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Interview: When the Gods Come Back...(Paul Kupperberg & Robert Greenberg) by Drew Bittner
Review by Drew Bittner *Interview  
Date: 01 August 2013

Links: P. Kupperberg's Website / Robert Greenberg's Website / A. Rosenberg's Website /

The gods come back--so how does humanity cope? That is the question for Paul Kupperberg, Robert Greenberger and Aaron Rosenberg, architects of the ReDeus universe and editors of three anthologies. In these books, gods and mankind contend, collaborate, compete and conflict in myriad ways...and the story is far from over.

SFRevu recently sat down with Messrs Kupperberg and Greenberger to learn more about this fascinating shared world.

First off, thank you for taking time with us. ReDeus is a monumental premise so let me ask: for a reader who hasn't heard of the books yet, what is ReDeus all about?

Paul: In ReDeus we've created a shared universe in which all the gods that ever existed in every pantheon have returned and demand to be worshipped, throwing the modern world into chaos. National borders, centralized governments, the established religious institutions...all of a sudden, none of that matters anymore. The gods are in control of everything and they expect complete and total worship.

Bob: Basically, the gods returned in 2012 and our books trace the 20 years that followed, hopscotching through time and around the world. There are plenty of hints about things that happened and we're watching the gods re-acclimatize themselves while the people adjust (or not).

SFRevu: How did you come to be involved?

Paul: I'm one of the co-creators of the ReDeus shared universe with Bob Greenberger and Aaron Rosenberg. We started talking about it in 2008, looking for ways to exploit the emerging trend in self-publishing, tossing around ideas for properties we could own and share with our friends and fellow writers.

What with other commitments and stuff, it took us a few years to finally pull it all together, but once we did and started inviting other writers to play in the world, it all came together fast. We were able to put together the three anthologies, more than three dozen stories, in the course of a year.

Bob: I showed up for our weekly lunch one day and the two guys dragged me into a corner and said, excitedly, "we got a great idea and need a third." Since that wasn't enough for bridge, I was confused, but then they outlined their first thoughts and I saw how brilliant it was and joined right in. We then spent months developing the core backstory.

SFRevu: Do you have a favorite pantheon that's been included, or is your favorite still to be brought into the mix?

Paul: I'm less interested in the specific pantheons than I am in how their presence affects the humans in our stories. That being said, I do enjoy hunting for weird and obscure deities to populate my stories.

Bob: I love the varied mythologies and remain constantly astounded when there are similarities that happened through the ages. I grew up preferring the Norse to the Greek and Romans, and I think a lot of that credit goes to Marvel's Thor. As a result, writing Odin in Beyond Borders was a special treat.

SFRevu: We've seen the gods fight over worshipers and stake out territory; are we seeing them move steadily toward holy war? And how would a war fought by the gods differ from a purely human war?

Paul: Yes...and the Holy War between the pantheons is the next thing on the ReDeus agenda. But one thing's for sure, a war between the gods is going to shake the world!

Bob: In Divine Tales, it's implied a Deity War started within the first few years and the second and third books imply a fresh war is brewing. So yes, war is a constant presence and concern for mortal and god alike.

Once you unleash divine powers, the mortals on both sides will become so much cannon fodder. How they manage will certainly make for interesting reading (and writing).

SFRevu: Would you call the return of the gods a mixed blessing, a disaster for the human race or...something in between?

Paul: I see it as a disaster. But then, I see all religion as a disaster. My stories in the first three anthologies center around FBI agent Irwin Benjamin, a middle-aged Jewish born atheist who's confronted with absolute proof that the gods DO exist...which only reinforces his atheism. Here's all these thousands and thousands of gods running around, some of which he's even met, that he doesn't believe in, so even if the capital "G" God of the Old and New Testaments does exist, he doesn't have to believe in him either.

Bob: No one likes change when its arbitrarily forced on people and this takes it to another level. It also challenges most people's fixed notions about God and faith. When their creature comforts such as the Internet are taken away and people are being asked to relocate on a God's whim, that's going to cause resentment. Additionally, you're looking at massive chaos with the global economy and sorting that out is no one's idea of fun. So, the blessing may sound promising but it's nowhere in sight.

SFRevu: The gods have traditionally had enemy races--Titans, firbolgs, etc.--do you envision getting more into their enemies and perhaps forging pacts between them and mankind? (Not necessarily the best idea, mind...)

Paul: Not necessarily the worst either, but there are still a ton of stories to be told, so one never knows, do one?

Bob: What he said.

SFRevu: You have a terrific list of contributors. How did you get all these writers involved?

Paul: We asked them. Most everyone who's contributed to ReDeus are friends or friends of friends, and most everybody we asked was eager and happy to play in our universe. We've even started getting requests from writers who want to contribute. I think if you offer a writer a compelling concept, they just can't help getting ideas that they're just going to have to write. ReDeus seems to one of those concepts.

Bob: I love the enthusiasm people have when they read our bible or the first volume and that validates our notion we have a kickass series here. One writer had to say no, because she had her own gods idea that was a little too close for comfort which means there's a definite interest out there in these pantheons. With each volume, I like to find newcomers and veterans who we haven't worked with yet -- it keeps things fresh and interesting.

SFRevu: What happens next?

Paul: Lots! The ReDeus crew is going to be getting together at Shore Leave in Baltimore in early August to talk it out and decide.

Bob: With two books out in 2013, the emphasis for the remainder of the year will be on promotion and planning. Certainly we'll have more in 2014 but the exact nature and shape will be decided at Shore Leave. No doubt, there will be mead and ale involved.

SFRevu: Lastly, is there anything you'd like to say or perhaps promote? Paul: Again...lots! In addition to Divine Tales, Beyond Borders , and ReDeus: Native Lands, my comic book-themed mystery novel, The Same Old Story has also just been published in trade paperback, also from Crazy 8 Press.

And I'm writing the monthly Life With Archie magazine for Archie Comics, the second volume of the collected edition of which has been nominated for a 2013 Harvey Award (following on last year’s Eisner Award nomination).

Last April, the young adult novel I wrote, Kevin, featuring Kevin Keller, the first gay character in the Archie Universe, was published by Grossett & Dunlap, and coming next year is a Kevin Keller Mad Libs, also written by me.

Bob: Earlier this year, Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, and I saw our After Earth prose work finally see print after two years developing backstory for the film. Thankfully, the reviews imply we did a better job than the film did, although I think it was unfairly maligned.

Right now I am writing some articles for Back Issue! and an essay for Sequart while figuring out my first novel for Crazy 8 Press.

SFRevu: Fantastic! Well, clearly the gods are keeping these two gentlemen plenty busy, and we appreciate their time in talking with SFRevu! For more information on Crazy 8 Press, visit their website!


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