[2003-05-26] In response to a question about the influence of Michael Moorcock's novels about Elric of Melnibonë, Brust wrote to the Dragaera mailing list (2003-05-25):
Okay, I thought it was kind of obvious. Just in case it isn't: yes, Moorcock's Elric books are a huge influence.
You can think of the Vlad books this way:
A world created in honor of Fritz Leiber
Fantasy tropes created in honor of Michael Moorcock
A narrative style in honor of Dashiell Hammett
A general aesthetic in honor of Roger Zelazny
This balcony, for so we will call it, was entirely secluded from the rest of the Palace, and could not be reached except through the Consort's own bedchamber, which was always watched by a pair of guards (not to mention the other three pair who guarded the different entrances to the Consort's suite.) All of this, in addition to providing an excellent setting for Luin's farcical murder drama, Who Dropped Her First, had the result, if the Consort wished for her privacy,...All it took was the stray thought "The doors to the suite must be laid out in a diamond pattern" to suddenly realize just what Luin's "farcical murder drama" must have been like. Heh.
In other words, "Who's on First?"
Mark-Jason Dominus points out that
this line originated in Adventure and was taken up by the later game
Ken Koester comments on at least the "twisty maze" tagline: "This was a common line in a dungeon-ish game on PLATO out of CERL in '78 or so, and was not original to the author even then."
rone further backdates it to the mid-1970s, in the earliest form of the game, ADVENT. [2006-04-22]
"You're not stupid, you're not expendable, and you're not going." [Tlt 14]Orig.: "I'm not..." Lance Nathan has informed me, and Brust has confirmed, that this was not originally meant to be a quote:
[Lance:] The Blake's 7 reference was accidental, believe it or not--Brust has never seen the show and was surprised to have it pointed out to him. He suspects he had a line similar to that, and one of his circle of writers (the Scribblies) said "You may as well just say, 'You're not stupid, etc.'" and he, not knowing it was a reference, said, "Sure, why not."Brust adds:
Yep. I'm pretty sure, thinking it over, that it was Will Shetterly who suggested the line.
"Write when you get work." [Phx 16]
While I can't find the exact line in Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, I did note while re-reading Dragon (Chapter 12, 'A Few Bumps and Bruises') that it is very clearly referenced.... and Virt, limping along next to me, said that the bandage around my forehead made me look like a real warrior. [Drg 201]
Especially exquisite is that Vlad received this wound when he was rushing at his opponent; she caught him perfectly, but it was with the flat of the blade. Compare this to how the main character in Red Badge of Courage gets his head injury -- running headlong away from his first battle, he slams into a tree branch.
Vlad also loses his cap (for which, I think, I'm pretty clearly imagining an American Civil War foraging cap...); the main character in Red Badge of Courage also loses his, if I recall correctly.
S. Thomas Crain
Along with the coffee, she brought us each a sample of the house bread -- a small, round loaf with a hole in the middle, cut horizontally and lightly toasted. I tried it.
"Not bad," I said, "This would be good with smoked pinkfish and buttercheese."
"And a bit of onion," agreed Teldra. [Iss 19]
The Teckla hostess at the inn in Appertown provides the bagel. Vlad, epicure that he is, suggests lox and cream cheese, and Lady Teldra tops off the imagined nosh.
[2006-04-07] Steve added (2005-03-09):
These Martians crash land on earth, and wander all around looking for spare parts to fix their spaceship. They eventually come across a delicatessen, and go running in.
"We need half a dozen of those round things with the hole in them to fix our spaceship!"
"Fix your spaceship? No, no. Those are bagels. They're food. You eat them."
"Food?" say the Martians. "Why, food doesn't look like that!"
"Yes indeed. Here. Try one."
So the Martian takes a bite of the bagel, thinks a bit, and says, "Not bad. These would be good with lox and cream cheese."
An old joke. I first heard it from my friend Fred Levy Haskell.
"I am pleased," said Sethra at last. "Aliera, your presence is required by the Empire."
"So I'm given to understand," said Aliera.
"What are the rest of us, roast kethna?"
"Shut up, Loiosh," I said, though I tended to share his sentiments. [Tlt 180]
"I'm referring to the strange action of the bodyguards at the assassination attempt."
"But the bodyguards did nothing at the assassination attempt."
"That was the strange action." [Jrg 177]
(Robin Barr corrected my attribution of this. The original, of course, is the strange action of the dog in the night.)
[2003-03-xx] This is Brust fandom. People of all ages, sexes, and walks of life, from every continent and some places that aren't on continents at all. And on the Web, your only locations are your email address and your home page.
I got a tipoff from a watchful citizen. This "spiffit" had a hunch that the 'introduction' to Teckla, between the Cycle and the prologue, bore a suspicious resemblance to the voice-over opening to each episode of Dragnet. That's a classic TV cop show. A lot of you out there only know it from reruns, and maybe there's a few who've never heard of it at all. But this fan's been on the beat a long time, and I thought Spiffit was on to something.
I checked it out with a contact at the Beeb. The tip was legit.
Dragnet DragaeraTeckla This is the city: Los Angeles, California. This is the city: Adrilankha, Whitecrest. Often, but not always, a long monologue ending with a reference to crime. Two paragraphs about the city, its inhabitants, and the ultimate support of justice, the Empire, ending with: But the organization that exists at the core of House Jhereg operates illegally. The Empire is both unwilling and unable to enforce the laws and customs governing this inner society. Yet, sometimes, these unwritten laws are broken. That's when I go to work. I carry a badge. That's when I go to work. I'm an assassin.
The evidence was found convincing beyond a reasonable doubt. Verdict: Another entry in the Allusions file. Case closed.
The story you've just seen is true.
The title of Five Hundred Years After echoes Dumas' [FHYA 552] Twenty Years After, the sequel to The Three Musketeers, taking into consideration the ratio of Dragaeran to Easterner lifespan:
2000-3000 : 50-75 :: 500 : 20 .
[2005-03-06] On the Dragaera mailing list there was a discussion of translations of The Three Musketeers (July 20-28, 2004). Steve is said to prefer the one published by Tor. For movie treatments:
Ken Koester ("Snarkhunter"): The best 3M for me is Lester's The Three Musketeers & The Four Musketeers, shot as one film but forced to be released as two . . .
Steve Simmons: Absolutely. You can get the two movies in a single DVD package from Amazon for a very reasonable price.
I'm sure that many more allusions would be revealed by a careful study of the works of Dumas [FHYA 502], which I have not had the honor of reading.
("Cut it out, boss!" [picture]
"You're sounding like the author you're writing about. You learned not to do that in Miss Davids's AP English class, with that essay on Tolkien. Besides, you're just too lazy to read Dumas."
"Who are you?"
"What kind of question is that? I'm your familiar. Weird name for it, if you ask me."
"Oh, you mean like Loiosh."
"Got it in one."
"But I don't have a familiar. I'm not a witch and, as far as I know, magic doesn't work for anyone. Who's imitating the author now?"
I wrote the above line of bad imitation (and had the above conversation) several years ago, when I started this site. Since then I have read Dumas, but more to the point, in March of 2005 "Hilary A" wrote to me:
I read Alexandre Dumas's Musketeer novels more than once before I ever read about Khaavren, and it was very easy for me to pick out places where the dialogue is the same with the names changed, the Dragaeran history Paarfi misrepresents is exactly the same as the European history Dumas misrepresents, or the plots of the parallel novels turn on parallel characters making parallel decisions. Would you like me to send you what I've noticed and you can put some/all of it on your Jokes and Allusions page if it suits you?
WOULD I?!!! Is the bear Catholic? Does a Pope... uh.
Yes, thank you, I would like that very much! :-D
I have given her very impressive writeup a page of its own. [2005-04-22]
|[Loftis:]||"What am I going to do with you?"|
|[Vlad:]||"You could paint me blue and trade me for bagpipes." [Orc 188]|
Vlad is an Easterner, at this point not disguised as a Dragaeran [Orc 177]. The Dragaerans think of the Easterners as barbarians. The Celts, whom the Romans regarded as barbarians, went into battle to the sound of bagpipes and with their bodies painted blue with woad. (Actually, I don't know if they used bagpipes against the Romans, but the bagpipe is certainly distinctively Celtic -- and to this day is often considered barbaric.)
[Vlad:] "But you are resurrecting the Lavodes, it seems?"
[Sethra:] "Slowly, yes. Why? Think they might be useful for your problem?"
I gave her a short laugh. Loiosh was strangely silent; I guess he knew what was going on better than I did. So did Sethra. Chances are, so did the owner of the pawnshop on Taarna Road.
Dzur, Chapter One
Doug Mauss observed the following exchange on DreamCafe:
A post by "patrick" (Jan 28, 2009 at 4:55 pm)
Many years ago, I used to play a MUD called "Gemstone 3" which had a pawnshop on Taarna Road. Steve, did you ever used to play GS3? Or is this just a really random coincidence?
Pure coincidence. I would never have wasted my time with a silly game like GS3. Certainly, I wouldn't have had, like nine characters in it, including a fighter I got up to 99th level, lieutenant of the Obsidian Tower. Not me. Nope. That would be pure coincidence..
Allusions to the Grateful Dead have been moved to a separate page.
"In the desert culture of my people, to spit in a man's presence is to demonstrate loyalty. Am I to assume that you are my vassal?" [Drg 81]
This reminds me of the scene in Dune where the Fremen leader Stilgar, meeting with Duke Leto Atreides, spits on the table in front of the Duke. The Duke's men start to surge forward, but the Duke's man Duncan Idaho*, who has been his emissary among the Fremen, cries "Hold!", and the men stop. He then says, "We thank you, Stilgar, for the gift of your body's water, and accept it in the spirit in which it is offered."
Brust could easily be using a real custom of some desert-dwelling peoples; I don't know if it is, but it's plausible. Or he could have made it up, or he could be borrowing from Herbert or some other author.
* I think. I'm far away from the book, and I haven't read it in fifteen years or more.
(Is there even a desert in Fenario?) [2003-05-23]
Kliban drew cats, presumably including the speaker and his beloved in the cartoon whose caption I saw quoted by T.L.Smith. Loiosh said it (or said that he would say it) with dead teckla.
I think this is Kliban; maybe it's The Far Side.* Said by one scavenger to another. Here it's Vlad to Teldra; he calls it an old Jhereg joke. [Iss 131-3]
"Core" wrote to me in August 2006:
I can confirm for you that it's NOT the Far Side; I had a poster with two vultures on it, one saying that line to the other, in the early 70's, long before Larson started the Far Side. It may have originated with Kliban, I'm not sure, but certainly the poster I had wasn't a Kliban drawing.It seems to be one of those things that everybody has seen, but nobody knows where it originated. I haven't been able to find the origin. So when I eventually find out...
Patience my ass. I'm going to leave it under Kliban because I don't know where else to put it, along with these notes.
How many Easterners does it take to sharpen a sword?
Four: one to hold the sword and three to move the grindstone.
[Yen 19] The point: Easterners are stupid.
But Thomas Frank suggests an alternative reading: [2007-12-25]
"I actually think that this one has to do with the size difference between Dragareans and Easterners. Vlad comments at least once that Dragaerans are bigger and stronger than Easterners. I'll have to re-read Yendi I believe, but there is a section where Vlad talks about his father hiring a sorcerer and Dragaeran swordsman, and then comments to his grandfather that he'll never be strong enough to fight effectively in that style. Also, since I do study Fiore dei Liberi the whetstone that comes to mind is the one that is carried with the sword, not the big treadle-operated wheel. SO if the swords are so large that an Easterner has trouble holding then, how big is the whetstone for a Dragaeran's sword?"
How many Dzur does it take to sharpen a sword?
Four: one to sharpen the sword and three to put up enough of a fight to make it worthwhile.
[Yen 71] The point: Dzur love to fight against long odds. They tend to consider it beneath them unless they are (as we would view it) outmatched.
See also the exchange at the end of Chapter 10 of Dragon between Tibbs and Dunn, the young Dragon back-up color-bearer:
Dunn said, "Crown says I still can't carry the colors next time we go into action."
"Congratulations," said Tibbs. "Why are you so all-fired anxious to be killed?"
Dunn didn't answer. Tibbs shook his head and remarked, "You should have been a Dzur."
"I'd challenge you to a duel for that," said Dunn, "but there aren't enough of you." [Drg 170] [2003-05-01]
How many Yendi does it take to sharpen a sword?
Three. One to sharpen the sword and one to confuse the issue.
[Yen 177] The point: Yendi confuse the issue. Anything involving Yendi is confusing. Even mentioning Yendi confuses the issue.
See here for more of these written by subscribers to the Dragaera mailing list.
In Yendi, "Sticks" -- so called because of his weapons of choice, a sturdy pair of clubs -- is a Jhereg enforcer whom Vlad hires during his war with Laris. As "Steve the Younger" has written on the Dragaera Wiki (quoted by his generous permission):
Sticks' catchphrase, "No future in it", is exactly that of another laconic weapons master, James Coburn's knife master "Britt" from The Magnificent Seven, which is itself an homage to Kurosawa's Seven Samurai.
In "The Magnificent Seven", Coburn's knifeslinger is laconic and cynical, preferring to let his virtuosity with the switchblade speak for him. When he does speak, it's usually in answer to a direct question, and his answer is usually "No future in it".
Sticks is a well-known enforcer who comes aboard to help Vlad with a turf war. Britt is a well-known warrior who comes aboard to help Yul Brynner with a turf war too.
Sticks is described pretty much as Britt, too: "...taller and thinner than most, and carried himself as if every bone in his body were jelly...He had sandy hair, straight, and worn to his ears." (Image of Britt)
"If all you've got's a stick, everything looks like a kneecap." [Iss 161]
Vlad calls this an old Jhereg saying. We say, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."
Personally, I am a very un-handyman. If all I have is a hammer, everything looks like my thumb.
"How did you do that?" I said.
Daymar frowned and pursed his lips. "Well," he said, "if we consider the aura emitted by each weapon as a spherical field of uni--"
"Psychics," said Kragar. [Drg 38]
"How does an engineer cook a chicken?" -- "Assume a spherical chicken..."
(Daymar was probably going to say "spherical field of unit radius". -- Sometimes the character who has the punchline is a mathematician or a physicist.)
"Yes," said Morrolan dryly. "You wouldn't want her to turn you into a
"I'll get better." [Yen 190]
"the peasants ... render unto me my portion." (Adron speaking) [FHYA 80]
Cf. Matthew xxii:21.
"But to paraphrase Lord Lairon e'N'vaar, maybe I use different axioms." [Yen 178]
That sounded familiar, although I couldn't place it, and "Lairon e'N'vaar" looks like an anagram of "Larry Niven". It isn't, quite: it can be rearranged to "Larri N'ven O'.A.A.", which is tempting and confusing. But "Zzedar" identified the allusion (Sept. 2004) [2006-04-07]:
[The quotation] is a reference to a line in Ringworld. The Puppeteers are afraid to send a drone in too close to the Ringworld because it could be traced back to them. Louis says that it's theoretically impossible to trace a hyperspace signal, and is told "Perhaps they have evolved different theories." Later, after meeting Halrloprillalar, they have a similar exchange on the possibility of FTL travel, only in reverse.
[1999-09-09] "I designate you Speaker to Daymar." [Drg 46, Vlad to Kragar]
This is something of a reach, but it reminds me of "Speaker-to-Animals", the title of the kzinti Patriarchy's diplomatic representative to humanity. (In the sequel, The Ringworld Engineers, he has earned the name Chmeee [sic].)
"Perhaps Kathana will die. Perhaps Uttrik will die. Perhaps you will die. Perhaps Uttrik and Kathana will become friends. Or, perhaps the horse will--" [TPG 314]
Attributed to a human historian; I'm told it is "an old Sufi story about the Mullah Nasrudin." Niven & Jerry Pournelle refer to it at the end of Mote.
Ken Stone points out the following:
Lady Teldra: No, I'm afraid I do not. Why, have we no food left?
Morrolan: Just a piece of hard rock candy. But--
Arra: Come then... and...
Wales: You have any food here?
Lone Watie: All I have is a piece of hard rock candy. But it's not fur eatin', it's just fur lookin' through.
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) by Warner Brothers -about 20-30 min into movie
Dammit, Boss, I'm a jhereg, not a bloodhound. [Jgl 240]One of Dr. McCoy's best known catchphrases is "Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a ____." (Wikipedia, Memory Alpha)
I wonder if there are fourteen more such nuggets waiting to be found?Steve replied:
Good catch, but I don't really count that as one. Don't waste your time looking for 17; there are only 9.
The Bard of Avon
(Noted by Jerry Friedman)
Savn glanced back at him, but still wasn't certain if he were
joking. "It's easy to tell the difference," he said, "When you make
the seedblocks and leave them in the coolhouse in barrels, the
true, true salad flax will melt--"
[Ath 10, Chap. 1; BoAth 15]
Hamlet: O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
(Thanks to Linda G. for the citation.)
The drink was provided quickly. She smiled her thanks and sipped from whatever she'd been given, nodded approval, and poured some of the liquid over the mouthpiece of the the long black flute.
"What's she doing?" whispered Savn.
Vlad shrugged. "It must be good for it.
She wouldn't wreck her own reed."
[Ath 93, Chap. 7]
Ophelia: ...But, good my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven;
Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own rede. [i.e., does not take his own advice]
(Thanks to Jerry Friedman.)
The small jhereg was staring at Savn, as if waiting to hear a report of his examination.
"The seam itself is but shallow," he said, imitating Master Wag's tones,
"yet his scar will go from his knee to his ankle..."
[Ath 111 (omnibus), Chap. 9]
Hamlet: A dream itself is but a shadow.
"Yes," said the Master, "You may season the cheese. You must not put
another Scallion on it."
[Ath 129(omnibus), Chap. 11]
Polonius: Faith, no; as you may season it in the charge.
You must not put another scandal on him
Outside of Dragaera, the title of Steve's household weblog, Words Words Words, is an explicit allusion to Hamlet II.ii.
|Polonius||[...] What do you read, my lord?|
|Hamlet||Words, words, words.|
|Pol.||What is the matter, my lord?|
|Pol.||I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.|
"a popular anonymous play of the period, Redwreath and Goldstar Have Traveled to Deathsgate" [FHYAxviii]
A reasonable translation of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead", the title of a play by Tom Stoppard whose principals play a question game analogous to the mannered style of speech being discussed here. This was pointed out to me by Ran Macallan. Note that this allusion is in the Preface, written by Brust's friend and fellow Scribbly Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet ("D.B., Dean of Pamlar University").
The play might have been the work of Lord Dzurstopper ;-)\ ["pard: a tiger or other large cat" -- American Heritage Dictionary].
"Heh. In a year youíd weigh three hundred pounds."
Steve the Younger observed this and wrote on SKZB's blog
an oblique reference to Nero Wolfe, the overweight armchair detective, is brought to our attention in case we hadnít noticed that Loiosh is acting as Archie Goodwin to Vladís Nero.to which Brust replied
Wow. You really nailed it. I guess I wasnít subtle enough. :-)Stout regularly describes his detective as weighing "one-seventh of a ton". 300 pounds is close enough for Empire work.
"A job. Out of town. Across the great salt sea. Out past the horizon. To sail beyond the--" [Phx 16]
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
of all the western stars, until I die.
[Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "Ulysses"]
Also used by Robert A. Heinlein as the title of a novel, and probably quoted hundreds of other times in literature.
A tor is a rocky peak. The symbol of Tor Books is a stylized mountain
surrounded by a curved line that could be taken as a glow or halo.
"Is that a knife in your hand [under the blanket], or are you happy to see me?" [Yen 111]
"Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" (Possibly misquoted from "She Done Him Wrong", 1933; or possibly in no movie at all until a very late self-parody in either Sextette or Myra Breckenridge. Thanks to Jason Marcil for starting me on this quest to prove that you can find anything on the Internet, whether it's true or not.)
last modified 2010-05-27