Pre-narrative Briefings formed part of the linking material of The Book of the Enemy. Each was a briefing in the form of a quote of varying length from a person or document, chosen to accompany the following story.
Of the nineteen parts, two were written by Michael Simpson and Lesley Brakken, and the remaining seventeen were written by the anthology editor Simon Bucher-Jones and attributed to fictional individuals. Biographies for these individuals appeared interspersed among the real author biographies at the end of the book; several of them were referenced within the corresponding briefings.
Summary of Briefings
|0||Entarodora and Irma Ebbinghaus||Subjective Interlock||Simon Bucher-Jones|
|A||Irma Ebbinghaus||The Annotated Autopsy of Agent A|
|B||Oracle of Shakespeare||Cobweb and Ivory|
|C||Michael Simpson||The Book of the Enemy||Michael Simpson|
|D||Irma Ebbinghaus||T.memeticus: A Morphology||Simon Bucher-Jones|
|F||Robert Scarratt||The Short Briefing Sergeant's Tale|
|G||The Writer's Yearbook 2019||A Bloody (And Public) Domaine|
|K||Xenaria Who Survived||We Are the Enemy|
|M||Malachi Yarrow||A Choice of Houses|
|N||Book of Lies||Houses of Cards|
|O||Infancy Gospel of Grandfather Paradox|
|P||Psychiatrist||The Enemy - The Hole in Everything|
|Q||Lesley Drakken||The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Enemy||Lesley Drakken|
|R||Gen Volst||No Enemy But Despair||Simon Bucher-Jones|
|S||X-12||The Map and the Spiders|
Fifth Wave agents were exposed "to aspects of The Enemy's anderenseelenallein" (uniqueness and singularity) and the metabriefing forms a narrative out of these experiences. The agents are recovering from contact with the Enemy, so they are stored orthogonally in time and relive the experiences they had prior, sharing memories with other agents in the same state.
Irma Ebbinghaus, an early 20th century human member of House Lineacrux's Strategist Guild, states that the Enemy is not a world or a species, nor are people consistently "of" the Enemy. Rather, you must ask who benefits, those who create or those who consume, and the most sinister belief is that things not only could have been different, but might still be different. Of course, this is only the representatives of the Enemy. Behind that is, instead, a different kind of entity, a different experience of what it is to be.
The Oracle of Shakespeare, a House Mirraflex construct loosely based on William Shakespeare's psyche, talks about how art can show things that cannot be stated through words, how Gods and metaphors help us think about the world in different ways. It suggests that in the future, if the capacity for the appreciation of art is removed from the Great Houses, the accommodation foreshadowed by the Utterlost Accords may be reached. It is uncertain whether the Oracle is anything more than a standard briefing trawl-psychengine with a Shakespearean routine, but it has achieved "unnerving success" in the Lesser Batavian Campaign and written several plays.
Michael Simpson compares the Great Houses to the Whig party, or, specifically, to having a specifically Whig view of history. Faction Paradox challenges this, disrupts the metanarrative, but at the same time depends on them so as to subvert them. The Enemy is the cold light of day of reality, the fact that the Great Houses aren't the center of the universe. The Great Houses being what they are, only have the way of thinking that this is an attack and that it's intelligent, and treat it as an enemy.
Briefing D & E
Irma Ebbinghaus and the disgraced former war-strategist Entarodora agree that listening to records obtained from Faction Paradox is important to understanding the enemy, but they disagree on how much emphasis to place on them, with Irma seeing them as suspect and Entarodora viewing them as valuable pieces of insight from an outside viewpoint.
Robert Scarratt observes that comedy, not a massively important part of the Houses' culture, still was important to that of the humanic cultures, and so would pop up in briefings from time to time. Scarratt is definitely dead in 27th century Vienna and definitely not now known as Little Brother Ratas de la Cicatriz.
An excerpt from the Writer's Yearbook, 2019 worries about what it will look like when neural nets begin to actually write better than humans, and if humans can actually understand what they will create. It also asks what sort of monsters these neural nets will create to rival dragons and Nosferatu.
Scarratt states that as members of the Great Houses have always upheld themselves to be beyond the ravages of time, the type of encounter with the Enemy most disturbing to them is what humans term "body horror".
Entarodora says that instead of looking at the differences in the briefings, you need to look for what the briefings do not or cannot say. If this is what can be expressed, what is the inexpressible actually like?
The poem La belle dame sans joie is quoted. It was published in 1820 in The Indicator under the name Alain Chartier, a poet who had died in 1430; while the true author was "likely" The Indicator's editor Leigh Hunt, rumours suggest that Chartier's life was extended by a time-active power as part of an obscure aesthetic gambit.
Xenaria Who Survived, a War Hero whose psyche was lost in the Fifth Planet Gambit, states that since you can fight what you can understand but not what is ineffable, the House Military speaks of the enemy in metaphor out of fear that its reality might be incomprehensible.
In an excerpt from his retro-published book Retroeconomics and Timeschism for Dummies, posthuman swindler Marko Marz discusses the collateral impact of the War from an economic perspective, and how the New Spiral Order suggest that either every sapient can travel in time or none can.
Malachi Yarrow led the British Secret Service's section for Mal'akh-related intelligence before retiring to Jersey. In The Missing Hour Occupancy – Hauntings of the Channel Islands, he recounted that on Jersey is a villa with a sculpture of a peacock. A missing hour exists from the change in timezone as the island changed hands between the British and German, and the despairing spirit of Nazi soldiers waiting silently in the labyrinths below is still felt by the island to this day. In 2017, apparently in the throws of Alzheimer's, he disappeared from his home; left behind were a white peacock statue and a large number of insects.
Briefing N & O
Aphorisms of the Enemy: The Book of Lies has a series of quotes taken from it, while the Infancy Gospel of Grandfather Paradox has a section wherein Grandfather Paradox talks about how it would be more fun if events weren't linear, but out of order, or all at once, and the lesser species aren't so lesser after all.
A psychiatrist recounts that a patient is suffering from paranoid delusion, that they think they're in a hospital suffering from PTSD after taking part in a 'War'. Various accounts are given of multiple things they've done in said War.
Another poem is replicated in full.
Professor Gen Volst of the Pasadena BlackSky Institute informs his colleagues that their institute is broke and proposes a new experiment, entangling particles not only in space but in time. Furthermore, he suggests, they could use this to entangle details of lottery numbers backwards in time in order to buy tickets. He later vanished, and some suggest that his name might have always been a pseudonym.
- Main article: [[Subjective Injection Omega (short story)]]
- Scarratt rejects the term "lesser species" as pejorative.
- The Utterlost Accords are mentioned.
- The Great Captains were House Military heroes in the War in Heaven.
- In the print book, Pre-narrative Briefing Q appears between R and S. This is fixed in the ebook version.
- The pre-narrative briefings were followed by one "Post-Narrative Briefing", the final part of Subjective Interlock.
- In November 2017, Simon Bucher-Jones posted on his blog a cut excerpt from The Book of the Enemy. In it, the series of briefings is said to address "the essential problem of ENEMY IDENTIFICTION".
- What Gen Volst is suggesting in our world is physically impossible for a myriad of reasons, not least of which that he suggests entanglement can transfer information faster than light, which is a violation of the no-communication theorem, a mathematical impossibility.
- Irma Ebbinghouse notes that agents of the Enemy are referred to as "Reps". (PROSE: The Taking of Planet 5)
- Robert Scarratt is "now definitely" dead. (PROSE: The Brakespeare Voyage)
- Powers that are not the Enemy, but have tried to take advantage of the Great Houses' paranoia, include the Mal'akh "hoping for a little payback"; (PROSE: The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, The Book of the War, et al) "the end-point summoned into the City of the Saved"; (PROSE: A Hundred Words from a Civil War, God Encompasses) defectors from the Sixth Wave; (PROSE: The Book of the War) a progressive timeship; (PROSE: Toy Story, AUDIO: The Shadow Play, et al.) and xenophobic mutants in personal war machines. (TV: The Daleks, et al.)
- The ideology of the Great Houses is compared to the Whig political party. The man with the rosette, one of the four surviving elementals, specifically wore the colours of the Whig party when the War was over. (PROSE: The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, The Gallifrey Chronicles)
- Xenaria is considered a war hero and has been given the honorary title "Xenaria Who Survived." (PROSE: The Taking of Planet 5)