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.
“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.
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?
A MONSTROUSLY INCONVENIENT
“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
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)
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!
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ABOUT MICHAEL G. MUNZ
An 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.
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