She leaned back, making the chair creak. “Our old friend the Guardian, also known as Mimir. The tech-rads must have dug deep into the myth-files to dredge up that name. A special case. An antique. One of the first AIs.
– From the short story “Mimir’s Well”, in my book Odin’s Eye
Choosing a cover-image for Odin’s Eye was an important step in the process of publishing the book, but I had to pick a title first, and the inspiration for that came from Norse mythology, and the stories about how Odin ended up with only one eye.
Odin was the All-Father, the Sky-god, the wise and sometimes wily king of Valhalla in the old Norse pantheon, and he was usually depicted with just one eye. The details on how he ended up like that differ slightly in different tales, but the gist of it is that Odin sacrificed his eye so that he could drink from a well of wisdom that was guarded by a powerful character called Mimir, or Mimer, or Mim.
To quote Snorre’s Edda, which talks about the ash tree Yggdrasil, the world tree:
But under the second root, which extends to the frost-giants, is the well of Mimer, wherein knowledge and wisdom are concealed. The owner of the well hight Mimer. He is full of wisdom, for he drinks from the well with the Gjallar-horn. Alfather once came there and asked for a drink from the well, but he did not get it before he left one of his eyes as a pledge.
Drinking from Mimir’s well gave Odin wisdom and the power to see into the past and into the future, even all the way to Ragnarök, the end of the world. But the price was that he had to maim himself, and leave his eye behind in the water. Fair trade? I guess Odin thought it was worth it.
Digging around in the “myth-files” to find a name for a science fiction book is nothing new in the world of literature, and the story of Odin’s eye and Mimir’s well just fits so effortlessly into the genre. Add the fact that there is an “eye-of-god-nebula” out there in the great big well of wisdom we call space, and it becomes simply irresistible.
To quote Snorre’s Edda once again:
So it is said in the Vala’s Prophecy: Well know I, Odin, Where you hid your eye: In the crystal-clear Well of Mimer.
If you’re up for a more detailed run-through of the story of Odin’s eye, check out my Q&A video: