BEFORE YOU READ THIS: It is best if you have read the story first, lest you destroy the fantasy experience. It might amaze you to find out how much thought and details exist in the novel. Here we talk about some of those facts and myths:
Where is the Temperance Street Tavern?
The Temperance Street Tavern is a real place! In Oakville, Ontario there is a pub Derek frequented called The Niblick a few blocks away from where he lived while writing the book. He was a bit of a regular there and did some editing of the novel over a few beers while sitting in the very seat Brian is; the poster of Lord Kitchener is not there, however.
Glenrio, where is that?
Glenrio is exactly where Professor Thompson said. It is in the Mojave Desert off of Interstate 40, Exit 0. Yes - Exit Zero! When Author Derek McDonald was there in 2009, while touring Route 66, there were 7 remaining buildings in various states of decay, one of which was the hotel mentioned in the novel; and Yes! The Grapes of Wrath was filmed there!
Hartfordshire Towers and Devonian Heights, are they real?
Yes! But one is not called that anymore. 'The Hartfordshire' is the original name of the apartment towers Derek lived in while writing the book. By the time of writing, they were called 'The Whiteoaks Court Suites,' but if you look carefully at some of the more remote entrances to the block you will still see 'Hartfordshire' painted on the old glass. 'Devonian Heights' does not exist as an apartment building, but a fountain, pond and small urban park called 'Devonian Square' on the Ryerson University campus at the intersection of Gould Street and Victoria Street in Toronto, the university Derek graduated from in 2012.
Is there a Bakerton and where is it?
Does not really exist. Nor is the country or state mentioned. There is, however, a Bakersfield in California, made famous by the heavy metal band Korn, to which Derek is a fan of - the name may have formed from that.
Who are the characters based on?
No single person. Some of the characters are a complete work of fiction, while others are compilations based on people Derek as met throughout his life.
The Skelan language, what is it?
As was stated in the novel, the Skelan language is a real language! Icelandic. Well, more precisely a merging of modern Icelandic and ancient Norse. Most people who speak Icelandic natively can read both and will probably find the merge, although legible, not the best way of doing it. English and Icelandic, at least in part, have the same roots, but differences over the years make translations sometimes imperfect. Derek wanted the creatures speaking pure Norse, but this was difficult because many modern words (like train, camera, computer, etc.) do not exist in the old language, therefore the Icelandic dictionary was used. Derek learned a lot about these languages while studying Gothic Fiction at University. The modern Icelandic alphabet was used, as Runic Futhark would have involved reprogramming of his computer and those of the publisher. The creatures do not speak with contractions. NO! Icelandic is not FUTHARK, see the next question for that explanation.
The ancient runic language of the Vikings and other North European tribes.
The Elder Futhark (named after the initial phoneme of the first six rune names: F, U, Th, A, R and K) consist of twenty-four runes, often arranged in three groups of eight runes called an ætt. Unprintable on modern computers, the rune letters correspond to the following modern character set: f u þ a r k g w h n i j p ï z s t b e m l [N] d o. It should NOT be assumed that the letters are pronounced as they commonly would be in English, however. For example 'j' is more like a 'y', 'w' is more like a 'v' and 'þ' (thorn) is pronounced as a 'TH' combination (like in the word 'THE'). 'u', 'g' and 'f' change according to their position in the word spoken. '[N]' is unprintable for this web broadcast.
Is there a 43rd Street subway station?
Yes... err... no. In New York there is a lower level of 42nd Street near Grand Central Station that is un-used but there are many stations in cities all over the world that have been abandoned and could have been the inspiration. A likely possibility is "Lower Bay Street" in Toronto where many films have been shot and far closer to Derek's home.
The Empress Hotel?
Yes. It really existed and it really did collapse. The Empress Hotel was the name of an abandoned hotel and 'flop house' in downtown Toronto, Canada. It stood at the corner of Gould Street and Yonge Street, right across from the Ryerson University library. The ground level was still occupied by retail but most of the upper floors were abandoned. Fact is, the building was pretty much in a condemned state because of the adbsentee owners. One night the building caught fire and collapsed; arson was suspected. Nobody was injured. At time of this writing, an empty gravel filled lot is all that remains.
The description of the creature's clothes and those of the boy 'Chris' are very realistic?
Makes sense, since Derek owns and has worn such materials. Want proof? Go to Youtube and look up "Penetrator Adultress video", he has several credits to his name for this video including wardrobe, sight selection, etc. But the most important of these titles was "actor" and he is seen in three scenes, the easiest to see is the very last camera shot on the video where he is standing in the door frame.
What are the symbols used throughout the book?
Ægishjálmr = The snowflake image. In English it translates to 'Helm of Awe' and was worn by Viking warriors on their person in the form of tattoos, jewellery or painted (often on the forehead) to offer protection and power to the wearer and fear to their enimies.
Horns of Oden = Three interlocking horns. These represent Oden's drinking steins. The tales vary, but typically, Oden uses his wits and magic to procure the the brew over three days time; the three horns reflect the three draughts of his magical mead (a kind of beer). The background image of this web page is that symbol.
In the lab anti-room, is that a Commodore PET?
Yes! Derek is a huge fan of old Commodore computer equipment.
The 'Devil's Pulpit' bar. Is it real?
Yes! Well, not as 'The Devil's Pulpit'. The bar mentioned in chapter 5 of the book is modelled after two establishments that did exist, but no longer do. The Cathedral was the name of the bar used for the interior of the 'The Devil's Pulpit', while The Sanctuary was used as the exterior. Both bars were popular with the Toronto area heavy metal, goth and punk rock crowd during the 1980s, 1990s and over the turn of the century. The Cathedral was a bar frequented by Derek in his younger years. The Cathedral was located at the corner of Bathurst Street and Queen Street West in downtown Toronto, and was a part of a 3-plex of bars in a purple and blue painted building known as 'The Big Bop'. The Sactuary was located at King Street West and Ossington Avenue, and was a 2-plex of clubs. The Sactuary was painted blue had white colored flying skeletons painted on the exterior walls.
In a twist of fate, the block at the southeast corner of Bathurst & Queen Street West burned down, with the 'Big Bop' remaining as one of the few structures to survive the fire completely untouched, only to go out of business and be sold a year later; it is now a furniture store, while The Sanctuary is now a 'Starbucks Coffee' shop.
What's with the streetcar in the fifth chapter?
The streetcar has no significant value to the plot of the story. It was placed there to add to the general ambiance of the scene. However, the streetcar is not a completely meaningless figure. The streetcar in question is actually TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) "Bathurst Station" route 511. This streetcar passes by the aforementioned Cathedral bar. This streetcar is significant in the fact that it soon will no longer exist as described in the book. Although it operated while the book was being written, shortly before completion, Toronto decreed that the old trolley pole streetcars currently on the city streets would be replaced with modern European styled LRTs, thus ending the era of the 'classic' streetcars in Canada. Bathurst was one of the first routes scheduled for conversion. For those of you that are more technically minded, you might be interested to know that the streetcars on that route at the time were non-articulated UTDC (Urban Transit Development Corporation - a government shop) units manufactured in the late 1970s; a model that was only ever used in Toronto.
Did that meteor strike mentioned in chapter 11 really happen?
The meteor event mentioned in chapter 11 actually did happen according to science. The meteor was far larger than that which killed the dinosaurs. It destroyed 95-98% of all life on the planet at the time. Earth has been struck by meteors many times over its existence... and will be so again! It is important to note that the Earth is bombarded by celestial objects all the time, however, most burn up in the atmosphere before ever touching down or, at worst, fall to Earth the size of a pebble.
Does Tesladite really exist?
No, but many believe crystals with the properties described in chapter 11 could exist. It has never been proven, however, and such materials would unlikely be as large as those depicted in the story.
In Chapter 2, what is the song playing over the pub intercom?
The song title is never mentioned but when writing the book, Derek used Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" as the model.
How do you pronounce "Jalmagar"?
Since the Skelans speak a form of Icelandic, a Scandinavian and Germanic language, it stands to reason that the 'J' would be pronounced as an English 'Y', the 'A' would be much like a German 'AW' and the 'R' would roll as was done in Norse, and is currently done in modern Icelandic and by Scottish people, to make: 'Yawlmawgawrrr'.
Is the Route 24 bus mentioned in the story real?
Yes! It is Oakville bus #24, 'South Common Centre', the bus route Derek would take to work everyday.
Where is Barrington Street?
Exactly as the story says: In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. It is the city's 'main street'. YES, it is real.
Is the skull on the cover real?
Yes, but it was edited quite a bit by Photoshop. Ditto with the swords.
Is it possible to construct an Opticam?
OK, this is one of those urban legends that people still talk about years later: Did someone actually construct a camera using a real human eye?
Enter: John Logie Baird. Those of you who have studied technology will probably recognize this Scottish man as the inventor of Television. Indeed, Mr. Baird has many firsts to his credit: First televised signal, developer of the television receiver, camera and transmission system, first to record a television show, first television script writer, first television producer, first television personality, first to transmit a trans-Atlantic television signal, and first to transmit a color television signal. He did all of this between 1925 and January 1937 when his system was deemed obsolete and abandoned in favor of the newer Electronic Television system available by RCA, and invented by American Philo Farnsworth; Baird's system was mechanical and is not the standard we now use (it was much like a film projector connected to a radio - to keep it simple).
OK, so what does this have to do with human eyes installed into TV cameras? Well, purportedly, lab notes were discovered in Mr. Baird's handwriting describing how he went to the local infirmary to purchase a human eye, which he transported back to his lab via a London taxi. Once in the lab, he attempted to install it onto one of his TV cameras in an effort to get the highest quality image possible: after all, if the human eye can see a massively high resolution, then why not use one to send the signal? It is unknown if this gruesome experiment worked, but is unlikely to have. Nonetheless, in Warriors of Ragnarok, the invention is brought to life as Einarr's 'Opticam'. Also note in the story, John Baird's television is what Brian and William hid behind while in the lab; the actual device was smaller in size. That TV, 'The Plessey' is long extinct except for a single working rebuilt unit that is archived at a museum in Toronto, Canada.
Are all the Skelan creatures named?
No. Surprisingly, however, most are. All have Norse names, although the spellings may have been changed to help pronunciation. Derek even named one after himself, but used the root of his name (although not his namesake). Theodoric the Great (Gothic: Þiudareiks; Latin: Flavius Theodericus; Greek: Theuderikhos; Old English: Þeodric; Old Norse: Þjoðrekr, Þiðrekr; 454 - August 30, 526), often referred to as Theodoric, was king of the Germanic Ostrogoths (475-526), ruler of Italy (493-526), regent of the Visigoths (511-526), and a Patricius of the Eastern Roman Empire. His Gothic name Þiudareiks translates into "people-king" or "ruler of the people".
Likewise, other famous names of the Skelans include:
- Canute who started his adult life as a Viking warrior and went on to become the ruler of an empire which, at its height, included England, Denmark, Norway and part of Sweden.
- Hardrada a.k.a. Haraldr Sigurðarson; c. 1015 - 25 September 1066), given the epithet Hardrada (harðráði, roughly translated as "stern counsel" or "hard ruler") in the sagas, was King of Norway (as Harald III) from 1046 to 1066. In addition, he unsuccessfully claimed the Danish throne until 1064 and the English throne in 1066. Prior to becoming king, Harald had spent around fifteen years in exile as a mercenary and military commander in Kievan Rus' and in the Byzantine Empire.
There is also the character Erikr (Erik) who could be the famous Erik the Red, but actually has no relation.