One of the things that is fairly common in many religions is some sort of erotic relationship between gods and mortals. Especially in various pagan pantheons, gods frequently have sex with mortals, often resulting in the creation of some sort of superhuman child. This is where we usually get the heroes of many of these myths. These heroes are able to stand up to gods and monsters of all kinds, but not all of the children created from these unions are good. In fact, some end up being vicious monsters or even just powerful humans using their godly abilities for evil. Either way, the union between gods and mortals ends up creating a powerful elite class of beings. With that being said, is it ethical for gods to ever have an erotic relationship with a human if the union can create such powerful and dangerous beings? Furthermore, when there are powerful and immortal people sleeping with changeable mortals, this creates a whole other set of issues involving the large power imbalance between the two people involved.
Ever since I finished my reread of the Percy Jackson books, I’ve been thinking about the way modern fantasy writers pull World War II into their magical settings. There’s an ongoing cultural fascination with this particular war, possibly because it’s the last major world conflict that we can paint as having obvious good and bad guys, but the way it’s utilized in fiction doesn’t always work or make sense.
Writers like to add some sort of magical twist into the real historical war, whether it’s giving hitherto unknown powers to actual historical figures, or running a parallel magical conflict alongside the non-magical one. Some of them do so in a meaningful way that does justice to the actual history they’re using; others, not as much.
A note before we get started: this post (and the fic I’m reccing in it) contain massive spoilers up through the final pages of the final book in the Heroes of Olympus series, aka the second set of Percy Jackson books. Please consider yourself spoiler-warned.
Last time we talked, I’d just finished rereading the first quintet of Percy Jackson books. The last time I’d read them, the Heroes of Olympus series didn’t even exist, and now it’s completed, so imagine my excitement at being able to jump right in and tear through the next five. I finished The Blood of Olympus on Monday, and, while relatively satisfied with the ending, I had a particular itch that needed scratching, and fanfiction was the only cure.
I’ve always had strong feelings about the use of prophecy in storytelling. Prophecies can either flesh out a story and support its plot, or frustrate the reader by being too obvious or too trite.
So what do I look for in a good prophecy? Well, when prophecy is used effectively, it doesn’t take away from the storytelling. It suggests a possible series of events to the characters, but it doesn’t give a ton away; essentially, it’s kind of vague. Prophecies can employ some double meanings, but they shouldn’t be entirely pedantic. What I mean by this is, they should have some meat to them—they shouldn’t be constantly fulfilled by a technicality. For example, if the prophecy says the character will experience death, there should be some mortal consequences, rather than like, having them orgasm and calling it a “little death” or something stupid like that. (I made up that example, but lordy if you see someone doing that in a story please tell me first.) It should also engage the reader in trying to understand what it foreshadows before the characters experience to what it’s predicting.
It’s been years since I first read the first quintet of Percy Jackson books. (I still haven’t read the second.) I’ve been meaning to reread them for ages, though, and since I had a long weekend off work with no actual plans for the first time in… forever last weekend, I decided it was the perfect time to get cozy with a book or five.
Can you believe The Lightning Thief turned ten years old this year?
A while ago Stinekey wrote a post about people who call themselves spiritual, but not religious. What people generally mean by this is that they do believe in a “something more”, but they’re not attached to a specific religious belief system. While pondering a topic for my own post I considered that the opposite, things that are religious but not spiritual, are also a common feature in media.
What do I mean by that? Well, I mean that different forms of media often use religious figures in their stories without showing any spiritual aspect of said religion. And while I think this happens across faiths, a lot of pagan pantheons get this short shrift more often, probably because the general public doesn’t usually think of Greek or Egyptian or Norse deities as being worshiped in the modern day.
It’s no secret on this blog that we greatly dislike the mystical healing trope where magic cures people of what would otherwise be lifelong disabilities. Often, this is because our disabled protagonists are portrayed as broken and needing to be fixed, and are just special enough that the mystical forces of their world deem them worthy of healing—but not the other disabled characters, like the villains.
But what about the opposite? What about when magic makes characters disabled instead of curing them? This is a trope that I love so much more, since hey, I could use more disabled characters in my life, but it’s usually combined with the mystical healing trope, which means that it unfortunately runs into some of the same ableist problems.