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Age of Godpunk: Collecting Age of Anansi, Age of Satan and Age of Gaia Mass Market Paperback – August 27, 2013
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About the Author
James Lovegrove published his first novel at the age of twenty-four and has since written more than 40 books. He has been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Manchester Book Award, and his work has been translated into 15 languages. In 2011 he became a NYT bestselling author with Age of Odin.
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The first of three stories in this book features Anansi, the others feature the devil and Gaia. I’m prepared to read the middle story out of curiosity , and the last for pleasure, since Gaia is usually a woman of some heft, and would never be hired by Hollywood. I don’t consider myself much of an earth-goddess, but like her already.
The most successful lawyer in Britain starts hearing voices. Anansi wants a new avatar, and what’s a better host for a trickster god than a lawyer? After a while, the lawyer agrees (you saw that coming, didn’t you? Otherwise there’s no story) and his winning streak takes off like a comet through the sky. Then the price comes due: There’s a trickster god convention (oh, god, a trickster convention. It’s going to the scariest con ever… in every sense of ‘con’) and Anansi is planning to win.
Almost every culture has a trickster god, so the convention is nicely crowded. A few gods are eliminated in the first few days, and then the tricks turn really nasty. Anansi isn’t the only one who wants to win, after all.
The last joke of the story backfires absolutely spectacularly. I won’t tell you who pulled it on who, but pay attention to Anansi’s tricks during the story. One of the other players has been taking notes. A most satisfactory ending.
The middle story opens with a child being bullied in the school dorm. Yawn. Then last year’s victim said, “you’re the answer to my prayers, because now they don’t pick on me anymore.” OK, that’s interesting. Most kids don’t put cause and effect together quite like that. But the kid means a literal prayer. The new victim says, quite bitterly, that this was a dirty trick for God to play. Oh, no, says last year’s kid. God didn’t help, so he prayed to the devil. That kind of deal never works out well… but it seems to work out pretty well for the new victim. Nevertheless, It was an annoying and disjointed story more than it was morally unsettling.
I didn’t like the family relationships in this story. The boy’s mom pretty much ignores him, the step dad – well, this is a devil story, enough said. The boy grows up and meets a nice girl. Witty banter is exchanged, but it’s not that witty. Then a biker gang guy informs the girl she’s so ugly he needs to rape her, and the protagonist is helpless, just as he was against the bullies. Protagonist and the girl pair off, but don’t expect a church wedding, since he sold his soul and she’s sort of a devil worshipper He makes a success in life – he outperforms his step-dad and meets the Queen.
This has all the elements of a great story, but bleah. It’s not even delightfully awful. Not worth the time it took to read.
Eco-unfriendly business tycoon vs. the earth goddess? The story opens with Mr. Moneybags stepping out of his car in front of his office, and a disaffected youth throws a dead goose at him. Now, a dead goose is pretty heavy, so this is not a joke. It attracts the attention of the crowd, who take out their camera-phones. The driver/bodyguard gets out of the car and slaps the young man around a little – just in time to be filmed. Instant youtube sensation! Eventually Mr. Moneybags takes an old girlfriend out to dinner, and ick. He likes insecure, scrawny starlets that he can humiliate. Then he meets this eco—reporter, a hefty woman. Or possibly chubby, and he thinks she’s hefty because he’s used to women imitating walking skeletons. They start dating.
Then the story gets weird. It turns out that he’s not just into humiliating insecure women. No, Mr. Moneybags has a full BDSM dungeon. Ms. Gaia doesn’t like it at first, but then she seems to get into it.
* This is where Mr. Lovegood completely loses me. The let’s-all-hate-him Mr. Moneybags is very up front about what he wants, and the first thing he wants is consent. Ms. Gaia gives it – then she sabotages his business because how dare he hit her. Uh, because she said OK? And then she never used her safe-word, so he assumed that she continued consenting, especially when she kept coming back for more.
Let’s-all-love-her Ms. Gaia is more of a pervert than let’s-all-hate-him Mr. Moneybags. And she wins, but not until her sabotage kills an innocent teenager.
I seriously expected to enjoy this story, but it was unsatisfactory aside from the running-gag goose storyline.
The last story had an I-agree-to-kink-but-I’m-taking-revenge theme left me feeling like I’d waded through an oil slick. The middle story had its ugly rape scene. The first story – my favorite – had Loki the Norse trickster as a transvestite. Since it’s Loki, I’m actually OK with that: his saga includes turning into a mare to distract someone’s horse, so that the god couldn’t get where he was going – and then Loki didn’t run quite fast enough, and spent the next few months as a pregnant horse. It’s perfectly in character for Loki to take whatever gender and shape makes for the best joke, even though it’s really crude. Maybe especially if it’s really crude. Earlier in the story, though, the lawyer went out with a woman who broke up with him for being racist, and he took revenge by starting a rumor that she slept her way to the top. With a married man. Watch her career go down the tank… This din’t hit me so hard on the first read, since it was the first sign of a trend, but viewed overall the who book has a trail of slime running through it.
Two stars – and one and a half belong strictly to Anansi the spider.
Again, the writing wasn't bad, but it leaves a poor taste in my mouth when three stories in a row treat women in such an astonishingly poor way.