Igor (Discworld)

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Igor
Discworld character
Igor with dog as envisioned by Paul Kidby
First appearance Carpe Jugulum
Created by Terry Pratchett
Information
Description A group of gifted medical specialists / assistants with a remarkable drive for self-improvement of the most creative fashion.
Associations Various, but noted assistants of mad scientists and, lately, the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.
Location Überwald, Ankh-Morpork, Borogravia
Also in Unseen Academicals
The Fifth Elephant
The Truth
Thief of Time
Night Watch
Monstrous Regiment
Going Postal
Thud!
Making Money
Notes Talented surgeons, but must be monitored, lest the patient awake with a few modifications the Igor in question thought would be nice to have.

The Igors are a recurring set of characters in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of novels. They are members of a clan of servants from the region of Überwald, all of which are named Igor.

Origins[edit]

The Igors are based partially upon Mary Shelley's Frankenstein's Monster, and partially upon the hunchbacked assistants in Universal and Hammer's film versions.

Appearance[edit]

While Igors are born in the normal fashion, the clan's strong tradition of surgery usually means that by the time they would have grown to maturity in the natural way many of their body-parts have already been swapped around repeatedly, mostly within the clan.

All Igors have stitches, but these appear to be more like clan markings than actual repairs. The male members of the Igor clan traditionally lisp (though sometimes some forget), are considered very good catches for any young lady (it is probably best not to wonder why), and their daughters tend to be very attractive (according to the Hollywood tradition of beautiful lab assistants). In Making Money, it is shown by Hubert's Igor that their lisping is actually just for show, because people "expect it." The female members (Igorinas) tend to not show their stitches and can be very attractive in conventional human standards, although they usually wear one or two subtle rings of stitches to show allegiance to the clan. Igorinas usually share the talent of the males, but sometimes are denied as much access to their work owing to deep-rooted traditional sexism. They also generally do not lisp as much.

Skills[edit]

While they are extremely diligent in using their surgical skills among themselves they are also careful to share them among the people around their homes, possibly in a bid to make sure that when the torch-bearing mob comes along to kill the latest freak of science the resident Igor will be spared. The tradition is that people helped by an Igor later allow it to have a "rummage around" for useful organs after they die. If the Igor is turned away from the house, no Igor will help that village again. The Igor clan motto is, "What goeth around, cometh around... or thtopth."

Beyond surgery, Igors have an advanced knowledge of what they call "bio-artificing" (a kind of genetic engineering which, on the Discworld, involves "very small stitches") and often create "pets" for themselves, such as dogs made from various dog breeds and a rabbit with human ears growing out of it. A hamster created by such methods apparently broke out of its cage and chewed off a man's leg before flying away. An Igor's expertise in human surgery also extends to the veterinary world; there is known to be one horse in Ankh-Morpork, owned by Hobson's livery stables (which employs an Igor), with a longitudinal seam extending the entire circumference of the animal, sewn together from the remains of a particularly nasty collision. It is advisable, when asking an Igor about his job, not to allow your imagination to follow his answer all the way. It is also hinted in Unseen Academicals that their knowledge goes beyond the biological, for instance they know the secret of creating gold, although the precise statement is that they know how to make armor that looks like gold.

They have a strange ability to be at your side (or just behind you) when you call them, and at a door before you knock. Their other ability, returning to a room unnoticed while having previously left through a door, is possibly a spoof of the common bloopers and mistakes in old horror movies. They also have a knack for making any door they open creak; Igors who take up long-term residence in a particular place will often cultivate these creaks via careful lack of oiling.

Injury[edit]

When an Igor suffers irreparable damage (which is hard to achieve in people who install back-up hearts and a lightning rod down their backs), they are usually "broken down for thpareth"; their functioning body-parts are distributed amongst those who need them and their brains are conserved until such time as another Igor finds a semi-willing patient with irreparable head-trauma, or manages to construct a suitable body from available parts. One such occasion, in The Fifth Elephant, showed clan members going home with what Samuel Vimes recognized to be party loot bags, each with a part of the deceased Igor.

Societal roles[edit]

An Igor servant is considered a must by all members of the Überwald upper classes and, naturally, by any serious mad scientist. In recent years, they have increasingly been seen outside of Überwald, where their skills far outstrip those of any non-Igor surgeon on the Disc.

Igors have a particular code of honour, which makes them very loyal and hard-working. The code is explicit on certain matters: Never question the master ("No, thur, that'th an artery"); never pass judgment ("What do you want a hundred virginth for?"); never grumble ("Where am I going to find a brain at thith time of night?"). If an Igor spent any time in making value judgements, he would never get anything done. They will continue their servitude even if they disapprove of their master's work, but their faith is merely strong, not boundless. When the mob comes, they leave out the back, and certain activities sicken them to a point that they can consider breaking the code. In the words of one of the founding Igors: "We belong dead? Excuthe me? Where doeth it thay 'we'?"

As well, Igors who are not bound to a particular master have a compulsion to offer any medical aid they can offer, whatever the circumstances. In Monstrous Regiment, an Igor serving as the medic for a Borogravian regiment insisted on stopping to give aid to wounded soldiers of the opposing army, Zlobenia, as the Igors always offer a helping hand wherever needed.

Igors are well known for knowing exactly which Igor a person is talking about, despite the facts that they are all named Igor and that the speaker hasn't yet told them which Igor they are referring to. Igor-recognition by sight takes some practice but is quite possible to do: the key is the stitch pattern.

Appearances in novels[edit]

One Igor went with Samuel Vimes to Ankh-Morpork. He now works for the Ankh-Morpork City Watch and is a prominent bio-artificing specialist. This Igor appears in The Fifth Elephant, The Truth, Night Watch and Thud!. He shows a disregard and scorn for traditions of Igors, such as lisping, which he sometimes forgets or neglects to do, and reverence for anyone with a title in their name. Interestingly, young Igor's father admitted that young Igor was too modern for Überwald, but respected his skills (saying he's never known anyone as good at "really tiny thtitching"), though he generally disagrees with many of his practices, such as breeding body parts. Also known to breed swimming potatoes for instant Fish N Chips. Also, this particular Igor can call upon aid from other Ankh-Morpork Igors if he thinks it'll be needed—although the other Igors enjoy this; practising surgery and giving a hand to people who need it (possibly because it was just cut or pulled off in a street fight) is something the Igors live for.

When the Magpyr family went to Lancre they naturally brought along their Igor, who is more traditionally-minded than his employers and has a dog named Scraps (or "Thcrapth") that he built himself. See Carpe Jugulum.

Another Igor shipped himself to Ankh-Morpork to assist Jeremy Clockson in building a glass clock, as told in Thief of Time. This Igor is a member of an organisation called We R Igors (slogan: "A Spare Hand Where Needed", c-mail: yethmarthter@uberwald). Note that c-mail is the Discworld's equivalent to email.

A Borogravian member of the clan served in the Cheesemongers with Polly Perks, in the book Monstrous Regiment.

Reacher Gilt, Chairman of the Grand Trunk Company in Going Postal employed an Igor, as does the horse dealer Willie Hobson.

There are supposedly several Igors at the Free Hospital, because of this Lord Vetinari has ruled that if anyone is so badly injured that an Igor is needed to save them then the crime should be considered murder, as without the Igor this would be the case.

Confusingly, the barman at Biers (a pub in Ankh-Morpork catering to the undead) is named Igor, but is not an Igor, and reacts poorly when this suggestion is made. He appears in Feet of Clay, Hogfather and Thud!.

An Igor works at the Royal Bank of Morpork and assists Hubert Turvy in the creation and maintenance of the Glooper, a device that models (and modifies) the economy of the entire city as they happen.