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In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch-Hiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words DON'T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.
Quotes from other fictional books
being used as an Epigraph
or part of the frame
of the story. They are not part of the text proper.
These quotes are always apposite, and often provide painless exposition
, rather than relying on As You Know
- style conversations. In Speculative Fiction
, fictitious encylopedias are often used, such as Asimov's Encyclopedia Galactica
. Journal entries or biographies can also be used. Can be part of a Scrap Book Story
. In Video Games
these tend to be more-or-less random and not immediately relevant to the story
and can be used give the player something to read on a Loading Screen
open/close all folders
- The tracts of text ending each issue of Watchmen are usually presented as excerpts from books, reports, etc.
- "Old jungle sayings" in the classic newspaper comic The Phantom.
- A quote from The Herodotus Complex by P'oilgof Livy starts every Buck Godot trade paperback, as well as each issue of the story arc "The Gallimaufry."
- Relevant excerpts from Fleeztrow's Guide to the Gallimaufry are also part of "The Gallimaufry."
- The Vulcans and Sons of Vulcan had access to the Encyclopedae Vulcanis, the collected lore of everyone who had ever borne the mantle of Vulcan.
- At the start of each chapter of Kyon Big Damn Hero there are extracts of self-help books on being a hero, some poetry, or texts that are implied to be from future documents/books, usually relevant to the chapter.
- Tiberium Wars likes to begin each chapter with a quote from one of the characters involved, and often ends with a hefty excerpt from military intelligence reports or research papers, making it clear that the author's done his work and knows his way around the Tiberium 'verse.
- By the same author, Renegade features Codex entries in line with those from Mass Effect, to better explain how the addition of Tiberium to the setting has made things very different.
- Mass Effect Human Revolution does the same, leaving a note(s) at the end of chapters for anything new that shows up in lieu of an Info Dump in story written like an entry in the codex (or in one instance, a report to the Shadow Broker.).
- In the Invader Zim fanfic, InShortSupply, each chapter begins with an excerpt from a "factual" document, usually about the Irken species, providing vital information on things from their reproduction to time scales.
- "To the Stars" is set centuries ahead of the magical girl anime from which it was based, where their existence has become known. Naturally they were militarized by the government; the chapters not only begin with relevant background information by magical girl historians, but also excerpts from MG military manuals.
- In the film 2012, Jackson Curtis's unsuccessful sci-fi novel Farewell Atlantis is symbolically important and is brought up throughout the film. Parts of it are read aloud on two or three occasions.
- In Coherence, the book Hugh's brother left provides the characters with InfoDumps about quantum decoherence which helps to understand the strange phenomena going on.
- The Encyclopedia Galactica, Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.
- The Book of Counted Sorrows, Dean Koontz, repeatedly.
- The Book of Counted Joys, Dean Koontz, not quite as often.
- The Secret Book of Cadwallon the Druid, Deverry.
- Princess Irulan's histories in Dune. All of Frank Herbert's Dune novels make use of this, quoting from fictional (auto)biographies, treatises on religion/politics, journals...
- Almost every other major work by Herbert.
- A few sources of the epigraphs in Katherine Kurtz's works are from within the Deryni universe. The first chapter of Deryni Checkmate has an epigraph from a "St. Veneric" which mentions the fickleness of Gwynedd's weather in March, and chapter fifteen of the same book has this from an unknown Deryni monk: "The humans kill what they do not understand."
- The Guide itself, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy
- And sometimes the Encyclopaedia Galactica in the series, although the Guide has the major selling point of being slightly cheaper and having "Don't Panic" printed in large friendly letters on the cover. As well as not taking up a parking lot.
- Also subverted; sometimes the Guide's entries were full of non-sequiturs and gags completely irrelevant to the story. Sometimes these were never mentioned again, and sometimes they became plot-critical brick jokes as a double-subversion.
- The biography of Thursday Next, and several other fictional documents, in the Thursday Next series.
- The introduction to Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain is written as an introduction to some official report of the events of the novel. All his novels after that one followed suit.
- Juliet McKenna likes them even more; she prefaces nearly every chapter with a fictional document, some of them only tangentially relevant.
- The Encyclopedia of Marvels, Life Forms and Other Phenomena of Zamonia and its Environs in The 13 ˝ Lives of Captain Bluebear.
- The protaganists Rules and Things to having a Funner Life in Bud Not Buddy.
- The title and chapter pages of Stephen King's more epic novels quote anything and everything from T.S. Eliot and Thomas Wolfe to Blue Oyster Cult and King's own fictional characters.
- The Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies by Robin Hobb.
- The Myth Adventures humorous fantasy novels written by Robert Lynn Asprin. Each chapter has a fictitious quote. An example might be something like, "Violence is never the right thing to do" - Attila the Hun.
- Asprin has commented that he bitterly came to regret doing this, as making up all the quotes proved to be the hardest part of writing the novels. The later books in the series drop the practice.
- Jack McKinney's Robotech Tie In Novels used quotes from various in-universe sources to comment on the events of each chapter.
- The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones calls these "gnomic utterances". One of her novels, Fire and Hemlock, also uses quotes from the ballads "Tam Lin" and "Thomas the Rhymer" in this way.
- The prologue of So You Want To Be A Wizard quotes extensively from the wizard's manual in order establish what wizards are and how wizardry works.
- The Young Wizards series in general contains a few quotes from the Book of Night with Moon.
- American Gods has quotations from a book being written by one of the characters, Mr Ibis.
- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell did this frequently; the characters often debated the relative merits of the books.
- Pournelle's CoDominium series uses this trope. In Falkenberg's Legion, it was used sparingly, with about 3-4 entries in the work. Latter novels Go Tell the Spartans and Prince of Sparta have a excerpt from a number of sources, including essays, news reports, even letters, in the beginning of each chapter. In The Mote in God's Eye, excerpts appear when characters decide to look them up on their PD As, and flow smoothly with the narration.
- Oddly enough, the sequel to The Mote in God's Eye actually (for the most part) uses real historical quotes.
- Pournelle's collaborator, Larry Niven, is also very fond of this. His book Destiny's Road is full of quotes from planetary science surveys, local lore regarding the colonization of an alien world and the ultimate fate of some colonists, and quotes regarding local customs. A very early chapter opens rather ominously quoting an excerpt of a military absentee court-martial.
- Many of the chapters in the Prince of Nothing series open with quotes from Achamian's history of the Holy War that is the focus of the series.
- These provide at least one second-reading shudder, as a poetic epithet used in an epitaph in book 1 is given graphic and disturbing illustration in book 2.
- The Wheel of Time: in-universe books are often quoted before the prologue or after the epilogue of a book. Typically, the quotations are from history books written after the end of the series, or prophecies written long before.
- Animorphs does this in a couple of books.
- House of Leaves. Either half of it, or all of it, or if you're really brave, none of it.
- Robert Rankin has The Suburban Book of the Dead, the rewritten Suburban Book of the Dead, works by the guru's guru Hugo Rune, and works about Hugo Rune by Sir John Rimmer. And that's just for starters.
- Terry Pratchett's Nomes Trilogy features epigraphs from The Book of Nome (a Cargo Cult religious text) in the first two books and A Scientific Encyclopedia For The Enquiring Young Nome (which misunderstands things almost as much, but in a different way) in the third.
- A Hat Full of Sky starts with an excerpt from Fairies and How to Avoid Them. It also contains part of a text on capturing hivers, although that stops when the writer goes crazy and, it's implied, gets more or less vaporized.
- Cantra yos'Phelium's logbook in the Liaden series.
- Each of David Eddings' books opens with a short piece of narrative taken from historical records, history books, or religious doctrines within the context of the story. These serve to establish the setting and bring the reader up to speed, sometimes serving as a roundabout recap or providing context for the events. For instance, the first book of The Tamuli starts with a record from the Tamuli government summarizing the events in the previous series; the fictive author shows a great deal of secularism by dismissing cases of divine or supernatural influence as superstitious exaggeration, and derisively criticizes unfamiliar government practices such as voting or female rulers. The second recaps more events but is explicitly written by a different author while part of the same record and calls into question the previous chapter's take on things.
- Strictly speaking, the author of the first book's recap is not exactly derisive in his description of voting (or rather, of voting in the specific context he's talking about): he says that it is odd, but goes on to note that since the members of the group that uses the system are supposed to be celibate, there isn't any non-offensive way to make the leadership hereditary anyway.
- The Daughter of the Lioness have quotes of useful bits of advice Aly got at the start of each chapter - stuff from books, people she knows, etc. One example is Daine telling her that the Gods can sense lies, but if you don't make them suspicious enough to read your mind, they won't know if you left something out.
- The War Against the Chtorr. "A Season for Slaughter" heads each chapter with extensive quotes from the "Red Book", a guide to the alien invaders to which the protagonist has contributed heavily.
- Baron Bodissey's Life in Jack Vance's Gaean Reach novels - it's a twelve volume long philosophical encyclopedia which Vance often quotes, at length, for use as chapter headings. The entries aren't always entirely relevant, but this being Vance, they're always delightful. In The Demon Princes, there is also the criminal psychology manual The Demon Princes by Caril Carphen.
- Bodissey's omnipresence is later lampshaded; a character guesses that the latest Ice-Cream Koan is from Bodissey, since he's said practically everything.
- Also quoted in The Demon Princes are several reviewers who make very hostile comments about the Baron. One expresses the desire to give Baron Bodissey a severe thrashing — and then buy him a drink.
- Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar from Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson.
- The Empire of Man series follows in Eddings' footsteps by having the book open with commentary from a biographer who is writing from a much later point after the events in the books. Some of the things the biographer says are quite important, especially the bits that show that Roger never really shakes the reputation the Big Bad planted that he killed his family and drove his mother mad in order to force her to abdicate so that he could take over the Empire.
- Cat's Cradle has excerpts from the Books of Bokonon to explain Bokononist philosophy.
- Every chapter of books in the Star Wars: Republic Commando series is preceded by an excerpt from an in-universe document. One book even had a Mandalorian-to-English dictionary as an appendix.
- The novel-length Ciaphas Cain stories contain "excerpts" from various fictional sources - often Jenit Sulla's unreadable biography - in between chapters.
- Robert E. Howard puts epigraphs of dramatically manly poetry before each chapter of The Phoenix On The Sword, but does not do this for other Conan stories.
- Charles Sheffield's Summertide (book 1 of the Heritage Universe) has excerpts from Lang's Catalogue of Builder Artifacts to explain the mysterious structures mentioned throughout the book. Extra points to the fact that the author of the catalogue is a main character.
- The Grimnoir Chronicles uses quotes from a variety of sources at the beginning of each chapter. Some are from or about characters in the books, but many just fill in details of the world, such as Theodore Roosevelt dying in combat against the Kaiser's zombies in World War One.
- Played with in Keith Laumer's Retief series. Many of the stories start with an excerpt from the official records of the CDT, explaining the story you're about to read. The official version never comes close to describing what actually happened, and Retief is rarely mentioned, let alone given credit for saving the day.
- Some Doctor Who Expanded Universe novels have these. Theatre of War had excerpts from its fictional playwright's work, and scholarly works about his plays and theatre in general. The Also People quoted fictional pop songs, including regular DWEU unseen background character Johnny Chess, Silurian punk ("Outta My Way, Monkeyboy" by Third Eye), and Cyberman blues ("Tears of Rust" by Cyberblind).
- In Donald Kingsbury's Courtship Rite, each chapter starts with a quote from a fictional historical or religious document of Geta. Many of them are charmingly disturbing.
- The Priscilla Hutchins series uses journal entries, newspaper clippings, and the like to give you some perspective on the story, with two unusual features: one, the entries appear at the end of a chapter, to give you some perspective on what you just read, and two, you occasionally get a whole list of newspaper headlines, which not only gives you a broader perspective on the setting, but lets you see how far up list of top stories the story you're following has gotten.
- The Stone Dance of the Chameleon prefaces all its chapters with excerpts from in-universe documents, most often the writings of the Wise.
- Heroics for Beginners: Each chapter starts with a quote from The Handbook of Practical Heroics that happens to be relevant to the events of the chapter.
- Brandon Sanderson uses this trope with his longer works. Specifically:
- In the Mistborn Trilogy each book has epigraphs that are taken from an in-universe text that the characters discover at some point in the story.
- In The Stormlight Archive each section of each book follows a theme, from ancient texts to letters to quotations from the dying, all in-universe sources.
- Each section of Fire Logic is prefaced by quotes from three imaginary books: Mackapee's Principles for Community, Mabin's Warefare, and Medric's History of My Father's People. Mackapee was an ancient earth witch whose book became the basis of Shaftali culture and ideals. Mabin is a leader of La Résistance who is becoming very like the Sainnite invaders she so hates. And Medric, son a Sainnite man and a Shaftali woman, is trying to make peace between both peoples, because he realizes that the alternative is the destruction of both the Sainnites in Shaftal and much of Shaftali culture. Their views suggest the past, present, and future of the country, and the writing and distribution of Medric's book is a major plot in the sequel.
Requested: One Mark V ECM unit, 1000km of Fullerene cable, one low-yield nuclear warhead.
- Gene Rodenberry's Andromeda prefaced its episodes with quotes from all manner of things, including famous philosophers, poets and commanders (some real, some fictional), battle-hymns of some of the settings militaries, and on one memorable occasion, an Argosy Special Operations requisition form.
- And speaking of Gene Rodenberry works, the Captain's Log trope that Star Trek named and codified often functioned as a spoken-aloud variant of this one.
- Sarpadian Empires, which provides much of the flavor text to the "Fallen Empires" expansion of Magic The Gathering. Much of Magic's flavor text counts as this, actually, but this is the most iconic example. Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII appears as an actual card in the Time Spiral set.
- Many Kamigawa block cards quoted extensively from fictional sources, as flavorwise the texts represent a retrospective historical view of the Kami War. The most common source to be quoted from is The History of Kamigawa, including a card of the original
- Too many to count in the margins of Nobilis, most notably the works of Emily Chen (Doorknobs, Viridian, A Small Detour To Altair and others), Kneader Guy (Earth Stories, Air Stories, Fire Stories, Water Stories and Void Stories), Luc Ginnes (On Serving the Nobilis, Legends of the Nobilis and Void Stories), Jackie Robinson (Parables for Our Modern Age and Small Gods), Merriweather James (Principals of The Dark), and Agusta Valentina (A Philosophy of Treason). So extensive was the collection of works with "excerpts" in the book that many readers were surprised to learn that none of them were real.
- Third edition introduces The Voice of Morrowen Hollow, a book created specifically for the character creation section of Antithesis 1i, which deals with...well...the Voice of Morrowen Hollow.
- A variation appears in many Shadowrun sourcebooks, where a running discussion of the main text, in electronic discussion forum format and complete with the occasional off-topic digression, will appear in the margins or along the bottoms of a book's pages.
- White Wolf loves these, especially in both versions of The World Of Darkness.
- Paranoia: XP Service Pack 1 has numerous examples. Early in the book, one of the pages is duplicated with text messages from hackers covering it, and the first letter of every sentence supposedly spelling out a secret message: "MIKE-U LIVES".
- The next page repeats the trick: "NO HE DOESN'T".
- The 2nd edition rulebook presents "Tips for Traitors" as an excerpt from a much larger in-universe document.
- The Van Richten's Guide series of Ravenloft supplements use this device constantly, both as in-character 'citations' by in-character "author" Van Richten, and as flavor-text sidebars. Such references come from personal journals, ship's logs, letters, and other written testimony from individuals who have encountered dangerous monsters; hence, the Undead Author trope often comes into play. Sometimes literally.
- Warhammer 40,000's Codices and rulebooks are littered with character quotes or extracts from top-secret Inquisitorial reports, to provide an extra bit of background and flavor while giving certain elements of the fanbase something to argue about.
- In the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, the protagonist repeatedly turns to an advice book of the same name.
- Which actually exists: Shepherd Mead wrote a series of cartoon books in the 1950s which were parodies of then-current how-to books, one of which provided the title and inspiration for the musical. The book was republished in 1995 with the revival of the musical.
- Hardwick and Little's Bestiary, Gunnerkrigg Court, Chapter 3.
- Parallels has Encyclopeida Unversalis.
- Most of Marauder Shields strips come with one or two Codex entries deliberately styled after the original Mass Effect 3.
- Drive has the Enciclopedia Xenobiologia, written from the human perspective and thus occasionally lacking in detail or subtly wrong.
- Used sometimes as filler in S.S.D.D, giving information of the setting and sometimes explaining minor Fridge Logic. Among the quotes used are quotes from various characters including (future)Norman Gates, excerpts from A Rough Guide to The Anarchist and the Collective from Eric King, excerpts from MIT lectures, magazines, etc. All of them fictional.
- Between and halfway through the chapters of Stand Still, Stay Silent author always puts some documents from in-universe, such as maps, Cleansers' recruitment poster, writing of the various nationalities of the world and so on. It's very helpful, as the story itself rarely drops an Info Dump.
- In the Whateley Universe, the author of the Phase novels often does this, with quotes from rock songs as lead-ins for chapters. But the quotes are usually from the fictional band Brass Monkey, so they can be as relevant as the author wants.
- Used in Look to the West, which generally has the structure of an initial quote which may or may not be relevant to the rest of each chapter, and then the main text also supposedly extracted from in-timeline books. Occasionally inverted with the starting quote being taken from our own world's history.
- In Guild Of The Cowry Catchers, the quotes beginning each episode are from a pair of books by the Hero Antagonist and leader of the titular La Résistance.
- Go type about:mozilla in the URL box in any Mozilla browser from Netscape Navigator 1 all the way up to the current version of Firefox. (Original Web? Not exactly, but close enough.) Or just google "Book of Mozilla".
- Each chapter of the various campaign archives from The Global Guardians PBEM Universe began with quotations from some in-universe source. While most of these were off-hand (yet relevant) comments from the characters involved about the action presented in the chapter, sometimes they were quotations from such items as An Examination of Irregular Wave Forms and Power Phasing Effects in the Jaffe Battery (better known as the "Ray Gun Paper"), Genetic Inflexibility and Geographic Isolation as Influences in Metagene Frequency (a scientific study on why certain regions of the world have more superhumans than others), and The Book of Holy Power. the religious scripture of the Church of Jesus Christ, Superhuman (a cult that teaches that Jesus was a Metahuman who will one day return from his "sojourn" with an advanced alien society somewhere in space).