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Igor (son of Rurik) succeeded his cousin Oleg as ruler of Kievan Russia in 913. On coming to the throne, Igor had to suppress several rebellions of tribes conquered by Oleg, since the tribes did not wish to pay tribute to Kiev if they could possibly avoid it. He generally succeeded in bringing the rebels and other surrounding tribes under his domination, and like his predecessor tried to attack the Byzantine Empire. Unfortunately, his ships were defeated by the "Greek fire" which was used by the Byzantines, and the treaty of 941 was not as good for the Rus as the one signed with Byzantium under Oleg.

Igor was killed by the Derevlian tribe in 945 while trying to collect the tribute they owed to him; apparently when they captured Igor alone, they bent two trees down, tied him to both, and let go of the trees, pulling him apart. He had been married to the Scandinavian princess Olga, with a son, Sviatoslav I, who was still a child at the time of Igor's death, so Olga became regent.

Igor is the archetypal mad scientist's assistant. He is, to wit: short, ugly, hunchbacked and/or lame, and his main functions include flipping switches and retrieving organs, especially brains. Though these brains may sometimes need to be dug up, they are more usually suspended in glass jars filled with mysterious liquid.

Some of Igor's secondary characteristics, which may differ between individual incarnations, include, but are not limited to, a lisp, and obsequious manner, a seriously deformed face (perhaps made up of various human parts?) incredibly stupidity, incredible intelligence, an Eastern European accent, or epilepsy.

Currently, the voice of NOAA's weather radio service. a computer program designed in 1995, it has been in use ever since, disseminating weather information to weather radio owners, and has been employed by stephen hawking for his own communication needs. However, after complaints about igor's 'accent', it now appears NOAA will replace it.

Ask most people who the assistant to Dr. Frankenstein is and they'll tell you it's Igor, the hunchback. In Young Frankenstein the hunchbacked assistant is named Igor... or, at least, EYE-gor. Anytime Frankenstein is done as a parody, or part of a cartoon, Igor is almost always present. Regardless of all this, Dr. Frankenstein's assistant was not Igor.

You might think I'm simply complaining about yet another difference between the movie and the book, but there is no Igor in the movie either. The definitive film of Frankenstein is the 1931 version directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff as "the Monster". In this version there is a hunchback assistant who fetches a brain, tortures the Monster with a torch and ends up getting killed. But, his name is Fritz. The sequal to Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein doesn't have a hunchback at all. But, the sequal (not directed by Whale, but starring Karloff) to Bride, Son of Frankenstein, does have a hunchback assistant named Ygor, and he's played by Bela Lugosi. I imagine this is where the popular idea of Igor came from. The Dr. in this movie is the son of the original doctor in the first movie.

Beginning around The Fifth Elephant, Igors have been a constant presence in Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. There, "Igor" is both the name of the individual and his occupation.

Any given Igor is a member of an extended family of Igors, all named Igor. They hail from the pseudo-Germanic country of Uberwald, where there's never a shortage of mad scientists in need of an obediant assistant to fetch the brains, mix the chemicals, and answer the door the instant it's knocked upon.

Igors all share a passionate interest in self-improvement, inheriting and adding body parts whenever they think they'll come in handy. When an Igor says he has his father's hands, he means it literally. The result is an ambulatory patchwork of stitches, mismatched facial features, and extra digits, but Igors don't mind. They're a practical bunch, and it adds to their recognizability.

Most Igors have a lisp and a hunchback, although some of the younger ones have begun rebelling against these traditions. Not all of them serve as scientific assistants, either; one works for the Ankh-Morpork Night Watch as a surgeon and forensic expert.

Igors are widely available throughout the Disc thanks to a special temp agency set up from Uberwald, "Igors R Us". Any Igor can be delivered (by overnight express, if necessary) to any city on demand, ready to serve any scientist or craftsman in need.

Igor is the name Charlie Freeman gives to Charonese Crewmember 'Alpha' in the novel Charon's Ark.


Igor's Origins

Alpha is the Crewmember responsible for performing the actual hijacking, establishing first contact, and then bringing the teenagers from Earth to Charon at the beginning of the novel. He is the first Charonese to speak with the humans. He makes a mess of his mission by botching his attempts to communicate with the terrified hijackees, driving them to even greater fear and violence against what they perceive as attacking robot foes. He attempts to converse with them via the simulated face of Walter Cronkite on TV sets, but it of course makes the humans even less willing to cooperate.

"Please do not damage the parts and equipment. It is better to remain inside the aircraft, for your comfort and convenience." Now the pattern on the screen had formed into the newscaster's face. The image's mouth was moving, although the remainder of the face was still frozen. The effect was uncanny.
"Would you like me to tell you things? Give you advice?" Charlie said.
"Your cooperation is sincerely appreciated. It is the purpose of the TV."
"Well, the first thing you should do is stop using the TV faces. Most of the time they look like zombies. They give us the creeps."
"What are zombies? What are creeps?"
Charlie staged a ghoulish laugh: "Mwoo-ha-ha-haaa . . . Zombies are the lifeless undead," he intoned hollowly. "Human beings catch a disease from zombies called the creeps."
"I understand. Zombies must be similar to ghosts. I have seen many shows about ghosts, demons, and the person Dracula. I estimate that these things are fantasies or fictions." The voice was sounding slightly more human.
"Don't be too sure," Charlie said, grinning at the screen.
---Charon's Ark, p. 53

This ignorance of human interactions (aside from TV presentations) causes Alpha to send thousands of helper robots into the cabin of the airplane without predicting that the humans would be frightened or resistant. The humans think they are being attacked and fight back with everything they've got. The destruction of the robots and general non-cooperation cause many of the spaceship's systems to fail, making the arrival at Charon messy and dangerous. Alpha, cut off from the Ark Computer, is preyed upon by the Proctor and eventually "zombified" to make a suitable AI/robot assistant to Charlie, who facetiously names him Igor.


Igor's perogatives are as follows:

  • Obey Charlie Freeman.
  • Protect Charlie Freeman.
  • Protect the secrets of the Proctor.


Charlie finds that Igor can be programmed to acknowledge orders in various humorous ways, and makes butler robots with droll accents and funny pre-programmed responses. If Igor cannot respond to a command, does not understand the command, or is responding to Charlie talking to himself, he will generally say "Very good, sir." While this is the majority I-Don't-Get-It response, others include quips such as "Mass bullshit, sir," which is Igor's response to Charlie's outloud craving for a bowl of Cheerios with sugar and milk (there is no grain on Charon, of course). Affirmative responses include "I hear and obey, o Master," and "Yes, Bwana!" (on safari).

Igor's finest moment is at the end of the book, after Charlie has severed the Proctor's main fiberoptic cable and been defensively sucked inside Charon's shell, where he helplessly orbits the black hole. The following scene shows the mesh between Charlie's programming, Alpha's remaining personality, and the pursuit of the Igor perogatives.

A little-girl voice said timidly, "Why don't we ask Igor to do it for us?"
Peake and Reilly raised their heads slowly to stare at Eva. She wriggled in her chair. "I mean, that's what Charlie used to do, isn't it?"
"It might work," Peake said wonderingly. He turned to the terminal. "Index!"
"Real-time contact with Igor."
"What the hell?" The room came alive. They crowded behind Peake's chair.
"What can it do to us?" Reilly said.
"Nothing, I'll bet," Peake said. "If it could, it would've done it already."
"Stop dorking around and tell it we surrender!" Chela shouted from behind the wall of backs. "Get its cooperation!" She jabbed her way to where she could see the screen.
"Okay, Chela, there's no need to get so---Igor, we humans surrender to you."
"He's alive!" Chela shouted, causing Peake to wince.
"Maybe this is really Charlie talking," Reilly said. "It sounds like him."
"It's not Charlie," Froward said. "If Charlie wanted something from us, he would'n't jerk us around about it. This sounds like a Charonese to me."
---Charon's Ark, p. 357

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