The OF Blog: Interesting "easter eggs" in stories

Friday, July 18, 2008

Interesting "easter eggs" in stories

I decided to read the introduction to Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet tonight before going to bed, because I wanted to know more about one of Portugal's greatest writers. What I quickly learned was that he used a multiplicity of pseudonyms, which he called "heteronyms," with each having its own distinct "personality."

One of those happened to be Ricardo Reis. Which of course reminded me of one of the few major books by José Saramago that I had yet to purchase/read, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis. Now I'm certainly going to have to get that one soon, especially since I've just learned a bit more about the "real" 'Ricardo Reis.'

But what about you? What little things, or "easter eggs" as video gamers call the hidden surprises, have you discovered in reading a book that you thought made for an even more enjoyable experience or perhaps led to discovering a new author?


Dark Wolf said...

Rui Zink's "The Cave Reader" has such treasures throughout his pages. I have discovered some names that I didn't know before that.

And your 100 book meme made me discover new names (even though I didn't score good on that meme ;)) :)

Paul Graham Raven said...

SF is full of nods to other authors, of course, and a good way of discovering the Golden Agers who inspired the modern writers I admire.

But I tend to notice musical Easter Eggs much more: William Gibson's use of Sisters Of Mercy song titles as dialogue, for example, or Neal Stephenson's love of Soundgarden lyrics.

Larry said...

I've noticed those before as well, Paul. I especially love it when an author uses Bob Dylan's lyrics in the middle of a scene to make a point.


Glad you are discovering some new names! :D

Jen said...

Not exactly an Easter Egg, but a nice coincidence. I had just started listening to Tori Amos and a friend had given me Gaiman's Stardust. One of the lyrics in a song I really liked was "will you find me if Neil makes me a tree", so I wanted to know who Neil was and how he can "make" a tree. It turned out that Neil was Gaiman and "making" didn't mean "build" like I thought, but "turn into" - as in, a tree, a character in Stardust, is based on Tori.

Also not exactly an Easter Egg is Roger Zelazny's self-cameo in Amber - a prison guard called Roger who is very much like the author himself. The quote in question:
"Good evening, Lord Corwin," said the lean, cadaverous figure who rested against a storage rack, smoking his pipe, grinning around it.
"Good evening, Roger. How are things in the nether world?"
"A rat, a bat, a spider. Nothing much else astir. Peaceful."
"You enjoy this duty?"
He nodded.
"I am writing a philosophical romance shot through with elements of horror and morbidity. I work on those parts down here."
"Fitting, fitting," I said. "I'll be needing a lantern."
He took one from the rack, brought it to flame from his candle.
"Will it have a happy ending?" I inquired.
He shrugged.
"I'll be happy."
"I mean, does good triumph and hero bed heroine? Or do you kill everybody off?"
"That's hardly fair," he said.
"Never mind. Maybe I'll read it one day."
"Maybe," he said.

Another story full of cameos, also by Zelazny, is Loki 7281. It's a very tongue-in-cheek short story in which the author makes fun of himself. It doesn't seem t be available online, but there's a Spanish translation here:

Basically, his computer is sentient and wants to take over his work, because he feels he can do it better. Short sample: "Echemos una mirada a lo que ha hecho él esta mañana. Hum. Ha empezado a escribir una nueva novela. Seguramente es algo relacionado con algún inmortal y una oscura mitología. ¡Bah! Y los críticos dicen que es original. No ha tenido un pensamiento original desde que yo lo conozco. Pero no importa. Me tiene a mí."

Finally, the last one I remember, in Wastelands, the antho. In Dale Bailey's The End of the World as we Know it the main character's name is Wyndham and he says somewhere that “Here’s one of my favorite end-of-the-world scenarios, by the way: Carnivorous plants.” (Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham)

Jen said...

(damn, that was a long comment)

Larry said...

Cool! I knew about the Gaiman/Amos connection, but not about the others!

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