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Literature / Say Cheese, Medusa!

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Say Cheese, Medusa! is Book III in Kate McMullan's Myth-O-Mania series, published in 2002. Hades recounts the Origin Story of Medusa, and the true story of her confrontation with Perseus.

This book provides examples of:

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  • Adaptational Backstory Change: Pegasus' traditional Origin Story states that after Perseus beheaded Medusa, the winged horse sprung out of her neck. Since Medusa never gets beheaded in this book, Pegasus instead appears as her steed, and she offers to tell Hades how she got him.
  • Bit-by-Bit Transformation: Athena's chant for changing Medusa, Eno, and Riley from beautiful moon goddesses to snake-haired, reptilian Gorgons encompasses several stanzas, giving her victims and the witnesses ample time to let the Transformation Horror sink in.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The Gorgons, with Eno as the blonde, Medusa as the brunette, and Riley as the redhead.
  • Body Double: The Furies disguise as Gorgons to sidetrack Perseus from his search to behead Medusa.
  • Bowdlerise: Poseidon and Medusa attract Athena's rage by having a picnic in her temple, as opposed to making out inside the temple. When Stone Arch reprinted this book with a more traditional retelling of Medusa's story in the back, it used a version that removes Po altogether; while the main story keeps him, the back instead has Athena punish Medusa for boasting that she looked so beautiful, that the architects of the temple should've built it in her honor, instead.
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  • Brown Bag Mask: Medusa wears variations (including a seaweed mask and a blue silk bag) whenever Hades visits her, so she doesn't accidentally turn him to stone.
  • Camera Fiend: Eno loves taking photographs, resulting in her delivering the Title Drops.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Hades meets baby Perseus and his mother, Princess Danaë of Argos, after discovering that one of the Underworld's jewel mines leads to a brass cube, in which Danaë's father imprisoned her.note  Hades and Persephone both befriend Danaë, who afterwards appoints the couple as Perseus' god-parents.
  • Driven by Envy: Medusa eventually figures out that Athena cursed her and her sisters with snake hair out of jealousy with how much finer their real hair looked than Athena's constant case of helmet hair. She convinces Athena to reverse the curses by offering a remedy for helmet hair in exchange.
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  • Generation Xerox: Perseus looks similar to Zeus, and shared his pompous and untruthful traits for a few years.
  • Human Popsicle: When Hades tries to talk Athena out of punishing Medusa, for partying in one of Athena's temples, Athena freezes Hades instead. He melts the ice after Athena starts subjecting Medusa and her sisters to a monstrous transformation, but right before the victims reach the stage where they develop spiked tails.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each chapter title has a pun regarding cheese, with one exception.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Perseus might act as boastful and deceitful as Zeus, but he only desires Medusa's head because giving it to King Polydectes would halt the wicked monarch's attempts to force Danaë to marry him. Hades and Riley help save both Danaë and Medusa by giving Perseus a sculpture of the latter's head, to give Polydectes in lieu of the real one.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: After Hades figures out that Zeus is Perseus' father, Danaë decides not to tell Perseus, whose ego would grow even larger after learning he has such a powerful dad. Consequently, Perseus doesn't discover his father's identity until the second-to-last chapter, when Zeus tells him in person.
  • Magic Misfire: When Medusa accidentally turns Perseus into stone, Athena ends up taking three tries to change him back. Her first two tries turn Perseus into butter and cheese, instead.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Calliope, the muse of poetry, taught Athena how to cast rhyming, extra-powerful curses.
  • The Rival: Athena to Poseidon. Their rivalry dates back to when the founders of what is now Athens offered to name their citynote  after the god who gave them the best gift, and Athena won the contest after the judges deemed her olive tree more useful than Po's salt-water spring.
  • Ship Sinking: In addition to their dance in Phone Home, Persephone!, Poseidon and Medusa have further Ship Tease, from Po inviting Medusa and her sisters for a party at "his" (actually Athena's) temple, to Po helping Medusa and her sisters hide from a vengeful Athena. However, Medusa seems to only like Po as a friend, at best.
  • Surfer Dude: Riley's favorite model, Troy of Hyperborianote , behaves like one while giving Hades directions to the Gorgons' beach house.
  • Taken for Granite: Athena curses Medusa to turn everyone who sees her face into stone.
  • Verbal Tic Name: Athena names her pet owl, "Hoo", after the sound it makes.
  • What Could Have Been: In universe example; Hades claims that Athens would've gone by, "Poseidonville", if the people better appreciated Po's gift.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The entire phrase is said by Persephone in the epilogue, after she learns that Perseus' grandfather failed to escape his prophesised death at Perseus' hands.
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