It’s time for a climax, complete with leg-crushing statues, aquatic cavalry, and not one but two last-minute side switches. In other words, it’s time for the 19th chapter of Michael Reads Percy Jackson: The Last Olympian…
My Parents Go Commando
Things aren’t looking good at the start, here. Clarisse is locked in ice, wounded lay everywhere… But there is some bright spot of hope, because the party-ponies are gone! Yaaay! (Okay, so I guess that’s kind of a bad thing for Percy, but I’m looking at the silver lining here.) 😀 [Read more…]
Percy calls for reinforcements, Rachel has a destiny, and Clarisse kicks the living snot out of everyone. In other words, it’s the seventeenth chapter in Michael Reads Percy Jackson: The Last Olympian, a.k.a…
I Sit on the Hot Seat
Holy Iliad! The parallels to Achilles in that tale are just bursting all over the place, aren’t they? (And I quite like it.) Silena’s theft of Clarisse’s armor in order to rally the troops and lead them into battle in her guise (clever Silena) is a clear parallel to Patroclus doing the same with Achilles’ armor. I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t noticed that in the last chapter. Nonetheless, when she died (poor, clever Silena) and Clarisse went absolutely berserk with battle-rage, beat the holy crap out of the advancing army, and drove around dragging the drakon’s dead body behind her chariot, it became pretty clear, and pretty awesome. [Read more…]
Last Thursday night I had the pleasure of being a guest of Thirty Minds, a Seattle book club who recently read Zeus Is Dead. I had a great time, and it was fantastic meeting attending Stephanie, Amber, Emilie, Jessica, and Wes. Everyone was fun, friendly, and awesome. Even better, they seemed to enjoy the book! (There’s always the chance I’m walking into an author-intervention, after all…) If you’re curious, Baskin seemed to be the favorite character, with Jerry as a close second.
One thing that came up was the topic of razorwings, and some of my other brainstormed ideas for what they might be. (I knew, when I was planning the book, that I wanted some kind of recurring creature, but I didn’t know quite what it would be at first.) Unfortunately, my memory failed me on what those ideas were–though I did remember the “octo-kitten” concept. I told them I’d dig through my notes and get back to them. And so, here it is, transcribed from my original pre-writing notes. Keep in mind, this is all me essentially talking to myself…
Some particular brand of recurring creature creation? Something small but numerous that governments have to set up task forces to fight using god-given hints/aid. (There’s perhaps a god-instigated quest to go find something that will help. It’s an off-screen sort of thing, maybe.) But they show up now and again at bad times. Plus they keep the government occupied somewhat. (The god who created them is the same one that gave them the hint/help. He/she just wants some sort of entertainment. The reveal of this fact to humanity will be a good specific situation to inspire the desire to boot them all. It’s good because it’s not an abstract thing, and perhaps something the reader will have seen mortals dealing with over the whole book.) Whatever the creatures are, they ought to be comical in some fashion, though also scary…like psychotic piranha-penguins or miniature bloodthirsty political pundit/car-dealer squirrels or something.
What do they look like?
- Winged white feral kittens (with red bat wings)
- Kitten-headed millipedes
- Furry balls with mouths that bounce
- Flying penguins
- Tentacled kittens (octo-kitten!)
What are they called?
- Poorly named, but no one who had not encountered them would take “death kittens” seriously.
What do they do?
- Razor-sharp wings
- Spit poison (paralyzing)
- One in ten (notable by blue wings) can chew through metal, though doing so seems to more be related to whim than anything else.
- Easily distracted by laser pointers/yarn
- When one is killed, either two rise from that one, or it explodes in a burst of fire(or something else appropriate to the god who created them) and candy(obviously some ancient form of this creature inspired the piñata–except if one is killed by another exploding, it invariably creates two. This can be very dangerous if you hit one in the middle of a group.
- They like to pick up random stuff and carry it off a ways before losing interest
How are they being dealt with?
- The red/white/blue scheme has some wanting them protected, and labeled second to the bald eagle (who, let’s face it, are slackers, refusing to switch to more patriotic colors)
- Laser pointers used to distract them and redirect them
- Helicopters dangling lengths of string that lead them away from populated areas
- Drugs (gas grenades, tranq darts)
How do you kill them safely?
- A particular frequency of sound?
- If they feed enough, they pass out (and can be gathered up)
- Fire (fire fixes everything!), though the mewling is terrible unless they’re passed out.
But hey, why stop there? I’d already transcribed a bunch of other notes for a little promotional “extra” for those who bought the book during its first week of release. It’s now been long enough that I can share them with the rest of you. So if you loved Zeus Is Dead and want a glimpse into how it came to be (and some of the ideas that didn’t make it into the original draft), have a look at the rest of everything below!
Note: Before I had named Tracy, Leif, Jason, and Thad, I referred to them as “ZD” (Zeus’s daughter), “GSG/GG” (genre-savvy geek/gamer geek), “AG” (athletic guy), and “CS” (conspiracy son). Enjoy!
- Use media reports (TV news transcripts, radio, blogs, newspaper clippings, etc.) at the beginnings of chapters?
- The gods cannot abide a paradox? (See Laelaps and the uncatchable fox)
- Voice: Occasional omniscient narrator (to frame things a bit and talk a little about what’s happened since the gods came back/do humorous asides), but mostly limited omniscient viewpoint with various characters like in my other books.
- Zeus trusts Aphrodite implicitly (perhaps blindly) and somehow imparts word of this trust to Zeus’s offspring. At some point they have to decide whether or not to trust Aphrodite, and GG counsels that they really shouldn’t, since there’s ALWAYS some sort of betrayal/twist at the end, and Aphrodite’s probably it. (This begs the question of if they don’t let Aphrodite be in a position to betray them, does that mean someone else will to fill the dramatic void? Possibly a muse, since they’re sensitive to that stuff? Possibly Apollo? The betrayal could be against their will, even, and they’re compelled to do so by the very power of formulaic plot! “MUST! …SATISFY NEED! …FOR PLOT TWIST!”)
- Possibly told by one of the Muses?
- The gods should have some weakness (akin to vampires and garlic) with a common thing of the modern world…just ’cause it’d be funny. (And maybe that’s an element of the god-killer.) Maybe each god has a unique one that they all keep secret?
- Maybe start with Zeus keeping watch/checking in with his child, both out of self-interest (foreshadow that the child will be important–though too much of this will ruin any surprise later, so if I WANT it to be a surprise, I’ll have to be very subtle–and because he loves the child. Perhaps she’s undergoing some trial he wants to help with, but he can’t because of his own decree. That way hopefully the reader will identify with the child AND Zeus, and then Zeus gets assassinated in the same chapter.
- They’re not really gods, just exceedingly powerful other-dimensional beings. But they’re tired of not having their efforts recognized/not being worshipped and want to be again.
- Book begins with Zeus’s assassination, or reports of same. Actually showing it might be a better hook, though.
- Do something clever with things like “white-armed Hera” that either parody this or just update it for modern times?
- First thing the gods do is some grand gesture(s) that get misinterpreted in various ways (by various people), so then they hold a press conference. Possible grand gestures:
- Raising Atlantis (they have to sink Iceland and Greenland to do it, but they never much liked those places anyway).
- If possible, make one grand gesture a Chekhov’s gun. Maybe have them pull a bunch of small rocks from Saturn’s rings and send them raining down across the Earth. Scavenged material from these are used in Zeus’s god-maker?
- The gods also decide to bring monsters back. (This might be a grand gesture, might be post-press conference.) Reason: There’s not enough opportunity for non-human combat glory, and most gods are tired of Ares getting so much play.
- The gods have been breeding monsters in a pocket dimension and there’s a backlog from not releasing them for so many years, so there’s a LOT that can spread over the world.
- Monsters don’t breed in the wild much. It has to be done artificially, since the ecosystem just wouldn’t support them. (“Do you know how much a hydra would have to EAT?”)
- The gods like monsters also because they make things interesting, but Zeus made them stop (WHY?) long ago.
- The gods continued to have monster design contests to support their egos. (Spore?)
- Apollo is against the whole return-and-be-worshipped thing.
- He’s too busy already (multi-purpose god) and doesn’t want to have to deal with all the paperwork involved in worshippers. (He’s bad at delegating. Again, multi-purpose god.)
- The Muses are in Apollo’s camp. He’s talked them into supporting him due to potential creative burn-out (more people know of them, so more harass them–especially the millions of struggling/starting artists) and executive meddling fatigue. Maybe have a muse use the Idiot Ball in some manner?
- It’s possible Apollo might still bear some minor grudge for whatever muse helped inspire Clash of the Titans, since he wasn’t in it. …Or maybe he didn’t WANT to be in it? (Though that’s really more hostile to that movie than I think I want to be.)
- Apollo also thinks the whole endeavor is doomed to disaster, what with the whole ability to prophecy (though the Fates being what they are, it’s hard to be sure).
- Apollo further doesn’t think Zeus is actually dead–he’s had flashes of him showing up in prophecy, so he maybe goes looking for him? (Possible twist: He’s not alive at all, but somehow Apollo is tricked/misinterprets?)
- Fates/”Moerae”? (Re-read about them to get ideas.)
- Names: Clotho (the spinner), Lachesis (the measurer), Atropos (the cutter, oldest of the three)
- Important: The Fates were NOT fathered by Zeus, despite myth to the contrary. (Key word: “myth.”) The Greeks couldn’t handle the idea of a man not being in charge (patrilineal).
- Cold, logical, not mean, but very little emotion.
- Traditionally depicted as crones/hags (WITH BEARDS?!), but maybe find some way to differentiate them from the Furies a bit more. They don’t have to all look the same, either. Maybe they’re not even humanoid?
- Then again, sometimes the Fates are beautiful/powerful, so…hm.
- Where do they live/how do you get to see them? They’re not ON Olympus, but the only way to actually go visit them is through a gate there, maybe?
- One possibility: The gate is necessary because the Fates tend to shift location every once in a while (setting up in some shop or somewhere that isn’t being used), or they’re actually on some sort of traveling ship of some kind?
- Erinyes are probably having a grand time, if a bit busy. (Read more about them, too.)
- In myth, they often stood for the rightness of things within the standard order, such as keeping Apollo from driving the sun off course, or avenging the murder of a family member by another family member.
- Iliad: “those who beneath the earth punish whoever has sworn a false oath.”
- Sometimes will turn into Eumenidies (“kindly ones”), or maybe the Eums are separate creatures? Some scholars believe it was just a different name to avoid invoking their wrath (like calling faeries “fair folk” instead), and I like this idea better.
- Titans possibly released, possibly by mortals? (Maybe the Christian Right decides to let the gods & titans fight and hopefully wipe each other out?)
- Do something with a hubristic punishment situation like Arachne, etc. Maybe a god responding to lay the hubristic smack down before doing something else…
- Apollo/Muses put together some crack team to go do something. Build it up a lot (perhaps even establishing the characters in some ancillary way beforehand); the best of the best, skill so great they rival those of the gods, etc. Then at the last moment have one of the conspirators drop an anvil (or something) on them all (maybe this happens more than once) so that Apollo just says, screw it, just grab someone who won’t attract attention/some random stranger.
- Apollo (and the Muses to a lesser extent) can’t directly do things to bring back Zeus because they’d attract too much attention. (This is somewhat solved when Apollo self-diminishes after officially going rogue, since he’s now got no choice but to give up his power or fail.) This is part of why he has to put together a mortal team.
- At some point Apollo & the gang have to go to Hades to sail the Styx; not because they need to enter the land of the dead, it’s just useful as a form of transit.
- Maybe GG isn’t genre-savvy so much as he just loves the tropes, and maybe at some point in the beginning Zeus’s offspring is about to bring Zeus back or find something they need to bring Zeus back, and GG instead says no, we have to wait until it gets harder! (“This is too easy.” Then he deliberately waits until some sort of drama/quest extender is created. This might actually wind up saving them in the long run, perhaps?)
- Subvertable tropes (that GG can notice and create expectations for that don’t come true):
- Possible prophetic dream by GG who thinks it’s some sort of message, because dreams always have relevance/perfect prophecy in fiction, but it turns out it’s just a dream? (Maybe Apollo says no, that’s not how it works. Death’s brother Sleep just likes to screw with your mind.)
- Two people who just “happen” to both be out on a balcony under a full moon must fall in love.
- Some people (RPG geeks, maybe?) decide to try to start praying to Odin or Thor. Or Cthulhu. Do they exist and have been disposed of, or are they just made up?
- Classical scholars’ pay skyrockets overnight.
- There’s a new reality show: Monster Slayers or something, that Zeus’s offspring is involved in (maybe her boyfriend is the athlete guy?), and GG stows away to be with her? Or maybe GG follows her to Vegas, using the rest of his savings or doing something more outlandish that pays for his ticket.
- Maybe he runs into some mortals who are trying to pray to Odin or Thor or Cthulhu or something, and they get attacked by the Erinyes. (Most likely Cthulhu, because then when the Erinyes show up one of them can be all thrilled that they’re being slaughtered, thinking it’s Cthulhu returning. One of the mortals manages to wound a Fury with a cardboard-foam sword and GG picks up a feather or something that will later help with Zeus’s resurrection?)
- Maybe athlete guy is killed and goes to Hades, speaking with him for some reason…if there’s some reason for Hades to be useful. Maybe part of restoring Zeus IS going to Hades, or at least to Styx. Styx water would be a component or something. Not that AG could be helpful here, but he could at least show up and say something. Or maybe he heard something vital from another dead person and left a message with Charon for the next time he goes up to the surface. Hey, maybe Marcus is part of the whole ferryman thing still, pulling his six months. Either they run into Marcus or that’s just the reason Charon would be going to the surface eventually? Maybe GG goes down into Hades to ask someone where Zeus IS? (Though how does THAT make sense?)
- Mythology scholars seek to find out answers to questions (thought previously “merely” mythological) regarding the Titans, who created who/what, and so forth, but the gods’ stories are often conflicting due to their own desire for self-promotion or their perhaps not being sure about some things themselves
- Nearly all gods save Apollo are pleased with the return. Some are more accepting of Zeus’s assassination than others. The conspirators are able to cow them into submission with fear, since they’ve got a god-killer.
- Then again, what if the conspirators keep their identities a secret? (Some would be more concerned with keeping their own involvement secret than others, though.) Others have their suspicions, but again, they’ve got a god-killer.
- Formerly chaste goddesses (or some of them, like maybe Athena and Hestia) aren’t anymore. (Why let the gods have all the fun?)
- Lots of gods have names that start with A. And H. “What’s that about?” (Possible factionalization along those lines? Though maybe that’s just stupid.)
- End of the book: gods booted off the planet, possibly with Zeus’s help?
- Though the entire pantheon is disturbed about there being some sort of god-killer device, they’ve chafed for two millennia over being forced to lay dormant, and were really getting damned fed up with Zeus’s policies. Most are happy he’s gone and quite occupied now with the logistics of becoming more public.
- Some think there might be only one killer, and that Ares is just posturing when he says he was part of a conspiracy in order to both gain power and not have to produce the weapon.
- Some think it IS a conspiracy, but isn’t sure who did it.
- All want to find out, since knowledge is power, but it’s not a major concern. Killing too many gods would create a workload for others, and leadership is really the big prize, so if anyone should worry, it’s Poseidon, and they all figure he was involved in killing Zeus anyway.
- The conspirators are happily going about their own business (some feeling more guilty than others), but when rumors or word gets out about there being a possibility that Zeus could be brought back, (someone overhears Apollo talking…perhaps to a muse or to GG?), they start getting worried and move to stop Apollo’s efforts.
- Apollo is well-liked, though, so killing him would be difficult. In fact, a number of the conspirators are directly opposed to this anyway.
- Most don’t want to show that they were involved, some because they would consider that a mark on their status, but all because if there’s a chance Zeus DOES come back, they fear retribution.
- Zeus was the only one not swallowed by Cronus, helped by Gaia. Possibly that has something to do with his surviving the assassination or just why he’s more powerful?
- IF Zeus is still alive/returns, he’ll need some way to have/get enough power to banish the other gods, likely through some grand scheme and/or mortal aid.
- Perhaps at the end he raises some mortals to replace the other gods, likely with a god-making device that already exists, given how he’s been able to raise other mortals to demigod status?
- Maybe he’ll try to raise some but it won’t work; he’ll be rejected and booted with the others? (New gods turning on him, or maybe they’ll reject the power outright? The latter seems less likely with human nature. Might have to be finessed if I go that route.)
- Humanity still left with a means to make themselves gods, maybe? (Works for adversaries for a sequel, too.)
- Surely there’s some few mortals around with divine parentage? (Though not as many as you’d think any more. Some sort of deal between Zeus and Hera to limit this, or use birth control, since some of it was getting out of hand and, also, affecting the laying low thing.)
- Why were the gods laying low?
Gods and their modern purview:
- Apollo (most actively opposed to the assassination and public return)
- Aphrodite (one of the conspirators, but keeps it secret)
- Love, lust, much of the entertainment industry
- Ares (one of the conspirators, and openly admits it–also says he didn’t act alone, but doesn’t say who else did it. He has no ambitions to lead the gods, though.)
- No one proclaims to like him, but they need him – some secretly like him, and he’s fine with that
- Secret love affairs
- His whole branch of the family (Eris, etc.) no one likes to invite to family functions
- Racism (though he has no favored race, he flips around depending on the situation)
- Loves dogs–also loves dog fights
- Weapons research/technology – cop-killer bullets, chemical weapons
- Helped out on the Manhattan Project
- Bad side of politics
- Pundit shows (on either side)
- Reality TV (which thrives on contrived/engineered conflict)
- Dislikes baseball, prefers ultimate fighting, European football, American football, hockey (but thinks the latter two have too much padding and all need more blades–though the hockey sticks are a good start)
- Artemis (not a conspirator, but likes being able to assert nature a bit more overtly, so she’s torn between that and the fact that her father’s dead)
- Moon (werewolves)
- Still chaste (some gods joke that she’s so chaotic because she insists on celibacy).
- Came up with tall beautiful trees AND poison oak
- Definite environmentalist
- Athena (semi-conspirator. Complicit in allowing Zeus to be killed, but not actively involved. She knew about it, but wanted glory, and didn’t tell anyone. Secretly ashamed; perhaps vows to find the real killers.)
- Department of Homeland Security
- Nuclear deterrents (“And it’s not nu-CU-lar, dammit!”)
- Home security
- NRA fan
- Computer security
- Defensive action, Kevlar vests
- Karate, jedi (wisdom, defense), Buffy
- Formerly chaste
- Demeter (not a conspirator, and a little too spacey to be bothered. Wishes the gods could have talked out their difficulties, though. She wasn’t Dodek, but was given Zeus’s spot since all the other gods figured she’d be easily influenced)
- Farming, grain, bread, pasta, food, etc.
- Fan of ethanol fuels
- Kindly, gentle, loving sort- mother-figure (bakes a lot), maybe a little oblivious?
- Not terribly thrilled about the whole monster-returning thing, but too much of a softy to really stand up to the other gods, yet she’s not really weak, just easy-going? (Maybe persuading her of something might be a plot point?)
- Dionysus* (used to be Dodek, but got drunk and skipped out on the meetings, and Hestia took her spot back?) (One of the conspirators. Tries to keep it a secret, but wouldn’t be TOO bothered if anyone found it. Doesn’t figure anyone would think he’d have the initiative to do it, though, and is fine with letting everyone think that. …At least for a while. Maybe he gets a bit boastful when drunk.)
- Recreational drugs
- Frat parties
- Watching sporting events (but not participating)
- Video games
- Thinks pro-wrestling is stupid, though. (No gods like it)
- Night clubs
- Strip clubs, using the Internet for porn
- Runs and lives in Las Vegas
- NOTE: Only half-immortal. He’s a semi-incompetent who got his position via daddy’s help. (W?)
- Invented the hangover so mortals would know their place, and because he thought it was funny.
- Hades (one of the conspirators–in fact possibly was the one to learn of the secret of the god-killer through some dead guy somehow–doesn’t deny anything, but doesn’t admit to anything- he likes being unreadable)
- Death/Land of the dead
- Precious metals
- Came up with wedding rings with Hera
- Fan of Halloween?
- Horror movies
- Hecate* (not one of the conspirators, but thinks it was a great idea–she’s just sorry no one asked her to help)
- Outsiders (wasn’t originally Greek – maybe I can do something with this)
- She was “adopted” from somewhere else, as evidenced by there being so many different stories as to whose child she IS. Don’t really say where until/unless I come up with something interesting. Maybe leave it unstated other than to say she was an outsider, then develop it more in another book?
- “Queen of all Witches” – Magic/Wicca, Goths
- Supernatural romance novels (even wrote some under a synonym)
- Stars/night sky
- Created a number of the new monsters, and is a little hurt/cranky that none of the other gods were as impressed with them as she thought they should be.
- Outsiders (wasn’t originally Greek – maybe I can do something with this)
- Hephaestus/Vulcan (as he prefers to be called nowadays) (Not a conspirator, but people are suspicious of him, thinking he might have MADE a god-killer.)
- Technology (subscribes to Scientific American, knows Bill Gates personally)
- NO weapons tech (he’s a kind guy)
- Buildings (Habitat for Humanity?)- also makes the gods’ dwellings
- Star Trek (“Don’t ask me how. It’s a legal thing.” – Or maybe he’s a Trek fan?)
- Hera (not part of the conspiracy due to thinking assassination goes too far–on the other hand, she’s perfectly happy that he’s gone, and marries Poseidon, since he’s now king)
- Hillary Clinton
- Cow sacred to her (Goddess of Burgers?)
- Marriage (divorce, too? Or would she be against that? Perhaps she is, considering marriage an obligation and duty rather than something pleasurable. “If sex is fun, you’re not doing it right!”)
- Revenge through turning people into stuff.
- Hermes (minor conspirator; he was bought off to help them conspire without being overheard; maybe even stole the god-killer from one of Zeus’s vaults? He didn’t realize what it was about–thought it would just be a joke–and would keep his involvement a secret if he can.)
- Boundaries & boundary-crossing
- Irritated at Al Gore for inventing the Internet
- SG-1 fan (boundary-crossing)
- Hestia (she’s a homebody) (not a conspirator)
- Poseidon (not one of the conspirators, ironically, but perfectly happy to step in and lead. He’s interested in finding out just who did kill Zeus, not so much for justice–justice is a Zeusian concept, after all–but to gain control of it. Given his moody nature, those not in the conspiracy suspect him and worry about him having such power, and therefore are afraid to question him too much.)
- Earthquakes (Likes California)
- Horses/Motorcycles (someone else has cars…perhaps someone else has SUVs?)
- Zeus (obviously not a conspirator)
- Liked America (both had the eagle)?
- Calliope (‘beautiful of speech’) – chief of the Muses: Epic or heroic poetry, fantasy novels
- Clio (‘glorious one’): History, historical fiction, travel writing
- Erato (‘amorous one’): Love or erotic poetry, lyrics, and marriage songs, crossword puzzles
- Euterpe (‘well-pleasing’): Music and lyric poetry, TV theme songs, movie scores
- Melpomene (‘chanting one’): Tragedy, horror, children’s books
- Polymnia (‘[singer] of many hymns’): Sacred song, oratory, lyric, singing, and rhetoric, ad copy
- Terpsichore (‘[one who] delights in dance’): Choral song and dance, business correspondence, mysteries & thrillers
- Thalia (‘blossoming one’): Comedy, bucolic poetry, science fiction
- Urania (‘celestial one’): Astronomy, calendar photos, sayings on coffee cups
How does humanity react?
- Pragmatists: “Well, there’s gods now, I guess. They’ve got power, let’s do what they say and get power for ourselves, currying enough favor to deal with our (mortal) enemies.”
- Many governments (either publicly or secretly, depending) take this stance.
- Survivalists: “Crap, so there’s gods now? Let’s just keep our heads down, go about our daily business. It’s not like it’s going to affect ME if I just stay out of the way and pay lip service when I have to.”
- Pious Reactionists: “FALSE GODS! Refuse them at every turn! Defy them at every turn! You’re with us or you’re against us!”
- Governments that take this stance may be made examples of, forcing much Pious Reactionism to go underground (see C.R. Ninjas)
- Pious Survivalists: “These are false gods. They may be powerful beings, but they’re not gods, and not representative of my spiritual beliefs. I shall worship my own God/gods in secret, and would support a way to rid humanity of the false gods.”
- True Believers: “I knew it! The gods are real! Praise be to Poseidon! Let us build temples to them and seek their truth, for we are but mortals, and we need them to flourish.”
- Secular Reactionists: “These are not GODS, they’re just powerful beings who seek to enslave humanity! We don’t need their tyranny! Fight them!”
- Some, especially governments, may seek to learn the gods’ powers.
- Apathetics: “Gods? Yeah, okay, whatever. Just someone else pulling the strings. Some of them are kind of interesting, I suppose.”
- Fascinationists(?): “Gods? Really? Wow, that’s…that’s kind of neat, actually. Some of them suck, and these monsters are getting to be a problem, but on the other hand, it’s new and a little fascinating, wouldn’t you say? Not sure if I want to worship them, but I do want to know more.”
- When monsters start showing up, people start wondering if the gods released them, or they’re just there for the same reason as the gods. (Likely a point of contention between reactionists and true believers.) The gods don’t publicize the fact that they released the monsters. Perhaps this knowledge will sway public opinion against them.
- Zeus himself might use it when he returns. (“I made them get RID of these things, and now they’ve released them upon you!”) Maybe the gods will then say they HAD to release the monsters, or the whole containment area would explode and cause utter mass destruction of the earth, so they HAD to release them, and why do you hate the world/America?
C.R. Ninjas – part of the NeoChristian Movement of America (possibly change that name)
Because a few nations who took the Pious Reactionist stance were made examples of and P.R. movements have had to go underground, an especially militant Christian movement formed that utilized secrecy. Also, seeking to try to make their own religion cool (trying to compete with the P.R. of Olympians running around, being seen in Hollywood, etc.), they figure that kids love ninjas. Ninja squads are trained, though they don’t really know what they’ll be used for at first. (Better to HAVE ninjas and not need them then need ninjas and not have them! Besides, then the training part is already taken care of!) When the monsters started becoming more widespread, this looked to be a good idea, and they took it as a sign that God approved of the ninjas by giving them something for which they would need ninjas. Not that the ninjas go around slaying monsters (though some in the C.R. think that’d be a good idea, but are in the minority). After all, the Olympians seem to regard the slaying of the monsters as a good thing and a glorious thing, so the ninjas can’t do that, after all. But the monsters ARE a sign that God approves, and figure He’ll take them away eventually once there are enough ninjas to please Him. 😉
- The NCMA isn’t actually recognized, sanctioned by, or connected with any church, but not all of its members know this. Stout doesn’t, Kindgood does.
- Make sure it’s clear that these are extremists, akin to Westboro Baptists, and not representative of Christians in general
Brainstorming: What happened with/to Zeus?
- Locked away in Tartarus with the Titans?
- Locked away/put in suspended animation somewhere alone?
- Maybe locked in a box containing 7 dimensions…for some reason?
- Certain gods forged a weapon that could kill him, possibly with mortal help. Maybe one of the group betrayed the rest? (Or at least made it so the weapon wouldn’t kill him totally, since they didn’t like the idea of killing him. They may fully support the others’ goals of mortal worship otherwise, though.) —The problem with this is Zeus is then saved through no effort of his own. Even if he’s not a main character, he’s supposed to be powerful, so he ought to be pro-active like Scorpy.
- Zeus sees something is up (but isn’t sure what). Creates a contingency plan that deals with either Apollo’s visions (weird time travelish thing/predestination) or a mortal champion he’s selected/sired (sired more likely). Perhaps a daughter, since the gods expect Zeus to father sons based on past behavior? (Hasn’t had a daughter since Helen, and we all know how THAT turned out.)
- If Tartarized: Escape plan: He sets up someone (pre-capture) to get the humans to release the Titans in order to fight the gods, thus releasing Zeus?
- If “killed”:
- He created a divine double or something to be killed in his place, then goes into temporary hiding?
- Disguises another (unwilling) god as himself, who is then killed, while Zeus replaces that god the whole time?
- He sabotages or replaces with a fake the god-killer somehow, then fakes his death and goes Yoda-exile in a cave somewhere? (While he waits for things to play out/heal from being nearly killed by the fake killer/get a prophecy on what will happen?)
- Figures out how to be reborn if killed by the god-killer (and knows this can happen, but long ago destroyed all evidence of such so no one else knew). This rebirth will take the efforts of Apollo and mortals, whether they know it or not. (This doesn’t allow for the prophesizing–at least not until he gets reborn.)
- If split: (See below)
- A long time ago, Zeus discovered something or someone unique that could kill a god. He didn’t like the idea of such a thing existing. (If it did, the other gods would be tempted to use it amongst themselves, and he didn’t want to open such a Pandora’s box and cause such strife. “I’m a uniter, not a divider?”)
- He covered it up, kept it secret, but eventually someone found out.
- Maybe it’s a mortal person properly bred, or someone who shows up every millennia?
- Gods are six-dimensional. Zeus was split into two three-dimensional people, each of whom are mortal with no memory of who they were. They were then to be killed, but something happened to stop that.
- The traitor carried them both to safety?
- Zeus, sensing something was up, sets things up so that any mortals who set foot on Olympus get teleported off. When he’s split, they get away, if randomly. (If it’s non-random, the gods could track them.)
- Zeus figures out that he’s about to be betrayed, and figures he made a mistake in his prophecy interpretation. (See Why the Gods Withdrew.) Realizes the gods will now lose power after he’s overthrown and thinks that’s a good punishment for them. He sets in motion a way to get back before they strike. (Though this runs counter to the idea that Zeus would lose power below, so this idea may be inaccurate.)
- Maybe he also wants to make sure he won’t lose power with the others when he comes back, and so seeks prophecy to confirm this before revealing himself?
- Also wants to figure out if anyone is loyal to him, and possibly spare them from retribution, if he can.
- Something to do with the CERN supercollider? (It’s really a god-killer the conspiracy built? Or maybe it’s part of Zeus’s back-up/return plan?
Why the gods withdrew
- Zeus learned from (the fates? Maybe keep the source vague so I don’t have to go into it) that there would come a time when divine lust for mortal worship would become too great and disastrous. Such a thing would come hand-in-hand with an end to his reign over them. He wrongly interpreted this (or perhaps it’s more that his interpretation and subsequent reactions resulted in it happening this way instead?) to mean they’d get enough mortal support to overthrow him.
- God told them to withdraw (with Jesus on the scene, he wanted to try something new?), or perhaps God just told Zeus to and let him handle it, so the other gods don’t know? (Not compatible with the misinterpreted prophecy option.)
- God’s sort of the district manager for a bunch of worlds. He’s off elsewhere having left Zeus in charge, and gave orders to lay low because he wants to prep earth for the Second Coming. (Not compatible with the misinterpreted prophecy option.)
- Like the above, but God didn’t actually order the withdrawal (instead it happened like in the misinterpreted prophecy option), Christianity simply grew due to the resulting vacuum.
- Don’t really mention Jesus. (gods: “We don’t talk about Him. He’s…not what you’d call a team player. We don’t bother Him, He doesn’t bother us.”)
- It was an experiment to see what man could do if they didn’t have to worship them.
- This seems a rather un-Zeuslike thing to do, inviting mankind to be more prideful and hubristically dismissive of gods. (Maybe he figures if they’re more powerful, when they DO worship again, it’ll be better? Like throwing a tiny fish back so it can grow and spawn, THEN catching it?)
- Zeus lost a bet?
- Possibly with Eris?
- With Jesus/God? Maybe the bet was something to do with the crucifixion or resurrection ? (Maybe this is just the reason there are no more monsters, and use the misinterpreted prophecy option for the actual withdrawal?)
- Grenade/area effect thingy of some sort. It doesn’t affect a big area, or even anything in it. In fact, if it goes off in a room with more than one god, only one (at random) will be affected. So they had to set it off and run. (Who actually did it? Aphrodite?)
- Some component of the device is a large rare diamond (or perhaps something funnier), that comes with a twin. The diamond itself is expended, but its twin draws the destroyed god’s DNA into it, and therein lies the possibility of reconstitution IF the killed god has taken certain precautions. (The precautions are something that actually lessens the god’s power, so it wouldn’t be something he would’ve done just in case, especially since he thought the info was safe.) This is the part that Zeus kept secret. Only Zeus knows this.
- The above idea with the diamond is only one possibility. What’s important is that there must be SOME byproduct of using the device that allows a loophole for the god’s return, and that only Zeus knows about that aspect.
- It’s made of–or utilizes–some of a meteor that fell from space thousands of years ago, during the Titan War. (A rock from the rings of Saturn, actually.)
- One major component is something that used to be very rare (at least among mortals) but is now quite abundant due to modern…somethingorother.
- How is Zeus reconstituted?
- Offspring must be brought to a certain place. Maybe Zeus built a special temple or house or something, then arranged for his daughter to get it in an inheritance or something, but it’s in an isolated location and rather cut off now due to rampaging creatures?
- The sun (or moon might be better) must be in the same position as the instant he was killed. (This might be something that Apollo could fix at the last moment. Perhaps a literal–and lampshaded for comic effect–deus ex machina. But when he has to move the sun, there’s a problem because it’s all automated and he can’t remember the code or something–some amusing commentary on being too reliant on technology for simple things.)
- There’s some sort of reconstituting device that Zeus had gathered parts for–these parts were taken as spoils by other gods who didn’t know what they were?
- Lightning strikes might somehow have to be involved.
- Some element that Zeus was able to get to ZD rather simply is stolen by a flying monster (possibly part of a swarm of the recurring creatures), carried off, and lost. They’re forced to go after it. It’s the finding it that’s the problem; the actual resurrection process isn’t nearly so complex.
- Maybe the item/whatever is actually pawned first, or otherwise mistreated. (“I’ve had it for as long as I can remember…but I just HAD to have the new iPhone.” Probably come up with something besides a phone, though. iSomethingElse.) THEN they get it back, THEN it’s stolen.
- OR she has it, has had it for as long as she can remember, etc., but when they’re in Vegas she bets it off-screen before they find out that it’s needed. All of these things kind of require her to be something of a materialistic airhead, though. Plus Zeus would’ve had to have given it to her long before the assassination. On the other hand, if it’s more new, it would make more sense for her to just get rid of it. Maybe she’s not big on jewelry.
- Maybe the item/whatever is actually pawned first, or otherwise mistreated. (“I’ve had it for as long as I can remember…but I just HAD to have the new iPhone.” Probably come up with something besides a phone, though. iSomethingElse.) THEN they get it back, THEN it’s stolen.
- How did Zeus learn about it?
- Something from Atropos (the cutter)? Possibly the loophole was from the spinner?
- How did he keep it a secret?
- He found out about it from Atropos (and heard of the loophole from the spinner), who simply just told him. He didn’t tell anyone else, and didn’t write it down.
- He found out about it from Atropos, who originally gave him a scroll about what Saturn had designed/comissioned during the Titan War, but never had a chance to use?
- How did the conspiracy find out?
- Dionysus made some special wine, asked Zeus to try it (or Zeus demanded to try it), and he got him drunk. (Or perhaps D got sick of lectures from Zeus and made a drink so powerful even Zeus would get plastered.) Zeus happened to mention something, and the conspiracy did some investigating and found out more.
We Get Help from a Thief
So this chapter started out heroic, turned foreboding, and swung back to heroic with a punch in the face from our friend Tragedy. Let’s get to it, shall we? [Read more…]
As I’m currently out writing Zeus Is Dead 2 (not the official title) and I’m both easily distracted and eager to share, have a glimpse of a tiny section from the first draft of the book. Will it make it into the final draft? Will it be edited? Will I decide the blatant Walking Dead reference is too much? Who knows!
Haven’t read the original Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure (which contains no zombies whatsoever but does feature venomous, bat-winged kitten swarms)? There’s no time like the present to start!
Chiron Throws a Party
I’m going stream-of-consciousness as I read for this one folks, so strap in! Immediately we’ve got giants ripping up trees in the park, dracaenae in Rockafellar Center, and I’m suddenly wondering: just how many sleeping mortals are getting trampled, burned, folded, spindled, or mutilated in all of this? And how many New York pigeons and rats? [Read more…]