In-jokes, Shout-Outs, and References in Grand Central Arena
As a salute to the Golden Age and all the other things which have had great influence on my writing and imagination, Grand Central Arena contains a huge number of references ranging from the completely blatant to the quite subtle. In these very spoilery entries I will detail a large number of the references, chapter by chapter. This is not necessarily an exhaustive list, however; you wouldn’t want me to remove ALL the mystery, would you?
A note to readers before they begin: Some people have a hard time taking things seriously if they encounter certain types of jokes and references. While I obviously can’t stop you from finding them on your own, if you think that kind of thing could affect you, you might want to think twice before reading on!
With that out of the way… onward!
- Ariane’s full name is Ariane Stephanie Austin, a reference to Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man. Originally she was to actually be partially cybernetic, but I decided that the name, and the fact that she ends up as a test pilot, was more than enough reference.
- Whip Hand is a reference to the phrase itself (to “hold the whip hand”), and also to a thriller/mystery by a certain author (see later).
- Hawke and Lobo reference the utterly-impossible but utterly-cool super-helicopter Airwolf, piloted in the show by Stringfellow Hawke; Lobo of course means “wolf” in Spanish.
- Carl Edlund is a Tuckerization of a friend of mine who is every bit as competent and tough as his fictional counterpart; if I were to be suddenly exiled to a fictional world, he’s one of the people I’d want with me.
- Dr. Simon Sandrisson was based on a number of sources. Most prominently he was based in name and general appearance on a character played in a PBEM I ran which was set in the Digital Knight universe. His appearance is a cross between a laboratory Mad Scientist and the FFVII character Sephiroth.
- The emblem on Hawke’s jacket is very similar to that for the Airwolf.
- Sandrisson’s AISage Mio is based in appearance and name on the Japanese singer who was well known for performing numerous anime songs from the older (70s-80s) generation of shows.
- “Simon, in fact, could only think of one person he’d ever met who didn’t” refers, of course, to Dr. DuQuesne, whom Simon met originally before the current version of the book opens. An earlier draft actually showed the meeting.
- The “Tayler” rating system for AI capabilities is a reference to Howard Tayler, creator and producer of the magnificent webcomic Schlock Mercenary, and to the rating system for AIs which is present in his universe.
- Mentor, Ariane’s AISage, is based on the all-but-omniscient character Mentor of Arisia from Doc Smith’s Lensman series. His overly-bombastic method of speaking is directly based on that character as well.
- “Monolith” refers to a story of my own which, in a nicely circular reference, is assumed to be fiction in the Grand Central Arenaverse and sufficiently popular to have become part of the general consciousness. A silly conceit but one I find amusing. The Monolith of the title is of course a vastly powerful super-computer which is less than benevolent towards mankind.
- Kanzaki-Three and Dr. Kanzaki herself are references to Hitomi Kanzaki, main protagonist of The Vision of Escaflowne.
- Locke of the Kanzaki-Locke theory is a reference to Locke the Superman (“Choujin Locke”), an old anime and manga series.
- Dr. Marc C. DuQuesne is of course a direct reference to the villain Marc C. DuQuesne in Doc Smith’s Skylark series. This version, created during the ill-starred Hyperion project, actually combines elements of the original DuQuesne, the original Seaton/Crane pair, and Kimball Kinnison from the Lensman series.
- Dr. Davison in appearance and name refers to Peter Davison, who played the fifth incarnation of The Doctor in Doctor Who.
- Commander Saul Maginot has two references in his name, one to the Maginot Line, the other to Saul Dagenham from Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination.
- Dr. Thomas Cussler is also a dual reference to two thriller writers, Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler.
- Maxine, Cussler’s AISage, is a female version of Max, the main character in Dark Cloud 2, with a bit of Winry Rockbell from Fullmetal Alchemist thrown in.
- Dr. Gabrielle Wolfe is based in appearance and general demeanor on the character of Calleigh DuQuesne in CSI: Miami. Her last name derives from the first doctor I can remember directly, a very pretty blonde named Dr. Grace Wolfe.
- Dr. Stephen Franceschetti is another Tuckerization based on a friend of ours who had a similarly friendly and unifying personality with considerable competence accompanying it.
- Holy Grail of course refers to the fact that to any SF or space travel buff, faster than light has always been the holy grail.
- “Schilling Potential”: in a Usenet discussion some years previous, I had promised to “redshirt” Mike Schilling, a regular on rec.arts.sf.written. As he and another, unrelated poster, John Schilling, were also occasional sources of confusion due to the same name, I decided to make it a two-fer, and also to kill them off in a rather different way than might be expected.
- Harriman Delosius: A direct reference to Delos D. Harriman, the Man Who Sold The Moon from Robert Heinlein’s novel of that name. The name was chosen to reflect the society-changing effect of this single individual’s personal crusade.
- Laila Canning: Her name refers to Victor Canning, thriller writer of (among others) a novel called “The Whip Hand” – the meta-source for the name of Ariane’s racing vessel.
- Dean Stout: the name of this influential SSC member derives from the first name of Dean Koontz, horror writer, and Rex Stout, creator of Nero Wolfe.
- Allerdyne: Steve’s AISage is named and designed, in general terms, around a D&D character created by the original Steve.
- Café Rei: A dual reference, given the mention of Mars later in the same paragraph, to Amuro Rei (protagonist of Mobile Suit Gundam) and Rei Hino, Sailor Mars.
- Darwin: Refers of course to Sir Charles Darwin, an appropriate name for an AISage belonging to a biologist.
- Shaina: Based on the character Silver Saint Shaina Ophiucius, from the anime Saint Seiya; selected for Carl because his real-life counterpart once played a character in my games who had a rather tempestuous relationship with Shaina.
- Isaac: DuQuesne’s chosen AISage manifests as Dr. Isaac Asimov, prolific writer known most for his science fiction but also producer of other books ranging from chemistry texts to an analysis of the Bible.
- “Turing threshold”: refers to the “Turing Test” in which (simplifying immensely) a computer is held to be intelligent if it can hold an extended conversation with a human being through some means and convince the human that he is talking to another human being. In the GCA universe the Turing Threshold would be a much more rigorous (and probably lower level) test to determine the presence of an AI above a certain level.
Chapters 10 and 11:
No references I’m going to detail.
- Lacie: the housekeeper robot’s name comes from the LaCie series of hard drives.
- Estine Systems: Estine is a contraction of Nestene, from the Nestene Consciousness in Doctor Who.
- “Big Pig”: An obscure comic-book reference to a little-known would-be superhero named Razorback, a truck-driver whose truck had this name.
- Ariane’s Grandfather: her grandfather, his farm and the vehicles, is a general overall reference to the Rush song “Red Barchetta”, which is in turn a reference to “A Nice Morning Drive,” written by Richard Foster. It’s also clear that this is what gives Ariane much of her particular personality quirks and her familiarity with some VERY old SF.
Chapter 13 thru 16:
No references detailed.
- Orphan and the Blessed: the species description is based strongly on the villain Cell from Dragonball Z – a combination of his near-Perfect and Perfect forms.
- “Your diplomacy is unrivalled, Captain”: a reference, especially in the “tone” I hear Duquesne saying it, to Spock’s line “Your logic is impeccable, Captain; we are in grave danger” in the original Trek episode “The Changeling”.
- “…patterned pink and red” and “buzzing shriek”: the Blessed and Orphan’s species communicate to a great extent via wide-spectrum sonic signals generated by tympani, and the Blessed are tied together much more closely than human beings usually are; this is a reference to the Tines in Vernor Vinge’s “A Fire Upon the Deep”.
- Orphan’s Speeches: It will be noted that Orphan has a rather flowery way of speaking in translation (reflecting of course an equivalent in his original language). In sound and “feel” he is supposed to be rather like the character G’Kar from Babylon 5 (and in fact I find myself using an imitation of Katsulas’ voice when I read his lines).
- “Things were finally looking up.”: This is a fairly obvious equivalent of those devastating words “what could possibly go wrong?”
No references detailed.
- The Hyperion Experiment: Described elsewhere, but here it has an important story purpose, to get out of the way the question of whether the Arena is a delusion, a simulation, rather than the real thing. As DuQuesne points out, it’s possible that the Arena is in fact just that, but it’s a useless and ultimately self-defeating thing to worry about.
- Sherlock Holmes: Probably needs no explanation to anyone reading this, but Holmes was the defining, archetypal version of the consulting private detective in mystery fiction, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
- Clark Savage: Better known as The Man of Bronze, “Doc” Savage, a hero of the pulp era.
- “(area) greater than that of every body we’ve colonized put together”: The Sphere’s 20,000 kilometers in diameter, and if you assume the first “deck” layer that our heroes find themselves in goes completely around the Sphere, that layer covers about 3.5 times the approximately 361 million square kilometers of the Earth’s surface (which is of course mostly covered by water). As they discover at least one more such layer, plus the Upper Sphere, there is an absolutely immense area of livable space available in and on the Sphere.
- “Make it so.”: A reference to Captain Jean-Luc Piccard’s common signature phrase on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- “Flare-lit tipoff”: This and a number of other phrases (“by about X rows of little green apple trees”, where X is often an odd number like ninety seven) are “Smithisms” – the kind of expressions used by “Doc” Smith’s characters in similar situations, and signal DuQuesne’s Hyperion experiences.
- “Source of glorious argument”: One of the common objections to many SF works is to groups of aliens living, eating, working, etc. in common, especially from a biochemical point of view. This “lampshades” the problem by acknowledging that by many standards it shouldn’t be possible, but that it is here.
- The impossibility of the Arena: Technically, “simultanaeity” is a meaningless concept in many situations under our current theoretical knowledge. The galaxies that we see in our skies today don’t exist as we see them “now”, as that light has taken millions, or even billions, of years to reach us. The Arena takes that concept and breaks it twice, making simultanaeity a real and actual concept both in our universe and in the Arena itself, which is many lightyears across. Simon discusses this in the text to some extent later.
- The Inner Gateway: While people may immediately think of the “Stargates” from the eponymous TV series and movie (and in some ways one could describe Grand Central Arena itself as a sort of cross of Babylon 5 and Stargate, if written by Doc Smith), the imagery of the Inner Gateway was actually taken more from the cover and concepts described in a less-well-known novel titled Pawn of the Omphalos by E.C. Tubb (cover by Ken Barr, I believe)
- Transition’s Description: The description of “Transition”, especially the whirl of sights and scents, owes at least a little to Alan Dean Foster’s description of the Marketplace of Drallar in The Tar-Aiym Krang.
- Tchanta Zoll and Tchanta Vall: In appearance, these creatures (whose species is seen several times) are based strongly on the froglike creatures called Slaadi in the Dungeons and Dragons game – as indicated by the actual name of the species, Daalasan.
- “Behold the Arena”: The “reveal”, in a classic sense, of the setting. One of the references in this scene is to the oldest concepts of space travel from the victorian age, with space-sailing vessels and similar devices. In many ways, the Arena permits an almost Victorian-era type of technology and interaction, while at the same time pushing the envelope of the possible.
- Ghondas of the Shiquan: The Powerbroker character has a physical description which is supposed to echo some Lovecraftian descriptions. In addition, the species’ name is a contraction of “Shiwan Khan”, the villain from the movie “The Shadow”. (This should not be necessarily considered an indication that she’s a villain)
- The Molothos: Their physical appearance is a close parallel of the appearance of the second form of “Destroyer” in Godzilla VS Destroyer (“Gojira Tai Destoroyah”). They were deliberately designed to be a classic old-SF Bug Eyed Monster.
- “Xenomisosic”: Changing one Greek root for another, this word was constructed based on “xenophobic”; the Molothos aren’t afraid of things, in general, they just HATE them. Apparently I partly messed up in constructing the word, however – the second “s” should not be there, making the word “xenomisoic”. Too late, alas, to change it here.
- “As though mired in thick oil”: The control/capture field used by the Arena and its representatives is intended to directly echo the tanglefoot field in Robert Heinlein’s The Star Beast.
- Dr. Relgof Nov Ne’Knarph: In both slightly scrambled name and in general outline of appearance, derived from the (perhaps) mad scientist Franken Von Fogler from the anime Giant Robo.
- “Look of Eagles”: The phrase used by Doc Smith to describe the Lensmen and others who seemed to have an inherent ability to command respect.
- “Blackie”: Here Ariane reveals that she knows the fiction from which DuQuesne was derived. In the original Skylark novels, Marc DuQuesne was nicknamed “Blackie”, probably due to his black eyes and hair.
- “truly ancient RF repeater/sensor nodes”: These refer directly to some of the projects I have been and am working on in real life. The trick DuQuesne pulls off against Orphan could be done today.
- “Wondered… what sort of geology existed on this outlandish place”: A lot of conditions on Earth derived from specific geological processes. In fact, the Upper Sphere duplicates a lot of those processes; the cutaway diagram shown demonstrates that there is an artificially-generated “mantle” beneath the crust, which permits plate tectonics and similar phenomena.
- “… an immense open-air mall or marketplace”: the description of the Grand Arcade here is deliberately reminiscent of that of the great marketplace of Drallar in Alan Dean Foster’s Flinx series.
- “Chiroflekir”: the name of this blue jellyfish-like alien species is taken from Chironex Fleckeri, the scientific name of the box jellyfish, AKA “Sea Wasp” – my online nickname for more than 30 years.
- “Olthalis”: means, roughly, “Sea Wasp” in a language I invented for my main writing universe (setting of Digital Knight and some other currently unpublished works)
- DuQuesne VS Carl’s “score”: this is one of the many indications of the difference between DuQuesne and everyone else. Carl is extremely competent, very good at what he does, and despite this DuQuesne – who is, at this point, heavily self-limited and restricted – is still outdoing him three-to-one.
- Ants and trees: DuQuesne is referring specifically to the tree Duroia hirsuta, which is tended by Myrmelachista schumanni ants; the ants use formic acid to kill off other plant species, resulting in clear areas around the tree and sometimes in “Devil’s Gardens” consisting almost entirely of Duroia. The ants will also viciously attack anything else that bumps or encroaches upon the tree. Some other ants, such as Allegheny Mound Ants (Formica exsectoides Forel) also use formic acid to kill off plants they find intrusive.
- Exploding power packs: This has been done in many SF stories, though the original Star Trek made a point of it in several episodes. In this case, it also serves to remind us that no matter what form you carry energy in, if it’s designed so it can be released quickly, you have, in effect, a bomb. This is important for the ending of Chapter 35.
- “That would be a good trick, if you could manage it…”: This and a couple of the following lines by DuQuesne are taken very directly from similar dialogue in the original Skylark and Lensman series. This is DuQuesne flashing back to his original design; I call the entire scene “DuQuesne’s Awakening” and wrote it to the music “Trigger Situation” from the videogame “Dirge of Cerberus”.
- “…a warrior with the innocence of a child…”: The greatest of the warrior Hyperions, Son Wu Kung, known in Japan as Son Goku; the Hyperion version is a combination of many different versions in mythology and fiction.
- Composition and competition of Factions: This is in a way a sort of anti-reference, or at least anti-cliché (despite the fact that GCA is in many ways merely a distillation of clichés). It’s easy, and common, to present aliens as unified groups. It’s also easy and common to depict them as just like us and mingling in the same way. I felt that the Arena would demonstrate that SOME alien species are unified enough to be factions, while other ideas or approaches are powerful enough to attract members from many, many species. Thus the Five Great Factions include two single-species (for all intents and purposes) groups, the Molothos and the Blessed) and three multispecies groups, the Vengeance, the Faith, and the Analytic.
- “Pest control”: A small reference to Doctor Who, Dalek Sek to the Cybermen: “This is not war! This is pest control!”
- Vchanta Nom: The Adjudicator’s given name Nom refers, not to the current “sound of eating” use, but to the nigh-unstoppable Sandgorgon from the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.
- “… grunt of surprise…”: Ariane is clearly stronger than any ordinary woman. While her combat modifications enhance her strength to some extent, it should be realized that even the ordinary citizen of the Solar System of 2375 is going to be considerably superior – both mentally and physically – to the average person of today.
- “Pushup bow”: Mentioned several times before, the gesture of respect or apology in the species of the Blessed (and by extension Orphan and the Liberated) derives from behavior in a number of species, ranging from insects to mammals, which will deliberately lower themselves when confronted by a dominant member of the species.
- “… revenge is a dish served very cold here…”: While the proverb has roots going back to the 1800s, this is as most would suspect a reference to Khan Noonian Singh’s line in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
- “… just managed to out-maneuver Marc DuQuesne!”: Normally this would be very VERY difficult to do, but one of Doc Smith’s key weaknesses – looked at purely from a modern storytelling point of view – was that his heroic characters were direct, forthright… and easily embarrassed or confounded by the objects of their affection, because such affection loomed very large in their mental worldview. It’s obvious that DuQuesne has more than a casual interest now in Ariane, and he’s not as mentally prepared to deal with the consequences of that as he is for other little things like Molothos invasions.
- The Temple of the Faith: Looked at from above it would look like a galaxy, of course, but also would have an almost fractal/Julia set appearance in some ways.
- Selpa’A At: The Milluk, Selpa’s species, are deliberately designed to look similar to Dr. Zin’s spidery super-robot seen in Jonny Quest.
- Voidbuilder language: While it has actual meaning (which I will not reveal for a number of reasons) it is very deliberately constructed for references. Some are obvious and easy, others are perhaps a bit harder to find. I won’t ruin the fun by explaining all of them here, but as an example, the first line “Leinis mithid okee…” is a reference to Heinlein and E.E. “Doc” Smith.
- Mandallon Ell Ir’Rathsab: Our newly-minted Initiate Guide’s middle and last names are a reference to Bashtarille, the location of the defining disastrous event that led to the story shown in Giant Robo.
- Sai’Daku: Homesphere of Mandallon and Dr. Rel’s people, the name refers to Daisaku Kusama, the young child hero of Giant Robo.
- “… a reminder of a voice that was associated with dark and dangerous things.”: When I read Amas-Garao’s lines out loud, or hear them in my head, they’re spoken in the deep and sometimes sinister voice of Christopher Lee, especially as he spoke (for example) as Sauruman in Lord of the Rings.
- “… at least in some parts of the spectrum.”: Here there’s an implication (and a correct one) that DuQuesne’s vision extends beyond the range of normal human vision, and that he can tell which part of the spectrum he’s viewing things in to a fine degree.
- Tantimorcan: A scrambling of “Manticoran” and as such an obvious homage to David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, although in their position as excellent shipbuilders who are nonetheless second-class or less in terms of absolute power the Tantimorcan are more equivalent to the Graysons.
- Not revealing how many: While based on our knowledge to this point we know the minimum size for a test vessel to carry a certain number of people, those outside of humanity have no way of knowing at this point what size of manned vessel was sent or how cautious, interested in redundancy, etc., humanity is. They may have sent only those seen so far, or a huge vessel with hundreds that are being held back in reserve or to now take advantage of the Upper Sphere.
- Rodeskri: The name of Nyanthus’ people is based on the Skroderiders from Vernor Vinge’s novel A Fire Upon the Deep.
- “My Visualization is very flawed and imperfect”: Essentially a quote from Doc Smith’s Lensman series referring to Mentor of Arisia, the supermind that guided the development of Civilization. Mentor often mentioned his Visualization of the Cosmic All; the Lensman universe is a “clockwork universe” – if you know enough about its starting conditions you can precisely calculate all events and actions for a long time to come. Mentor was capable of doing just that for the entire universe over a period of thousands or even millions of years.
No specific references (I’m leaving most Voidbuilder words for the reader to analyze if they’re so inclined).
- “… even with the nanomaintenance apparently one gets stiff…”: Today, going into a coma for weeks would result in the beginning of muscle atrophy, significant stiffening and contraction of unused tendons/ligaments, and a lot of other problems. In the era of Grand Central Arena, medical nanomaintenance addresses the major issues involved (just as it does so for null-g conditions), but it’s not quite so good at preventing the generalized feeling of stiffness and soreness from being effectively immobile for weeks.
- “Linnaeus and Darwin and Crick”: Laila’s AISages are, not surprisingly, named after famous scientists in the biological fields. Carl Linnaeus was essentially the founder of modern taxonomy and established the scientific nomenclature used today to describe living species; Darwin is of course Charles Darwin, writer of The Origin of Species and creator of the basis of the theory of evolution; Crick is Francis Crick, co-discoverer (along with John Watson) of the DNA molecule.
- Visibility and light transmission: Here Simon is referring to the fact that even pure air interferes with the transmission of light, just as pure water does. In small amounts air seems to be transparent, but in actuality clear visibility beyond a few hundred miles isn’t possible unless you’re in vacuum. In theory our atmosphere extends at least a hundred miles up, but practically speaking that’s equivalent to only a few miles of air at sea-level pressure. In the Arena, in fact, given that most of the air is going to have some dust, water droplets, and so on mingled with it, just like Earthly air, your visibility should be at most a few tens of miles. In actuality there are two “levels” of visibility in the Arena; long-range visibility for very larger objects and features, which as Orphan says can be as much as 200,000 miles, and visibility for smaller objects (a few miles across and smaller) which turns out to be MUCH less – much closer to the visibility you’d expect from ordinary air on Earth. Why the Voidbuilders chose to make things this way is, of course, one of the many mysteries.
- “Since my good friend Dr. Relgof Nov Ne’Knarph seems so enamored of the idea…: The Liberated (and presumably the Blessed) appear to have a verbal construction similar to our common one in which an annoyed individual may express his annoyance by deliberately using the extended form rather than familiar form of the target’s name.
No specific references.
- “Constant low-level link”: The Blessed To Serve have what amounts to a short range, low-bandwidth mental link (based on either or both of biological radio and acoustic link transmission). This partially substitutes for the usual connection to the Minds and also helps the Blessed coordinate their actions.
- “Venomous fast striking creature”: In fact the reference is to “Viper”, the fighter-craft from “Battlestar Galactica”.
- Skylark: The eponymous name of the heroes’ starship in Doc Smith’s Skylark series, from which of course the original of Marc DuQuesne came.
- Amas-Garao: A scrambled version of “Arago-Sama”, the main villain in the anime Yoroiden Samurai Troopers, which was called Ronin Warriors in the USA; Arago was called “Lord Talpa” in the translation.
- “…ten g’s, the most Ariane wanted to risk for the initial run…”: This is an indication of how much Ariane has been enhanced. To her, 10g is a fairly cautious start out of the gate, while for an un-augmented human it’s riding the edge of what even a well-trained pilot can handle without blacking out entirely.
- Dellak: A scrambling of “Dalek”, the pitiless and almost unstoppable species of semi-robotic death machines from Doctor Who.
- Barrier cloud: While obviously engineered/controlled in this case by the Arena, this is another of the common hazards/phenomena in Arenaspace which will be of great import to any trying to sail between Spheres; unlike regular vacuum-space travel, you can easily find yourself in a fog with no reference points, where radar can reach no targets and you can see nothing with visual scans or infrared, either. Explorer ships often have to dump radio beacons to help guide them as they travel.
- “From a certain point of view”: Obi-Wan Kenobi doing George Lucas’ retcon on his prior statement that Vader had betrayed and murdered Luke’s father, one of the classic lines that led to people in my circle using the phrase “telling the truth like a Jedi” to mean “lying like a rug”.
- “Owed them for certain favors granted… well, some centuries back.”: From DuQuesne’s prior investigations of Orphan, it’s fairly likely that Orphan’s talking about the time the Shadeweavers rescued him from drifting alone in the limitless vastness of Arenaspace.
- “Starting to sound as paranoid as Marc”: Ariane is starting to realize how complex the game is played and that she’s very much out of her depth.
No specific references.
- “Big Time Operators”: An expression common in Doc Smith’s writings and especially in the Lensman series, obviously one of the remnants of DuQuesne’s design. Means, as implied, that the person in question isn’t someone’s flunky but a power player who has a lot on the ball and is both willing and able to play hardball against his opponents.
- Gona-Brashind: A scrambling of “Shabranigdo”, demon lord of fire from the anime series “The Slayers”.
- Map of the Arena: The existence of the Arena implies simultaneity and the ability to consider the entire universe in such a manner. In reality, you can’t display our universe in any such manner because there isn’t an objective “proper” outside frame of reference.
- Steak, fries, and beer: Doc’s heroes were always noted as hearty eaters (given their physical effort level, not surprising) and Lensman Kimball Kinnison (main hero of the Lensman series) was especially notable for his appetite for steaks.
- “Forraker’s Dark Secret”: A reference to David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, and specifically the incident which any reader will recognize with the word “Oops.”
- “You don’t… quite… ring the bell.”: Another Smithism taken essentially word-for-word from the Skylark series.
- “We won’t be having any more of that“: An in-joke to my RPG group, a quote from an Amber character played by Larry Conley, who was constantly having his character re-adjust her “Shadow” to exclude every new Power that appeared.
- Mairakag Achan: A scrambling of “Chairman Kaga”, the fictional billionaire gourmand who founded Kitchen Stadium on the original “Iron Chef”.
- “… if memory serves me correctly…”: One of the English translations of the line “Watashi no kioku ga tashika naraba…” which Chairman Kaga says at the beginning of each episode.
- “… as a Hyperion, he’d had an awful lot of experience, especially towards the end, of being able to ignore confused perceptions…”: There were a thousand Hyperion “experiments”, roughly, with environments a few hundred meters on a side for each one. The Hyperion systems could adjust people’s perceptions so that those environments seemed to be as limitless as the universe. The true successes of Hyperion, such as DuQuesne, learned to somehow be able to override the sensory inputs and recognize the real sensations.
- “I think we could take this guy, even with all his tricks; Wu might even do it by himself.”: DuQuesne is here thinking of Son Wu Kung.
- “I don’t think you can make a sword misfire.”: A subtle reference to similar sentiments in Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber; the reality-walking Amberites carry swords because in essentially any Shadow that human beings (or Amberites) can survive in, a sharp piece of steel still works as a weapon, whereas only very specific laws of physics support firearms, energy weapons, etc.
- “Just business… nothing personal.”: A reference to the Godfather and many other sources with criminal organizations.
No specific references.
- Daelmokhan: A scrambled version of “Maelkodan”, one of the adversaries faced by Jason Wood in my first novel “Digital Knight”. The physical description of Sivvis is also quite similar to the Maelkodan’s true form.
- The physical description of Tunuvun, the Genasi warrior, is based on the final form of Freezer-Sama, one of the Big Bads in Dragonball Z.
- The somersault/tailwhip maneuver Tunuvun uses against the Daalasan is one of Freezer’s attack moves in DBZ and prominently featured in several of the video games derived from the anime.
- “Elaborate dress robes”: Another reference to Chairman Kaga; the character would dress in extremely fancy, often fanciful, costumes for each of the battles in “Kitchen Stadium”.
No specific references.
- “Ninety numbers Brinnell harder than a diamond drill”: Another Doc Smithism
- “give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety”: A quote generally attributed to Benjamin Franklin, although he apparently denied having originated the phrase.
- Conditions of the Challenge: A close reading reveals that the Arena may be slightly favoring Ariane in the Challenge, in that the phrasing of the restriction on weapons can be interpreted to allow either the contestant or his/her opponent to be the source of power for their weapons, while the way in which Amas-Garao phrased his requirement originally seemed more specifically to assume the owner of the weapon had to power it.
- “A display will be generated”: This is the first clear indication that the intelligence that guides the Arena is capable of direct and focused action outside of Nexus Arena. While this is something that might have been guessed before, it’s useful for our Heroes to have direct evidence.
- Thixotropic impact response: Ariane’s armor includes material which is soft under ordinary levels of movement but which stiffens under impact to absorb more force.
- Astrella: We don’t get direct information about this character, but it’s clear that this is a favorite character for Ariane to play in the virtual reality “simgames” which are the 300+year descendants of todays MMOs and RPGs, and – given her close identification at times with Astrella – probably has a lot of personality characteristics in common with Ariane. Clearly at least partly a fighting type of character.
- Hanuman: The Monkey King exists as a legend in several cultures, albeit with somewhat different personality and deeds attributed to him. Hanuman is the name given him in India, Son Wu Kung in China, and Son Goku in Japan.
- Wu Kung’s staff: The original would be a red-enameled rod with gold balls at the ends; the one given to Ariane reflects much more closely the battle-staff used by the Rangers in Babylon 5.
No specific references given.
- “seven sided crystalline object”: Many religions have a symbol, a focus, and The Faith is clearly one of these. One can deduce that the seven sides represent the Seven Keys of Creation and that Mandallon’s prayer is invoking each in turn.
- “… since the last time I saw K.”: Here it’s as explicitly stated as anywhere that DuQuesne was in love with one of his fellow Hyperions, a woman known only as K.
- “Give me liberty, or give me death!”: The immortal declaration attributed to Patrick Henry.
- Ariane’s biomod: The electrical generation capabilities of electric eels are well known and derive from highly modified muscle cells. For Ariane to make use of this biomod she was also modified with some natural insulation and higher electricity resistance – which explains her odd resilience against Amas-Garao’s preferred attack mode, greater even than DuQuesne’s.
- “… beyond the battle.”: This quote is taken from one translation of the anime Street Fighter II: The Movie, something said by Ken Masters’ (and Ryu’s) sensei to Ken which he, like Ariane, only came to really understand when he was almost completely lost.
- Ariane’s Awakening: This deliberately echoes the super-powered transformations of a number of shows, perhaps most obviously that of the most powerful ki-warriors in Dragonball Z crossed with the transformations seen in shows like Saint Seiya or Yoroiden Samurai Troopers, given that Ariane emerges with very symbolic new clothing – something neither Shadeweaver nor Faith, but symbolizing simply herself.
No specific references given.
- “I check you to nine decimals”: A classic Smithism, meaning of course that you agree with the other speaker completely (nine decimals, in the era before pocket calculators, is a demanding level of precision, assuming those are 9 significant digits after the decimal)
- “Every time a new inhabited Sphere comes online”: DuQuesne isn’t being his usual Precisionist self here, but it’s understandable in the circumstances. If their guesses are right, the Shadeweavers and Faith get their extra “slots” ONLY when a group of First Emergents are brought to citizenship, or possibly when they are first discovered. This makes the number highly restricted; each faction may have dozens, even hundreds, of Spheres, but there are only about 5,000 active species in the arena, implying that there are perhaps a few tens of thousands each of Shadeweavers and Initiate Guides – in the entire universe.
- “Apocryphal Chinese values of ‘interesting’”: The oft-quoted “May you live in interesting times” is usually called a Chinese Curse, but there is no actual evidence of it having a Chinese origin.
- “I have a bad feeling about this.”: A line used in every one of the Star Wars movies, first said as the Millennium Falcon is approaching the “small moon” which turns out to be the Death Star.
No references specified.
- Half-symbology, half circuit diagram: Reflects a number of sources in which techno-magic is used, as well as in part the “transmutation circles” seen in “Fullmetal Alchemist”.
- Five virtues, five elements: A reference to Yoroiden Samurai Troopers and a number of other Japanese sources. The five Confucian virtues are Humanity, Faith, Truth/Courtesy, Wisdom, and Justice; the five modern Japanese elements (as opposed to the older version) are Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. The world Ariane’s character Astrella inhabits obviously uses these virtues and elements.
No references specified.
- “Something like a humanoid rhinoceros”: This particular Adjudicator’s appearance is a reference to Doctor Who and the Judoon, a race of rhinocerid mercenary law-enforcement specialists.
- “Laugh it up, bugface”: Echoes Han Solo’s line “Laugh it up, fuzzball” in The Empire Strikes Back
- Active fabric acting as a support splint: Thrown 13 meters by DuQuesne (actually much more than that – 13 meters would be very near the peak of his arc) – Steve hit hard. The active fabric splint is another subtle indication of the variety and flexibility of technology in the GCA universe. It should be noted again that even the ordinary people in GCA are, by OUR standards, tremendously superior specimens – healthy, stronger, faster, and smarter on average than we are today, and usually have medical nanotech that addresses other problems (for instance, Steve’s medical nanos would have damped down pain and prevented shock after his arm shattered, allowing him to take care of himself).
- “Come out about 40,000 kilometers from Kanzaki-Three”: Given the scale of the “harbor”, with the Sun about three kilometers across, this implies that they have to activate at a distance of about 150 meters from the equivalent position to Kanzaki-Three. I don’t go into detail here but that obviously implies that there is effectively a single key “centerpoint” at which Transition occurs, since Holy Grail is itself over 150 meters long. This also implies a maxium accuracy of transition; if one assumes that the modern navigation methods could position the Grail so that it was within a centimeter of the calculated transition point, you’d be +/- a bit less than three kilometers.
- “Experimental Vessel 2112-FTL”: A reference to the seminal concept album 2112, by Rush. And as Ariane is in effect the Leader of Humanity, one could see an implied reference to that album in the fact that she will have to “assume control”.
Thanks for reading!