The big influence is Badi' al-Zaman Abu-'l-'Izz Ibn Isma'il Ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari, which ok, let's just call him al-Jazari, a brilliant mechanical engineer of the 6th century H (late 12th to 13th CE). He wrote a book called The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, which is full of descriptions and drawings of clocks and automata, including this girl who comes out of a chamber at regular intervals to serve wine:
This girl is the main character in my story. And in fact all the headings in the story ("On the construction of clocks from which can be told the passage of the secular hours," "On the construction of vessels suitable for use at drinking bouts," etc) are from al-Jazari. But the epigraph by Safiyya bint al-Jazari is by me! "Bint al-Jazari" means "daughter of al-Jazari" and Safiyya is Sofia. It's a corny joke.
If you are interested in medieval automata (and who isn't?), I recommend you check out the link to al-Jazari's name above, and also the information here and here. I wrote ONE al-Jazari story focusing on ONE mechanical device. There are many, many more al-Jazari stories to be written.
If you manage to get through my story, you will see that it's very strange. It contains a lot of sad feelings about time and clocks and revolutions. Revolutions, as in political changes, and revolutions as in going around in circles. I don't treat the aftermath of the "Arab Spring" in Egypt directly, but I reach toward it.
The tree "half blossoming and half burned, in the middle of the courtyard" is H.D.'s, from her great war poem Trilogy:
we crossed the charred portico,
passed through a frame—doorless—
entered a shrine; like a ghost,
we entered a house through a wall;
then still not knowing
whether (like the wall)
we were there or not-there,
we saw the tree flowering;
it was an ordinary tree
in an old garden-square.
The line "Tree of Hope, keep firm" is Frida Kahlo's.
|my favorite picture of Frida with her dog|