Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Golden Apples of the Sun

A couple "bookkeeping" notes before we dive into this one. As mentioned previously, Columbus Metropolitan Library's decision to rebuild ALL the branches has lead to a distinct lack of a place to go wonder the stacks. Which has allowed me to get through some of my backlog of books I own that I want to read/re-read. However, my current plan got sideswiped by two reserves showing up, so rather than my original intent, there will likely be 2 reviews coming up that won't fit the pattern.

Last September, someone put all 5 volumes of Kelly McCullough's WebMage series (autographed, no less) into a silent auction where I was camping. Having read the series 6 years ago, I spent a bit more than I had planned on, but I won the auction. Now it's April, and I finally had time to read book 1.

WebMage introduces us to Ravirn, a student at the University of Michigan, although not the one on the prime locus reality. Ravirn also happens to be a grandson of Lachesis, the measurer of the threads of life. (There's a few greats in there, but grandma works for our purposes.) Ravirn is assisted by his webgoblin laptop, Melchior. When we first look in on Ravirn, he's breaking into his Aunt Atropos' (she who cuts the threads) domain looking for her "Puppeter" program, one which would essentially erase free will from the cosmos. (In this setting, the 3 fates represent one end of the order/chaos continuum. Eris, Goddess of Discord; and Tyche, Lady Luck, lie at the other end.)

Atropos wishes for her nephew to find the problem in the code causing Puppeter to fail. While he hems and haws about it, she places him under a similar restriction to the aegis Cassandra of Troy labored under. If he talks about what his Aunt is up to, no one will believe him.

In his quest to destroy Atropos' program, Ravirn manages to annoy quite a few people, which isn't particularly helped by Fate's ability to make up evidence. Thankfully, Ravirn has allies in Cerise (Clotho's [she who spins the threads] granddaughter) and her webgoblin, Shara. Also, as we come to discover in a realm well off the main loci, Ahllan, one of Atropos' discarded webgoblins. Ahllan is one of the first webtrolls to discover free will, and runs something of an underground to protect the webbeings, who are mostly looked at as non-sentient equipment.

And about two thirds of the way through, out in the primal chaos, as part of a plot to clear his name, we enter Castle Discord, meeting the Virgin Goddess Eris who has her own unique agenda.

Mind you, this happens not long after meeting Alecto, Megara, and Tisiphone, the three furies.

The first time I read through this, it took me a while to get my head wrapped around the multiplicity of realities operating off of Fate's mainframe, particularly since I'm rather sure there's a really big comparison to how the internet actually works. (Some of it comes off as a bit dated, since there's a large discussion of packet loss in there...) However, the mixture of magic and technology is quite facinating , as arcane magic exists side by side with using code to make changes to reality.

By far the one thing I absolutely loved in here, that made me forget all the rough patches, has to do with Eris's servers. Eris, who in the original myths comes off almost like Maleficent, in here is a bit less spiteful, although she is chaos incarnate. However, she runs her own set of servers, that just happen to be Macintosh servers of a metallic yellow hue.

Having read through the series before, it's a bit odd to go through how it all begins again, knowing where everyone ends up. But, his take on Greek mythology here is quite well conceived and a joy to read.