Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October 9: A Night in the Lonesome October-fest

We've had references to the Great Detective earlier, but this is his first extended appearance.

Last night we obtained more ingredients for the master's spell. As we paused on a corner in Soho the Great Detective and his companion came out of the fog and approached us. 
"Good evening," he said. 
"Good evening," Jack replied. 
"Would you happen to have a light?" 
Jack produced a package of wax vestas and passed it to him. Both men maintained eye contact as he lit his pipe. 
"Lots of patrolmen about." 
"Something's afoot, I daresay."

I pointed this out in my original Lonesome October post, but this is the kind of silly line that really tickles my funny bone. The Game! The Game's afoot!

I also like Snuff's understanding of Holmes:

As a watchdog, I could appreciate the mode of total attentiveness he assumed. It was not a normal human attitude. It was as if his entire being were concentrated in the moment, sensitive to every scrap of intelligence our encounter furnished.
They complete their conversation and go their separate ways, with Jack cautioning Snuff to remember that man. Larry Talbot steps out of the shadows some time later and engages Jack in conversation. He, too had been approached by the Great Detective. They compare accounts. As they are walking back, Jack asks,

"Are you a moon-watcher, Larry?"
"Very much so," came the reply.
"I'd guessed that."

Snuff thinks back to the previous afternoon, where Greymalk had investigated the Count's crypt after recovering from her ordeal in the well. Her conclusion on investigating it is that he is in fact using it as a residence. Snuff makes a reference to the Things in the Mirror and offers to show them to Greymalk.

Later, she placed a paw against its reflection as she stared."You're right," she said. "They, slither." 
"Change colors, too, when they get excited." 
"Where did you get them?" 
"Deserted village in India. Everybody'd died of plague or run away from it."

On first reading this, I had assumed that it was a reference to an earlier Game, but I think it's probably referring to an outbreak of the Bubonic plague in India in 1896. That would be the year before the story is set, though it continued for several years afterward.

I like that part, and the other hints Snuff drops about earlier events, injuries received from a zombie in the West Indies, the woman from the other side who distracted Jack in Dijon. It gives the impression that this has been going on for such a long time and that there are so many stories to tell. That's why Lonesome October was number one on my list of Zelazny sequels I'd like to see and a big part of the reason why I love the Lovecraft Zine's Lonesome October issues so much.


  1. The thing that impressed me most in this chapter was the dialogue between Jack and the Great Detective. And that's because it was another example of Zelazny telling his story in a way that lets the reader make his or her own interpretations.

    In this particular case, Zelazny pulls his trick by choosing not to specify who's speaking first after the lighting of the pipe. Normally, this might be confusing, but here it's a good thing: it allows you to read the dialogue whichever way you want. Each line of that exchange could be attributed to either character, depending on how you choose to interpret things.

    And that trend continues on page 46, after the brief break where Snuff gives us his description of the detective. Who is it that says "I've seen you about here other evenings"? It could be either of them. It's whichever one you want.

    Some people don't like this sort of ambiguity in their reading material, but I do. These exchanges work for me, and I love 'em.

    1. That's a great observation. I never noticed that! I had just assumed the sequence continued where it had left off, but it didn't have to.

  2. I like how the Great Detective lurks around the edges of the story, popping up here and there. I've mentioned to you how he's in one of my favorite scenes in the book, but that is yet to come...