Can you say meta?

I’ve been having a mini-marathon of the third season of my favorite tv show, Castle.  I also recently finished Frozen Heat, the fourth Richard Castle novel.

The writers of the show Castle love to pepper in references to other pop culture, particularly if it is related to the star of the show.  The last episode I watched has my favorite Firefly reference, when Castle (Nathan Fillion) speaks Chinese and explains it as “just a tv show I used to love.”  The episode that is currently playing has a reference to Jaws, which Nathan Fillion has said is one of his favorite books.  But the show has nothing on the novels, which are insanely self-referential.  I’ve mentioned this characteristic before, but the fourth book added some extra layers.

If you aren’t familiar, here is a quick overview of the layers found in the whole series.  The books are written by Richard Castle, a fictional character from a television show, including appropriate photo, bio, and acknowledgements.  They reference cases and characters from the show, in the way that an author would reference his own life.  (A quick internet search did not turn up the names of the ghostwriters.  Apparently it will remain a secret, at least as long as ABC is committed to the concept.  Given how popular the show and the books are, I’m guessing we’ll have to wait a while.)

Now to the new, very self-referencing layers.  In book three, there is a character with the last name Hamner, whose nickname is “The Hammer.”  (Nothing like a nice Dr. Horrible reference, is there?)  There is also an outright mention of Firefly, in a discussion of science fiction television.  Book four takes the Firefly reference to a whole new level, introducing a pair of detectives named Malcolm and Reynolds.

I love it all, but it kind of makes my brain hurt a little.  I must admit it also reveals the depths of my nerdiness!

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Fiction Double Trouble

I’m reading a book right now that’s messing with my head.  The story itself is enjoyable and fairly straightforward.  It’s the overall concept of the book itself, rather than the story, that’s the problem.

Let me explain.

I am currently reading Heat Wave, by Richard Castle.  Unfamiliar?  Well, he’s a New York-based mystery author, who is well-known for his Derek Storm novels.  He looks remarkably like Nathan Fillion.

Oh, wait, he is  Nathan Fillion.  Richard Castle is the main character of my favorite TV show, Castle.  Thus the basis of my mind trip.

Castle is a fictional author, and yet he has an actual book (three, now) with his name on the cover.  The author bio is a summary of the character from the show, complete with picture of Nathan Fillion.  There is even a thank you and an author interview by Richard Castle in the book.  I know that a fictional character can’t write a real book, but there is no credit to another author other than this cryptic thank you: “And finally, to my two most loyal and devout Sherpas, Tom and Andrew, thank you for the journey.”  Of course, this could be pretty much anyone, but I like to think it is the way the ghost writers got their names in.

The craziest thing about this is that one of the main characters of Heat Wave is based on Richard Castle, and the other based on the (fictional) detective that he works with on the show.  So both main characters are fictional characters based on fictional characters, giving the book even more material to use to mess with my mind!

Lasting Impression

I have not read the book Strangers on a Train nor seen the Hitchcock movie by the same name, but I do know the plot.  Apparently it is very popular with crime TV, which I watch a lot.

I already knew about the CSI episode “A Night at the Movies” – this is the first I was exposed to the conceit, and Grissom gives a detailed explanation of the original movie plot.  CSI is one of my favorite shows, and I have seen the episode numerous times.

Castle also had an episode, “Double Down,” with the same premise, although skewed from what I know of the movie because both killers actually do the deed.  In both the CSI episode and the movie, one of the two gets cold feet.

In a quick check of Wikipedia, I found many other references and ‘theft’ of the plotline from other shows as well.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to come up with a plotline or story that is so memorable, it gets copied and referenced over and over?