10 Action Librarians
by Susana Polo | 12:32 pm, July 26th, 2011
Liana Telfer: You work for money I take it.
Dean Corso: What else?
Sly, dirty-dealing, and world traveling are hardly descriptors that leap to mind when confronted with the traditional image of “librarian”. Not to mention chain-smoking, open to bribes, and fighting a cult of Satan-worshipers. But you’ve got to give Dean Corso a break. Though not technically a librarian, bibliophile Dean Corso is close enough for government work, and simply too good to pass up for this Grid.
Corso is the main character from Roman Polanski’s unintentionally hilarious piece of horror camp The Ninth Gate, in which he is played by none other than the always-enjoyable Johnny Depp. A rare-books expert who procures his wares by somewhat questionable means, Corso knows every back-alley slimeball paper-peddler from here (wherever here is) to Timbuktu. Motivated entirely by money and the chance of one-upmanship, Corso is called in to authenticate a wealthy collector’s seventeenth-century manuscript of The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows, a book purportedly authored by the Devil himself. Having heard that two other copies exist in European collections, the Satan-obsessed book hobbyist, Boris Balkan, is concerned that his is not the real version, and pays Corso to go and inspect the others to determine which is the forgery. Why of so much concern? The ‘real’ copy contains engravings that, when decoded and spoken aloud, are supposed to summon Lord Morningstar. Some people have too much time on their hands.
What starts out as a curious but straightforward job gets strange and messy fast, as Corso ends up on the run across the Continent from mysterious thugs, murderous Satanic cultists, and the succubus-like widow of the owner of a copy of The Nine Gates who died under…suspicious circumstances. Everyone wants to get their hands on these books. That’s not even mentioning the strange woman who keeps showing up to help him, who may or may not be an archangel, like he’s going to buy into any more of this nonsense. Near exsanguination, thrice near-immolation, and few good old-fashioned beatings would be enough to turn most people away, but here is a man set to get his job done, and collect a big, fat paycheck. He might be the least moral guy on this Grid, but boy, is he fun to watch get into trouble.