Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Prologue: A Night in the Lonesome October-fest

Welcome to A Night in the Lonesome October-fest! I'll begin with the prologue as its own separate entry today.

I am a watchdog.  My name is Snuff.  I live with my master Jack outside of London now.  I like Soho very much at night with its smelly fogs and dark streets.  It is silent then and we go for long walks.  Jack is under a curse from long ago and must do much of his work at night to keep worse things from happening.  I keep watch while he is about it.  If someone comes, I howl.

I really like Snuff's voice throughout the entire book. A lot of simple declarative statements in the present tense, which is exactly the mindset I associate with an intelligent dog.

     We are the keepers of several curses and our work is very important.  I have to keep watch on the Thing in the Circle, the Thing in the Wardrobe, and the Thing in the Steamer Trunk, not to mention the Things in the Mirror.  When they try to get out I raise particular hell with them.  They are afraid of me.  I do not know what I would do if they all tried to get out at the same time.  It is good exercise, though, and I snarl a lot.

     I fetch things for Jack on occasion, his wand, his big knife with the old writing on the sides.  I always know just when he needs them because it is my job to watch and to know.  I like being a watchdog better than what I was before he summoned me and gave me this job.

I touched on this in my original review for the novel, and I like the ambiguity in the last sentence. Is Snuff a mundane dog uplifted to state where he can assist as a Companion, or is he something else entirely, summoned and bound into the shape of the dog?

I'll be scrutinizing the text more closely for clues during this read, but for this, as far as I know, the only Companion for whom it's made explicit is Cheeter, who comes right out and says that his was a mundane squirrel before being called to the game.

In my head-canon, it varies by magical discipline, with some of them finding it easier to summon a Companion and others finding it easier to augment a natural creature.

  "Why is your person digging a big hole?"

     "There are some things down there that he needs."

     "Oh.  I don't think he's supposed to be doing that."

     "May I see your teeth?"

     "Yes.  Here.  May I see yours?"

     "Of course."

     "Perhaps it's all right.  Do you think you might leave a large bone somewhere nearby?"

Heh. It's bits like this that make Snuff seem like a dog with human intelligence rather than merely a human being.


  1. I'm going to catch up on a half-month's worth of comments now. I agree- I think Zelazny captured the voice of an intelligent dog perfectly. If Kenobi could speak, I imagine he would sound like Snuff :) I always thought that Snuff was a dog made more intelligent rather than something else summoned into the shape of a dog.

  2. I'm usually doing writerly things when reading, like imagining back-stories. From the time I first read Lonesome October, I thought Snuff was a minor demon with a conscience who is much happier and comfortable being a dog. I agree, Snuff's narrative voice couldn't be much better!

    1. I always discuss this with people who have read the book and it seems most people skew towards this view, that Snuff is a demon in the shape of a dog.