Annotations to “A letter from Africa”

A letter from Africa

I like hiding (or in some cases not hiding very well) references in my stories to other bits of literature or pop culture. It’s probably something I took from Terry Pratchett (who put Gollum in “Witches Abroad” for instance), and World of Warcraft, where pop culture references are thick as flies. So I’ll give a few away here.

  • The intro mentions a very large narwhale. A real life narwhal is three, four times as long as a human and has a long spike at the front.  Now you will notice that Wadcroft’s letter is adressed to Prof. Arronax of the Paris museum. This is a not very subtle reference to “20,000 leangues under the sea” by Jules Verne. The submarine Nautilus is taken for a large narwhale at first. So if and when Wadcroft’s letter arrives, Prof. Arronax will already know it’s not a narwhale.
  • Prof. Hammond’s alma mater is Miskatonic University in Arkham, in America. Which is a shout-out to the Arkham Horror universe of Mr. H.P. Lovecraft. In the story, I now and then mention the Arkham lot’s obsession with eldritch entities from beyond the veils of reality. Wadcroft, natural realist that he is, scoffs at this.
  • The airship Boreas is named after the Greek god of the North wind. But also, in the Dutch comic strip of Kapitein Rob, there appears a ship that is named Boreas.

Now… As you may recall, the thing that tickles Wadcroft’s curiosity enough to head for Africa is the photograph with the inexplicable wisps of smoke on them. Would anyone like to hazard a guess as to what that’s all about?


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