Names in Relation to the Orb

Within this novel there are many interesting names for the various characters.  With the exception of Bobby, there was not a name that I had come across in my personal life before.  However, while I was interested in why Danielewski may have chosen certain names for the principal characters, I was much more intrigued in the list of characters that occurred on page 646.  In this passage which deals with Cas and the Orb, the names of other people involved in their projects who had either been found dead or been arrested in various places around the world.  I thought the names of these characters and I wondered that if the significance of these names could inform the reader about the nature of the Orb and what it involves since throughout the novel it is very shrouded in mystery.

Thanatos: In Greek mythology Thanatos is considered the Lieutenant to Hades and the personification of Death.

Thaumaturge: A Greek word meaning a worker of wonders or miracles, or a magician

Artemis: In Greek mythology Artemis is the goddess of the Hunt.

Pythia: Also a character of Greek mythology, Pythia is the name given to any priestess who took on the role of the Oracle of Delphi, who had the gift of prophecy from the god Apollo (twin brother of Artemis)

Endoria: In the computer game “Kings Bounty” Endoria is the planet where most of the action takes place.  It is described as being “a largely unexplored planet full of wonders and astonishing discoveries”

Circe: In Greek mythology, Circe is the goddess of magic and is also seen as an enchantress or sorceress

Lilith: A character in Jewish mythology, Lilith is believed to be a descendant of ancient female demons

Treebeard: The name of a character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s middle earth stories, he closely resembles a talking tree

Sibyll: Again, a character in Greek mythology who is thought to have prophetic powers

Overall I think that the names of these characters give the reader a glimpse of what the Orb deals with: prophecy, the future, death, and the supernatural.

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One response to “Names in Relation to the Orb”

  1. Trevor Byington says :

    In our class, “Bladerunner” (and the book, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”) keeps coming up in relation to “The Familiar.” I think these names are reference to another popular cyberpunk story “Neuromancer,” the name of which also implies a magical practitioner. The orb is explained as being electronic, and “Neuromancer” is about a hacker who’s last name is Case (Case->Cas?). Neuromancer is an artificial intelligence (narcons?). Anyway, thats what I got from the list of codenames, a massive pointer William Gibson’s “Neuromancer.”

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