Chapter 5

The Tiger XS

Swedish Sectra Tiger XS personal voice-encrypting phone – A type of crypto phone (a phone designed to “provide security against eavesdropping and electronic surveillance” by encrypting the signal of the phone) designed by the Swedish company Sectra to secure security in the communication of highly sensitive information through voice, data, and text messages over a variety of different networks.  The provost uses such a phone in the novel to ensure secure communication between himself and Vayentha over the sensitive information of the mission.



A router by the company Linksys

Routers – Small devices that connect multiple computer networks together into a larger network.  In homes, routers are usually used to transmit data from the internet to home computers and vice versa.  In Inferno, the routers used aboard The Mendacium are being used to connect The Consortium’s multiple networks together.


Laurence Knowlton – A senior facilitator working aboard The Mendacium assigned to review Zobrist’s video file 24 hours before it is uploaded to media outlets and to make sure there is enough time to carry out any additional preparations required, such as decryption or compilation.  Knowlton is the first one to view Zobrist’s disturbing video and is the one who ultimately alerts the provost about his concerns about the video.


Facilitator – Someone whose job it is to streamline and coordinate the work of a group of people, whether it be by providing structure or by addressing conflicts. In Inferno, Knowlton’s position as senior facilitator of The Consortium is to make sure all the tasks assigned to him for the clients are carried out accordingly, and in this specific instance, coordinate the upload of Zobrist’s video file to media outlets.


An office space with cubicles


Cubicles – Partitioned off work spaces, usually in an office, with the purpose of creating privacy and preventing distractions between coworkers.  The cubicles on The Mendacium are mainly for the sake of privacy since members of The Consortium work with confidential information concerning clients and missions.  Thus, the cubicles are built with SPD glass, which is an opaque glass that further prevents others from seeing into a cubicle.


With particles aligned

With particles randomized

“Suspended particle device” glass – A type of glass whose transparency can be “controlled by the application or removal of an electric current, which either align[s] or randomize[s] millions of tiny rodlike particles suspended within the panel” (Brown 26-27).  Also called smart glass, the glass appears to be opaque when the particles are randomized while the glass appears transparent when the particles are aligned.

For a “suspended particle device” glass demonstration:

A walk-in vault


Walk-in vault – A reinforced room where the contents would be protected from theft, fire, natural disasters, and other threats.  Walk-in vaults are mainly found in banks, and are often armed with various alarm systems, as well as being enforced in a way that prevents physical destruction.  In Inferno, the walk-in vault contains strongboxes with important objects inside, most namely the memory stick with Zobrist’s video file.





A typical strongbox for private usage

Strongbox – Also known as a safe, this is a box designed to protect its contents from theft and damage.  A smaller version of a vault, a strongbox is used to hold smaller objects of value, and is often used in homes for personal use.  Strongboxes usually contain some sort of locking system that prevents theft, and are made from a material that is able to withstand fire, water, and other similar threats.


A Sony memory stick with 256 mb of capacity

memory stick is a type of memory card developed by Sony to store digital information that can be accessed and edited when the memory stick is connected to a computer or other device.  They’re often used in electronic devices such as cameras, phones, game consoles, and MP3 players.  Memory sticks come in a variety of sizes and shapes, depending on the device intended to be used to accept them.  They also come in a wide range of different storage capacities depending on their purpose.



Video file – A digital version of a recording of moving visual images that is stored on a computer or other memory storage devices.  Video files come in a variety of formats, which compress and encode video data differently so that they can be opened and viewed using different computer programs; common formats include AVI, MPG, MP4, MOV, WMV, and RM.


Media outlets – Methods through which news and other information are broadcasted to the general public.  Examples of media outlets include newspapers, radio, TV, websites, and magazines.  Information released to media outlets often travel quickly through the general public, and often influence the “dominant cultural, social, and political picture of society.”  Knowlton’s task in the novel is to release Zobrist’s video to the media outlets for the public’s viewing.



An HP desktop computer

Computers – Machines that can respond to a set of instructions programmed into its memory and execute that command.  Although computers can include devices such as calculators, in most cases, the term “computer” refers to a modern desktop computer or laptop that is usually used in homes or in the work place.  Computers are composed of two parts: the hardware (physical machinery) and the software (the data programmed into the computer).  Knowlton uses his computer and speakers to review Zobrist’s video.


Bose speakers

Speakers are devices that convert an electrical signal into an audible sound through the use of an electromagnet, which is a metal coil which creates a magnetic field when an electric current flows through it.  Computer speakers, in this case, respond to the electrical signals projected by the computer, converting them into audible sounds.  Computer speakers can be built into the computer or be external to the computer.


A cavern


Caverns – Naturally formed open spaces found underground that are large enough for a person to enter.  They are formed through the weathering of rock by various geologic processes such as erosion from water, tectonic forces, and microorganisms.  The sizes of caverns vary from individual rooms to long, connected passages many miles long.  The exploring of caverns has become a sport, and many caverns have become natural attractions and host many tourists every year.


The underground St. Lenoard Lake

Underground lakes – Large bodies of water found under the earth’s crust in areas such as caverns.  The water in these lakes came originally from the underground water supply from which oceans formed, but now the water supply comes from rainwater that have seeped into the ground.
“The water appeared illuminated … as if from within […] The entire cavern shone with an eerie reddish hue, its pale walls awash with tendril-like reflections of rippling water” (Brown 27).  This is Knowlton’s description of the cavern and the underground lake in Zobrist’s video, which conjures a mysterious and sinister impression of the cavern.


The Antonio Gramsci commemorative plaque in Moscow

Plaque – A plate with text or images attached to a surface.  This plate may be constructed from materials such as metal, ceramic, wood, or stone while the image may be carved into the plate or sculpted in relief.  Plaques are often created in commemoration of a person or event.

The plaque in Inferno reads “IN THIS PLACE, ON THIS DATE, THE WORLD WAS CHANGED FOREVER” (Brown 27).   There have been many events that are referred to as the one that changed the world, such as the first atomic explosion, where on July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was tested in an isolated area of the New Mexico desert.  Others, especially Americans,  might consider 9/11 attacks where the al-Qaeda terrorist group hijacked several airlines and attempted to crash them into buildings in suicide attacks such a date.


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