Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 17: A Night in the Lonesome October-fest




Soon it begins. Today is the day of the New Moon. The power will rise till the night of its fullness, on the thirty-first, the combination which brings us together. And with the rising we begin our work, that which draws us apart. The days ahead will be interesting, as the openers and closers reveal themselves by their actions. Last night may have represented a final act of cooperation.

That's interesting, in that it implies that openers and closers have largely the same recipes for their structures of powers. Otherwise an observer could determine the persuasion of a fellow Player simply by noting which items were collected.

Jack visits a cemetery for a few final ingredients and Snuff keeps watch. It turns out almost everyone else also had the same idea, and they're all digging merrily. Snuff chats with the graveyard dog from earlier in the story as he watches. Zach and others have observed that Zelazny is rarely profligate with his "talkisms" (my personal word for a word used in place of said: exclaimed, yelled, questioned, whispered, whatever) and often eschewed them entirely, just putting the words spoken in quotes without attaching them to a name, like lines in a play. It's kind of fun trying to identify those speakers not explicitly named.

"Eyeballs, anyone?" came a call. 
"Over here," said someone with a Russian accent. "One of them, please." 
"I'll have the other," came an aristocratic voice from the opposite direction. 
"Either of you got a couple of floating ribs, or a pair of kidneys?" 
"Down here, on the kidneys!" came a new voice. "And I'm in need of a patella!" 
"What's that?" 
"Knee bone!" 
"Oh? No problem. . . ."

Some of them are easy. We can eliminate Jack and Larry, as Snuff would certainly know their voices. The voice with the Russian accent belongs to Rastov, the voice with the Hungarian accent must be the Count, Owen and McCab are named outright. Jill, as the only woman, is also easy to place.

I think the Good Doctor must be the aristocratic voice. Though he could be the new voice that comes slightly later, as, out of all the characters, he's the most likely to use "patella". The new voice could be Morris. It seems unlikely that Snuff would recognize McCab's voice, and not Morris's, but I've known couples where one member does all the talking when they're together, and it could be the case with them. The vicar is unlikely, as he's not out of the closet yet, so maybe the Good Doctor's hunchback? It's not unreasonable to assume that an assistant to a medical professional would incorporate some of the vocabulary into his speech.

Lonesome October is hard to categorize. It's a Lovecraftian, Holmsian, Zelaznian, adventure horror scavenger hunt narrated by a dog. Though it has a number of comedic elements, it's largely played straight, and I wouldn't call it a comedy in the same way I would If At Faust You Don't Succeed. Nevertheless, I don't think the absurdity of this scene is inconsistent with the theme of the book. I think a steady diet of it would be grating, but as a one-off, a scene like this is an awful lot of fun.

On the way out, we passed a white-bearded, frail-looking man, half-adoze, leaning on a spade near the gate. Casual inspection would have had one believe him a sexton, out for a bit of night air, but his scent was that of the Great Detective, hardly drowsing. Someone had obviously spoken too publicly.

Good old Sherlock!

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