Please welcome James Lovegrove to The Qwillery. James is the author of the Pantheon series among many others. James' most recent Pantheon book, The Age of Godpunk, was published on August 27, 2013 by Solaris.
It’s no hardship doing the background research for one of my Pantheon novels. There are no technical manuals to wade through, no dense tomes of history to peruse, no reams of data to sift through and assess and assimilate. I’ll find myself three or four solid volumes of the relevant mythology, then just sit down and immerse myself in extraordinary, time-tested tales of god, monsters and men. It’s really not work. It’s just reading stories.
The Age Of Ra, my first Pantheon novel, I approached from a position of almost total ignorance. I knew nothing about the Ancient Egyptian gods or religion other than that their deities had animal heads and indulged in all sorts of sexual shenanigans, up to and including incest. It was a delight to delve deep into the Nilotic imagination and see how almost all of the folklore was tied to agriculture and fertility, death and resurrection – Set chopping up Osiris’s body into fourteen parts, for instance. What was a headache was reconciling the many inconsistencies within different versions of the myths in order to create a syncretic whole that I could use as the backbone for my novel. Those long-ago storytellers didn’t go in for continuity much, the thoughtless bastards.
For The Age Of Zeus, I knew most of the myths anyway. I studied Classics at school, and before then I’d always loved the Ancient Greek canon. One of my earliest memories is of reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tanglewood Tales in an old, illustrated hardcover edition belonging to my parents. There were beautiful full-colour plates to accompany each story. I also fondly remember The God Beneath The Sea by Leon Garfield and Edward Blishen. These retellings of the deeds of Zeus, Jason, Hercules, Perseus and so forth are entrenched in my brain. No mythology has quite the scope and pageant and energy of the Greeks’.
The Age Of Odin was inspired mostly by the old Stan Lee and Jack Kirby Thor comics, and also by Norse Gods And Giants, by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, which I was turned on to thanks to a piece in Michael Chabon’s essay collection Maps And Legends. The D’Aulaires’ book has wonderful, phantasmagorical pencil illustrations and vividly evokes the lunatic flights of fancy in the Eddas.
Age Of Aztec drew on the underrated Mel Gibson movie Apocalypto for much of its view of the bloodthirstiness of ancient Mesoamerican culture, but I’d long been fascinated anyway by the Aztecs’ love of human sacrifice and the everyday savagery which, to them, was pure and noble. I hope I got some of that paradoxical mindset into the book. In part, I was also paying tribute to Erich Von Däniken’s Chariots Of The Gods? and its follow-ups, which I devoured sedulously and credulously as a boy and which fired my young imagination. I now of course recognise them to be flawed and even downright barmy works, nonfiction that really should be classified as fiction. But back in the ’seventies, ancient gods as alien astronauts? Yes please! Why ever not?
Age Of Voodoo was a tricky proposition, in that it deals with a set of religious practices which are observed to this day in many parts of the world. I had no wish to disrespect followers of vodou and their beliefs, so I worked hard to figure out a way of using loas and zuvembies in a modern context which would be true and cool and have plenty of fictional bite. The novel is as close as I can get to a James Bond yarn, with added supernatural overtones.
I’m currently facing a similar dilemma with the sixth Pantheon novel, Age Of Shiva, which I’m still writing and will be out next year. Hinduism is practised by a good billion people worldwide. How to have fictional fun with their beliefs without being crass and causing offence? I hope I’ve hit on the right solution.
There are further mythologies and pantheons I’d like to address in future books. A Celtic Twilight fantasy might be an interesting proposition, and the legends of the Far East are waiting to be explored. I’ve often been asked why I don’t go for one of the major world religions – Christianity, Judaism, Islam.
Monotheism lacks the “dysfunctional family” dynamic that polytheism has in spades and which makes for such good stories. A single supreme God is not very interesting, per se, at least not as a basis for a rollicking military-SF yarn. The closest I’ve come to tackling monotheism is the novella Age Of Satan, which, as the title implies, approaches Christianity from the opposite end of the scale.
The Age of Godpunk
The Age of Godpunk
Solaris, August 27, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages
James lovegrove presents three novellas with three different ‘gods’ and their apprearance in the worlds of man.
AGE Of ANANSI
Dion Yeboah leads an orderly, disciplined life... until the day the spider appears. What looks like an ordinary arachnid turns out to be anansi, the trickster god of african legend,and its arrival throws Dion’s existence into chaos.
AGE Of SATAN
A young man invokes something he shouldn’t have. a politician ushers in a new age that promises enlightenment and tolerance...
AGE Of GAIA
Appears both in print and ebook for the first time with the release of this exciting omnibus.
James has sold well over 40 short stories, the majority of them gathered in two collections, Imagined Slights and Diversifications. He has written a four-volume fantasy saga for teenagers, The Clouded World (under the pseudonym Jay Amory), and has produced a dozen short books for readers with reading difficulties, including Wings, Kill Swap, Free Runner, Dead Brigade, and the 5 Lords Of Pain series.
James has been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the British Fantasy Society Award and the Manchester Book Award. His short story “Carry The Moon In My Pocket” won the 2011 Seiun Award in Japan for Best Translated Short Story.
James’s work has been translated into twelve languages. His journalism has appeared in periodicals as diverse as Literary Review, Interzone and BBC MindGames, and he is a regular reviewer of fiction for the Financial Times and contributes features and reviews about comic books to the magazine Comic Heroes.
He lives with his wife, two sons and cat in Eastbourne, a town famously genteel and favoured by the elderly, but in spite of that he isn’t planning to retire just yet.
The Pantheon Series
What: One commenter will win her/his choice of a Mass Market Paperback copy of any of the Pantheon books - AGE OF RA, AGE OF ZEUS, AGE OF ODIN, AGE OF AZTEC, AGE OF VOODOO, or AGE OF GODPUNK from The Qwillery.
How: Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.
Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on September 13, 2013. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.
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I like Norse mythologyReplyDelete
I like the christian mythology of angels and demons.ReplyDelete
I really enjoy any and all! I think it's so fun to read the different pantheons and see their similarities and differences. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
like any kindReplyDelete
Angels and Demons.ReplyDelete
Having just watched the movie THOR it has to be ODIN for me. Just fascinating.ReplyDelete
I'd like to read THE AGE OF VOODOOReplyDelete