At that moment the waiter appeared with our starters. I'd ordered grapefruit but I found on my plate the sliced-off top of the head of Orpheus. It was inverted like a bowl from which I was about to spoon up the brain.
'Excuse me,' I said to Kraken and the others. I quickly wrapped the half-head of Orpheus in a napkin and made for the stairs.
'Is everything all right, sir?' said our waiter as I almost knocked him down.
'It's perfectly lodza nurvurli,' I said, 'thank you. '
had never found his way out of The Matrix
, his life could have look similar to that of the protagonist of Russell Hoban's novel, which is a mix of Post Modernism
, Magic Realism
, and Greek mythology
, with some wordplay and a pinch of Science Fiction
. The result is very metafictional and full of dream logic, resulting in a total Mind Screw
The main character, Herman Orff, who has a slight obsession over one of Vermeer's paintings
and in his free time chats with a non-existing entity calling itself Kraken, makes a living by adapting greatest literary works into comic books, but in the meantime unsuccessfully tries to write a novel. Desperately searching for ideas, he finds an ad which claims that the advertised company is able to help the writers suffering from creative drought. It turns out that the ad had been made by the former boyfriend of the former girlfriend of Orff, but it doesn't stop Orff from using the mysterious machine activating neurons in the new regions of the brain. After using the machine, he finds the Orpheus' head in the sewer, picks it up and listens to its story, in which Eurydice seems to strangely overlap with a woman whom he once had loved. The hero tries to work things out. Unsurprisingly, things only go stranger.
Exemplifies the following tropes:
- All Myths Are True: not in the Fantasy Kitchen Sink way, but rather as overlapping realities.
- Author Avatar: Herman Orff, who is a novelist (check), reworking mythological themes (check) by the means of popcultural devices (check).
- Batman Gambit: on the basis of events which would otherwise be unexplainable, Orff suspects that this is the case.
- Bilingual Bonus: expressions in classic Greek.
- Comic Book Adaptation: this is how Orff makes his living.
- Creative Sterility: the reason why Orff decides to answer the ad about the thought-inducing machine.
- Depending on the Writer: highlighted. Particular characters change their attitude towards the main character very often, while Medusa, Eurydice, Vermeer's girl and Melanie seem to be more or less different aspects of one personality.
- Driving Question: 'What the hell's going on??'
- Fourth Wall Psych: leads to Mind Screw.
- Gainax Ending.
- Greece: with the flashes of Ancient Greece.
- Invisible to Normals: Orpheus' head.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
- Meaningful Name: the surname of Orff and all the mythological sobriquets.
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: one of the possible explanations of the way the action proceeded after Orff's meeting with Istvan Fallok.
- Mind Screw.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Orff is a wannabe-novelist and a professional comic book writer.
- Oracular Head: Orpheus. Justified by the myth, where Orpheus was torn into pieces by Thracian women who felt offended by his refusal to make love with female sex after the loss of Eurydice, but his head kept singing while it was drifting along the river.
- Powers That Be: hypothetically a part of the explanation.
- Psycho Ex-Boyfriend: Istvan Fallok to Luise von Himmelbett.
- Reality Warper: primarily Fallok, but possibly also Orff.
- Shout-Out: to Lovecraft, more than once.
- Surreal Horror: cabbages and toys changing into the talking head of Orpheus.
- Surreal Humor: cabbages and toys changing into the talking head of Orpheus, again.
- Theory of Narrative Causality: very subtly invoked. When the hero tries to make sense of everything which happens to him, he is forced to rely on regularities which are not usually observable in reality, and eventually, he acts as it was fairly normal that his life is governed by the 'narrative' laws (to give an example, every time he finds or is given something spherical, it changes into the head of Orpheus).
- Twice Told Tale: the point of the novel (well, one of them) seems to be that no story can be told only once.
- Women Scorned: Thracian women.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: possible explanation of some events, especially those connected with the Orpheus' head.