If you ever grow weary of vampires, werewolves, and empowered females behaving badly in pseudo-historical settings, you might be pleasantly surprised, delighted even, by MythOS, a hacker's take on Greek and Norse mythology. This is one for the gamers, computer nerds, mythology geeks, and anti-heroes. And that's all of us, isn't it, one way or another?
The protagonist, Ravirn, usually inhabits and hacks in a universe where the Greek myths are the One True Reality - in fact, he is a descendant of Lachesis, one of the three Fates. For reasons that remain inscrutable, the goddess Necessity, who the Greeks, by the way, referred to as `harsh necessity' (her name'shares a root with the words 'anguish' and 'angst'), has sent Ravirn to an alternate Norse reality. Seeing how several Greek deities want Ravirn dead, Necessity might be doing him a favor. On the other hand, she may be throwing him to the wolves, quite literally. Or, possibly, she sent him to disrupt the predeterminism of Norse mythology with its inevitable progression to Ragnarok, the last battle in which the gods themselves, and all their champions, (living, dead, and undead), everybody dies a final time. In any case, Ravirn finds himself petitioned by both opposing sides, by Odin and by Loki, Order and Chaos personified, to do something to avert their doom.
Ravirn had slept through most of his mythology classes, so he is at a loss until he realizes that these deities have their counterparts in the familiar ones of home. At the same time, he is perceptive enough to realize that the differences may be even more significant than the similarities between, say, Zeus and Thor, or Ares and Tyr. Ravirn is especially intrigued by local differences in primal chaos, the stuff from which all existence derives, and the programming languages of computer networks that the Aesir employ. Chaos is the direct source of his power, as well as his regenerative abilities, and Ravirn finds himself much more vulnerable in this new reality. Then the operating system poses a serious challenge to his hacking skills. The most important variable is that in his world, AIs give computer systems a soul, complete with personality, while the MimirNet is the sole - and soulless - functioning system in the nine worlds of Norse reality.
The supporting cast of characters is fantastic. The Fury Tisiphone accompanies Ravirn, and his sidekick is a net-goblin named Melchior. Like Ravirn, both Tisiphone and Melchior find their powers are muted in the Norse alternate reality, where they meet the aforementioned gods, plus Loki's sons: the Fenris wolf and the Midgard Serpent, and Odin's ravens, Thought and Memory - Ravirn's counterparts. McCullough has a fresh take on all the gods and `monsters.' Additionally, he brings Tyr's severed hand to life a la Thing from The Addams Family.
Can Ravirn the Trickster introduce an element of Lucretian swerve to the Norse myths, or will he get devoured by the Midgard Serpent, killed by Tyr, caught by Odin's Wild Hunt, or die in a systems crash while he's hacking the net?
I enjoyed this book so much, I promptly bought its predecessors: WebMage, Cybermancy, and CodeSpell, which explain how Ravirn got to be so very unpopular with his home gods.