Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the tech discontinuity & more


Have you found it odd that the first book (The Lightning Thief) in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is bereft of cell phone references? I certainly did, and found a likely explanation in the series’ wikipedia page – the book was written in the mid 1990s (Rick Riordan completed the manuscript in 1994), but published only in 2005. Those were the days when cell phones were a lot less commonplace, and kids certainly did not carry them around. In fact, it was probably not that common among adults either. However, the remaining books more than make up for this technology gap (and even offer a post facto explanation for demi-gods not carrying cell phones).

Coming to the series itself, Percy Jackson and the Olympians was one of the first series that I have read from start to end after the Harry Potter series ended. Incidentally, I also happened to buy all of the books from the Kindle Store and read it across 3-4 devices (on my Samsung Galaxy S & iPod Touch using the Kindle Apps, and my laptop using Amazon’s Cloud Reader – the furthest read location sync is really handy). This was one of the rare times that I also happened to watch the movie before reading the book (unlike Harry Potter, LOTR etc.). I did like the movie when I saw it – quite entertaining with a bunch of special effects.

However, after reading the book and the entire series, the differences stand out and makes me wonder if they even intend to make movies from the remaining books. And the differences run far deeper than Percy’s pen-sword being a click type vs. a capped one. They’ll really need to rewrite the entire series if they want to bring out sequels, particularly because the main characters are a lot older (already look to be past their 16th birthdays), there’s no Oracle to give out prophecies and the key antagonist – Kronos – is not featured in any way (the latter two could be retrofitted I suppose). I also wonder how Percy is going to take the dip in River Styx when Charon seems to be ferrying people across thin air. The movie however went all out on the tech front with Percy using an iPod Touch as a mirror to defeat Medusa.

Getting back to the books, there’s another bit that seemed a bit forced and that was the reference to 9/11 and Ground Zero in the later parts (Annabeth’s dream of building a structure on Ground Zero) while it doesn’t come up in the Lightning Thief. This is another piece that gives away the fact that the first part was completed much before the others, and might have even had a reference to the Twin Towers in it which was subsequently edited out.

All said and done, the series did make me interested in Greek mythology and had me return to playing Titan Quest (Steam had a sale which coincided with my book reading, and I got Titan Quest & its expansion for $5) and long for Age of Mythology. Now, if only there were some Percy Jackson mods for these games…

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