Musical Easter eggs in science fiction

OK, a mellow little post to ease us into the new week – especially for all of us who are settling down to a long hard Monday of not-really-wanting-to-be-at-work-actually (myself included).

Just to disambiguate (in case anyone is expecting this post to be all about Faberge-like creations playing the Nutcracker Suite in obscure pulp novel scenes or something) the Easter eggs I am referring to are the hidden extras that you get in games, DVDs and so forth. Granted, even that’s not really the correct phrase for what I’m going on about, but I don’t know a more appropriate one, and it’s been a busy weekend, so that’s what you get.

So, what am I on about? I’m on about the occasional times that, while reading a novel (or watching a film, I suppose), you catch a bit of narrative or dialogue that explicitly or implicitly mentions a band, musician, song or album title from the ‘real world’.

The first time I noticed this happen was when I was devouring William Gibson’s ‘Bridge sequence’ novels (Virtual Light, Idoru and All Tomorrow’s Parties). In ATP, I noticed not one, not two, but three bits of character dialogue that contained titles of songs by The Sisters Of Mercy.* Recent search-fu has revealed I wasn’t just imagining it, either – indeed, Sir Bill of Gibson is apparently reknowned for hiding song titles in his stories, either as dialogue, character names or locations.

The other big strike was while reading Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Trilogy. I noticed the character Daniel mentioning to another character that, at some point, he ‘fell on black days’. The recognition of one of my favourite Soundgarden song titles was instantaneous, and again, some search-fu shows that Stephenson hides titles in this way as a weird reaction to interviewers always asking what sort of music he listens to.

Now, I’m positive there must be many more examples of this sort of thing. It’s probably only due to my awful taste in music that I’ve not noticed more of them. For instance, I’m positive Iain (M.) Banks must have done this sort of thing more than once or twice, but I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head (I’m guessing Culture ship names would be a great place to hide song titles).

So I’m throwing this one out to the readers – have you spotted writers name-dropping musicians or music in their writing? If so, which writers and what music? Hit the comments field and share the knowledge.

*Yes, yes, I know. I’m not going to lie; I was a goth as a teenager, and I’m not ashamed of it. But back in those days (early 90s) we were proper goths – all surly, shabby and Dickensian. None of that pink make-up and PVC fetish-wear malarky the kids do nowadays. Meh.

One thought on “Musical Easter eggs in science fiction”

  1. Jesus And Mary Chain, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Clawfinger (bit of GnR mixed in).. ah, those were the days…

    I can’t think of any hidden song titles off the top of my head, but you’ve got me thinkin’

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