If you were writing a book and needed to find out how red clothes dye is traditionally made, you’d probably start with a simple Google search. At least, that’s what John Boyne, the author behind The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas says he “must have” done when it emerged that several fantasy ingredients from The Legend of Zelda have appeared in his most recent book, A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom.
The problem, as journalist Dana Schwartz notes, is that rather than listing a real-world recipe, the current top search result for “ingredients red dye clothes” links to a guide from Polygon on how to dye clothes in the video game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s not an uncommon mistake for Google’s algorithms to make, but in this case the mistake seems to have made its way all the way into a published book by a respected author.
Yep, that’s a passage where a character uses ingredients including keese wing, Octorok Eyeball, red lizalfos tail, and four Hylian shrooms to make red clothes dye in the era of fifth-century ruler Attila the Hun. Oops.
Author John Boyne has taken news of the mistake in good humor. “Someone remind me to add Zelda to the acknowledgements page when the paperback of Traveller is published… oh lord…” the author tweeted on Sunday. Although this is the kind of mistake that could be corrected in a future print-run (or even sooner, in the case of the eBook version), the author has said he plans to “leave it as it is.”
Yeah, I’ll leave it as it is. I actually think it’s quite funny and you’re totally right. I don’t remember but I must have just googled it. Hey, sometimes you just gotta throw your hands up and say “yup! My bad!”
— John Boyne (@john_boyne) August 3, 2020
Let that be a lesson to all authors. Polygon is a great source for video game guides. But maybe don’t rely on it when you’re researching your next book set in the real-world.