SURVIVING THE APOCALYPSE, AGAIN

The Great Mythology, by Rich Paschall

Well, we survived the Red Moon or Blood Moon or whatever you were calling it.  It was a close call as to whether we would see the end of the world due to the cloud cover here in Illinois, but the wind blew them out-of-the-way just in time.  So a few neighbors and I stood on the corner looking up into the sky waiting for a red moon and the end of the world.

For this time of year, it was a mild night here in the Midwest.  I was ready for the trip to the great beyond dressed in a t-shirt and shorts.  I really was unsure how to dress for such an auspicious occasion, but in Chicagoland, we dress for 90 degree weather starting at 60 degrees, just in case we never get that warm.  It was 70 so it was good for a September night.  I did not carry anything but binoculars as I thought I should see the moon and whatever else was coming.

One neighbor was reporting the Chicago Cubs scores as we waited for the inevitable.  We both agreed it would be a shame if the world were to end before the Cubs made it to the World Series.  After all, this is the year in the “Future” when the Cubs were supposed to win, according to that great historical film, Back to the Future.

One woman, carrying a drink in each hand, paused on the corner to see the moon.  Her husband trailed a block behind with a camera.  They were headed to the park and the wide open spaces.  They did not want any trees to block their view of the apocalypse.  It was the “tetrad” and that surely signaled the end.

“Can I borrow your binoculars a moment?” she asked as she set a drink on the side-walk.

“Of course,” I said since I already had a good look at the dark orange ball in the sky with just a bright sliver around one edge.

“Oh, wow,” she exclaimed before handing back my favorite binoculars and heading to the park.  It was almost time for the full lunar eclipse so that meant no time for her to chit-chat with neighbors.

“Can you see anything?” one man asked as he walked by.  “Yes, It’s right there,” I responded and pointed up to the southeast.  He did not look up, however.  He just kept walking.

Two small boys and a bit taller girl with a dog ran down to the corner.  The man with the baseball scores asked the kids if they had seen the moon, and then pointed toward the red ball.  The smallest one did not look up but stared at us instead.

“How old are you?” I asked the little guy.  “Six,” he replied.

“You will not get a chance to see a red moon again until you are 24 years old,” I told him.  He did not seem to care.  He was momentarily more fascinated with us staring at the sky than anything else.  Soon all the children were running off in the direction from which they came.

Eclipse, Wikimedia Commons, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Eclipse, Wikimedia Commons, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When they reach the next full lunar eclipse with a red hue of light bending around the earth, the children will be adults and hearing about a possible end of the world.  Preachers will predict the end, talk show hosts will announce doom, clever hucksters will write books and give speeches about the apocalypse and people will post nonsense on facebook or whatever is the social media engine of the day.

In ancient Greek and Roman times it was understandable how the great mythologies arose.  There was no social media.  In fact, there was no media at all.  Nothing was bringing reliable news from one location to another.

There was no science.  There was no logical explanation for what people heard in the clouds or saw in the sky.  Thunder could be an argument among the gods.  Lightning bolts could be tossed down by one god doing battle with another.  Storms at sea could be the result of Neptune being upset with sailors.  There was just no telling what could be happening up on Mount Olympus or up in the clouds.

Without any firm knowledge, one explanation could sound just as reasonable as another.  There was no way to disprove the great mythological stories.  If they included real locals or real happenings, who was to say the explanations were not real as well?  A myth was just like reality TV or the Republican debates.  If you did not know better, who’s to say it was not the truth.

In the present day, however, does it strike you strange that stories that are easily disproved find believers around every corner.  In ancient times, the appearance of a red moon no one had ever seen before might signal an ominous event to those who did not have a better explanation.  But what about today?  When we can find out how often these lunar events happen, or how many times the doomsday predictions were wrong, why do people continue to believe such nonsense?

When I looked at doomsday predictions from the middle of the last century to the present, I see I have survived quite a few.  With any luck at all, Zeus willing, I guess I will survive a few more.

When those children I saw last Sunday become adults, I wonder if they will believe in the phony predictions and fake facebook memes, or will they finally come into an educated era.

LEDA DOES THE SWAN

96-SwansPost-NK_32
The happy couple.

Back in my bright college days, I was for the first 2 years, a music major. When my fellow wannabe musicians hung out on the quad on warm sunny days, we would plan projects that were going to make us famous. Symphonies were planned. Great achievements as conductors and composers were spun as glorious dreams, although I don’t know that my class actually produced anyone who really hit the big time. Medium time seems to be as good as we got.

But my dream, my great project, was a full musical comedy based on the story of Leda and the Swan. I thought Broadway because in those days, there were no computer generated graphics to make the impossible real on-screen. Now, I think perhaps Hollywood would be the correct venue for this masterpiece.

In the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan, Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces, or rapes Leda. Which is never made entirely clear, but I vote for seduction since I have a lot of trouble visualizing getting raped by a swan. Even as Zeus, swans are not agile except in the water and their lack of hands and arms would seem to make rape difficult.

Regardless, Leda becomes pregnant by Zeus as swan. She bears Helen and Polydeuces, both children of Zeus in his swan modality. Simultaneously (I’d like to know how she manages this) she gives birth to Castor and Clytemnestra, children of her human husband Tyndareus, King of Sparta.

In the myth, Leda is able to convince her parents and husband her extra pregnancy was not the result of a lover. No, no! Honest to gods, really, no kidding, it was Zeus who did it. Not merely was it Zeus –not some guy — but he was in the form of a swan!

96-SwansPost-NK_10
Hey, Zeus? Is that you?

My favorite scene would be the first act closer. In a highly emotional musical extravaganza, Leda pours out her distress in a heart-rending lyric soprano rich with passion. She explains — to hubby, mom and dad —  it really truly was Zeus.

Leda: Even in the form of a swan, I knew it was Zeus. And you all know how much I love birds and feathers, right? I mean … what girl could resist such a gorgeous bird who is, after all, top God in the Pantheon? No kidding. I wouldn’t lie to you.

Tyndareus, King of Sparta: I want to believe you, but I’m having a few problems with this.

Leda: Trust me, dear. It was Zeus. He was disguised as a swan. You know how clever he can be.

Later, we all get to see the central event, Leda’s experience. In a carefully choreographed dream sequence, Leda relives the heady romance of the seduction. I’m assuming it was seduction rather than rape. I mean, how big was that swan anyhow? And, uh, some of the technical aspects of the experience make for interesting mental meanderings. How, exactly, did … well … Never mind. This is a G-rated site. Suffice to say it would make a heck of a scene. Now that CGI has come of age, with some well done special effects? Wow. This could have the audience on its feet!

There’s more. Depending on which version of the story you read, Leda either give birth to babies … or lays eggs. Lays eggs? Really?

Zeus and Leda?
Zeus and Leda?

Eggs open up a whole new world of possibilities. If she lays eggs, does she have to sit on them until they hatch? As Queen of Sparta, can she order her court attendants to sit on the eggs while she performs her royal duties?

Does she build a nest? In the palace? Do the hatchlings feel a compelling urge to dive into lakes and ponds? Are they born knowing how to swim? Or more to the point, paddle? Do they have webbed feet? How do they feel about feathers?

I no long feel up to writing a musical comedy, but I freely offer this amazing concept to anyone who feels inclined to flush it out. I think it might just launch more than one career. You think?

STYXX by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Total Immersion Escapism

Styxx Amazon

Series: Dark-Hunter (Book 23)
Hardcover: 848 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition – September 3, 2013
Language: English

Epic in scope and length, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s latest offering has everything. I mean that in the most literal way. Absolutely everything. Eleven thousand years of … well … What would you like? If it’s fantasy, sexual, violent, weird … it’s here. My reality has been a real drag lately, so despite the fact that I had stopped reading Ms. Kenyon’s books a while back, I got this. Actually, to be fair, I forgot that I had pre-ordered it months ago, so when it showed up on my Kindle, I said “Oh, lookie here. Ooh, and it’s a long one. Yummy.”

Thing is, I’d stopped buying her books. They had become so much the same, I figured rather than spend money on a new one, I could reread an earlier one. Save a few dollars. Get the same kicks.

Styxx isn’t one of her cookie cutter, interchangeable books. Like Acheron, this is a big book in every way. I actually listened to it on Audible rather than reading it because my eyes don’t do well on very long books, and now that Audible.com is owned by Amazon, you get a big discount on many audiobooks you already own on Kindle. Then you can follow the bouncing ball in your Kindle while a narrator reads to you. As an audiobook, it’s 31 hours of listening. The narrator is overall good, but I am not sure why some Atlantean Goddesses and Greek gods and demigods have Cockney accents. Just wondering, is all.

Styxx audibleStyxx lets you spend  serious time in those golden olden days of yore. It’s enough to make you glad you don’t really live then and there.

So, what will you find in Styxx?

Sex, for one. A hefty dollop, though oddly, not quite as proportionately much as many of her lesser books. It’s there, but it’s not the most prominent feature of the book. Still, you won’t feel deprived. There’s plenty … but it’s not the only thing.

The most prominent feature of the book is torture and violent rape. Male-on-male rape. Agonizing torture, sex slavery, more torture, whippings, serious chains and bondage, straight up child abuse and cruelty, child rape (I sincerely hope that isn’t your thing). It’s all there, a cornucopia of perversion. Keeps you turning pages. In CinemaScope and surround sound. Name your hottest S & M fantasy. This book has got it. Lots of it, whatever it may be.

Oh, I almost forgot about the drugs. Them too.

Chains. Whips. Brands. Bondage. Rape. Torture. Regular sex too, just for contrast. And love. Karma in action. Reincarnation. Immortality. If you have read any other books in the series — Acheron in particular — you already know the plot. Horrible things happen to the hero. Cruelty, injustice, misery, torture. Not to worry. Love conquers all. Heals all. A fair amount of melodrama transpires along the way. Keep a hankie nearby to dry your tears.

This book also features the ever-popular war. There are some excellent, well-written battle scenes. Some of the best writing in the book is devoted to military maneuvers. She also provides (as usual) a substantial amount of pseudo-history, as well as Sherrilyn Kenyon’s special brand of “she made it up herself, really she did” mythology. She does it so well you think it must be based on something other than her imagination, but it has no basis in fact. Her ability to create things that feel very real is one of her strongest abilities as an author.

She give this book something she has never really given in any of the many books in the series I’ve read. True, there were hints, but this time, she lets it hang out.

Sherrilyn Kenyon is witty and clever. Her humor tends to the dark end of funny, but it’s there. Much of the wit falls into the category “Easter eggs,” hidden jokes for those in the know. She makes literary and movie references that, if you notice them, make you stop and say … “Hey, wait minute … that’s from …”

It was when Styxx, our hero, looks at the heavens and says “The old man was right” that I could no longer ignore it. This a very famous — and favorite — line from “The Magnificent Seven.” My husband uses it as his email signature.

I couldn’t let it pass, so I stopped reading and went to tell my husband, a man who can recite the entire script of “The Magnificent Seven” from memory. He and I discussed if it could be accidental and he said, “Not a chance” because that’s as famous a movie line as any, up there with “We don’t need no stupid bodges …” (NOT in the book). However, after that, I started consciously listening for hidden wit. I found plenty.

Underlying everything, Sherrilyn Kenyon has a wicked sense of humor. I love that in an author. I will forgive anything for cleverness, snappy dialogue and something to make me laugh. She made me laugh. More than once. It told me that she was not taking herself overly seriously, that she knew who her readers are. I was profoundly grateful.

You can miss the wit entirely if you aren’t acquainted with the source of her little surprises. If you don’t recognize where they come from, you won’t get them. The book goes on fine without them but they are a nice bonus for those of us who do catch them as the fly by.

Favorite original quote from Styxx: “A quiet man is a thinking man. A quiet woman is an angry one.”

I’m going to have to find somewhere to use that. Great line.

Plot? Oh,  yes, the plot. If you read Acheron, it’s the same plot, but from the other side of the mirror. This is, as Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story.” Styxx is Acheron’s twin brother, the one who was supposed to have it easy, a spoiled princeling while Acheron struggled to survive. Not so, not so at all. Styxx’s tortures exceed even Acheron’s and last longer. Acheron is not the hero of the story. For followers of the Dark Hunter series, it may come as a painful shock to discover Acheron isn’t always a good guy. His nasty, mean-spirited, closed-minded side gets a good airing in Styxx.

I started by saying I was really ready to escape from my reality when this book showed up. I might not have bought it if I hadn’t pre-ordered it … but it was fortuitous that it did. I needed a dose of “out of this world.” You need to absolutely suspect your credulity to get into the book. Logic? Oh please. We don’t need no stupid logic. Just let the book sweep you away, accept it for what it is and enjoy it. If you don’t like explicit sex or violence, skip it. It’s not for everyone. If you are homophobic, skip it. If you are a Conservative Christian, skip it. I suspect the audience for this is mainly women, but I’m sure there are men who would like it too.

A lot of the story doesn’t really make much sense if you examine it closely. So my advice? Don’t examine it closely. Also, it is very clear where the story is going next and that should be most interesting. For the record, this is not the book where the danger of Acheron and his mom getting together to end the world as we know it is concluded. Not yet. More to come. Stay tuned!

The hottest, most powerful Dark Hunter — Acheron

Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Cover of "Acheron (Dark-Hunter, Book 12)&...

Sherrilyn Kenyon’s books are usually predictable, easy to read, and sexy. The plots are essentially identical from book to book, pure entertainment and as much (more?) soft porn as fantasy.

This is different. Longer and more complicated, it’s also more ambitious than any other book in the series … and there are a lot of books in the series.

Digression

Although Sherrilyn Kenyon uses various pantheons — Greek, Atlantean, Roman, and so on — as supposed sources for characters, really she just makes them up as she goes along. There was no god or demigod called Acheron. There was a Titan (maybe, in some versions), but mostly, Acheron was a river, one of several that ran together in the underworld.

Acheron as well as his mother Apollymi, father Archon and brother Styxx are supposedly part of the Atlantean pantheon. There is no Atlantean pantheon. If there ever was an Atlantis, it perished, disappeared with all of its knowledge and history. This leaves Ms. Kenyon a lot of room to improvise, mixing standard mythical characters with her own creations. There’s nothing wrong with this, especially since she never claims her characters are based on anything but her own imagination. Just don’t get bent out of shape if you look them up and can’t find them. They aren’t there. Google as much as you like: she made them up.

End digression. We now return you to this book review, already in progress …

Acheron has some depth to his character. He certainly carries a great deal of history and has more than his share of personal demons.

Our hero has been around about 11,000 years. So far. He is immortal, so he’s got some good years left to him. He had a horrendous childhood, including a level of abuse — physical, emotional and sexual — that is almost unimaginable. However, Ms. Kenyon rises to the occasion and chronicles every tormented moment with relish, missing not a single moment of cruelty, torture, kinkiness or pedophilia.

Acheron hasn’t gotten past the nightmare of his childhood. I sympathize. I really do. Nonetheless, Acheron is part of the modern world. He has been actively involved in the world pretty much since the beginning of time. These days he uses a computer. Watches television. Fights evil. Since he has had forever and will have forever, I believe it is more than time for him to work through his childhood issues and move on. Have a chat with Dr. Phil, accept he was a victim and not responsible for what was done to him. After 11,000 years … well … most of us work this out in a single human lifetime. With eternity to deal with it, I would think Acheron has had sufficient time and experience to get past it. Surely he has read a few books about child abuse? Watched Law & Order: SVU? Even allowing for residual feelings of worthlessness etc., that’s a lot of time to be stuck in childhood, no matter how horrific. Let it go, Ash.

If you can get past the illogic of a man who is highly intelligent and savvy, but can’t — in 11,000 years — find a path to resolving his terrible childhood, you’ll enjoy the rest of the read. Acheron may not be good at dealing with his own emotional demons, but he is very good at fighting real, in-the-flesh demons.

Acheron also has a mother problem. Here, I’m with Acheron. No amount of therapy is going to help him deal with this mother. He has the mother of mothers, the uber-mother. I probably ought to mention should Acheron get really upset, the world will probably end. I don’t mean Acheron’s world. I mean the world. Our world. All the worlds. Double that for mom. If Ash and Mom should get together, even for a little mother and son chat? Apocalypse now.

The book is good. It moves along at a nice, snappy pace. It’s never dull. Includes a lot of sex and if there’s one thing Sherrilyn Kenyon writes well … sex is it. So, assuming you like that sort of thing and can suspend your disbelief for a bit … and don’t over-think the story … you’re in for some excellent reading entertainment. If you’re into that sort of thing. Hot immortal guys wearing lots of leather. Who have super powers in bed as well as out. Graphically so.

Read this for fun and a ripping good tale with a great assortment of demons, demigods, gods, vampires … whatever you can think of, this book has got them.

Acheron is a very attractive character. He is all insanely heroic, a hero of heroes. All the heroes of all the fiction you’ve ever read in one incredibly handsome, ripped and leather-wrapped body.

This is the best book of the series to date, maybe the best of her books, though I’m reading Styxx now and it may be as good or better. Tune in. I’ll review Styxx when I finish it.

Acheron is long. Dive in and stay a while. He is the only character who appears in all of the Dark Hunter books, though he isn’t the main character in any of the others.  Unlike most of the other Dark Hunters, you will remember him.

Prompts for the Promptless – Ep. 11 – Remake! — Leda and the Swan, Take 2

For more than 50 years, I have been nurturing this idea and I have to thank you for giving me an opportunity to tell the world.

Back in my bright college days, I was for the first 2 years, a music major. When my fellow wannabe musicians hung out on the quad on warm sunny days, we would plan projects that were going to make us famous. Symphonies were planned. Great achievements as conductors and composers were spun as glorious dreams, although I don’t know that my class actually produced anyone who really hit the big time. Medium time seems to be as good as we got.

But my dream, my great project, was a full musical comedy based on the story of Leda and the Swan. I thought Broadway because in those days, there were no computer generated graphics to make the impossible real on-screen. Now, I think perhaps Hollywood would be the correct venue for this masterpiece.

In the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan, Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces, or rapes Leda. Which is never made entirely clear, but I vote for seduction since I have a lot of trouble visualizing rape by a swan. I mean, even as Zeus … swans are not agile except on water. They have trouble with take offs being rather heavy-bodied. Moreover, the lack of hands and arms seems to make rape a rather difficult to manage business. Regardless, Leda becomes pregnant from the experience. She bears Helen and Polydeuces, both children of Zeus. Simultaneously (and I’d like to know how she managed this), she also gives birth to Castor and Clytemnestra who are the offspring of her human husband Tyndareus, King of Sparta.

In the myth, Leda is able to convince her parents and husband that despite all  logic or reason, her extraneous pregnancy was not the result of a lover or promiscuous sexual behavior. No, no! Honest to gods (we are in a polytheistic world, remember), really, no kidding, it was Zeus who did it. Not merely was it Zeus, not some guy, but he was in the form of a swan!

I figured there were a couple of potential show-stopping moments with high comedic potential embedded in this.

The first … and perhaps my favorite scene … would have to be the first act closer. In this highly emotional musical extravaganza, Leda pours out her distress in a heart-rending lyric soprano rich with passion. In it, she explains that it really truly was Zeus.

Leda: Even in the form of a swan, I knew it was Zeus. And you all know how much I love birds and feathers, right? I mean … what girl could resist such a gorgeous bird who is, after all, the top God in the Pantheon? No kidding. I wouldn’t lie to you.

Tyndareus, King of Sparta: I want to believe you, but I’m having a few problems with this.

Leda: Trust me, dear. It was Zeus. As a swan. You know how clever he can be.

Later, we all get to see the central event, Leda’s experience. In the carefully choreographed dream sequence, Leda relives the heady romance of the seduction. I’m assuming it was seduction rather than rape. I mean, how big was that swan anyhow? And, uh, some of the technical aspects of the experience make for interesting mental meanderings. How, exactly, did … well … this is a G-rated site, so I won’t get too specific. Suffice to say it would make one heck of a scene on stage. Even better, now that CGI has come of age, with some well done special effects?

Wow, this could have the audience on its feet! I can hear the applause from here. I see the royalties rolling in. I ought to add that depending on which version of the story you read, Leda either gave birth to babies … or eggs.

Eggs open up a whole new set of possibilities. If she birthed eggs, did she have to sit on them until they hatched? As Queen of Sparta, could she order her court attendants sit on the eggs in her place while she performed her royal duties? Did she build a nest? In the palace? Did the issue of this union feel a lifelong need to dive into lakes and ponds? Were they born knowing how to swim?

Zeus?
Zeus?

Inquiring minds want to know! Details, details. Please?

I’m a bit long in the tooth now for writing a full musical comedy, but I freely offer this incredible concept to anyone who feels inclined to flush it out. I think it might just launch more than one career. You think?

– – –