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As a literary technique, an author surrogate is a fictional character based on the author. On occasion, authors insert themselves under their own name into their works, typically for humorous or surrealistic effect.
Frequently, the author surrogate is the same as the main character and/or the protagonist, and is also often the narrator. As an example, the author surrogate may be the one who delivers political diatribe, expressing the author's beliefs at an appropriate time, or expound on the strengths and weakness of other characters, thereby communicating directly the author's opinion on the characters in question. Philosophers may use author-surrogates to express their personal positions, especially if these are unpopular or run counter to established views. British writer David Hume used the author-surrogate 'Philo' in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Philonous was the author-surrogate of the Irish philosopher George Berkeley in his work Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. Michael Crichton used his character Ian Malcolm to express views on catastrophic system failure in his novel Jurassic Park. Perhaps the best-known philosophical author-surrogate is Socrates in the writings of Plato.
A surrogate's life may be very similar to that of the author. Like his creator, Peter Marlowe—a character in James Clavell's novels—wrote about his experience as a prisoner of war with the Japanese during World War II, became a Hollywood writer, and visited Hong Kong to research a book on its trading companies. Most stories have an author surrogate, insofar as the author is usually capable of pointing to one character (major or minor) whom he or she identifies with to a much greater degree than any other character. This can take the form of a realistic depiction of the author (Benjamin in Animal Farm), or a negative (Woody Allen in many of his films) or positive depiction of the author. Steve Gerber depicted himself saving the universe in his final issue of Man-Thing for Marvel Comics, and Chris Claremont did the same, while Gerber's act was passive and Claremont's had him merge briefly with the title character. In both cases, the authors had other characters that were more traditional author surrogates, Richard Rory and Jonh Daltry. In Animal Man, Grant Morrison appears as the author who controls the title characters actions. For example, he tells Buddy Baker that the next writer could have him eating meat (which in fact did happen, in a bizarre set of circumstances), and Buddy says, "But I don't eat meat," to which Morrison retorts, "No, I don't eat meat."
Author surrogacy is a frequently observed phenomenon in hobbyist and amateur writing, so much so that fan fiction critics have evolved the term Mary Sue to refer to an idealized author surrogate. The term 'Mary Sue' is thought to evoke the cliché of the adolescent author who uses writing as a vehicle for the indulgence of self-idealization rather than entertaining others. For male author surrogates, similar names such as 'Marty Stu' or 'Gary Stu' are occasionally used.
The expression has also been used in a different sense, meaning the principal author of a multi-author document.
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Call me an author surrogate, not an author, Mr. Zelikow said moments before speaking about the book before the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles. This really is not my book tour since it is not my book.