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!