Paths of the Dead, Chapter Eight, Notes.

David Silberstein davids at kithrup.com
Fri Jan 31 15:00:59 PST 2003

Warning:  This contains spoilers.

I am convinced that there is an in-joke concerning
"The Society of the Porker Poker".  If you want to try and get
it yourself, go read chapter 8 again.  More spoiler space for those
who want a chance to get it for themselves.

Actually, there are also spoilers for the in-joke in Athyra,
described in the thread which starts here.


So you might want to stop if you haven't read _Athyra_ either.

OK here we go, for reals:

As I was reading the description of the members of the society, I
noticed that the names and descriptions seemed very familiar
somehow.  I suddenly realized that the numbers (3 men, 4 women)
matched up with the Scribblies.  Looking closely at the names (and
sometimes, the House), I realized that that they were warpings of
one sort or another for those of the Scribblies as well, and the
descriptions matched those from "The Book of Seven Wizards" (see
thread linked to above for complete details).

So here is my complete analysis:

Stagwood (Tsalmoth) - Nate Bucklin, since obviously a "buck"  is a
"stag"; with furthur confirmation that he went off to be a bard (Nate
Bucklin is indeed a musician). 

Flute (Hawk) - Patricia Wrede.  This is a little more tenuous but I
think the name is derived from Wrede -> Reed -> Wind instruments ->
Flute.  I wonder if she did indeed leave the Scribblies because of the

Mialand (Lyorn) - Kara Dalkey.  Not only is her middle name "Mia", but
her degree in Anthropology corresponds to the Lyorn historical
archivist function.  Also, it states that she moved to "Lottstown", an
iron center, which makes me think of Pittsburgh (a steel industry
center), and Ms. Dalkey even wrote a novel called "Steel Rose" which
is set in Pittsburgh. 

Lewchin (Issola) - Emma Bull.  Note that she is described as being
"tall", which matches her Seven Wizards epithet (She Who Is Tall). 
And now that Steve has let slip her middle name, I see that even that
corresponds - "Lucinda" -> "Lucia" -> "Lewchin".  Also, she is shacked
up with Shant, which also makes sense; see below.

Shant (Dzur) - Will Shetterly.  I think that "Shant" is a humorous
inversion of Will's name, perhaps poking fun at perceived obstinancy.
("Yes, you *will*" / "No, I *shan't*" - get it?)  Also, Shant's
description includes green eyes, which also matches the Seven Wizards
(He Whose Eyes Are Green).  And of course, Shant is with Lewchin, just
as Will & Emma are married. 

Piro (Tiassa) - Steve Brust.  At least in the Society he is - I don't
think any aspect of tPotD is autobiographical.  I also note that it is
he who takes issue with Shant's suggestion, and immediately begins to
bicker.  While I have no idea if Will & Steve are like this in person,
I have had the honor to observe a rather lengthy discussion which
included these two on rasfw, concerning the origins of the American
Civil War. [1] I am not sure how one derives "Piro" from "Steven Karl
Zoltan Brust"  (or any manipulations thereof), and I rather think at
this point that the name might be an homage to Neal Stephenson's "Snow
Crash"  (H*iro* + *P*rotagonist => Piro). 

Zivra (House Unknown at this point) - Pamela Dean.  This is the most
tentative identification yet, given that Zivra is blonde and Pamela is
the Wizard "She Whose Hair is Red", but again, in this case, I think
her character and relationship with others in the society is more
important than the physical characteristics.  I wondered if Zivra
*meant* "dean" or "red" or "red-haired" [2] in some language, hence
the search that found Robert Sloan - and it turns out that the Piarran
analogue of Zerika is in fact named Zivra.  So there you go.

Finally, there is the name of the society itself.  "Porker Poker" is a
pigsticker, a sword of poor quality.  "Scribblies" is from "scribble",
poor-quality writing.  Nevertheless, the pen *is* mightier than the
sword, and the one group is but a shadow of the other... 

[1] The thread starts at:


[2] Incidentally, "piros" is Hungarian for "red", although I don't
think that is necessarily significant.