Friday, August 31, 2012

Did The Idea For Ben Elton's "Stark" Come From Billie Reid's "Slaves"?

Back in 1999 when he was recording 'Ticket Out Of Dizneyland', Billie Reid remembered how he wrote 'Slaves Replacement Technology & The Neutron Bomb' in 1988. The next summer, Ben Elton's book 'Stark' was published, using a very similar theme. Billie pointed out that a couple he stayed with at a farmhouse south of Fremantle (who used to 'milk his brains then scoff') went on to rent from and stay with Ben and his wife Sophie: 'Ben's Stark appeared soon after,' said Billie.

Back then I didn't delve that deeply. However I did broach the issue with him in late 2010, asking if he thought Ben had 'borrowed' his idea. He suggested that it could just be a coincidence but 'it was more a case that great minds think alike'.

I wouldn't be so sure. My thoughts are that this idea quite possibly started with Billie. Those of us that know Billie would conclude that he wouldn't mention it unless he genuinely thought it. Had the connection not existed between Billie and Ben then the alarm bells would not have rung. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the seed for Stark came from Billie. With all respect to Ben (and bearing in mind that Stark is a 500-page novel and Billie's work is a brief lyric) the concept is remarkably close. The timing, the connection and the similar theme suggests he could well have been inspired by Billie.


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