Literature and books, of course, are canon. Even paper books are a part of some sets.
But what are people really reading? In the canon Shuttlepod One episode, Malcolm reveals that he’s brought along a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses for diversion. But I’m with Tripp Tucker on that one – it’s just too dense for my tastes.
For my characters, one of the most important works of literature is Jane Eyre. It crops up in all sorts of places. In Together, the paper book is given as a belated wedding gift to Lili and Doug, by Hoshi and Chip. The book even has an inscription – “One good love story deserves another.” – Hoshi and Chandler. This is also the first time the reader sees Chip’s full name. Doug reveals that the work most likely does not exist in the mirror.
However, in Temper, it is Malcolm and Lili who are reading the book together, and are discussing it. It’s probably not a terribly scholarly discussion, but it is more than just “I liked the book. Did you?”
A Family Heirloom
In Fortune, the book passes as a cherished inheritance. First, Lili mentions it to Q, as evidence of being civilized. Then it passes from Malcolm to Neil when Malcolm passes. But that’s just the electronic version. When Leonora passes, the paper book is again transferred, and it is given to Marie Patrice, in recognition of Empy as being “… the strong, independent heroine of [her] own life.”
The book is also mentioned, along with its companion updating, Wide Sargasso Sea, in the Gina Nolan Hold Your Dominion universe story, Wider Than the Sargasso Sea. Gabrielle and Desh read it, but they are also acting in a staged version of it. The lines that they read are from the Toby Stephens-Ruth Wilson staging.
Trek mentionings of Shakespeare are canon; the movies are littered with them.
Mainly, I mention Julius Caesar and MacBeth. Lili recalls to Q that she had to memorize Portia’s speech to Brutus from Julius Caesar, about the relationship between a true husband and a true wife. She uses this memory to bring Doug full circle and receive his confession.
References to MacBeth are more fleeting, except as regards to the meaning of Malcolm Reed’s first name. Names are important to Calafans and to the Empress Hoshi Sato, so Malcolm’s name’s meaning crops up from time to time. Since Malcolm is a character from “the Scottish play”, there’s the oblique reference. Furthermore, in The Mess, Lili briefly thinks of the line, “Out, out, damned spot!”
Biblical references abound in the E2 stories in particular. Many of the wedding ceremonies involve short sermons with passages from various Bible stories. The stories of Solomon choosing not to slice an infant in half (to illustrate the choice that the Muslim bride Maryam Haroun made between two suitors, with the help of Doctor Phlox), Adam and Eve (used in Andrew and Shelby‘s wedding), and Ruth (to illustrate a point about the bride, Karin Bernstein, following the groom, Joshua Rosen) are all a part of various ceremonies.
Furthermore, when Jay and Lili wed, Jay refers to a biblical admonition to marry a dead brother’s widow, as this is right after Malcolm’s death.
In Concord, because Charlotte and Jacob are getting on in years and have not had any children, Jacob writes to her, expressing the hope that she could “be the Sarah to my Abraham“. That is, that she would have their first child far later than expected.
Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass
To be sure, the mirror universe is an obvious analog to Through the Looking Glass. In particular, in Reversal, when Doug passes from the mirror to our universe, he is passing through the looking glass and life is, in many ways, reversed for him.
Furthermore, in the old Interphases story, The Puzzle, Travis Mayweather has an experience that involves a bottle with “Drink me” written on it and unchecked growth and a pool of water (although it is water, and not tears) around a table. When that adventure is over, he locates the book and sends electronic copies to two people he has met, hoping they’ll enjoy the gifts.
Intelligent characters enjoy reading just about as much as real people do. I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic as my characters crack open and read more books.