Why bother reading if you can just eat knowledge? This trope is about characters who, due to some Bizarre Alien Biology
, Applied Phlebotinum
, or simple artistic license, can have knowledge directly pumped into their brains by eating or somehow absorbing knowledge recipients such as books, computers or Magic Balls of Holding Knowledge.
This however only applies to non-organic knowledge recipients. If a character learns by ingesting Brains
, that is simply Cannibalism Superpower
, which not-only is frowned upon by connaissance connoisseurs
, it's also considerably more messy.
See also Powers as Programs
, for abilities instead of knowledge, and Instant Expert
Anime / Manga
- On the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime, Scar somehow is able to absorb some of the investigations made by the Elric brothers related to the Laboratory Five.
- In one chapter of Doraemon, Nobita eats a special kind of bread that lets him remember anything printed on it.
- One Janosch story is about a family of mice where in the son became smart by eating books.
- In Through The Eyes Of Another Pony, Princess Luna has a spell that allows her to absorb all knowledge in any written document (destroying the document in the process). She later bites off more than she could chew by using this to absorb the internet.
- In The Meteor Man, the meteor can give someone the ability to absorb the entire knowledge of a book by putting his elbow inside it, albeit only temporarily.
- In My Stepmother Is An Alien, the stepmother is shown opening books, laying her arm across the pages, and reacting to the contents.
- In John Dies at the End, the fat guy from an Alternate Reality explains that, whenever someone in their reality has some great insight, he is fed to Korrok, their enormous Bio Punk thinking machine. Just then, another fat guy falls from a pipe and is eaten. Korrok then says "Mmm, bacon." Great insight indeed. The fat guy then explains that he plans to feed David and John to Korrok, so that Korrok may learn all about their world.
- Book Girl: It's not used for information particularly (she mostly eats fiction), but the title character experiences books by eating them.
- Firmin by Sam Savage is a book about a rat uplifted this way.
- In the novel Professor Mmaa's Lecture, the protagonists — termites — "read" human writing by eating the paper and remembering where they can taste the ink, then reciting the writing from memory.
- Samsonite is a chemical invented by Samson Fandorin, an ancestor of Erast Fandorin in Boris Akunun's book "Quest". Drinking it lets the user hear a message from Fandorin. It can also contain general knowledge (in the novel, Russian language and culture).
- This is how Magickians use the Encyclopedia Necromantick Book Of Shadows in The Dragon Knight.
- Discworld's Gaspode the wonder dog claims to have picked up much of his knowledge through chewing books.
- In China Miéville's Kraken, one villain needed to absorb the information in a book (printed in kraken ink) right now. And the villain was also made of ink. He forced the ink out of the book and mixed himself with the ink. Alas, it turns out kraken ink can remember it's prior identity.
- In Andre Norton's Dread Companion, eating the fruit of the land confers knowledge of it — also a Baleful Polymorph into creatures of it.
- In Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain story "The Foundling" Dallben is cooking something when it splashes on his hand. Popping the hand to his mouth means it confers knowledge on him.
- In Gulliver's Travels, one project underway at the Academy of Lagado is a special ink "of a cephalic tincture." A fasting student, by eating a wafer inscribed in this ink with a mathematical proposition, will thereby learn the proposition as the tincture is digested. Unfortunately, most students find the ink nauseating to the point of vomiting it up before it can work.
Mythology and Religion
- The entire premise of Chuck is that Chuck accidentally absorbs all knowledge of the CIA and NSA in a single night, and has flashes of said knowledge whenever he sees something related to them.
- Manny, Bill Bailey's character in Black Books, absorbs The Little Book Of Calm, which transforms him into a messianic figure.
- One episode of Charmed has Phoebe use a smart spell that allows her to absorb the knowledge of a book by waving her hands over it. When this happens, the pages flip by themselves and there's the sound of whispering, as if the worlds were being spoken sotto voce.
- Something of a Subverted Trope, but in Heroes, Sylar can copy another character's powers by cutting open their skull and examining their brain. He doesn't actually eat their brain, though, calling that "disgusting."
- Series Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe show several alien interfaces allowing human to access massive knowledge from a Precursors civilization.
- An Amazing Stories episode has a strange event cause an old janitor at a school suddenly gain the ability to absorb knowledge by being in a classroom, especially if something is written on the board. At the end, he runs into the middle of a football field at night. A flying saucer arrives and beams all that knowledge from him and leaves.
- Happens in a vision in The Bible (the book of Jeremiah).
- In another vision, the Book of Revelation, the narrator (who is by tradition the Apostle John) is told to do this, and he does. It's "sweet in his mouth, and bitter in his belly".
- Odin of Norse Mythology does this.
- Sigurd was innocently roasting the dragon's heart for his companion when some blood splattered on his hand. Then he heard birds talking about how his companion intended to murder him.
- The Space Marines of Warhammer 40,000 deserve a mention as they were revealed in Deathwatch to be able to literally gain a person's recent memories by physically eating a portion of their brain. Tasty.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, intellect devourers, small brain-sized creatures (with legs) can eat a victim's brain, then insert themselves into the skull and control the body like a meat puppet. (They can heal the grievous hole they needed to make in order to get inside.) Making matters worse, they absorb at least some of the victim's memories, making it easier to impersonate them.
- Carbosilicate amorphs in Schlock Mercenary evolved from data storage systems. They share memories by writing a copy into chosen piece of body, then exchanging and absorbing these.
- "Ask your doctor" strip on chainsawsuit.
- The Wayward Vagabond in Homestuck learns human etiquette by eating a book on the subject. Although it's possible that he read it and then ate each page when he was finished with it.
- It's just a way to keep prices up and intelligence stats coveted, but books in Neopets mysteriously disappear when you read them to your pet.
- In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Jimmy creates Books Chewgum with this effect.
- Raven from Teen Titans. In one episode a mage teaches her an ability to absorb (not literally) many books at the same time, as it's faster than reading them.
- One Polish children show from the 80s had this in a song about bookworms.
- The Archmage from Gargoyles gains the power of the Tome of Eldritch Lore, not by reading it, but by EATING it. Though he has to use another MacGuffin to make it possible, so when he loses it, the energies of the book end up burning him alive from the inside.
- Martha Speaks: the title character is a dog uplifted this way.
- Chowder: Attempted by Mung Daal on Chowder. He tries to cram a stack of books in his head instead of getting him to study! Then he gives him a dish that makes Chowder super smart, so smart that he is able to break the 4th wall.