Page 155. " Sense input is easy, you just isolate the right synapses and stimulate them "

Diagram of a synapse
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDiagram of a synapse - Credit: Curtis Neveu/wikimedia commons

A synapse is a structure in the nervous system that allows electrical and chemical signals to be passed along. This allows us to experience sensations such as pain, heat, sight, taste, etc.

Page 169. " when he got round the corner there was the stench of ammonia, thick as a brick wall "

The X-15 aircraft used ammonia as one component fuel in its engine
Public DomainThe X-15 aircraft used ammonia as one component fuel in its engine - Credit: US Air Force

 Ammonia (NH3) is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen that is used to produce pharmaceuticals, household cleaning products, and fertiliser. It is a colourless gas with a distinct unpleasant smell. When a character smells ammonia in a story, it is often an indication that some kind of clean-up operation is in progress. However, in this story ammonia might also be one of the smells of the atmosphere in the outside world. Ammonia has been suggested as a possible alternative to fossil fuels, so may have been one of the solutions used during the ‘Alternative Energy Source century’ that seems to have destroyed the environment in Rick’s world (see bookmark for page 87).

Page 174. " Or... unless they were pushed. Unless they were killed. "

Has Perdita been thrown from the window by Daed, to plummet to her death below? A look at Greek mythology might help to answer this question. Once again, this event references the story of Daedalus. Daedalus’ sister sent her son Perdix (note the similarity to the name Perdita) to study with Daedalus. Perdix soon proved he was quick to learn, and that like his uncle he possessed his own streak of genius. He invented a pair of compasses by connecting two pieces of iron with a rivet, and sharpening the ends. He also invented the saw after being inspired by the spine of a fish. Daedalus was extremely jealous of his nephew’s achievements. One day Daedalus could bear it no longer and pushed his nephew off the Acropolis of Athens. Daedalus was banished from Athens for his crime. In this story, Perdita is also a very skilled creator, perhaps even more so than Daed. Rick is surprised to learn that Perdita helped him to build the Maze, having believed that it was exclusively Daed’s work. This episode appears to be another of the many ways in which this story parallels the Greek myth of Daedalus.