. Mr. Beiswenger independently developed the concept of utilizing a machine to seek information on genetic memory to solve a present issue (what other purpose would it have?) and combined it with another common and ancient theme of using science to better understand God and religion. Nothing particularly new here.

I used "They Died Twice" because pointing out the same plots and themes from major greats like Edgar Rice Borroughs or Frank Herbert, or on pop-science during the 1800s that did attempt to decode human ancestral memory through our genes as well as psychological research performed by individuals such as the great Carl Jung, would have limited the impact and further confused this as a claim of accusing Mr. Beiswenger of plagiarism. "Link" is an incredibly obscure book, so it was best to juxtapose this situation against an older, equally (or more so) obscure literary work. This reviewer fully believes that Mr. Beiswenger developed "Link" without engaging in any intellectual theft. The plot details do not copy others, nor are characters, events, or personalities lifted out of other fictional efforts wholesale. Nor has "Assassin's Creed" done the same to "Link". While "Link" and "Assassin's Creed" have high level plot similarities, they are not remotely the same in the content. If this were even a reasonable lawsuit, LucasArts, a far more sophisticated entity than Mr. Beiswenger, would have done so against Naughty Dog and Sony over the Uncharted series (or even the older Tomb Raider series) since LucasArts has an almost identical claim as "Link" does against "Assassin's Creed" in that both "Indiana Jones" and "Uncharted" feature snarky, conventionally attractive archaeologists that engage in treasure hunting against an organized military force that also include elements of the supernatural.

As is common with individuals who cross the thresholds of their main professional focus, Mr. Beiswenger is unfamiliar with the world of literature. I speculate that, in his primary profession, engineering, he is aware of the term "prior art" when engaging in patent work and is casually aware of the patent environment to the point he does not have to engage in too much serious research to determine if a development is based on prior art or is legitimately original (the United States Patent Office sure doesn't as the court system frequently invalidates patents the USPO grants). However, he is, even by his own admission, not an author by trade and wrote this from an idea that popped into his mind one day. Because is was not casually aware of the particularly old themes of genetic memory, machines to access those memories, conspiracy stories involving opposing secret societies, or using science to explain religion, he has confused himself into thinking that he was the legitimate origin for these themes, or even their mixture in "Link".

The general purpose was to, if the short odds lined up, have Mr. Beiswenger find this review and have him realize, "Wait, I really didn't come up with that idea, and I really should drop this lawsuit before I find myself sitting on a huge legal bill with nothing to show for it and possibly an ugly counter-suit from UbiSoft to recoup their legal costs of defending this clearly frivolous suit".

As for the book itself? The plot was creative, but the writing left much to be desired. The book overused "said bookisms" (look it up on TVTropes) and could have benefited greatly from reading Nick Lowe's "The Well-Tempered Plot Device" and James Allen Gardner's "A Seminar on Writing Prose" since the plot itself is poorly developed and the characters are not exactly well developed either. It's more of a two star book - good basis, bad execution.
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on May 9, 2012
So i decided to read this book on principal. I wanted to make an informed decision based on both sides of the whole law suit. the fact is, he himself stole a lot of ideas from other people and no credit was given to those individuals in the actual science community. and as some of the others have said the grammer and editing of this book was atrocious. not to mention that the book is almost 10 years old and is still 20 bucks. for a paper back? seriously?
his lawsuit was obviously a play to get sales. and it kinda worked. i did in fact buy the book. so judging the book based on the contents only, this is a horrible, dull book
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on May 10, 2012
It's my sincere hope that Nintendo doesn't sue Beiswinger. The name Link is clearly taken from Nintendo's hit franchise, "The Legend of Zelda". Furthermore there are clearly stolen themes, such as; "fantasy", "fictional", "bipedal", "words", and "a battle between good and evil". This book lacks originality from the front cover to the "about the author" section. It was such a painful read that I now use it for punishment when my children won't go to bed on time. I say, "Get to bed, or else Daddy's gonna' read 'Link' to you." Well, hahahaha, you should see those little scamps race to bed when I say that!! Save your money potential buyers and save your money Mr. Beiswinger, because I'm sure Nintendo is filing the paperwork necessary to take you to court.
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on May 2, 2012
Okay, so I read this book a while back because one of my friends happened to have it and I thought it looked interesting. It has potential to be good, but it just didn't quite do it for me. I did some research into the author and discovered that he's an engineer. See, fiction and non-fiction works are two completely different entities, and the writing style simply cannot be the same for both. When dealing with fiction, an author has to really put effort into drawing the reader in, instead of stating facts. Because the author didn't really understand this aspect, I feel that the book lost a lot of it's charm, if it had any to begin with.

Moving on to the recent controversy. I read this book before I played Assassin's Creed, and while playing the game, I didn't think of it at all. The basis of the lawsuit is pretty much ridiculous. A machine that takes you back to live your ancestor's lives-- first of all, there's research that's been done on genetic memories, so it's easy to think of that and twist it into something sci-fi. Avatar used a similar machine, as well. I'm sure if someone wanted to, they could find a ton of examples. My point is that anybody can find similarities between two things. Basically anyone who's ever taken a language arts/humanities class has had to write some kind of compare and contrast essay. It really isn't hard to look at two pieces of work and pick out every bit that happens to be the same, and if everyone took the route that this author did, there would be lawsuits everywhere.

As a final statement, I really do think it's unwise to sue Ubi over this. It's like the guy who sued JK Rowling; you see something popular and you're driven by greed to try and edge in on the profits. It doesn't matter if the book was absolutely fantastic or mediocre--it's not fair. There's no way that he's going to win the lawsuit unless he proves that there are characters who are similar or actual plot points that have been stolen. Otherwise, he's just created a mess for himself that's going to be impossible to clean up.

So, no, the book isn't worth $20, especially for just a paperback. If you have some time to kill (and perhaps you've read everything else your local library has to offer) you might want to check it out and see for yourself. But really, fiction and non-fiction writing styles are far too different to be combined like this, and it was actually kind of painful to make it through this book.
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on April 20, 2012
Boring at best with a clear subtext that can only be described as contemptuous and egotistical. Due to the attention surrounding this book and the author, I read it to see for myself if the negative feedback was accurate... and I'm not convinced it isn't. An average book on its own, with a base idea that IS NOT ORIGINAL (contrary to the lawsuits), the book does manage to stand its own regarding the premise but it stops there.

To everyone rating this just because of the controversy... at least read the thing first and decide for yourself. Don't rate the author, rate the book. That said, I found it equally bad regardless...
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on April 27, 2012
I bought and read this book only because I heard it was related to the Assassin's Creed video games. The games are very well written and Beiswenger's book is a half-assed attempt at creating something compelling and worth reading. The games and book aren't very relative I've found. Now I have buyers remorse and couldn't be more unhappy with this purchase. If you are interested in a very informative and historical book I suggest you get 'The International Jew' by Henry Ford. You won't be disappointed.
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on April 29, 2012
Ok, I Hate rating books unfairly, and I admit that I did not read it. I'm basing this off of the similarities I've read between Assassin's Creed and Link and why I think the author is out of line.

First of all the idea behind Genetic memories were researched back in the 1960s and 1970s. Years before either story came out. Anyone can use that as an idea for a book. Naturally a device will be created to do it, or you can give the character some sort of power to do it. It depends on whether you want to tell a fantasy or sci-fi type of story. Once again, this is not plagiarism.

As for the spiritual and biblical tones...Are you going to sue every story that has this content in it? It's only natural that if you're going to have a character go back through their ancestral line you may want to tackle events of the bible and so forth.

The third similarity is the idea of that ancestor meeting historical figures and being involved in the changing of history. Once again, a natural idea anyone working on the same story theme can come up with. Who wants to write a story about a boring ancestor who sat at home all day or worked on a farm?? Once again, ANYONE can come up with this idea to have their ancestor involved in historical events.

The only way this author can prove plagiarism is if he himself created the characters Altair, Ezio, Desmond, and Connor. The story of these characters have to be extremely similar. Even some of the dialogue has to be the same. The actual written story of Assassin's Creed must be the same as Link. The author can't claim historical events and people as his own! He can't claim biblical references as his own! He also can't claim genetic memory research from the 1970s as his own! Heck even if his book has Assassins in it, he can't claim the idea of assassins and Assassin orders as his own! Not even Ubisoft can do that! Why? Because it is a story premise and you cannot copyright story premises!! He can however, claim his own created characters as his and if he created Altair, Ezio, Desmond, and Connor then he has a good lawsuit, if not...and I HIGHLY doubt he did. He doesn't have a leg to stand on and he is obviously either angry because he wished he did what Ubisoft did with the same story premise or he is following the "any press is good press" idea and is just using this to get out of obscurity.
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on May 7, 2012
As a graphic design graduate with a writing minor, and a game design master student, I have some things to say about this dribble. First of all, it looks like the cover was designed by someone who is aesthetically inept at designing anything above the difficulty of a notepad document. Purple with white serif font on the bottom below a circular image of abstract natured machinery and then terribly organized sans serif font of a different family. The purple is an unfitting, and disgusting color to use, juxtaposed with poorly matched fonts is a recipe for design disaster. Fire your designer. Fire them. There are too many faux pas here to even begin.

The writing, I did read this while at work just because, well, Assassin's Creed is one of my favorite games of all time. This book is about as similar to the game as toilet paper is to stationary, with this book being the rag in which mine posterior be wiped.

Resquiet In Pace to your reputation. LOLOLOL.
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on May 21, 2012
So I first heard about this with all the hubbub of a lawsuit with Ubisoft and all that and I do generally want to see the underdog come out on top, but after giving this book a go from reading it from the library I was just appalled.

The book itself straight off from the cover didn't exactly give me high hopes for the material within. And if someone says you can't judge a book by it's can be wrong with this one. I predicted that it wouldn't be good with the grammatical problems and the low quality work on the very cover of the book. Opening it up revealed just as poor work with writing. The book is filled to the brim with poor grammar, nonsensical statements, vague wordings, and a rather dry story. The grammar is just what gets me the most though considering that it is extremely hard to follow and seeing so many errors and indecision between phrases of description, first person, and third person just blew my mind. Further more making quotes of a descriptive sentence that was not actually "said" by any one of the characters and someone in the book is quoting it like it was actually said. Seriously? Can writing get any more unprofessional, unchecked, and overpriced?

As for the plot and the items that this book is said to have been ripped off by Ubisoft, I see no correlation. The story is about a product research company that just so happened to have a "link" device to revive a persons memories. Not ancestral memory like in Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed. There are plenty of books that contain plots based on assassination, biblical connotations and references, and memory. Guess the author should sue all of those writers as well. -_-

So let's go about removing stars one by one shall we?

5 star -> 4 star: extremely poor writing, insane amounts of grammatical error

4 star -> 3 star: dry story, cut and paste ideas

3 star -> 2 star: insane price tag for a paperback book with very little appeal

2 star -> 1 star final score: publicity stunt and attempt at money grabbing by the author by initiating a lawsuit

This book is abysmal.
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on May 9, 2012
Not only is this book weird but it was confusing, It may be the publishers fault but i saw grammatical errors! What does fk mean? Is it a typo? Or is the writer just stupid? Also there is no meaning to this at all! I feel no emotion towards any of the characters and it just seems very anemic. Im currently doing something I never do, trade a book back in to Amazon *Drops Mic*.
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