This is a Speculative Fiction Duology by Eric Flint, consisting of Pyramid Scheme and Pyramid Power. A mysterious alien device lands at the University of Chicago, and begins causing people to disappear. The device grows whenever it does this, and also whenever any effort is made to damage it. The snatched victims, chosen for anger and credulity, are being dragged into the worlds of myth, made flesh by the alien device. They, and anyone touching them, vanish in a flash of purple fire, and only come back dead or dying of strange injuries.
When a Chicago cop is snatched, he accidentally takes along mythograper Jerry Lukacs, mechanic and handyman Lamont Cranston, marine biologist Liz De Beer, and a squad of U.S. soldiers including Sergeant Anibal Cruz and Corporal Mckenna. They find themselves trapped in The Odyssey, aboard the black galley of Odysseus between Scylla and Charybdis.
The survivors must talk and fight their way between feuding gods, ancient sorceresses, and the fact that the myths were sometimes wrong on important points.
This work contains examples of:
- Absent-Minded Professor: Jerry embodies this trope, having his nose in a book so constantly he can barely dress himself, let alone keep groceries stocked. He also fails to notice that his workplace has been evacuated by the police and is crawling with soldiers due to alien invasion.
- Alliterative Title: The second book, Pyramid Power.
- Depraved Bisexual: When the group first appears on the black galley, Odysseus and his crew decide that they're slaves and plan to rape both Liz DeBeer and Corporal McKenna.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: At one point, Zeus, king of the Olympians, is about to start blasting people with thunderbolts. Henri Lenoir, visiting French botanist, proceeds to deliver a blistering salvo of insults in true Gallic fashion, distracting Zeus until the others can escape. Also a Heroic Sacrifice, because he gets killed. Also a Crowning Moment of Awesome, because he did it while horribly sick And survived a god level lightning bolt long enough to flirt with a nurse back in the real world and enjoy a glass of fine wine.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The title piece of technology creates a pocket dimension which combines the Greek and Egyptian mythos.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The novels of the duology are named after phrases to do with pyramids: Pyramid Scheme and Pyramid Power.
- Physical God: All the resurrected gods have physical forms and can be injured or restrained by sufficiently powerful attacks.
- Riddle of the Sphinx: the Sphinx can only eat someone who fails to answer her riddle. The heroes, of course, know the answer (although there's a certain amount of tension because while Lamont knows the answer, he doesn't know Ancient Greek....) After hearing the Sphinx complain about how hungry she is they offer to teach her a new riddle in exchange for her help. After they escape the myth world, the Sphinx gets a job as a greeter / tourist attraction at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. She asks guests riddles in exchange for all the food she can eat.
- Skewed Priorities: When Odysseus confirms from (an extremely stoned) Jerry that Penelope is being harassed by suitors while he's away.Odysseus: I've got to get home! Those wastrels are eating MY food. Feasting at MY expense! They're impoverishing MY kingdom!
Jerry: So the fact they're pulling a train with your wife isn't important to you?
Odysseus: Without paying!?
- Took a Level in Badass: Jerry toughens up considerably in body and mind over the course of his adventures.