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Literature / Zeus Is Dead

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Yes, that's a kitten with bat wings. Why?
Apollo: You cannot resurrect a god by accident.
Leif: Won't know until you don't try.
Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure

Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure is a comedic contemporary Classical Mythology fantasy novel by Michael G. Munz.

Just about three thousand years ago, Zeus, the immortal king of the Olympian gods, commanded the entire pantheon to withdraw from the mortal world. That changed nine months ago when someone found a way to assassinate him. With Zeus out of the way, the Olympians returned to the public eye, and soon had their own temples, casinos, and media empires. Some of them are even on Twitter.

The only god not having a grand time of things? Apollo. With the modern global population at over seven billion, and a bursting portfolio that includes the sun, literature, music, medicine, truth, light, prophecy, archery, gelatin desserts, etc., the amount of email he receives from rapacious mortals turns his life into a living hell.

His only way out may be to somehow bring Zeus—and his withdrawal decree—back to life. With the aid of Thalia, the muse of comedy and science fiction, Apollo will risk his very godhood to help sarcastic TV producer Tracy Wallace and a gamer-geek named Leif—two mortals who hold the key to Zeus’s resurrection. (Well, probably. Prophecies are tricky buggers.)

In 2019, a sequel, Zeus Is Undead: This One Has Zombies, was released, focusing on Athena managing an imminent Zombie Apocalypse.

This novel and its sequel provide examples of:

  • Artifact of Doom: The Unmaking Nexus is a living weapon Zeus commissioned that can kill an immortal.
  • Back from the Dead: The majority of the first book's plot revolves around reviving the killed Zeus.
  • Bamboo Technology: Thalia, Muse of Science Fiction, tries to convince her companions to build a tachyon field generator out of random rocks and sticks. It's unclear if this would have worked, because the others find a different solution.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Jason saves the group from a frog-like monster and some razorwings, and Apollo helps save them from the Furies later on.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Baskins is corrupted by an evil artifact in the sequel and becomes subservient to it.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Quotes from fictional in-universe sources are used at the start of every chapter, but one chapter begins with a quoted conversation between some of the Muses who, mid-conversation, realize the quote is showing up at the start of a chapter.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Apollo and Artemis, though Apollo spends some of the book keeping Artemis in the dark because he doesn't want to risk her safety.
  • The Call Has Bad Reception: Apollo has a prophetic vision of Leif being involved in Zeus's resurrection and so tries to recruit him. It turns out Leif is only involved because he's due to fall in love with Tracy, Zeus's daughter and key to returning Zeus to life.
  • Call to Adventure: Leif refuses this for a little while when Apollo comes calling, reasoning that refusing to help Apollo is less risky than helping him and getting a bunch of other gods angry.
  • Came Back Wrong: In the sequel, Hecate came back wrong after being restored to life and became the zombie goddess Undead.
  • Conflict Killer: The Titans escaping almost instantly stops the Olympians fighting each other and forces them to team up against the threat.
  • Crazy-Prepared: After Orpheus and Aeneas got past Cerberus with music and laced treats, Hades took precautions to ensure it wouldn't happen again and reinforced Cerberus's stomach lining and had him listen to music 24/7. Elephant-grade tranquilizers, however, are still fair game.
  • Cute Is Evil: The razorwings are feral kittens that spit poison and tear people to shreds, but their cuteness is perhaps their greatest weapon.
  • Daddy's Girl: Aphrodite will do anything to make her father happy, and Zeus outright declares her his favorite. It's later deconstructed when she uses this line of reasoning to kill Zeus, as making her happy was also what he wanted.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Since Jason has the qualities of a traditional Greek hero, Apollo briefly wonders if he's Zeus's child instead of Leif or Tracy. Instead, Jason sacrifices himself to save the heroes.
  • Deus ex Machina: At one point when Apollo saves them, Leif comments that he doesn't mind being on the receiving end of a Deus Ex Machina. Thalia immediately laments that they've therefore become cliché.
  • Disney Death: After being chainsawed to death by the Furies, Jerry the tree is brought back to life when Zeus restores Apollo's godhood.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Repeatedly defied with Tracy, who, while willing to use whatever advantages she can, refuses to use her body that way and is able to snap herself out of Dionysus' intoxicating aura.
  • Divine Parentage: One key to bringing Zeus back lies with one of his mortal children. The trouble is figuring out just which mortal it is.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The sequel reveals Hecate's parents are otherworldy cosmic horrors, and they're not happy about what happened to their daughter.
  • Elemental Embodiment: Played for laughs when Zeus creates an ice cream elemental named Baskins to turn the tide against the Titans.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: At the gods' first press conference, Hera specifically states that while the Olympian gods ARE real, other gods such as Thor, Loki, Anubis, and Elvis Presley are not.
  • Exact Words: The prophecy to resurrect Zeus states that his child would give up their lifeblood in sacrifice. No one said it had to be a mortal child, and Tracy uses Apollo's blood for the ritual.
  • The Gambler: Leif spends time initially losing online poker matches, and Dionysus' portfolio includes gambling. They later square off in a card game with the amulet at stake.
  • Geas: Any oath sworn by the River Styx (figuratively or literally) is binding, even for a god. Hermes even wiretaps the Styx so he can spy on anyone who utters such an oath in secret or in unthinking rage, and uses this to blackmail Zeus.
  • Genre Savvy: Leif is a self-proclaimed geek and tends to think in terms of tropes and how they can be applied to reality, as do the Muses, who helped create some of the more popular ones.
  • Glamour Failure:
    • Invisibility, when used against humans, works pretty well, but gods can still spot other invisible gods if they concentrate.
    • Hermes spots Apollo, despite his appearing in disguise, because Apollo apparently has a habit of re-using faces.
  • Global Warming: Artemis seems to have come up with global warming in an effort to get mortals to respect the environment more.
  • God Job: Marcus, who got tricked into an agreement with Charon and now has to spend six months out of the year taking Charon's place running the Acheron ferry to Hades.
  • Godly Sidestep: Jesus Christ is mentioned to exist, but he and the Greek gods aren't on speaking terms. Beyond that, nobody's talking about it.
  • The Hedonist: Dionysus. Hedonism is part of his divine purview, and he spends much of his time on wine, women, and gaming.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted when it comes time to resurrect Zeus, as Tracy uses Exact Words to make Apollo be the sacrifice instead since he can't die as easily as mortals.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: The sequel has this done to restore Hecate and Baskins.
  • Idiot Ball: The Muses have access to the actual Idiot Ball, which is usually kept safely in conceptual form in their Hall of Creative Abstract Concepts on Olympus. Thalia has the other muses coalesce it into physical form for her as part of a plan to free Leif and Tracy from Dionysus's casino. Then Dionysus hands it off to the other gods during a meeting, which helps unleash the Titans, and it's eventually used to defeat Cronus and start the Second Withdrawal.
  • Immortality Inducer: The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is used to resurrect Zeus and create new gods.
  • Immortals Fear Death: The fact that someone discovered a way to kill Zeus freaks out the entire rest of the pantheon to the point where even talking about the murder becomes nearly taboo.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: The Idiot Ball works by feeding ideas that seem good on paper or in the short-term, but when taken long-term are colossally stupid things to do, like having the only thing guarding the Titans' prison sent away to hunt the protagonists.
  • Jerkass Gods: Multiple instances, including: The gods sink Iceland in order to raise Atlantis just so they can return to the world with some style. One god, purely for kicks, tosses a minotaur into the mix during the running of the bulls in Spain. Aphrodite collapses a supermodel's clifftop home for trying to sue her over a botched facelift. This, among other reasons, is why Leif and Tracy convince the majority to withdraw once more and take less active roles in mortal affairs.
  • Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge: The Moirae (a.k.a. The Fates), though they're not evil so much as they are very, very detached. And strict.
  • Kill the Cutie: The Guardian-tree is one of the most innocent characters in the story, as he was commissioned by Zeus to guard a temple when he was just an acorn and had little to no contact with anything before the heroes arrived except for rocks, the sky, and lizards. The Furies chainsaw him to death, though thankfully it doesn't stick.
  • A Lady on Each Arm: Dionysus is first seen sitting on his recliner-throne playing video games while flanked by no less than three women, two of whom are dressed as cheerleaders.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Many tropes and adventure genre conventions are called out by name and discussed, particularly by the Muses and Leif.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Numerous instances. The Fates refer in vague terms to the reader upon their introduction. Thalia discusses Leif's refusal to accept his call to adventure. The narrative addresses the reader on numerous occasions.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: In the sequel, Persephone has a difficult time running the Underworld since Hades didn't tell her much about how the job works.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Since after Zeus's death it's a rule that gods can't attack other gods, Apollo diminishes his divinity and powerset to hide after he strikes Ares to save the mortals.
    • The Unmaking Nexus' lethality is only truly lethal if the recipient has no idea of its existence, and Zeus both creating it and storing a remnant of his power in the amulet allows for a loophole to restore him.
  • Love at First Sight: Aphrodite hits Leif with a love arrow to make him fall in insta-love with Tracy.
  • MacGuffin: Zeus's amulet, which apparently holds the key to resurrecting him. Many of the characters war over it and it swaps hands frequently.
  • Mama Bear: Demeter is normally a kind, nurturing grandmother type, but mess with her daughter Persephone and she gets furious.
  • Manipulative Editing: On a Monster Slayer shoot outside Las Vegas, Tracy mentions that they can edit out some of the monster's cuter moments to make Jason killing it seem more heroic. The monster in question becomes far more fearsome shortly thereafter.
  • Mobile Menace: The swarms of "razorwings" (i.e. playfully feral kittens with bat wings who spit paralytic poison, chew through metal, and bifurcate when killed) that roam the southeastern United States, not to mention gods who can teleport if they know where to find you.
  • Monster of the Week: The concept behind the in-universe reality TV show Monster Slayer. Jason Powers stalks and kills a new monster each week.
  • A Mythology Is True: Hera specifically states that while the Olympian gods ARE real, other gods such as Thor, Loki, Anubis, and Elvis Presley are not.
  • Oh, Crap!: A pantheon-wide brawl screeches to a complete halt when the gods realize that someone has managed to release the Titans from their prison.
  • One-Gender Race: Of a sort. After Helen of Troy, Zeus stopped fathering daughters; partly to avoid another Trojan War, but partly because he didn't like there being attractive women he couldn't have sex with. This is why no one considered Tracy might be his child until she had the vision revealing the fact.
  • Put on a Bus: For conspiring to kill Zeus, Ares, Aphrodite, Hades, and Hermes are exiled at the end of the first book. By the end of the sequel, Hades has returned and Ares is on probation, but the others are still exiled.
  • Put on a Bus to Hell: Late in the first book, Dionysus is pushed into the vortex used to seal the Titans and is summarily ejected from the narrative. The sequel establishes he's stuck in Tartarus.
  • Reality TV: Since mythological creatures returned soon after the gods, there is a show called Monster Slayer that's akin to Dirty Jobs but with the star traveling around slaying monsters.
  • Refusal of the Call: Leif initially refuses when Apollo request his aid, reasoning that refusing to help Apollo and making him angry is less risky than helping him and getting a bunch of other gods angry.
  • The Reveal: While Ares boasts about killing Zeus almost immediately, the other conspirators are more of a surprise, particularly Aphrodite, whose involvement is only revealed towards the end of the book.
  • Running Gag:
  • Sacrificial Lion: Jason Powers, star of the Monster Slayer show, is introduced as a potential love rival to Leif, but is a stalwart hero and expert at monster-slaying. His death at the Furies' hands after saving the group from other monsters hammers home how big the stakes are and shows that even his brand of courage has its limitations.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Literally. Zeus and his siblings sealed the nine most dangerous Titans in actual cans.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The gods' original withdrawal was Zeus's attempt to outwit a prophecy of his murder, which, eventually, made it come true.
  • Sequel Hook: The first book ends with most plotlines resolved, but mentions that the exiled Ares, Hermes, Hades, and Aphrodite could very well return should a necessary plot contrivance arise.
  • Serious Business: Pomegranates for Hera. Enough that she'll force Apollo to mess with the sun so more can grow.
  • Shapeshifting: Many of the immortal characters do this at some point, from turning into animals to simply disguising themselves as other people.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Hecate and her ardent follower Brittany have minor story roles, but their actions end up unleashing the Titans from their cans.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Dionysus is a hedonistic god of pleasure who's drunk all the time, but he's smart enough to briefly capture the heroes and even resists the influence of the Idiot Ball using Exact Words on a gambling bet, which Thalia attributes to him being drunk all the time anyway.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Wynter, aka Brittany Simmons, became a loyal follower of the Goddess Hectate only to mess with her family. When she turned out to be real, getting her family's support took the fun right out of it.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Jason is flung to his death by the Furies with little fanfare, and Hecate is unceremoniously offed by a flailing Titan.
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: When the Ninjas Templar manage to get the cans containing the Titans opened, their release involves coming out of the resulting vortex of energy.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Thalia tries this against the Erinyes. It doesn't work so well. It does, at least, delay them long enough for Apollo to arrive and do it better.
  • Threshold Guardians:
    • The "guardian-tree" at Zeus's old temple is tasked with not letting anyone but Zeus in, though it makes an exception for others with his bloodline.
    • Marcus, who runs the ferry to Hades six months out of the year when Charon takes vacation.
    • Cerberus, guarding the gates to Hades, is the subject of Tracy's quest to empower the amulet.
    • The Orthlaelapsian Wraith, which guards the nine cans in which the Titans are the back room of an antiques shop in Swindon.
  • Time Stands Still: When two gods get close enough, they're able to create a pocket "outside time" around themselves. It's said to be unstable to the point where any violence will rupture it, but it's useful for having a conversation.
  • Titanomachy, Round Two: Hecate and Brittany accidently free the Titans who attack the Olympians.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Demeter was once as temperamental as the other Olympians, but millennia of nurturing turned her into a kind, sweet grandmotherly type who loves cakes and knitting.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Invoked by Hermes at a press conference when speaking of Hades. The sequel takes this quote and uses it as the basis of the plot, caused by an undead Hecate.
    Hermes: He's actually a decent enough chap. A bit inexorable. A tad strict, perhaps, but it's his job to keep the dead out of the world of the living. You don’t want someone like me in charge of that. One good distraction and wham! Zombie apocalypse!

Alternative Title(s): Zeus Is Dead A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure