Monday, September 17, 2007

The Eoin Colfer Code

You might be able to help me with a chronological question.

I wondered last week whether young readers would get Eoin Colfer's sly genre-fiction references. I had in mind the first book of his Artemis Fowl series, but I could as easily have been discussing Half Moon Investigations, whose opening monologue offers a 12-year-old's delightful version of the standard world-weary P.I.-novel opening. Perhaps Colfer's books are like the old Warner Brothers cartoons. I loved the cartoons' humor and richness when I first saw them, and I appreciated them anew once I understood the musical and other topical references.

Here's another genre-fiction reference from Colfer — maybe. The title Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code would seem to be a dig at a certain bestseller of recent years. The possibility seems even stronger in the novel's opening sentences:

"For the past two years my business enterprises have thrived without parental interference. In this time, I have sold the Pyramids to a Western businessman, forged and auctioned the Lost Diaries of Leonardo da Vinci ... "
Is that a great dig, or what? One problem: Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code and The da Vinci Code are both copyright 2003.

And now, that chronological question: Is Colfer's seeming dig really a shot at Dan Brown? Is it a highly fortunate coincidence? Or is something mysterious at work — mysterious and deep?

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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4 Comments:

Anonymous krimileser said...

I can speak only for my older son (9 years), but it seems to me that Da Vinci is quite popular with some kids. There are some referenes to Da Vinci in cartoons and quite often he is described as a kind of magic innovator.

So perhaps it is not a reference to DB, but to a famous "real life" wizard.

September 18, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Now, that's interesting, that Leonardo is popular among children. And why not? He was a kind of real-life Tom Swift.

But could the word code in both titles be a coincidence, not to mention the arguably satirical reference to Leonardo in the opening paragraph of Colfer's book? If so, it's an entertaining coincidence!

September 18, 2007  
Anonymous Ann said...

It must be mysterious and deep, Peter. So often books come out at the same time with very similar plots, or whatever, and you can work out that there's no way either author could have been influenced by the other.

I always blame it on the water.

Sometimes you can just be too clever trying to work out the significance of things, in retrospect. Just enjoy. (I'm reminded of Jacqueline Wilson's comments about the person who analysed the meaning of the name Beaker for her book about Tracy Beaker, when in fact it all has to do with how Jacqueline washes her hair...)

September 19, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Fear not, Ann. I'm not obsessing over this question, as interesting as it may be. Perhaps codes and Leonardo were in the air around the time both authors were writing.

Even if it's not a brash piece of nose-thumbing on Eoin Colfer's part, I'm happy to enjoy the amusing coincidence, as I've enjoyed everything of his that I've read.

September 19, 2007  

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