Those of you following me on Facebook and Twitter already know that, for the past two to three weeks, I’ve been frantically working to complete a 13,000 word story on a very tight deadline. I wasn’t at liberty to say why I was suddenly doing this, since it was part of a project that wasn’t mine to talk about. Now that the story is finished and accepted for publication, I can reveal what’s known so far.
ReDeus is the brain-child of four prolific authors: Robert Greenberger, Steven Savile, Aaron Rosenberg and Paul Kupperberg. Bob is an old and dear friend of mine, Aaron a new one, Steven is a bestselling author of fiction based on Doctor Who, Torchwoord, Primeval and Warhammer, and Paul, in addition to having a bibliography that’s pages long, created one of my personal favorite comic teams of the 1970s, the New Doom Patrol, as well as many other successful characters for DC Comics.
ReDeus is a “shared world,” a fictional universe whose future history will be chronicled by quite a number of authors: there are currently twelve on board, including myself. The concept is pretty straightforward: it’s 2012, and the “big event” seemingly predicted by the Mayan calendar happens. It’s not the end of the world, however, it’s a new beginning. A barrier between dimensions which has been closed for centuries opens, and the gods return.
All of them.
Every pantheon of gods which humankind ever worshipped shows up on earth at once, and they’ve come back to rule us again, as they did in days gone by. What that means for humanity is the story ReDeus is going to tell. Planet earth is divided to be ruled by the gods, each region again controlled by the gods worshipped long ago in that area. North America, consequently, is now the province of Native American gods. The island of Manhattan is an exception, however. Because of certain unique properties is possesses, none of the gods really want to rule there. So New York City becomes the neutral ground, the meeting place for all the pantheons. Of all the places on earth, it is in New York where things stay the most like they were before the Return. Well, pretty much.
Just 20 days ago, Bob emailed a dozen authors who are regulars at the Shore Leave and Farpoint conventions to invite us to come and play in the sandbox. Divine Tales will be the first book in the ReDeus line, establishing the universe and exploring some of its myriad possibilities. Each of us was offered the chance to author one of the tales. The deadline was necessarily tight, as they wanted to have the book published in time for the Shore Leave convention the first weekend in August.
I can’t mention any other names right now, as I don’t know which of us will finally make up the talent list for The Divine Tales, but I do know that, in addition to the four creators, Phil Giunta will be on board, and so will I.
My story, “Axel’s Song,” tells the tale of a 20-year-old musician and budding YouTube sensation who had the rug pulled out from under him when the gods returned. On the brink of staggering fame, Axel Sage lost everything when the Apache god who took over his home town of Phoenix turned off the Internet. (Most of the gods don’t trust human technology, and a lot of them decide to forbid its use.) Determined to make it despite his setbacks, Axel has come to New York City, where life is still relatively normal and the potential payoff is big, to try and make it as a musician.
Playing in Central Park for enough money to eat, Axel meets Bragi, the Norse god of poetry and patron of bards. Bragi wants Axel to surrender his talent and submit to godly control. In return, he’ll gain the fame he wants. Axel, unable to forgive the gods for taking away his shot, says no. And there’s Hel to pay, as Bragi sets out to prove to the young bard that no one succeeds without the gods on his side, and that no price is too high to pay for godly favor.
This whirlwind story means a lot to me. It explores themes of free will, ownership of our talents and the capriciousness of fate. Axel is something of a spoiled brat (he is young, an artist and male!), but his situation resonates for me. I think it will for a lot of people who’ve wrestled with compromise on the way to trying to achieve their dreams.
Bob Greenberger has offered me a lot of wonderful opportunities over the course of the last two (three? Oh my god!) decades. He gave me my start in comics and nurtured me as far as he could. He’s been a good friend personally and an encouraging mentor professionally. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this exciting new project with him. And I’m glad to see that this hard-working writer-editor, who’s discovered a couple of the biggest names in comics, is still hard at work discovering and encouraging others. The sketch of Axel above is by one such discovery, the exceptionally talented Carmen Canero. Four days after sent along a few lines describing Axel, Carmen returned this piece which absolutely nails him. This will accompany the story when published, and Carmen is also doing more interior illustrations and the cover.
ReDeus: Divine Tales will be available August 3rd (my birthday weekend, as it happens!) from Amazon and other retailers. An eBook version is also scheduled for release later in August.