OF THE CITY OF THE SAVED...
NOTES: BOOK THREE
PLEASE NOTE that, if you read these notes ahead of the book itself, you will encounter SPOILERS. This applies particularly in Book Three, for obvious reasons.
the Eleven-Day Empire: Faction Paradox's home territory in the Universe, based in the eleven days which were lost when England converted from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. This time has been extended indefinitely, by reducing the geographical scope of the Empire down to the immediate environs of the City of London. The Eleven-Day Empire is Lawrence Miles's creation, and has been described at length, in The Book of the War, the Faction Paradox audio dramas and in a psychogeographic pageant at the Faction website.
Little Sister Eliza: Later Cousin Eliza, a character in the Faction audios.
Father Self: A new character, although he bears more than a passing resemblance to the novelist and occasional TV pundit Will Self.
a talking pig: I actually have no idea whether I got this from somewhere. Is there a cartoon or other children's programme which features a pig called Porsena? If you remember one, do please let me know.
Apart from Cousin Porsena's porcine characteristics, the reason I chose the name was because of the ancient Etruscan ruler Lars Porsena of Clusium – an obscure historical figure who turns up in an obscure Victorian poem which I was made to read at school. The surname is an anagram of “Persona”, which seemed appropriate to my character for reasons which will shortly become clear (assuming they haven't already).
The odd thing is that – as anyone who's read Stephen Marley's novel Managra (1995) could tell you – “Persona” is also an anagram of “Pearson”, the surname of the Mad Norwegian publisher also named “Lars”. Since I first heard Lars Pearson's name, I was impressed by the similarity to the character in the poem, particularly given the bizarre connection via Marley's novel.
(I would add that Lars shares no other characteristics with Cousin Porsena, or indeed with Lars Porsena of Clusium so far as I know. I just wanted to use the name.)
Cousin Antipathy: The shadowy figure at the centre of operations in the Epicentre is finally given a name.
“brought into closer emulation of the Grandfather”: According to the Faction's own origin myths, Grandfather Paradox amputated his own arm in order to remove the biodata imprint of the Great Houses.
a chupacabras: An urban-mythical animal thought to be responsible for Mexican cattle mutilations, and often described as resembling a kind of vampiric kangaroo with some strangely pterosaur-like characteristics. The name literally means “goat-sucker” (although the chupacabras should not be confused with the bird the Americans call “goatsucker”, and the British “nightjar”).
the Stacks [...] Father Stendec: In The Book of the War Father Stendec is the Eleven-Day Empire's resident cryptozoologist. The Stacks, located in the Empire's equivalent of London's underground railway system, are where he keeps his specimens.
Godmother Quelch: The foul-mouthed head of the Faction's Ritual Division. She appears in the Faction Paradox audios The Eleven-Day Empire and The Shadow Play.
the Army and Navy Club in St James' Square: It seems that this fits in surprisingly well with a throwaway line in In the Year of the Cat. I was just looking for a location within the established boundaries of the Empire, where the Faction might find it amusing to put up its most junior members.
The Dorchester: The Dorchester Hotel, a famous London establishment likely to be one of the more opulent buildings in the Empire. Both it and the Army and Navy Club House post-date the Gregorian Compact but, as The Book of the War explains, the Empire's buildings are sourced from multiple historical eras.
Little Sibling Pinocchio: Later Cousin Pinocchio, the Faction's only known cyborg member in The Book of the War.
‘What kind of visitor erases all record of themselves, Father?’: The likely answer – as a close reading of The Book of the War suggests – is “an agent of the Enemy”.
Mother Melby: I once saw a TV listing for a documentary about a former Spice Girl in Haiti, entitled Mel B – Voodoo Princess. The phrase has stuck with me against my will.
signifers: Standard-bearers. In addition to the ceremonial rôle, a Roman regiment's signifer had disciplinary responsibilities and powers.
entropy: In physics, the measure of the disorder in a given system.
This chapter was originally longer and more self-indulgent, with cameo appearances from, among others, Father Stendec and the Cwejen from The Book of the War, the novelist Robert Graves, a character from Telos Publishing's Time Hunter novellas and the Egyptian god Thoth. Obviously it needed trimming. In my defence, it's a thematically important chapter, one of the few times we get to see the City's relaxed aesthetic properly at work.
a Copland suite: That'll be Aaron Copland, the American composer (1900-90). He was fond of incorporating folk sources into his classical pieces: Neanderthal folk chants would have been right up his street.
Cllr. Techotlala: Techotlala was a fourteenth-century chieftain of Texcoco in Mexico, responsible for unifying the various dialects of Aztec into a single language. The Councillor may be him, or someone else of the same name – it doesn't matter much.
Cllr. Angstrom Hive: Mentioned by Prof. Fisher on p37.
the Papal Nuncia: Traditionally, a Nuncio (“messenger”) is the direct emissary of the Pope: the Vatican deploys them instead of ambassadors. Which Pope Mother Cellini works for is a matter of conjecture, although clearly she comes from a variant of Catholicism which has finally caved in and admitted women to the priesthood.
the Universityís Yezidic Chaplain: Yezidism is an apparently Gnostic religion whose adherents survive in very small numbers in northern Iraq (where the faith is indigenous), and various other countries including Germany. Given that the Yezidi venerate a figure who bears close comparisons with the Christian-Islamic Satan, it's unsurprising that relations with Catholicism would be strained.
the Rev. Charles Dodgson [...] Lewis Carroll: Carroll was the pseudonym under which Alice in Wonderland and various other surreal and anarchic children's books were published, Dodgson was the rather staid clergyman and mathematician who actually wrote them. Dodgson's apparent dissociation of himself from his often vicious sense of humour has been the subject of some psychoanalytical thought. I assume that in the City he has found a method for downloading these troublesome elements of his character into a remake body – unless it's Carroll who succeeded in offloading that prudish conscience of his.
Dr. Konrad Lorenz: Austrian zoologist and Nobel laureate (1903-89), the originator of seminal research in the areas of animal behaviour and communication.
a corniche of troglodytes: “corniche”, as established in Lawrence Miles's novel Down (1997), is the proper collective noun for prehistoric mole people.
the Sons of Tepes crime cartel: One of the ways in which vampires keep themselves occupied in the City. The Sons of Tepes were first mentioned in The Book of the War.
Alan Turing: British mathematician and cryptologist (1912-54), famously involved in the deciphering of German codes during World War II and in the design of the first electronic computers. His suicide is often thought to be a reaction to the social stigma attached to his sexuality, although conspiracy theories involving British Intelligence have inevitably arisen. Turing is the originator of the theoretical concept of the Universal Machine, hence his inclusion in the novel.
the Al-Battani Institute: Named after the ninth-century Arab mathematician and astronomer Abu 'abd Allah Muhammad ibn Jabir ibn Sinan al-Battani al-Harrani as-Sabi'.
K~, the artificial intelligence: The joke here, of course, lies in the eponymous inventor of the Turing Test failing to spot the difference between the interloping AI and ‘a nice enough chap’.
W. T. P. Saunders: If I explain this one, it will spoil the joke. Just think of which ‘rotund, hirsute’ poet is known to have lived ‘under the name of Saunders’.
Prof. Vril: The author of Omphalos! makes his sole appearance in the novel proper. Originally I had Prof. Fisher push between Vril and Gustous Thripsted, an academic quoted occasionally in Lawrence Miles's novels, but Lawrence isn't at all convinced that Prof. Thripsted is human.
Originally, in the spirit of the “marginalia” layout concept of St Marx's earlier viewpoint chapters, I envisaged the two halves of this chapter as parallel columns, the left-hand one wider than the right. The pacing is designed to reflect this – although again, the choice of Mad Norwegian's designers to run with separate sections instead is very reasonable and sane.
mirror-flecked eyes: A pun on Handramit's House of origin (see p55)... one which I now rather regret, to be honest.
a camerabot: Ajiel Soto:Carm achieves its promised scoop.
Emperor Claudius I of Rome: Prof. Fisher's identity is finally revealed, in one of my favourite scenes of the book. Opinion is divided among Of the City of the Saved...'s readers as to whether this is an surprising twist, or was perfectly obvious all along.
As the Acknowledgements acknowledge, Fisher / Claudius' character is far more closely based on Robert Graves' novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God than on any historical research of my own. (In my defence, though, Graves' own research was meticulous.) In particular, Fisher's memories of his first life in Chapter 12 are all taken from Graves.
Insofar as I imagine any of my characters as “played by” people (and Little Brother Edward demonstrates that, to some extent, I clearly do), I did imagine Fisher as looking like Derek Jacobi in the marvellous 1976 BBC series of I, Claudius. Since watching Breaking the Code, another BBC drama from twenty years later, I've always imagined Alan Turing as looking like Derek Jacobi too. This made writing Chapter 70 a little peculiar.
my zettametre body: See A Note on Magnitude.
St Augustine says: Augustine made this claim (one strongly influenced by Manichean thought, as it happens) in his Enchiridion (421), although Rick's development of the theory is entirely his own.
a deity, a Deva: In the Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, “Deva” is a general term for the gods (in the same way as “Aesir” refers collectively to the Norse gods). The word has different connotations in Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. An avatar is, as Rick correctly points out, an incarnation of a deity, usually of Vishnu. It may be of significance (given that Faction Paradox is, at heart, a time-travel cult) that the word originally meant a historical era: the word transferred its meaning as each era became known by its corresponding incarnation of Vishnu.
Philip Kindred Dick: Another character is revealed as a historical figure. It won't happen again, I promise.
Philip K. Dick is a personal hero of mine: if my treatment of him here and in Chapters 2, 5 and 19 seems less than respectful, this is because his shambolic and frankly deranged life is as fascinating as his works. Indeed, he seems to have had some difficulty telling the difference: Radio Free Albemuth and Valis, on which “Rick”'s character is largely based, are thinly-fictionalised accounts of a series of visionary experiences which Dick suffered in 1974. He interpreted these in various sincerely religious, yet heavily SF-inflected ways, from God communicating with him via a satellite, through KGB mind-control experiments to the late Bishop of California living inside his head.
Of the City of the Saved... (and not just “Rick”'s chapters, which are written in a conscious pastiche of Dick's style) contains a number of Dickian ideas and tropes, most obviously the infection of one reality by another, a process seen in Ubik, Valis and The Divine Invasion. A lot of the Gnosticism in the novel's cosmology is also borrowed from Dick: it seemed only fair to write the author himself into the story (and give him the pithy summary of the theological plot as far back as pp15-16) in acknowledgement of the fact. He also appears in The Book of the War, in the Secret Architects entry where the Valites receive their first mention.
The details of Dick's pre-City life as given here are all correct – except that, so far as I know, he never claimed that The Man in the High Castle was ‘inspired by visionary communications from another universe’. The idea seems fitting, however – particularly since one of the characters in that novel is writing a story which has been inspired in precisely this way. The fact that Dick has apparently made this claim in City life is mentioned mainly as a link to the third Faction Paradox novel, Lance Parkin's Warlords of Utopia, where Nazi-dominated parallel universes such as the one in The Man in the High Castle abound.
The Hermapause: Finally, here is the full explanation of the Manfolk life-cycle. (Well, nearly full. A couple of points are cleared up by the sidebar “On Uncles” on p205.)
Creating the Manfolk was a calculated exercise in bad taste. Lawrence Miles decided early on that there would be minimal emphasis on “aliens” in the Faction universe: in The Book of the War non-humans are gods, like the members of the Great Houses, or monsters, like the Mal'akh. I decided to try and write a biologically human species whose drives and imperatives would appear as outlandish to the reader as any traditional SF alien, with a life cycle so repellent to standard human mores as to place them beyond the City's pale. Giving them a biologically concrete Oedipus complex was my starting point for that: the rest of Manfolk life and culture followed.
reductio ad absurdum: Latin term meaning “reduction to absurdity”, a standard argumentative technique. The term is admittedly used somewhat loosely here.
Porsena, Avatar and Edward: Because of the blurring of identities which it portrays, this is the sole chapter of the novel to be presented from more than one character's point of view.
the “Vestibule of Hell”: Unless I've forgotten something, this is the novel's only explicit nod to Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), the Florentine poet who wrote La Divina Commedia, usually translated as The Divine Comedy. Dante's Vestibule was where “the Futile” were consigned after death: less interesting even than Limbo, it was for those who had been too indecisive in life to pick between good and evil. Tiresias is clearly punning darkly on the phrase, rather than intending a strict parallel.
de facto: A legal term meaning “in fact” (whether or not by right).
This chapter originally came with a sidebar, an extract from the Megalopolis Guide entry on the Romuline District.
Statio Templi: “Temple Station”. There is, of course, no authentic Latin term for “railway station” – “statio” refers to encampments, fortifications and the like – but Romuline Latin, like everything else, has had to adapt itself to cultural conditions in the City. (There is a Temple Station on the London Underground, but the fact has no particular significance here.)
the Antonine Hill: Named for Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony, c. 83-30 BC) – Julius Caesar's friend, Augustus Caesar's brother-in-law and Claudius Caesar's maternal grandfather. Following Julius' death he ruled with Augustus as part of the Triumvirate, before eventually allying with Cleopatra's Egypt and suffering defeat by Augustus at the Battle of Actium (31), shortly before his own suicide. Following Augustus' acclamation as Emperor, Antonius was often perceived as a defender of the Republic against the encroaching monarchy, the rôle in which he is celebrated here.
blind Appius Claudius the Censor: Appius Claudius Caecus, a statesman and soldier of the Roman Republic in the fourth century BC. He is credited with instigating both the first of the great straight Roman roads, and Rome's first aqueduct, both of which (the Via Appia and the Aqua Appia) were named after him.
a Galatea given life by no goddess but herself: Galatea was the name of a statue carved by Pygmalion, a King of Cyprus. Not fancying any of the Cypriot girls, Pygmalion sculpted the figure of his ideal wife, and promptly fell in love with it. Taking pity on his extreme patheticness, the goddess Aphrodite brought the statue to life and the two were married.
George Bernard Shaw updated the legend in his play Pygmalion, which shows a member of the upper classes “educating” a working class girl into his similarly ideal helpmeet. “Galatea” means “milk white”, approprately enough, although Pygmalion carved his statue from white ivory rather than alabaster.
The bloody timeship: I'm pleased to say that this revelation seems to have succeeded in taking people by surprise.
This scene – the image of Laura Tobin confronting a statue of herself – is actually the germ about which the whole of the rest of the story grew. I had in mind as far back as The Book of the War that the City might well be the ultimate iteration of Compassion: a careful reading of the Secret Architects entry shows the groundwork being prepared there. At first (before I knew that Mad Norwegian were intending to launch a series of Faction Paradox novels), I had envisaged making the revelation in a short story at some point. I was overjoyed when I was given the opportunity to build outwards from that image into an entire novel.
The Network: Associative Network 9, as mentioned on p148, is presumably a faction of Posthumanity.
scriptorium: “Writing-chamber” – study, basically.
a skinny dervish; a pallid, bookish Kali: Dervishes are Sufi ascetics, famed for the violently whirling dances which they practice as a meditative discipline. Kali is the Hindu goddess of destruction, famous chiefly for having six arms – a quality which Urbanus seems here to be applying metaphorically to Clutterbuck.
I lived inside her: Since reading about the Homeworld's Timeship breeding programme (see The Book of the War), the idea of how timeship pregnancy might actually work has fascinated me. Here I've taken the view that Antipathy, prior to his birth, was more like a passenger than a foetus, experiencing his mother's internal environment as architecture rather than as biology. Since Compassion can communicate with her occupants (see Appendix III in The Book), this would make for a very strong mother / child bond.
my firstborn: It's just about possible that Antipathy might be The Book of the War's experimental and unstable 101-Form Timeship. On the other hand, it's not particularly essential to the story. It's certainly easier to assume that he's simply an early, prototype 103-Form who happens to be equally insane.
a titanosaur: A very large dinosaur. As the name would tend to suggest.
Czn Huang Zhe: Last seen, sans head, in the Council House Tube station on p101.
archaic wooden-looking automata: These may be members of the Munificent Army of Peking, as featured in the Faction audios Sabbath Dei and In the Year of the Cat.
Auntie Al-Lat: In Arabic, “Al-Lat” means literally “the Goddess” in the same way that “Al-Lah” means “[the] God”. In pre-Islamic mythology, Allat was the consort of Allah, a theology which is condemned by Muhammad in the Qur'an. As far as I'm aware, “Auntie” was not the goddess' traditional honorific.
It may be noted that, Hindu gods and twentieth-century physicists aside, Julian's and Shel's blasphemies tend to be biased towards invoking deities from various pre-monotheistic Middle Eastern cultures (Marduk, Ashtoreth, Allat, Dagon, Baal). I'm sure there is an explanation for this, but at present I have to confess that it eludes me.
a single shift of the Ambassadorís perceptions: As The Book of the War explains, such Shifts – sentient conceptual entities capable of influencing others' perceptions – are a standard weapon among the War-time powers, the Enemy in particular.
his own distorted image: It is thus Antipathy who is responsible for the Manfolk – their macho idiocy, their distorted sexual politics, their sublimated homosexuality and their biologically embedded Oedipus Complex. (I mention this particularly, just in case anyone imagines that it was me.)
a lump of raw uranium: I wish now that I'd made this Red Uranium, as seen in This Town Will Never Let Us Go.
an ikon [...] an eidolon: I've used the Greek words for “icon” and “idol” because the English terms have become so debased. Originally, as Compassion V points out, both terms referred to a ritual image, capable of acting as a conduit between a worshipper and the god it represented.
In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, painted wooden ikons represent saints, who themselves act as ikons of God: the worshipper's veneration is thus passed up a hierarchical chain to the unapproachable divine being. In various tribal cultures, possession of an eidolon is thought to give the owner power over the god it represents, or at least the capacity to command favours. Both concepts are quite a distance removed from the activities of either Bill or Gareth Gates.
Homer and Virgil [...] Jung and Campbell: Homer (c 8th century BC) is, of course, the author of the Greek epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey, while Virgil (Publius Virgilius Maro, 70-19BC) wrote the equally famous Latin epic, The Aeneid (and also incidentally acted as Dante's guide through Hell and Purgatory in The Divine Comedy). Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) and Joseph Campbell (1904-87) were twentieth-century students of myth and its relationship to human psychology. The parallels between Homer's Odysseus (Ulysses) – in Campbell's terms, a classic Trickster archetype – and Gnas have been mentioned in the “Legend of Gnas” sidebar on p113.
which of them had been playing whom: ERRATUM. There should be a closure of brackets at this point, ending the parenthesis which begins ten paragraphs earlier with ‘He found himself’.
Elvis Aron Presley: U.S. singer (1935-77), rather popular in his day.
the frivolous musings of a misguided old scholar: As much as any character can, Prof. Vril is speaking for his author here. It may well be the case that one day – and it could easily be very much sooner than Of the City of the Saved... envisages – humanity will achieve the technological capability to survive beyond death. It may even be that the whole of humanity could be recreated as software, in an extropian Heaven not dissimilar to the City. Many would see this possibility as rendering religion obsolete: as, indeed, fulfilling everything that faith has all these centuries been blindly striving for.
It seems to me that, on the contrary, such aspirations in themselves suggest that humanity knows it has a destiny beyond such short-term technological fixes. Even if we take these opportunities (and there's no reason why we shouldn't), a genuine eternity might still await us. And the souls of those of us who migrate into software environments or durable robot bodies, or who are reconstructed with or without consent in a supposedly indestructible pocket universe – will still, some time in the unimaginably distant future, have the real purpose of created life to look forward to.
...OK, rant over.
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.