Book 1: Cassandra Peel And The Wild Gods Of Cyberspace
J. Robert Maze has, in Cassandra Peel Series, woven together contemporary life and technology, with classical Greek mythology.
In the first book, Cassandra Peel And The Wild Gods Of Cyberspace (WGOCS), Cassandra, working on her computer, accidentally accesses Greek goddess Athena in cyberspace. School friend Giorgio, an internet technobuff, develops a Virtual Reality helmet, and Hephaistos, craftsman god well advanced in electronics, secretly incorporates in it a mechanism which converts Virtual Reality into Bodily Reality.
Hephaistos and Aphrodite use this to spirit Cassandra bodily away into Greek cyberspace, allegedly to assist them to undo war-god Ares’ machinations. Ares is fomenting religious hatred between two tribes in a remote eastern European mountain village. Beneath this village is a vast reserve of oil, coveted by two opposed Axes of oil-consuming nations, who will seize any opportunity to intervene and take over. Our heroes, with the help of Hephaistos, his beautiful robot maid-servant Eliza, and the complex Indian goddess Durga who comes to the aid of another school friend Parvati, foil this plot.
Aphrodite is revealed as a secret devotee and accomplice of Ares, her former lover, whom she praises on Network Olympia as a Man of Peace through War.
The characters from Homer’s Iliad and from Indian mythology live riotously in cyberspace in present time, treasuring up loves and hates that began three thousand or so years ago. Each of the gods represents some universal human passion. These passions are alive still, operating in present day affairs. One of the premises of the novel series is that the ancient deities’ interactions offer an analogue for today’s social and international undercurrents. Since the deities possess mythical being, and the myths are extant in mass entertainment, it is imaginable those old gods still exist and follow their favourite amusement of interfering in mortal affairs.
The three novels can be appreciated by readers of different levels of maturity, and are especially for mature teenage and older readers, aged 15+ years. They can be read as adventure stories incorporating interesting characters from classical mythology, as parables of contemporary history and society, or as explorations of core psychological themes of conscious and unconscious origin.
Cassandra and her friends make great reading. I found myself immersed in the book following their antics and liking the interaction between the real world and the virtual worlds. It has a very strong message to give out which mirrors today’s society, with the oil and war.
I am not really into Greek Mythology and don’t really know a lot about it (apart from Xena The Princess Warrior), but that doesn’t affect the readability - seeing the ‘gods’ come to life on the page is enjoyable, seeing them interact, help each other, even crack a joke or two, is enjoyable. The logic being different bits of technology the kids use is spot on, and adds to its ’scifi realism’. Again, it’s a bunch of kids saving the world (from World War III), but it’s almost tongue in cheek, but with a serious message.
That said, I’d prefer to call Cassandra Peel And The Wild Gods Of Cyberspace predominantly ‘life-fi’, as you almost forget they’re teleporting in and out of virtual realiy, it just becomes ‘normal’ and you concentrate on the gods and people’s interaction.
For all you saturated Harry Potter fans to get your teeth into. And even if you’re not, it’s a great read, thoroughly recommended.
The fourth Cassandra Peel novel is due out by the middle of 2007.