Page 102. " It’s like Aeschylus, writing an episode of Undoners. "

 Aeschylus was an ancient Greek playwright who is considered to be one of the great masters of tragedy. His famous plays include the Oresteia trilogy, The Persians, The Suppliants, and Seven Against Thebes. Presumably ‘Undoners’ is a soap or TV series set in the city Undone in the fictional world of this book. Perdita is comparing Daed writing a simple expansion to a great artist having to do something very mediocre and uninspiring.

Page 106. " You’ve disabled your bugs, presumably? "

Bugs can be hidden on ordinary objects
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBugs can be hidden on ordinary objects - Credit: purpleairplane on Flickr

This time ‘bugs’ does not refer to errors in the programming of a game, but to surveillance devices hidden in Perdita’s room. Bugs like these usually consist of a microphone and transmitter so that private conversations can be listened in on by a third party. It would appear that it is a common occurrence in Crater for the employers to keep tabs on their employees.

Page 108. " I want you to give me Asterion. "

Theseus slaying the Minotaur
Public DomainTheseus slaying the Minotaur - Credit: Jastrow/wikimedia commons

Aterius or Asterion is the real name of the Minotaur in Greek mythology, the son of Queen Pasaphae who King Minos locked in a labyrinth at the palace of Knossos. Asteri also means star in Greek; ancient Cretan coins sometimes display a star in the centre that probably represents the Minotaur. ‘Minotaur’ is a term for the creature which translates as ‘bull of Minos.’ This is another of the many links within this story to the mythology of Daedalus.

 

The story of the Minotaur begins with King Minos’ ascent to the throne of Crete, when he prayed for the god Poseidon to send him a sign of approval in the form of a beautiful white bull. King Minos should have sacrificed the bull to the gods, but instead kept it for himself. This angered the gods, and Aphrodite punished Minos by making his wife, Queen Pasiphae, fall in love with a bull. Here Daedalus enters the tale, as he helped to construct a wooden cow for Pasiphae to hide inside, allowing her to copulate with the bull. Their union produced a monstrous son who had the body of a man but the head of a bull. The boy soon proved to be ferocious, and needed to eat human flesh for nourishment. Minos consulted an oracle, which advised him to lock the creature up. Minos had Daedalus build a giant labyrinth at the palace of Knossos and housed the Minotaur inside. Every nine years Minos demanded a grisly tribute from Athens of seven young men and seven maiden girls to feed to the Minotaur. One year the Greek hero Theseus was sent as part of the tribute. Minos’ daughter Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and helped him to navigate the labyrinth by giving him a ball of string. Theseus unwound the string as he travelled through the maze. He killed the Minotaur, then found his way out by following the thread.

 

The reader is not told exactly what the mysterious ‘Asterion’ in this story is, but from its name it can be inferred that it will be monstrous and dangerous. This is emphasised by Perdita referring to Asterion as ‘evil.’ As this book seems to focus on the story of Daedalus, perhaps the sequel will deal with the story of Theseus, and the consequences of Daedalus’ creations.

Page 119. " There were whole pages of code – program code or maybe just a cipher "

An example of Java source code
Creative Commons AttributionAn example of Java source code - Credit: Dreftymac/wikimedia commons

A cipher is a message in code, or the key needed to decrypt that code. For example, a message could be written in secret by exchanging each letter for a different letter. In order to read it, a person would need to know which letters had been substituted for what. Ciphers and codes have been used from ancient times to modern day to send secret messages and keep important information safe.

 

Code is information converted into another form. This could be to keep the information secret (as explained above), or to change it into computer programming language which explains exactly what the computer is going to do (source code). Computer programmers work with this source code, which is then translated into binary machine code (a list of 1s and 0s) that a computer can read directly. Source code can often look like gibberish to a person who has no experience with it, and machine code would be completely unintelligible. Rick would have no hope of interpreting it.

Page 119. " But there were names, and the occasional phrase that made sense. PROCRUSTES. "
Theseus and Procrustes
Public DomainTheseus and Procrustes - Credit: Bibi Saint-Pol, wikimedia commons

 Procrustes was a bandit who attacked travellers in Attica. He tied them to a bed, then ‘altered’ them to fit it. If they were too short he would stretch them, and if they were too tall he would amputate their legs. Procrustes was eventually stopped by the hero Theseus, who punished him with the same treatment he had given others by ‘fitting’ him to his own bed. Procrustes was too long, so Theseus cut off his legs and decapitated him. This was Theseus’ last heroic feat in his list of adventures as he travelled from Troezen to Athens. Other bandits Theseus killed include Sinis, who tore his victims apart by tying them to two bent pine trees and then releasing them, and Sciron, who forced travellers to wash his feet and then kicked them off the cliff. Theseus killed these bandits in the same manner in which they killed others.

 

Despite this myth not having anything to do with Daedalus, this reference to Theseus’ story does link back to the mythical artisan. Theseus was the hero who would eventually conquer Daedalus’ carefully designed labyrinth using only a ball of string. This is sometimes interpreted as a lesson in humility.