The Age of Zeus – James Lovegrove

Lovegrove’s Age of Zeus is an interesting blend between science fiction and fantasy but I would still place it firmly within the science fiction genre. With the adolescent Riordan Olympus taking center stage on both the best seller lists and the silver screen, it’s nice to see a mature rendering of these ancient legends. This is my first attempt at a Lovegrove work and I was pleasantly surprised at how he turns a phrase.

The central concept is that the Gods of Olympus are back. It is unclear at first whether or not they have always been here and in hiding or if their arrival is a recent thing. As expected, the gods wreak havoc on the international governments until all that remain are those willing to submit to them. The Tony Blair’s of the world justify this by pointing out that global war has vanished along with the majority of crime and most of the world’s suffering. And all it cost was subjugation of the human race to these in-the-flesh gods.

I especially loved this point at a time when freedom often takes a back seat to national security, at least in the U S of A. It’s amazing how many people I speak to that are willing to sacrifice the simple freedoms bestowed on us by the constitution and the bill of rights for the potential of being a little more safe. The most common argument I run across is one of profiling. It scares me how many people are willing to flout the fourth amendment’s protections against unreasonable search and seizures for the chance to profile and molest those with a Middle Eastern tilt. Those that are willing to give up these freedoms seem not to realize that they are bringing us closer to the close minded cultures that have propagated this fear in the first place. Sad.

Our groups of protagonists are those that refuse to labor under the yoke of repression regardless of how benevolent that yoke may feel. They are brought together by a wealthy tech tycoon that plans on bringing down the Parthenon. And he’s got the tools to do it. Lovegrove goes a little Heinlein with his TITAN suits but this is a forgivable facsimile as he appears to do so with a spirit of respectful admiration in his emulation. The suits give the team of Titans the ability to go toe to toe with the rogue deities. Except for the main triumvirate of Titans, the rest are cardboard cutouts. They need to be there to fill out the mythical role call but you have a hard time relating to the entire group because of how many there are. The only unforgivable aspect of this large number of good guys is that you typically feel nothing at all when one of them dies – half the time I had to go back in the book trying to uncover who the Titan was.

Once our Titans get outfitted in their god kicking gear the story takes on a video game feel. They start with the lesser monsters in their efforts to beta test their technology. Each of these battles has a mini boss feel laced with some teenage venge-angst as select TITANS get to retaliate against the monsters that had done them harm in their past lives. This progresses to sub bosses as the TITANS advance to the demigod stage. This staged progression does not detract from the story however, it instead makes the reader feel as if they are right there accomplishing something along with our heroes. The only downside is it is very formulaic.

The formula is deftly broken before the end. The ending holds some clever twists and a not so clever explanation for the existence of the gods themselves. While the ending was somewhat disappointing you definitely feel like you got your money’s worth. Not one of the science fiction classics but still a good read.