OF THE CITY OF THE SAVED...
NOTES: BOOK TWO
PLEASE NOTE that, if you read these notes ahead of the book itself, you will encounter SPOILERS.
Dimly he expected: Julian is remembering a generic scene from The X-Files (1993-2002) and a specific one from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – although he's probably far too City-minded to have seen either. He's probably picked them up through general cultural osmosis, in the same way that people who've never seen Casablanca know the plot and setting by heart.
THAT kind of space story: Presumably a Douglas Adams one, or at least one in his style. There is, I admit, more than a hint of homage to Mr. Adams in this chapter.
Pellucidar Dist.: Named (presumably deliberately, since it appears to be a subterranean theme park) after the hollow Earth in Edgar Rice Burroughs' pulp fiction.
Big machines: Set as it is in RealSpace, this scene conflates a number of images from classic science fiction: Arthur Dent's trip into the inside of Magrathea, various journeys to the centre of the Earth – and, perhaps most obviously, the Krell machinery occupying the interior of Altair IV in Forbidden Planet (1956), itself one of the most imitated scenes in cinema history.
Pleiocene Earth: In geological terms, the Pliocene Epoch (Julian obviously mistakes the spelling of the unfamiliar word) was a division of the Tertiary Period, extending from circa 5.3 to 1.6 million years ago. This is certainly the era in which humanity began to use tools, hence attaining some degree of sentience. All of which is entirely academic, of course.
This chapter continues the mythic tone of Mesh Cos's reminiscences: although the notion of a portal to the land of the dead is more Celtic than classical in tone, numerous classical heroes – Orpheus and Aeneas among them – visited the Underworld and lived to tell the tale. (So too did Dante Alighieri, the author of The Divine Comedy – on which the structure of the novel is rather loosely based.) It also continues the allusions to Mary Shelley, who followed up the success of Frankenstein with her much obscurer later novel, The Last Man.
(WARNING: If fannish obsession with detail annoys or bewilders you, skip the rest of this note.)
The orientation material: This is what comics fans call a “retcon”: a piece of retroactive continuity, to explain or mend a discrepancy between stories, or within a single story. In this case, the dimensions and other figures given for the City of the Saved in The Book of the War entirely fail to harmonise with what the novel requires of them – or, more importantly, with each other. (For more information on this, see A Note on Magnitude). Prof. Vril's explanation for this is that the compilers of The Book of the War (which has an existence within the Faction Paradox universe as a reference text) were working from inadequate and / or inaccurate information. This, incidentally, is also the explanation for why The Book entirely fails to mention the events of Of the City of the Saved..., even though they have notionally taken place two years “before” (in relative terms). The precise reasons are revealed later in the novel.
Prof. Vril, Omphalos!: “Vril” is the name given to the “life force” discovered and utilised by the superhuman Vril-ya in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's classic Victorian subterranean utopian supplantation novel, The Coming Race (1871). It is the root around which the manufacturers cloned the trade name “Bovril”, rather ironically since the Vril-ya are dogmatic vegetarians.
“Omphalos” is Greek for “navel”: the reasons for Prof. Vril's obscure choice of title are revealed on p131.
Gnas Gortine: Gnas is another character whose rôle in the novel will become central. Given that he's a barbarian chieftain, I tried really quite hard not to write him as Brian Blessed: whether I succeeded in this is a matter for the reader to judge.
The Life of Brian: There is, in fact, no character called Stupidus Titus in Monty Python's Life of Brian. There is, however, a Biggus Diccus, and there is talk of a Silius Soddus. “Stupidus Titus” not only follows the pattern of these names, it is also – just barely – plausible as a Roman name.
Aurelius District: Named, presumably, after the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who reigned from 161 to 180 AD. If so, it is presumably another post-Roman District, but one culturally removed from the Romuline's pre-imperial republicanism.
You're a remake: The explanation of remakes is coming very soon now, on p103.
The style of Dedalus' viewpoint chapters, like Ludmilla's, reflects his relative illiteracy. (In other words – yes, it is deliberate.)
the decurion: An army officer in charge of ten men: the Roman army's equivalent of a sergeant.
Elysium: Paradise. That section of the classical Underworld reserved for dead heroes, poets and the like, who have pleased the gods enough not to be tormented in Tartarus, or consigned to effective limbo by drinking the amnesia-inducing waters of the River Lethe. Evidently modern (popular) Romuline theology equates the Elysian Fields with the City.
Centurion Tyrannosaurus: A centurion was in charge of one hundred men, and was (roughly) the Roman army's equivalent of a lieutenant. Judging by his name Tyrannosaurus is evidently a City-born Romuline, as Sosimus points out.
Little Brother Edward: Our introduction to the last Rump Parliament member to play a major part in the novel. Legal considerations probably prevent me from stating outright which prominent film actor it is that Little Brother Edward looks exactly like. Just consider who might have played both: a) a socially inept artificial human by the name of Edward, with spiky black hair, leather corset and blade-like fingers; and b) the greatest lover in the world, of Spanish descent, a notorious duellist who habitually wears a mask. This ought to get you somewhere close.
Homo refactus: Literally “remade man”, reasonably enough.
get your shadow to do the whole thing for you: The semi-autonomy of the shadows of certain of the agents of Faction Paradox is a long-established feature of the series. In terms of physics it doesn't make a great deal of sense, but then it isn't particularly supposed to.
Hey, Grandpa: Porsena is praying in typically irreverent fashion to the founder of the Faction, Grandfather Paradox. The Mothers and Fathers of the Parliament, who better understand the Grandfather's philosophy, would probably not encourage this.
G4Graddad: ERRATUM. This should, of course, read “G4Granddad”, as on p17. Not sure how that one slipped past us.
A BardCorp play: It's Romeo and Juliet, in fact.
a colossal wedge-shaped metal spaceship: The same one, of course, which rescued the humaniform infantry robots in Chapter 21.
a cinematic Spartacus: Do you really need me to refer you to the Kirk Douglas film? I thought not.
he may have given the counter-insurgents the knowledge: Indeed he did – see p76.
mighty this, glorious that, fell the other: Gnas' internal commentary is based loosely on the style of Anglo-Saxon alliterative poetry: this is rather unfair on my part, as in fact the poetry of the period was capable of great subtlety and beauty, as seen for instance in the religious visionary poem known as The Dream of the Rood. Nevertheless, perhaps because Anglo-Saxon has gifted modern English with some of its most basic (and indeed earthy) terminology, or perhaps simply because of its influence upon the perennially imitated Prof. J.R.R. Tolkien, there is something about the heroic sagas of the time which seems to the modern reader terribly clichéd.
the Chamber of Residents: This was first mentioned in The Book of the War. The fact that Central District contains the Watchtower and the Chamber – two megastructures shaped respectively like a gigantic column and a huge hollow in the earth – presumably has to be symbolic of something.
A Brookhaven's Folly: In The Book of the War, Michael Brookhaven is a Hollywood producer / director, the head of a Faction Paradox breakaway group known as Faction Hollywood, and the central character in some of The Book's most entertaining entries. Brookhaven's Follies are the extravagant bacchanalials he throws for other L.A. luminaries.
I was very nearly manifested once: Another reference to This Town Will Never Let Us Go – a SPOILER for which follows RIGHT NOW. At the end of Lawrence's novel, the “Ship of War” which may or may not be a timeship – an embodiment of “War, Culture, Ritual” which is struggling to be born – is headed off by a combination of actions on the part of the main characters. The implication of these sentences, which Lawrence asked me to insert, is that this was an earlier (potential) iteration of the Universal Machine.
a hurley ball: Hurley is a vaguely lacrosse-ish game of traditional Gaelic origin, still played in Ireland. Apparently.
Bloodline from bloodline: This is a rewritten version of the mantra used by Cousin Justine in the Faction Paradox audios. Justine's version (taken from Lawrence Miles's scripts published at the unofficial Faction Paradox website) is as follows:
Bloodline to bloodline, in constant transition.
Our pattern, our flesh, and our one restoration.
Conception, completion, the will of the city.
Grandfather watch me. Spirits maintain me.
While Edward's runs:
Bloodline from bloodline we smuggle our cargo.
His pattern, his flesh, in a human imago.
Defying stagnation, the will of the City.
Grandfather watch me. Spirits have pity.
The “city” in Justine's version of the chant is the Eleven-Day Empire, while “his” in Edward's presumably refers to Grandfather Paradox.
Admittedly Justine's incantation is able to operate on the physical world (opening locks and the like), whereas Edward is using his merely as an aid to concentration (which Justine's also appears to be). On the other hand, the City and the Eleven-Day Empire operate under entirely different sets of physical rules. As with the loa who claims to be a subroutine of the City [p 81], this is an example of the Rump Parliament adapting traditional Faction ritual to the new circumstances of the City, a practice noted by Walmric on p25.
Adam's navel or omphalos: There is a theory, popular in Victorian times and still extant among some of the more rabid creationist groups today, that God created Adam, Eve and the world with evidence of a past which they had never experienced. Just as Adam was created with his hair and fingernails part-grown, partially-digested food in his gut and, most obviously, a navel; just as the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was created with growth-rings relating to seasons it had never experienced: so, too, was the Earth itself created with geological evidence of past epochs of evolution which had never actually taken place. The dinosaurs never existed: the world was merely created to look as if they did.
Since this theory can be extended to relate to any evidence of the age of the universe, it is in fact an incredibly powerful tool in favour of creationism. The chief argument against it is that there is no actual evidence in the Bible that Adam was created with a belly-button – and, of course, that such deception would be out of character for God.
The serpent-woman: Oddly enough, her turning up on the same page as Adam and his navel was in no way a conscious decision on my part.
boiling caffeine solution: A brief nod to the similarly media-fixated culture portrayed by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World (1932).
G.B. Shaw: That's George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), the long-lived playwright whose extant works include, among many others, Man and Superman, which coincidentally features Don Juan. His other plays include Back to Methuselah, which deals with the far future of the human species, and Pygmalion, a reworking of a legend with which Compassion is associated later in the novel. Shaw appears as a character, under the alias “Gideon Beech”, in my novella Peculiar Lives.
Resident Kane: Presumably a remake of Charles Foster Kane, the central character of Orson Welles' weighty classic Citizen Kane. I imagine that “the Academy” is Teletopia's local government body, a doxocracy similar to the body that currently awards the Oscars – only with the power to make and enact important decisions. The Teletopians are obviously in safe hands there.
A Woody remake: You surely don't need me to tell you Woody who.
Di and Robbie: Anyone who feels this is in bad taste should definitely read This Town Will Never Let Us Go.
the Kirinyaga Tower: Kirinyaga is a mountain in Kenya, as close to the equator as I could find.
?ingvellir: ERRATUM. This should read “Þingvellir” – the initial letter is a “thorn”, the Icelandic soft “th”. (Hard “th” is witten Ð). Evidently the character fell off the map somewhere between my computer and Mad Norwegian's printers. Þingvellir is a valley in Iceland: the site, in fact, of the original Icelandic Alþing.
Footnotes to Chapter 51: Again, these were originally intended as inserts, to be appended to the main text.
Von Richthofen Park: Named after the German World War I aviator, Manfred Baron von Richthofen (1833-1905).
Pictish whisky: In fact the Picts (pre-Celtic inhabitants of Scotland) didn't make whisky. I've assumed they learn it from their descendants.
Winchester College, Magdalen Coll. Oxon.: An English public school, and a college of Oxford University respectively. “Public” in this context means “private”, “Magdalen” is pronounced “maudlin” and... oh God, you really don't want me to do the whole tourist spiel. They're educational institutions, that's all you need to know.
Wykehamists: Graduates of Winchester College.
Chesterton: The lap-griffin. He's named after G.K. Chesterton, and not after any other character of the same name.
by Tube to Hensile: Shel was located there by Mesh as long ago as p29.
the invulnerable-Baldur cock-up: Baldur is the Norse solar god, whose death and resurrection – as with a great many divine figures in numerous cultures – symbolise the annual procession of the seasons. The story goes that Baldur was so loved that every object in creation promised not to harm him, except for the mistletoe, which was overlooked as it was so small and wretched.
After this the Aesir (gods), never renowned for their subtlety, greatly enjoyed the game of throwing dangerous objects at Baldur and watching them bounce off. However, Loki, the god of mischief, who wished to harm the more popular god, sought out the mistletoe, formed a dart from its wood and handed it to Baldur's blind brother Hod. Guided by Loki, Hod threw the dart at Baldur, who immediately fell dead. At once winter fell.
The Aesir either persuaded Hel, the goddess of the dead, to release Baldur, or – according to the more depressing variants of the legend – didn't. In some versions, Hel promised to restore Baldur to life provided everything in creation mourned for him, and Loki, disguised as a giantess, refused. In other versions, however, Baldur was restored to life, and so spring returned to the world.
Presumably the City's Baldur remake was created in the hope of ritually enacting this annual drama, with hilarious results.
the Omega Point: In the theology of Teilhard de Chardin, and in the numerous works of science fiction that have drawn on his ideas, the Omega Point is the evolutionary climax at which humanity achieves transcendence and, effectively, becomes God. (This is, of course, a massive oversimplification of Teilhard's teachings, but it is how they have been popularly interpreted.) The beauty of this theological variant is that godhead, once attained, is eternal, standing outside time. Thus God can be humanity's creator, and present throughout humanity's history, despite being derived originally from humanity. You might call this the ultimate grandfather paradox.
yots: Short for “yotters”, which is itself short for “yottabytes”. For an explanation of this peculiar terminology, see A Note on Magnitude.
collaterals of the sanguinivorous persuasion: Vampires again.
tessarii: Watch commanders, a non-commissioned rank like a decurion.
the Church Triumphant: Traditionally, the term refers to the souls of the Christian dead, after they have reached Heaven. In context, this is obviously just one of the City's more militantly weird post-Christian sects.
Last Reich flying discs: The Last Reich is mentioned briefly in The Book of the War, as one of the groups who were annoyed to have their arsenals appropriated against the Timebeasts.
Perikles of Athens: Athenian statesman and orator, c. 490 to 429 BC, the city's elected head of state (pretty much) from 451. Under him Athens flourished as a centre of philosophy and the arts, fought several wars with Sparta (although some sources credit Perikles as trying to bring about peace between the Hellenic nations), and built the Parthenon and the other buildings of the Akropolis which still make Athens (that part of it, at least) such a beautiful city. His name's usually spelt “Pericles” in English, but I've tried to follow authentic spelling conventions in Of the City of the Saved... and (as with Kassandra in the Preview) this means transliterating the Greek “κ” as a “k”.
The Phantom Highwayman: I wish I could claim that this was a genuine English legend, but it isn't. I made it up.
Herne the Hunter: Herne is a vengeful nature spirit (or alternatively the ghost of one of the King's huntsmen) who leads the Wild Hunt through the sky chasing down cursed souls – in Christian interpretations, the souls of the damned. The legend appears to have been based on a poetic association of the honking of migrating geese with the baying of hounds. Although earlier accounts make the Norse god Odin the head of the Wild Hunt, Herne's antlers suggest an association with the Celtic underworld deity, Cernunnos.
A gloomy wooden mansion: The image here is derived from Fritz Lang's early SF film Metropolis (1926), where the lecorbusieran dystopia of skyscrapers and walkways conceals the hovel of the magician Rotwang.
“Salieri Kiss My God-Lovin' Mass”: In retrospect, the joke would have been funnier had Mozart's rap-artist rivalry been with a composer from another era. The idea that either he or Salieri might still be hung up on their enmity, nearly 300 years after Resurrection Day, is a depressing one... unless they're both colluding in it for the publicity, of course.
Mr Vandemeer: The novel's only significant cameo appearance by a character from The Book of the War. In The Book, Chad Vandemeer is a TV producer, and a major player in Faction Hollywood: he is the member who first initiates Michael Brookhaven, and the eminence gris who takes over following Brookhaven's inevitable downfall. As stated in the Acknowledgements, the name “Cousin Berle” – after Milton Berle, the mid-twentieth century U.S. comedian known as “Mr Television” – comes courtesy of Wendy Muir, wife of Book of the War author Jon Dennis.
Faustus Rex: Presumably the spin-off TV series from Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus.
Footnotes to Chapter 59: As before, these were indended to form marginalia to the main text. Note , however, was to be slightly different: the intention was that it would start as a marginal comment, before its subject-matter came gradually to take up the majority of St Marx's concentration. The marginal text would expand, the previously main text would contract (imagine two columns of text, but with the division between them canted obliquely) until, at the end of the chapter, the contents of what is now Note  would form the main body of the text.
This is, perhaps, the point at which the design of the book diverges furthest from what I had envisaged. Even so – given quite how complex what I had envisaged would have been to lay out – I quite see why Lars Pearson and his designers took the more conventional line. I only mention the matter so that you can imagine what this chapter looks like in my head.
Viewpoint: The sidebar heading should read “View Point”. Thanks to the conversion of the marginalia into sidebar form, this chapter is the only one with two sidebars.
a vacuum-form posthuman: An obvious constituency for UniMac to be recruiting colonists from, given their City habitat's relative proximity to Erath and the tourist trade's encroachment upon it (see p17).
Ashtoreth's tits: Ashtoreth, Astarte or Ishtar (“Ashtoreth” being the Hebrew variant of the name) was a goddess of the pre-monotheistic Semitic cultures. She took various forms, from a Babylonian goddess of sexual love to an Egyptian goddess of war, and even turns up as a demon in Milton's Paradise Lost.
Sombras que corta [...] sombras que perfora: I don't speak Spanish, but I'm told “sombras que cortan” and “sombras que perforan” are more correct in terms of noun-verb agreement. Sombras que corta is the phrase used in The Book of the War, though.
a rather pointless bunch of sticks: The fasces, symbolic of Ignotus' consulhood, were last referred to on p23. “Fasces” is, of course, the root of the word “fascist” – a satisfying coincidence, but a point I didn't want to labour.
All data export to the Universe is being prohibited: A further attempt to justify the discrepancies between the events of Of the City of the Saved... and the lack of any recent history for the City in The Book of the War.
The Rump Parliament: As Walmric mentions on p25, the Parliament meets at an unknown geographical location within the City.
Godmother Jezebel [...] Godfather Lo: Continuing the scheme of relating the Parliament's upper echelons to archetypal characters, Godmother Jezebel resembles Lewis Carroll's White Queen, whereas Godfather Lo is clearly (the Western stereotype of) a Buddha-figure.
urbs et civitates: As the goddess said, “city and citizens”.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: It's that man again – or rather that theology, since this is actually the first time Teilhard has been mentioned in the novel proper, as opposed to these notes. The “Human Catholic Church” may be the same “Mother Church” whose doctrines were troubling a believer back on p8: on the other hand, it may not. The City evidently has a proliferation of bizarre religions, and, as The Book of the War points out in its Secret Architects entry, ‘projections suggest[...] that there will be no religions with more than one member by City year AF 2700’.
Buy Of the City of the Saved...:
- at Peculiar Tomes
- in ebook format from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
- in paperback from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com
- direct from Mad Norwegian Press.
www.infinitarian.com created and maintained by Philip Purser-Hallard.
All material © Philip Purser-Hallard 2003 and 2004 except where otherwise noted, and not to be used without permission.
Of the City of the Saved... cover © Steve Johnson 2003.