I am a huge fan of American Gods, the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel by Neil Gaiman. It's a brilliant blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology, all centred around Shadow, the protagonist. Gaiman--along with a few of my other favourite writers--has the delicious ability to write downward spirals in an empowering way. I greatly enjoy books where at the end, the characters are far more messed up than at the start, but they are just fine with that. American Gods has this quality as well.

At the start of the book, Shadow is released from prison early because his wife Laura and best friend die in a car crash. He takes a job as a bodyguard to Wednesday, a mysterious conman who seems to know a lot more about Shadow than he should.  Shadow and Wednesday travel across America visiting Wednesday's unusual colleagues and acquaintances until Shadow learns that Wednesday is in fact an incarnation of the Norse God Odin, who in his current guise is recruiting American manifestations of the Old Gods of ancient mythology, whose powers have waned as their believers have decreased in number, to participate in an epic battle against the New American Gods, manifestations of modern life and technology.

The book doesn't feature the Hellenic Gods, although it's implied that most of the Gods still exist--abide a lot less powerful then before. The central premise of the novel is that Gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them--when people stop believing, their power wanes. Seeing as I first read it about twelve years ago, American gods shaped many of my ideas about the Gods and religion, and while things changed throughout the years, the whole philosophy spun by Gaiman still swallows me up whenever I re-read the book. As such--and no we get to the point of this post--I am quite excited about the TV adaption of the book. There was talk of an adaption for years, but now it actually seems to be happening.

The show will be spearheaded by Bryan Fuller (who adapted the deliciously dark Hannibal, but also did the hilarious Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me) and Michael Green (The River, Heroes). What convinces me that this might actually turn out well is that Gaiman himself is very involved with the project, and he is well aware how important the book is to many people:

"When you create something like American Gods, which attracts fans and obsessives and people who tattoo quotes from it on themselves or each other, and who all, tattooed or not, just care about it deeply, it's really important to pick your team carefully. You don't want to let the fans down, or the people who care and have been casting it online since the dawn of recorded history. What I love most about the team whom I trust to take it out to the world, is that they are the same kind of fanatics that American Gods has attracted since the start. I haven't actually checked Bryan Fuller or Michael Green for quote tattoos, but I would not be surprised if they have them. The people at Fremantle are the kinds of people who have copies of American Gods in the bottom of their backpacks after going around the world, and who press them on their friends. And the team at Starz has been quite certain that they wanted to give Shadow, Wednesday and Laura a home since they first heard that the book was out there. I can't wait to see what they do to bring the story to the widest possible audience able to cope with it."

Even though there won't be any Hellenic Gods featured--at least not in the first two seasons, which will make up the span of the book--I still want to post about this on Baring the Aegis. Not just because I look forward to seeing this book come to life, but because it will be a show filled with Gods of many, many, faiths and regions. They range from Norse and Egyptian to Algonquian and Slavic, and every single one of them is still worshipped today. Some, like the Trickster of Native American mythology, in a continuous line, others, like Anubis and Odin Himself, mostly by Reconstructionist and other Neo-Pagan practitioners. These Gods mean a lot to a lot of people. On top of the pressure of adapting a cult novel for the silver screen, the creators are touching upon very beloved Gods.

Now, personally, I find that the novel dealt very well with the Gods; They are written as incarnations--they are not the Gods from mythology but Gods who have adapted to our modern age, who live amongst us. Most are weary, frustrated by modern man and modern Gods alike--by Media, Goddess of television, and The Technical Boy, who is young but the most powerful of all as he is the God of the Internet and modern technology. It's an urban fantasy novel, and it never pretends to be anything else. I hope the series stays true to this spirit, because if it does, I don't think there will be an issue with any God or Goddess introduced--including the Hellenic ones (if They ever show up).

Have you read American Gods? What do you think about the coming television adaption? And are you worried about the portrayal of the Gods in it?