ebooks

Who Mourns For Apollo?

zeus-is-dead-tour-banner-5

My mom introduced me to Star Trek when I was a kid, in the pre-TNG era. At the time, one of my favorite episodes was “Who Mourns For Adonais?”, a vision of what happened to the Greek gods by the 23rd century. I loved Greek mythology (and still do), so I was thrilled to see the Enterprise meet Apollo.

As of last week, there’s another vision of what happened to the Greek gods since their heyday. My newly-released comedic fantasy, Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure, tosses the pantheon back into our world following Zeus’s 2009 assassination. For my guest post here on Life, the Universe, and Everything In Between (and hi, it’s great to be here!), I thought I’d compare Star Trek’s Apollo with my own Apollo, who happens to be one of the novel’s main characters.

But first, a quick refresher on the episode: The Enterprise crew find themselves captive guests on a planet by Apollo, the last of the Greek gods after the others “returned to the cosmos” without the worship they need to survive. Apollo, referring to them as his “children,” demands the crew stay, forever, and worship him. Also there may be some light goat-herding.

The Differences

"I am Apollo, god of light and Elton John's wardrobe!"

“I am Apollo, god of light and Elton John’s wardrobe!”

Let’s be honest: Trek’s Apollo is something of a pompous jerk-nozzle. But perhaps he’s got a right to be bitter? After all, he’s the last of the gods, no one worships him anymore, and he has to sit around all day in that ridiculous outfit. This Apollo hasn’t modernized. In Zeus Is Dead, the gods use cell phones, dress in modern clothing, and use Hephaestus’s special plasma-screen TVs for their mortal-watching. Heck, Dionysus hangs around in a casino all day playing video games. Trek-Apollo, while further in the future, is also stuck in the past, and perhaps a little bitter about it. Still, that doesn’t really excuse the sexist cracks (“You seem wise, for a woman.”) and general abusive boyfriend shtick he gives Lt. Palamas. And then there’s that whole forcing the Enterprise crew to stay, herd goats, and worship him all day…

I’ve always considered Apollo to be one of the more benevolent of the pantheon. Yes, he has his jerk moments in the myths, but on the whole, he strikes me as comparatively noble. Sure, my Apollo likes being worshipped, too, but he also feels he needs to hold up his end of the bargain. That’s part of why he’s so stressed out in Zeus Is Dead: there are so many billions of mortals in the modern world, all counting on him to handle his divine duties in a responsible manner.

Trek’s Apollo also goes to using physical threats quicker than mine. He’s in an adversarial position in the episode, so it makes sense for him to be more aggressive in order to put the crew in jeopardy. Trek-Apollo throws thunder and lightning around a lot, too, but that’s Zeus’s thing—or at least it used to be. Presumably this Apollo picked it up after Zeus left. Zeus is gone in Zeus Is Dead, too (it says so right there in the title, after all) but my Apollo still prefers a bow, the occasional sword, or simply his wits. In my world, Athena’s got the lightning tucked away for safe-keeping.

Despite having picked up Zeus’s lightning, Trek’s Apollo seems to have a smaller divine portfolio: “God of light and purity. Skilled in bow and the lyre.” But I’ve always seen Apollo as the over-achiever of the pantheon. Look him up. He’s god of the sun, light, prophecy, literature, music, archery, medicine, gelatin desserts, and the list goes on. Let’s face it, the guy can’t delegate. And here, perhaps, is the largest difference: my Apollo wants LESS attention. He wants to be able to go target-shooting with Artemis now and then without getting interrupted by texts from rapacious mortals every other moment. It’s what leads him to try to—well, I won’t go into the book’s details too much here, but it suffices to say it gets him into an epic amount of trouble.

The Similarities

There are a few. Both can get tired out. It’s a major plot point in both the episode and in Zeus Is Dead. Not only is that from the original myths, but it’s very difficult to use gods as main characters and not give them some weaknesses. (Fortunately, the Greek pantheon has never been considered infallible.)

Both are skilled at prophecy. Trek-Apollo knew humanity would come to the stars one day. “Of all the gods, I knew and I waited.” Though his prophecy is imperfect, too, since he didn’t foresee what happens…much like my Apollo’s visions of Zeus’s return.

Both have their pride – though Trek-Apollo’s is more easily tweaked, at least at first. In Zeus Is Dead, Apollo suffers enough setbacks that he starts getting a bit snippy about things too, and in those moments both Apollos seem to share a need to demonstrate power to comfort their egos.

And, finally, both Apollos crave a break from their current circumstances, but whereas the gods in Star Trek faded away into melancholy non-existence, the gods in Zeus Is Dead have done the exact opposite: Freed from Zeus’s edict of non-interaction, they’ve come back to the world like kids on Christmas morning to dive into the bounty of worldwide celebrity status. They revel in their new temples, casinos, and media empires, their long-starved, superhuman egos now gorging themselves on as much attention as they can get…

…What could possibly go wrong?

Zeus

Is Dead

A MONSTROUSLY INCONVENIENT

ADVENTURE

“A hilarious mythological tale of god-like proportions. Munz has crafted a tale of bizarro comic fantasy that sits comfortably among the ilk of Gaiman and Pratchett.”

—Andrew Buckley, author of Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish

ZID coverBOOK DETAILS:

Title: Zeus is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure

Author: Michael G. Munz

Genre: Contemporary Mythological Fantasy

Release date: July 21st, 2014

Publisher: Booktrope Publishing

Length: 446 pages (paperback)

Synopsis:

The gods are back. Did you myth them?

You probably saw the press conference. Nine months ago, Zeus’s murder catapulted the Greek gods back into our world. Now they revel in their new temples, casinos, and media empires—well, all except Apollo. A compulsive overachiever with a bursting portfolio of godly duties, the amount of email alone that he receives from rapacious mortals turns each of his days into a living hell.

Yet there may be hope, if only he can return Zeus to life! With the aid of Thalia, the muse of comedy and science fiction, Apollo will risk his very godhood to help sarcastic TV producer Tracy Wallace and a gamer-geek named Leif—two mortals who hold the key to Zeus’s resurrection. (Well, probably. Prophecies are tricky buggers.)

Soon an overflowing inbox will be the least of Apollo’s troubles. Whoever murdered Zeus will certainly kill again to prevent his return, and avoiding them would be far easier if Apollo could possibly figure out who they are.

Even worse, the muse is starting to get cranky.

Discover a world where reality TV heroes slay actual monsters and the gods have their own Twitter feeds: Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure!

Find Zeus is Dead on:

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

ABOUT MICHAEL G. MUNZ

michael photoAn award-winning writer of speculative fiction, Michael G. Munz was born in Pennsylvania but moved to Washington State in 1977 at the age of three. Unable to escape the state’s gravity, he has spent most of his life there and studied writing at the University of Washington.

Michael developed his creative bug in college, writing and filming four exceedingly amateur films before setting his sights on becoming a novelist. Driving this goal is the desire to tell entertaining stories that give to others the same pleasure as other writers have given to him. He enjoys writing tales that combine the modern world with the futuristic or fantastic.

Michael has traveled to three continents and has an interest in Celtic and Classical mythology. He also possesses what most “normal” people would likely deem far too much familiarity with a wide range of geek culture, though Michael prefers the term geek-bard: a jack of all geek-trades, but master of none—except possibly Farscape and Twin Peaks.

Michael dwells in Seattle where he continues his quest to write the most entertaining novel known to humankind and find a really fantastic clam linguine.

Find out more about him at michaelgmunz.com. While there, it wouldn’t hurt to get a FREE copy of Mythed Connections, the spiritual prequel to Zeus is Dead.

Contact Michael on Twitter / Facebook

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

Sign up to win either:

A $25 Amazon Gift Card

One of two signed copies of Zeus is Dead by Michael G. Munz

DVD of Clash of the Titans (1981)

One of five e-copies of A Memory in the Black, Book 2 in The New Aeneid Cycle by Michael G. Munz

Click Here -> a Rafflecopter giveaway

Serpents in the Garden – Review

Serpents in the GardenThis review was originally posted on Trek.fm

Jeff Mariotte’s newest Star Trek book, “Serpents in the Garden,” is a follow-up to the classic episode “A Private Little War.” When Admiral Kirk finds out that the Klingons may once again be interfering in the affairs of Neural, he embarks on a secret mission to expose the Klingons while trying to minimize damage with the native population due to the Prime Directive. With no starship backup, Kirk may just have created his first no-win scenario.

CHOICE OF FUTURES

Kirk has made many split-second decisions in his career. His first five-year mission was replete with facing the unknown while doing his best to make the smartest choices he could with the information and experience he had. Throughout this book, Kirk reminisces about the actions he took all those years ago on Neural and whether they were really the best solution to the problem. What he concludes from his newest adventure is that he did make the best choice he could at the time. His mistake was in not following up with the situation to ensure that the Klingons had not returned and that Starfleet had adequately monitored the situation.

This story is a good reminder that our choices have long lasting consequences. Like Kirk, we do the best we can at the time, using our experience and knowledge to forge our path in this world. Remembering to follow up on our decisions is an important lesson. Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation were not the best at showing us this kind of thing. Mariotte does a great job letting us see Kirk deal with his past decisions; the galaxy is a big place, but this story goes a long way to show that follow-up is just as important as initial contact.

CONCLUSION

One of the best things about this book is its time frame. It is set in the interim between the end of the five-year mission and The Motion Picture. The insight into Kirk and his rediscovery of his love of starship command is definitely a highlight. The story is well told, yet not overwhelming in grandeur. It is a solid entry in the Novelverse and well worth the read. I rate it six out of ten Mugato attacks.

Protectors – Review

51gcPN47wnLOriginally posted at Trek.fm

“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”

-Sarah Williams, English poet

When we last left Voyager and the Full Circle fleet, Kathryn Janeway had returned from the dead and helped defeat the Omega Continuum, but at a very high cost. Protectors  picks up right after the events of The Eternal Tide and thrusts Janeway and the fleet into uncharted territory, both emotionally and physically. Beyer, with her usual deftness, weaves a much-needed story forVoyager while never losing sight of who the characters are. Her work here is outstanding, leaving every fan on the edge of their command chairs anticipating the next book in this trilogy.

BASICS

One of Beyer’s strengths in writing Voyager is an inherent knowledge of the characters and their potential. She used the previous four books to create vivid characters that jump off the page, making the reader exclaim, “I always knew the show could have been like this!” This book is no exception. The character of Janeway is brought to the forefront of the story as she is recalled to the Alpha Quadrant to face a battery of tests and evaluations in light of her resurrection. Beyer uses this to her full advantage, stripping Janeway to the bone and rectifying years of inconstencies. Counselor Cambridge says it best when he tells Janeway, “You could try to avoid this work for the rest of your life, Kathryn. But do that and I promise, eventually, it will bring you to your knees.” Janeway is forced to look at her life, her choices, and comes to terms with them.

What works so well here is the illustration of self-examination. Beyer uses Janeway’s personal and professional reckoning, as well as Tom Paris facing his past decisions, to show the ways in which our pasts can be something to fear but also prepare us for the future. We all have things in our lives that we are not proud of or wish we could take back. Gretchen Janeway tells Kathryn, “Just remember, regrets are powerful, but they are also lousy companions.” The past should teach and instruct — not cripple — and Beyer uses these characters to remind us of this important lesson.

CONCLUSION

Protectors is a slower book than The Eternal Tide, but the pace is needed. Janeway becomes a fully-realized character who will now be known for her depth rather than her inconsistencies. She has finally become the character fans always knew she could be, but never was on screen. Characters from Voyager that were so under-utilized, like Harry Kim and Chakotay, are given many shining moments and have become more than their one-note selves from the show. Beyer has also created a fascinating new Delta Quadrant group known as the Confederacy of the First Worlds, which is sure to be a foil for the Full Circle fleet.

Owl Post 1-31-14

Owl Post 2-17-12

The Decline of the American Book Lover:

354750466_1383346651The Pew Research Center reported last week that nearly a quarter of American adults had not read a single book in the past year. As in, they hadn’t cracked a paperback, fired up a Kindle, or even hit play on an audiobook while in the car. The number of non-book-readers has nearly tripled since 1978.

Why Classic Movies Have Terrible Trailers:

imgpulp20fiction1Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, originally released in 1994, has aged gorgeously. It’s one of those rare films that can be watched and re-watched for 20 years and remain as shocking, vivid, and irresistible as the year it was released.

The 1994 trailer, however, now seems corny and dated by comparison.

Porn and Future Marriage:

Indulgence in pornography is not a problem that only young, unmarried boys face. It’s an epidemic that stretches into the realm of men who are married and women of all kinds (young or old, married or not). However, this post is aimed particularly toward young, unmarried men. The reason I am speaking to this particular group is because I know from firsthand experience the complications that this addiction causes for young men and their future marriage.

On TV: BBC’s Sherlock, “The Empty Hearse”:

673acbad-274c-42fe-96c5-83aabb26bf5e_sherlock-season-3BBC’s Sherlock has become one of my favorite shows on television, and it was immensely fun having some new material and quelling the peremptory curiosity left by the end of last season. It was genuinely enjoyable seeing Holmes back on the screen, even though, last night, Sherlock’s self-absorbed callousness was especially in-your-face – sort of making me wonder why I like BBC’s Holmes at all. All of his flaws were on high display, and they were made all the more irritating by his inability to apologize. And yet he remains compelling, not just immensely likeable, but even lovable, an obsession for some viewers (myself included) which the showrunners not-so-subtly parodied with The Empty Hearse Fan Club. And Sherlock’s disdain for them parallels Moffat’s condescension to the his viewers, opening the episode with a wild bungee jump and James Bond-esque kiss of Molly, followed by a breezy departure. Certainly some viewers would enjoy such action-hero panache, but we’re made to understand, early on, that this conventional smoothness isn’t, at all, who Sherlock is.

Peaceable Kingdoms – Review

cvr9781476718996_9781476718996_hrOriginally posted at Trek.fm

The Fall comes to an end with Dayton Ward’s Peaceable Kingdoms, and this series just might have been the most ambitious multi-author story Treklit has ever attempted. With the heart of the Federation on the razor’s edge of destruction, it is up to the crew of the Enterprise and her allies to uncover the mystery shrouding Pro-tem president Ishan as well as the assassination of President Bacco. As the hourglass empties, Picard finds that the answers he’s getting may be worse than imagined. Ward delivers a rousing conclusion to The Fall, as well as sets the stage for the future of the 24th century.

The Enemy Within 

In recent history, the Federation has lived on the edge. This has caused a reaction in many people of wanting it to stop, to protect themselves and feel safe. The ends begin to justify the means and optimism quickly turns to cynicism. Ishan is the embodiment of that. He is a man who, when faced with adversity, turned to survival as the highest value. But, as Star Trek as shown us, survival is nothing if it means sacrificing a civilization’s evolved and enlightened status. What is so smart about the series is that the enemy was not the Typhon Pact, but someone within the Federation, showing us that even the best things can be corrupted if not for constant vigilance. Wars and rumors of wars have an impact on a society and it becomes easy to lose sight of humanity’s greatest ideals in the face of annihilation. But it is through the dedication to the principles of the Federation that Picard, Riker and the other heroes of the story show us the importance of doing what is right, even when it is difficult, or else all that is truly good will be lost. The Fall has helped realign the 24th century and, in turn, has given us a mirror to evaluate ourselves. In the end, that is what Star Trek has always been about.

Conclusion

Ward does a great job of answering some lingering questions that have been floating around in the 24th century novelverse. It becomes clear that Picard and Crusher are far from retirement. Also, Crusher is given a prominent role in the unraveling of Ishan’s past. The dialogue is snappy and the character interactions are some of the best parts of the book, most notably Picard with Worf, as well as Picard with Chen. With The Fall’s end, the 24th century is ready to face the unknown once again. Anticipation for stories about DS9, the Aventine, Sisko, Bashir, the Titan and so many others have this reviewer on the edge of his seat.

Best Books I Read in 2013

7126The Count of Monte Cristo

Dumas writes with ease and this book cracks on at an always entertaining rate. The characters sparkle and the themes of life, love and revenge never go out of style.

Favorite Quote

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of living.”

TheNightCircusThe Night Circus

I was intoxicated by this tale of two magicians that are involved in a competition against each other, unaware that it is the person they love most. Hauntingly beautiful, The Night Circus will have you page turning till there are no more pages, then wishing for more.

Favorite Quote

“Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that… there are many kinds of magic, after all.”

photoOne Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World

Grace, grace, God’s grace, it is what it is all about. This timely reminder that God has done for us what we could not and therefore all we need to do is rest in his grace, is the perfect antidote to a world that is broken and overrun with performance-based living throughout it’s entirety.

Favorite Quote

“Unfortunately, this is the way that so many Christians live: searching high and low for something we already have, trying to earn something we’ve already been given, forgetting that everything we need, we already possess in Christ. Or perhaps it’s not that we forget, perhaps it’s that we prefer having ‘elf on the shelf’ keeping track of our every move. It makes us feel safer. We would rather work under duress than live under freedom. Yet this is precisely why we need to hear, each and every week, the basic good news that because of Jesus’s finished work, we already have all of the justification, approval, significance, security, freedom, validation, love, righteousness, and rescue for which we desperately long – and look for in a thousand things that are infinitely smaller than Jesus”

9781414339351_p0_v2_s260x420C. S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet

From my original review -

“This is a terrific biography that also dives into many of his most important books and looks at them critically. For anyone looking to understand Lewis and his works this is a wonderful place to start.”

9780525952459Walking with God through Pain and Suffering

Keller has been very influential in my life through his writings and this book was no exception. He does a wonderful job of walking through the cultural understanding of suffering, the challenges of suffering on the Christian faith and then the last section of the book is the practical applications of faith in the midst of suffer. This is one of the finest books on this subject I have read.

Favorite Quote

“The only love that won’t disappoint you is one that can’t change, that can’t be lost, that is not based on the ups and downs of life or of how well you live. It is something that not even death can take away from you. God’s love is the only thing like that.”

I-Do-and-I-DontI Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies

From my review (and I was right, it is on the list) -

“I highly recommend this book for film buffs and the novice. I also recommend this book to anyone who is interested in marriage. This book will leave you with a better understanding of the way marriage is seen now and give a context for why that is. This is one of the best books I have read this year and am certain that it will be on my top 10 list at the end of the year.”

Favorite Quote

“It was a supreme irony that moviegoers could be conned into believing in romance that lead to happy endings in one kind of movie, and then be shown that what came after happily-ever-after was pretty awful…and yet still be conned all over again into believing that the awfulness could be fixed, made new, and restored to the point of the original happy ending. (And of course, be conned even further into going to more romantic comedies.)”

Smith_Elizabeth-the-QueenElizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch

A fascinating look at a woman who has been queen for over 60 years. For such a public figure, Elizabeth has done a remarkable job of keeping herself private. Smith cracks open the palace to give an in depth account of her amazing life.

 

71IGT31I9aLInsurgent

This is the second book in the Divergent series and my favorite. The first book sets up the story, world and characters, the second is able to dive into each of these in more depth. Roth fleshes out her main character much more in this second installment, making it the best of the series.

Favorite Quote
“May the peace of God be with you,” she says, her voice low, “even in the midst of trouble.”
“Why would it?” I say softly, so no one else can hear. “After all I’ve done . . .”

“It isn’t about you,” she says. “It is a gift. You cannot earn it, or it ceases to be a gift.”

star-trek-the-fall-the-crimson-shadowThe Crimson Shadow

From my original review -

“When a book transcends genre, it reminds you that great books are just that: great books. The Crimson Shadow does this fantastically. The best in science fiction, as well as Star Trek, has always been about us, our struggles and problems allegorized in a palpable medium. Una McCormack’s continuation of The Fall is brilliant.”

Favorite Quote
“But you understand, don’t you, that the institutions don’t matter? The Obsidian Order, Central Command, the True Way, Starfleet, empires, unions, federations-these are names and names only. They are tools. They count for nothing if the purpose is flawed. That was my mistake for a long time – confusing the purpose with the instrument….The truth is that the institution flourishes only when the people who comprise it flourish. And if the people are sick, the institution will be sick.”
Comment and tell me your favorites! Follow me on Goodreads to keep track of what I am reading.

The Poisoned Chalice – Review

Originally Posted on Trek.fm

USE_ST.Fall_.Poisoned_.Chalice_.Cvr_“There is rot at the core of the Federation…and we are going to put it to an end.” — William Riker

The penultimate book in The Fall has been released and The Poisoned Chalice continues the story with distinction. James Swallow’s entry is filled with action and suspense as the crew of theTitan and some familiar faces try to unravel a seemingly endless tapestry of lies and misinformation. With the heart of the Federation at risk, the stakes have never been higher.

IN THE PALE MOONLIGHT

The Fall series has been rife with connections to our own world, and The Poisoned Chalicecontinues on this grand Trek tradition. As Riker digs deep into the mystery that is pro-tem President Ishan, the rabbit hole continues to grow. The Titan and her crew find themselves facing a Federation as topsy-turvy as Wonderland. With secret executive orders and the disappearance of political prisoner Julian Bashir, the heart of the Federation seems to be rotting from the inside out. Swallow uses the realities of Cold War Europe, as well as War on Terror tactics, to create a rich and compelling story.

The Federation has been beaten down, and because of it, has begun to push agendas “…based on fear instead of hope.” The wars have created a generation that has know only fear and terror on all sides. Self-protection has become the highest virtue for many, which has slowly eroded the very things the Federation has held most dear since its inception. Swallow crafts a mirror for the 21st century in the 24th century — one that may reflect the worst of what we’ve become.

CONCLUSION

The Poisoned Chalice will have you on the edge of your seat for the entire read. Swallow gives us just enough to satiate us in this political/action thriller until Dayton Ward’s Peaceable Kingdoms is released at the end of December. There are so many great character moments for Riker, Troi, Vale, Tuvok and the Andorians, giving growth to some of the best-loved Trek characters. This is a standout novel, using the best of Trek storytelling to challenge the reader as well as entertain. This book is rated 10 out of 10 Andorian Atlire-class escort cruisers, since the one in this book is named after me, the Mat-Rus. (Thanks, James. I am eternally in your debt.)