Thursday Next

Last updated

Thursday Next is the protagonist in a series of comic fantasy, alternate history mystery novels by the British author Jasper Fforde. She was first introduced in Fforde's first published novel, The Eyre Affair , released on 19 July 2001 by Hodder & Stoughton. As of 2012, the series comprises seven books, in two series. [1] The first series is made up of the novels The Eyre Affair , Lost in a Good Book , The Well of Lost Plots and Something Rotten . The second series is so far made up of First Among Sequels , One of Our Thursdays Is Missing and The Woman Who Died a Lot .

Contents

Background

Thursday is the daughter of Wednesday Next and Colonel Next (whose first name has not yet been revealed), a former agent with Special Operations Network department 12 (SO-12), the Chronoguard. She has two brothers, Anton and Joffy. Anton, however, was killed in the Crimean War.

In her parallel universe, England is a republic, with George Formby as its first president, elected following the success of Operation Sea Lion (the mooted Nazi invasion of Great Britain), occupation, and liberation. There is no United Kingdom, and Wales is the independent "Socialist Republic of Wales". The Crimean War is still being waged in 1985, Russia still has a Czar, and the Whig Party still exists in the House of Commons.

Genetic engineering is far more advanced than in our own timeline, and so Thursday has a pet dodo, Pickwick. Re-engineered mammoths can cause damage to local gardens if in their path, and there is a Neanderthal rights movement, given the resurrection of this kindred branch of human evolution. The duck is extinct in this universe. Computer and aviation technology are far behind our own timeline, with the transistor having never been invented (computers are still massive and run on vacuum tubes) and research into the jet engine unfunded as propeller and dirigible technology are viewed as 'good enough'.

The Goliath Corporation is a megalithic company that appears to make many of the goods in this alternate world and also acts as a de facto shadow government, being able to take over important police investigations.

In the world of Thursday Next, literature is a much more popular medium than in our world, and Thursday is a member of SO-27, the Literary Detectives or LiteraTecs. Her work is centred on Swindon, where she, her husband, infant, and mother live. The importance that literature has in this alternate England is reflected in the fact that so many people want to change their name to that of famous authors that some must be numbered, by law- e.g. John Milton 432. 'WillSpeak' machines are often to be found in public places, such as railway stations - these contain a mannequin of a Shakespearian character and will quote that character's most famous speeches upon payment.

In addition, the line between literature and reality becomes increasingly thin, allowing characters in the books and those in 'real life' to jump in and out of novels. This leads Thursday to change the ending of Jane Eyre , the joke being that the plot we know in our reality is the far superior change caused by Thursday. This also happens to other classic novels: Uriah Heep becomes the obsequious, and generally insincere character we know, due to an accident inside the book world, and Thursday's uncle Mycroft becomes Sherlock Holmes's brother.

Thursday also finds that the characters in novels are self-aware, knowing they are in a book. They make comments stating they are not needed until page 'such and such,' rather like actors in a play, and thus have time to help Thursday.

The world of fiction has its own police force - Jurisfiction - to ensure that plots in books continue to run smoothly with each reading. Thursday ends up hiding in a book, and working for Jurisfiction. The book Caversham Heights is a detective novel featuring Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his sergeant, Mary Mary, (listed as Mary Jones in WOLP) who swaps with Thursday. Spratt and Mary get their own Fforde series, The Nursery Crime Division books, and appear in The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear featuring crimes against characters in classic children's literature.

Biography

Thursday is in her mid-thirties at the start of the first book, and, by the end of it, had married Landen Parke-Laine. Thursday juggles her work in Swindon and the world of fiction, battling the machinations of the insidious Goliath Corporation, members of the Hades family and other evils at every turn.

Her biographer and stalker, "Millon de Floss", reveals more about her life at the beginnings of chapters in The Eyre Affair , Lost in a Good Book , The Well of Lost Plots and Something Rotten .

Her father, Colonel Next, is a rogue member of the ChronoGuard (SpecOps 12), a temporal policing agency, and officially does not exist, having been eradicated by his former bosses (using the simple but effective method of a timely knock on the door just before his conception; despite this, his children and grandchild still exist, likely due to Thursday's son Friday Next being the eventual head of the ChronoGuard, and/or the extensive powers of Colonel Next himself). The elder Next does, however, remain at large throughout the time-space continuum, and still frequently finds time to visit Thursday, usually by stopping time around her so they can talk without his being arrested by the ChronoGuard. Colonel Next's first name is unknown to everybody but him, a consequence of his eradication. Thursday has two brothers, Anton, who died in the Crimean War, and Joffy, who is a minister for the Global Standard Deity (GSD).

Thursday also has a pet dodo called Pickwick. Although dodos had been extinct for some time, in Fforde's fictional universe they have been reintroduced through cloning, a popular hobby. Pickwick was 12 years old in 1985, when The Eyre Affair is set, and has some unusual characteristics, including missing wings. She is a version 1.2 dodo, and the DNA sequencing wasn't complete until the release of 1.7. Although initially Thursday Next believed Pickwick to be male, she later turned out to be female when she laid an egg. Her noise is represented as "plock plock" in the books.

Around Thursday Next a fictional world has been created, reflected in several websites of the fictional organisations.

Bookworld

The BookWorld is a fictitious and complex environment that acts as a "behind-the-scenes" area of books. The BookWorld is most likely "created" by what is known as the Great Panjandrum, a person/thing that is thought to be of the highest of authority, yet is never present, acting as a god of sorts to the BookWorld. As the word panjandrum means someone in high authority, this reaffirms this possibility.

Consisting of 52 levels total, the Great Library acts as a lobby of sorts for the BookWorld and serves as a public gateway onto any book ever created. 26 of the upper levels, organized according to the author's last name, are laid out in a cross shape, with 4 rows of book cases radiating from a central point. In order to determine whether bookjumping into a book of choice is deemed appropriate or not, the book cover is either green, for "open", or red for "unavailable". At the top of the Great Library is a large dome that appears to see a large forest like area below, with other Great Libraries in the distance; there being one for every language. The 26 basements, known as the Well of Lost Plots, hold unpublished works, although whether they are arranged alphabetically by level or not has yet to be discovered. Books which are not published are scrapped, and their text recycled for future works. The Cheshire Cat is the librarian of the Great Library, although due to redistricting in England since the book in which he appears was written, the Cheshire Cat is now known as the Cat Formerly Known as Cheshire, or Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat. [2]

The "engine room" of BookWorld, Text Grand Central uses so-called "storycode engines" to observe changes in books and allow the reader to read books using a complex "imaginotransference system" to supposedly continue the images being created in the reader's mind.

Within the depths of the Well of Lost Plots, the Text Sea is the source of all text for all books, and is the general burial ground for all destroyed characters to be once more reduced to text. Composed of a random jumble of words and punctuation, words are "trawled" for using scrawltrawlers, the equivalent of large fishing boats that capture words.

Communication

Mass communication in the BookWorld is provided by footnoterphones and mobilefootnoterphones. Messages from others appear as footnotes in the text, the "number" of a footnoterphone being the chosen character's book, chapter, page number, paragraph, and line in a book. Connection between phones is created by hidden tunnel conduits that are invisible in the book, such tunnels spanning distances between other books and other genres. Connections can be crossed and filtered out using "textual sieves", which filter out all incoming text. Junkfootnoterphones are the "spam" messages of BookWorld, frequently appearing in the Well of Lost Plots. News is also put over footnoterphones, which can be turned on and off at will.

Newspapers are the second choice at receiving news in BookWorld. The primary newspaper in the BookWorld is called The Word. Specific newsletters, such as Moveable Type, the official newsletter of Jurisfiction, may apply to certain groups of characters.

Transportation

While bookjumping appears to be a given talent to all fictional characters, the bookjumping ability is a rarity in those from outside BookWorld. Bookjumping involves "reading" yourself into a book, appearing in the storyline at the point read. Such natural talent or ability may be approved in some manner by teaching "quality" bookjumping, and bookjumping may be possible without reading the text aloud. In order to avoid potentially destroying a book's plot, however, one must be careful to avoid jumping directly into an area where the plot is occurring, although most bookjumps send the jumper to a place directly outside of the narrative area. A bookjump is characterized by a "fade out" of the character bookjumping.

If a character can not or does not wish to bookjump, they will have to utilize a method of private transportation. The only such transportation known is that of TransGenre Taxis, a bookjumping taxi service that may be used for a monetary fee.

Most unorganized crime takes place in the Well of Lost Plots, due to its lack of crime control in that area. Such common crime includes illegal selling of plot devices, characters, and others.

Due to the frequent instability of much of the BookWorld, a public police agency, instated by the Council of Genres (See Government), uses bookjumping and other devices to keep the BookWorld under control. The central and only crime-preventing force, Jurisfiction has jurisdiction over nearly all areas of the BookWorld. Once having volunteered for Jurisfiction, the applicant then becomes an apprentice to a chosen Jurisfiction agent. All agents are given an essential TravelBook, a necessary item for all situations. Containing needed Jursifiction devices and a link back to the Great Library as well as other popular works of fiction, the TravelBook also acts as a guide to the BookWorld and is password protected to each individual member. Agents deemed appropriate are also given the password to an unpublished work that acts as a bestiary and a research faculty for BookWorld creatures. (See Creatures.) Upon passing a written exam and practical exam, an apprentice is given full agent status.

Government

While Jurisfiction is given a large amount of power in the BookWorld, the primary legislative government is the Council of Genres, made up of a representative from every genre in the BookWorld. Ruling upon various issues and creating ordinances to counteract them, there is no official executive of the Council of Genres. Concerning judiciary matters, the Council has no control. Courtroom scenes across the BookWorld are used for this purpose, the judge and jury of each scene presiding over the case at hand.

Creatures

Adjective-creating creatures and maggot-like in appearance, bookworms act as portable thesauri, changing common adjectives into others (for example "nice" into "amiable" or "attractive"). Their presence is welcome in most areas, however, should too many infest one area, the area uses too many adjectives and "flowery language", making the text unreadable.

A variety of species occurring, the grammasite was a failed attempt to change nouns into verbs. Escaping from the experiment, their release resulted in a disaster, as they can contribute severe damage to a book. The known types of grammasites include adjectivores, which suck all description from an object, and verbisoids, as well as others. Verbisoids can be beaten by irregular verbs.

Languages

Although the actual language of the BookWorld is English, there are also other Great Libraries that are apparently completely other languages. The actual sublanguages of each BookWorld, however, are regarded as fonts.

Thus (according to Bradshaw's BookWorld Companion) 'Courier Bold is the traditional language of those in the support industries such as within the Well of Lost Plots, and Lorem Ipsum is the gutter slang of the underworld - useful to have a few phrases in case you get into trouble in Horror or Noir'. [3]

(Lorem ipsum is a dummy text used to demonstrate layout. It is the only language Friday Next speaks as a young child).

Real World Allusions

On his website Fforde reports that the Swindon Town Planning office, due to expansion and the need to name new streets, asked him if he would mind them using names of characters from his books. [4] While Fforde seems to have written the page with his tongue in his cheek several new streets in the Orchid Vale area of Swindon have the names of literary characters that appear in the Thursday Next series. These include Thursday Street, Friday Street, Mycroft Road, Havisham Drive, Estella Close, Eyre Close, Braxton Road and Bradshaw Court. [5] [ better source needed ]

Related Research Articles

Detective fiction is a subgenre of crime fiction and mystery fiction in which an investigator or a detective—either professional, amateur or retired—investigates a crime, often murder. The detective genre began around the same time as speculative fiction and other genre fiction in the mid-nineteenth century and has remained extremely popular, particularly in novels. Some of the most famous heroes of detective fiction include C. Auguste Dupin, Sherlock Holmes, and Hercule Poirot. Juvenile stories featuring The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and The Boxcar Children have also remained in print for several decades.

Crime fiction genre of fiction focusing on crime

Crime fiction, detective story, murder mystery, mystery novel, and police novel: These terms all describe narratives that centre on criminal acts and especially on the investigation, either by an amateur or a professional detective, of a serious crime, generally a murder. It is usually distinguished from mainstream fiction and other genres such as historical fiction or science fiction, but the boundaries are indistinct. Crime fiction has multiple sub-genres, including detective fiction, courtroom drama, hard-boiled fiction and legal thrillers. Most crime drama focuses on crime investigation and does not feature the court room. Suspense and mystery are key elements that are nearly ubiquitous to the genre.

Jasper Fforde British novelist

Jasper Fforde is a British novelist. Fforde's first novel, The Eyre Affair, was published in 2001. Fforde is known mainly for his Thursday Next novels. He has published two books in the loosely connected Nursery Crime series, and has published the first books of two additional independent series, The Last Dragonslayer and Shades of Grey.

Epigraph (literature) quote or poem introducing a literary work

In literature, an epigraph is a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the beginning of a document, monograph or section thereof. The epigraph may serve as a preface to the work; as a summary; as a counter-example; or as a link from the work to a wider literary canon, with the purpose of either inviting comparison or enlisting a conventional context.

Metafiction is a form of fiction that emphasizes its own constructedness in a way that continually reminds the reader to be aware that they are reading or viewing a fictional work. Metafiction is self-conscious about language, literary form, and storytelling, and works of metafiction directly or indirectly draw attention to their status as artifacts. Metafiction is frequently used as a form of parody or a tool to undermine literary conventions and explore the relationship between literature and reality, life, and art.

A note is a string of text placed at the bottom of a page in a book or document or at the end of a chapter, volume or the whole text. The note can provide an author's comments on the main text or citations of a reference work in support of the text.

<i>The Eyre Affair</i> novel by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair is the debut novel by English author Jasper Fforde, published by Hodder and Stoughton in 2001. It takes place in an alternative 1985, where literary detective Thursday Next pursues a master criminal through the world of Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel Jane Eyre. Fforde had received 76 rejections for earlier works before being accepted by a publisher. Critical reception of this novel was generally positive, remarking on its originality.

<i>Lost in a Good Book</i> novel by Jasper Fforde

Lost in a Good Book is an alternate history fantasy novel by Jasper Fforde. It won the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association 2004 Dilys Award. It is the second in the Thursday Next series.

<i>The Well of Lost Plots</i> novel by Jasper Fforde

The Well of Lost Plots is a novel by Jasper Fforde, published in 2003. It is the third book in the Thursday Next series, after The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book.

<i>Something Rotten</i> (Fforde) novel by Jasper Fforde

Something Rotten is the fourth book in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. It continues the story some two years after the point where The Well of Lost Plots leaves off.

The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde currently consists of the novels The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, First Among Sequels, One of Our Thursdays Is Missing and The Woman Who Died a Lot.

<i>The Big Over Easy</i> novel by Jasper Fforde

The Big Over Easy is a novel written by Jasper Fforde and published in 2005. It features Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his assistant, Sergeant Mary Mary.

Pickwick may refer to:

Temperance Deassee Brennan is a fictional character created by author Kathy Reichs, and is the hero of her crime novel series. She was introduced in Reichs' first novel, Déjà Dead, which was published in 1997. All the novels are written in the first person, from Brennan's viewpoint. Like her creator, Brennan is a forensic anthropologist. In a number of novels it is indicated that Brennan's background lies in physical anthropology, rather than medicine, and throughout the novels she stresses the importance of correct crime scene processes.

<i>First Among Sequels</i> novel by Jasper Fforde

First Among Sequels is an alternate history, comic fantasy novel by the British author Jasper Fforde. It is the fifth Thursday Next novel, first published on 5 July 2007 in the United Kingdom, and on 24 July 2007 in the United States. The novel follows the continuing adventures of Thursday Next in her fictional version of Swindon and in the BookWorld, and is the first of a new four-part Nextian series.

SpecOps is a fictional overarching British governmental force in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series of novels. It was established in 1928 to handle policing duties "too unusual or too specialized" to be handled by the regular police. The force and divisions are similar in name to the real world Specialist Operations of the Metropolitan Police Service. When introduced in The Eyre Affair, the divisions are described as "Below the Eight, Above the Law".

<i>One of Our Thursdays is Missing</i> book by Jasper Fforde

One of our Thursdays is Missing is the sixth Thursday Next book, by the British author Jasper Fforde. It was published in February 2011 in the United Kingdom and was published in March in the United States. The title is a reference to the 1942 war film One of Our Aircraft Is Missing.

<i>The Last Dragonslayer</i> novel by Jasper Fforde

The Last Dragonslayer is a fantasy novel by Jasper Fforde. It is set in an alternate world in which magic is real, but has become weakened and is also being replaced by modern technology. The setting is almost like modern Britain, except that it is split into a number of small states. Those states reference modern-day geography.

Quantum fiction is a literary genre that reflects modern experience of the material world and reality as influenced by quantum theory and new principles in quantum physics. The genre is not necessarily science-themed and blurs the line separating science fiction and fantasy into a broad scope of mainstream literature that transcends the mechanical model of science and involves the fantasy of human perception or imagination as realistic components affecting the every day physical world. Quantum fiction is characterized by the use of an element in quantum mechanics as a storytelling device. In quantum fiction, everyday life hinges on some aspect of the quantum nature of reality.

<i>The Woman Who Died a Lot</i> book by Jasper Fforde

The Woman Who Died A Lot is the seventh Thursday Next book, by the British author Jasper Fforde. It was published in July 2012; set in an alternative world where love of novels and plays is at the heart of modern society, it takes place in a fictional version of Swindon.

References

  1. Special features for First Among Sequels note that a code word (from the novel) is required to access this page.
  2. French, Emma (April 27, 2017). "Best librarian characters in fantasy fiction". OUPblog. Oxford University Press. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  3. Jasper Fforde, One of Our Thursdays is Missing (London 2011) p. 311
  4. "The Nextian Neighbourhood".
  5. "Google map of "the Nextian Neighbourhood"".