Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pagan Passions by Randall Garrett and Larry Harris

Randall Garrett was a post-WWII science fiction writer who created a number of fictional words for which he is little remembered. He was also one of the earliest members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, a recreation medievalist organization. He passed away in the late 1980's and will, sadly, be remembered less as the years go by. Fortunately some of his books are finding their way back into print.
Pagan Passions is a light and amusing fantasy novel about what would happen if the ancient Greek and Roman gods returned to earth. The novel begins by informing us how the gods of Mt. Olympus have returned after several thousand years of absence. Major wars are now abolished (Mars having some understanding of the occasional need for minor ones). Most of the action takes place in a future New York City where everyone is a devotee of one of the major gods.
The book opens with a teacher of world history, William Forrester, lecturing to his students about the return. Forrester is an acolyte of Athena, but he'd hoped one day to make priest. The action switches to a female student (of the faction tied in with Venus, naturally) making suggestive remarks to him for a better grade.
As he contemplates his situation, Forrester is called into the tower of the all-father Zeus. The gods need a replacement for Dionysus, who is currently indisposed, and they've decided to elevate Forrester to demi-god status.
The rest of the book describes Forester's attempts to officiate at an revel held in New York City in honor of Dionysus. These revels take place every 7 years and all his followers party down hard. Forrester even finds himself forced to deal with having 7 gorgeous women presented to him while he secretly pines for a lost love.
The book ends amusingly. I've not read any other of Garrett's books, but it seems this is a minor work.


  1. You should seek out Garrett's Lord Darcy short stories - an interesting blend of crime and the fantastic in a quasi-historical setting. He's an occult detective who lives in an alternate history world where magic coexists with modern technology. I enjoyed many of the stories (some are impossible crime tales and very well done), but I did not like the one novel (TOO MANY MAGICIANS). There is a cheap omnibus of the Lord Darcy stories issued by a book club that is easy to find in the usual used book sites.

  2. I'll be on the look out for it. PAGAN PASSIONS showed a lot of potential.

  3. I'm going to second the recommendation of the "Lord Darcy" stories. Darcy is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, and the stories are full of allusions to other fictional detectives, including a certain Parisian chief inspector. Baen Books released a paperback collection back in 2002. The stories are a fun read, especially for a well-read individual.