Gods Behaving Badly

December 8, 2008 at 4:15 pm (Uncategorized)

Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips

I remember seeing this a while back in the book store, reading the back cover, and wishing I was able to get it. Well, wishes come true sometimes, and I was lucky enough to win this one in a blog contest.

It’s modern day London, and some of the more well known Greek gods are crammed into a ratty townhouse. There’s Aphrodite, goddess of love and telephone sex operator. Apollo is the god of the sun, and a TV psychic on a one time pilot that doesn’t take off. Artemis is the goddess of hunting, chastity and the moon, and a professional dog walker. These three are the main focused upon.
Other gods included are Ares, who’s always busy busy busy planning wars and skirmishes. Hermes can instantly locate another god, and guides the souls of the dead to their final destination. Eros is a born-again Catholic. Hephaestus will sometimes fix the furniture, and always redecorating Aphrodite’s bedroom. Dionysus runs a successful nightclub that sells only his wines.

They’re bored, and for the most part, sick of each other. After a fight between Athena and Apollo one day, Apollo is forced to swear an oath on the river Styx, preventing him from harming mortals for a while. Throw in a pissed off Aphrodite, determined to make his life miserable, and you have some crazy consequences.

In comes a pair of mortals, Alice and Neil. It’s clear they love each other, but both are too shy to say anything about their feelings to the other. They sneak in to see Apollo’s doomed show, and fate comes along to tie them all together.

They bicker and fight, pull pranks on each other, antagonize others so they can sit back and watch the show. In the end, they all depend on each other, god and mortal alike, to save the world.

It’s a great book. It shows just because you’re immortal doesn’t mean you’re right, or in Apollo’s case, all-knowing. It reveals the consequences of what happens when belief in a religion dies, and the power given when that belief is restored. It shows immortality isn’t necessarily all that it’s cracked up to be. Included with the book is a reader’s group guide, which I like.

One of the questions she poses : “One of the recurring themes in this book is how bored the gods sometimes get with their centuries upon centuries of existence. Do you think immortality is a blessing or a curse? What would you do if you were given the option to live forever? If you had to be immortal, what would you do with your time on Earth?”

My answer: Immortality is a dual edged sword. As much as I would like to be immortal, I don’t want to be without my kids and husband. It’s not natural to outlive your children, and the loss would be too much to deal with, I think. That would be the curse side of it, the blessing though would be all the things you can experience. New technologies, art, culture and society evolving and changing with the times. I would love to see cars like the Jetsons, more sophisticated AI, people exploring the far reaches of the universe, unraveling its mysteries. I would spend my time exploring it all if I could. Only problem would be the money, like shown in GBH. I’d need to find some sort of nitch, stick with it for a few years, reaping the rewards, then move on to something else before people start to question too closely.

She poses other questions as well, and they definitely make you think. It’s a fun book, and if you run into it at the bookstore, it’s worth picking up.

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