Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Lighter Side of Politics: Jody Lynn Nye's Myth-Quoted

Jody Lynn Nye, author of Myth-Quoted, has quite an impressive resume.  She has worked with Anne McCaffrey (author of The Dragonriders of Pern series) and Piers Anthony (author of the Magic of Xanth books), writing companion books for both of these series.

Nye's current collaborative project is working with Robert Asprin's MythAdventures series; she started working with Asprin in the late 1990s, and she continued the series on her own after Asprin's death in 2008.  The latest work in this series--Myth-Quoted--weaves together these multiple influences, enabling Nye to create a work that has engaging characters and that is light-hearted without being fluff.

In this book, the influence of Piers Anthony is clear.  Anthony's Xanth series is riddled with puns and names that play with words (Knot Gneiss, for example), and Nye's work continues in this same tradition.  A major character in the MythAdventures series is named Aahz (a reference to the Wizard of Oz), and, as Nye noted in her interview with Fantasy Matters, the realm in which the novel is set is called Tippicano, "a historical nod to another deeply-contested election."

The epigraphs that begin each chapter also play a key role in the light-heartedness of Nye's work.  We see quotations from a C. Sheen, who says, "Old habits are hard to break," as well as from B. Madoff, who says, "It looked good on paper."  These quotations help set the clever, tongue-in-cheek tone that pervades the novel and makes it so much fun.

But they also do something more.  You see, Myth-Quoted is the story of an election that seems like it will go on forever because the two candidates keep cheating and playing dirty, thus postponing the actual vote.  Skeeve the magician and the rest of his team at M.Y.T.H., Inc, are called in to ensure that the two candidates play fair and that the election actually happens.  Of course, they are met with mysterious resistance and things get complicated--which just adds to the fun!

But within that fun and the fantasy world is the hint of something real, something connected to the world that we live in.  The puns and tongue-in-cheek references to people and events in our world raise the possibility that perhaps this novel has something to say about the current democratic process in the United States.  While Nye has said that her main purpose was not to critique, but to entertain, I would suggest that the very use of language and humor within the novel puts the story in direct conversation with reality, and therefore, can't help but say something about our own political climate.  Career politicians, the influence of the media, corruption, doing things merely for appearances--these topics all come up in Myth-Quoted, and the fantasy world of the novel provides a place for readers to think about their implications.

So often, politics is frustrating and stressful, rather than fun--Nye's novel provides a way to make it entertaining and clever, while still maintaining enough of a connection reality to make this fun meaningful, as well.

By Jen Miller

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