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There’s something timeless about the best stories. While societies grow and history marches forever onwards, human nature hasn’t changed much over the centuries. It’s little wonder that we’re still fascinated by tales of Odysseus and Penelope, Odin and Loki. They may be immortal, but the gods of myth and legend are often just as human as you and I.
Litro #141 – Myths & Legends – pulls out its crystal ball and scries the fate of these ancient gods in the modern world. We have contemporary takes on the tales of Ancient Greece, Northern European myths influencing the here and now, and even a folkloric monster from the Philippines. What they all have in common is that they explore one of the most timeless literary traditions of all, bringing gods and monsters to life in the 21st century – and maybe creating a few new myths of their own.
Sam Mills opens the issue with Andromeda, a retelling of one of the most enduring Greek myths. Steeped in tradition and yet shockingly modern, it’s a story that sets out our stall for this issue. The heroes and monsters of legend have never looked more relevant. It’s followed by Louise Palfreyman’s Calypso in Therapy, which projects a Greek immortal into today’s medical system. Funny and sad in equal measure, her tale resonates across the centuries. The same can be said of Armel Dagorn’s On a Ship Bound for Crete, a slice of flash fiction that questions exactly who the monsters were in Ancient Greece.
With The Tikbalang we start to move in a different direction, as Bethany W. Pope mines Philippine mythology for a truly unique – and disturbing – monster. Then Ruth Brandt transports us to Iceland with Petrification, a modern romance that is constantly overshadowed by the stark landscape it takes place in – and the local legend of a family of petrified trolls. In our final short story, Francoise Harvey’s Fimbulwinter, two ostracized children find comfort in a book of Viking legends. Her story stands testament to the timeless power of myths and legends to inspire us – and to the power of books.
In this issue we also have a travel piece from Andrea Calabretta, Land of Fire and Ice, as she uncovers a rich tradition of storytelling in Iceland. And finally we have an interview with Hari Kunzru, author of Gods Without Men and Transmission, in which he discusses how ancient coyote myths found their way into his work, the modern mythology of UFO culture, and the multimedia future of the novel.
If Litro #141 shows us anything, it’s that the oldest of stories are just as relevant today as they were centuries ago. From Ancient Greece to the snowy wastes of Iceland, modern culture has its roots firmly planted in the myths and legends that seeded our imagination. Maybe there really are immortals after all.