No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Sunday, July 14, 2013

2013/21: Mortal Gods -- Bonnie Quinn

"...while many people believe that we are truly gods – especially the younger generations - the reality is quite different. We aren't omniscient. We have limits. The only reason we didn't become superheroes is because the first gods were mythology buffs."
"And we don't have a kryptonite," I added.
"That could change." [location 1024]

It's twenty years since the first of the new gods manifested. Formerly human, they have become immortal, able to exert their will to shape reality. Each god has adopted a name from mythology (Morrigan, Ishtar, Mannannan, Cupid) though that name may not wholly reflect their ... interests. And, of course, their interests are not always in harmony.

Mortal Gods is the story of Loki, formerly a human woman and now a genderless trickster. Though there are several parallels with the Loki of Norse myth -- unpredictability, playfulness, shapeshifting, cleverness -- this is emphatically not a retelling of old tales. Instead, Loki is caught up in the petty squabbles and sabotages of the gods. There are philosophical issues, too. Would it be better for the human population (who 'worship' the gods as celebrities) to forget that their deities were ever human? Is it best to guide humanity by example, or to assist human scientists? Can anyone, god or mortal, escape their fate?

I bought this self-published novel on spec and thoroughly enjoyed it. There are a few typos ('taunt' rather than 'taut', 'discrete' rather than 'discreet') but the prose is well-written and well-paced. It's also frequently very funny. I liked Loki's vulnerability -- far from omniscient, even in the sphere of self -- and was fascinated by the variety of identities and repertoires selected by the other gods. At times Mortal Gods is a little self-conscious (for example, in discussion of pronouns) but that's wholly in-character for Loki, so forgivable.

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