“In the beginning there was confusion.”
What would it be like if you were a god, created everything, and still didn’t know what the hec was going on? What if your equally ignorant (yet creative) fellow god-brothers have no clue about how to solve hunger pains, why they have smaller, less plentiful “dispensers” than cows, and how they can survive night-time, thinking the setting of the sun means the apocalypse?
If you think all this sounds preposterous, laughable, and something you have to read, that’s because it is! Welcome to the farcical, fantastic, and still often horrifying world of “Creation”, “Why Odin Drinks – Part One”, 75 pages of sheer, outrageous brilliance by the frighteningly talented Bjorn Larssen.
If after hearing all this, you think the novella “Creation” delves into Norse Mythology in a completely incongruous way, think again. This is part of the genius of Larssen, a man who knows his Baldrs from
his Bragis. Larssen’s research into Norse Legend is impeccable and meticulous. Just ask Steven T. Dunn, an educator with a Master’s in Medical History and Norse Studies, who provides an endorsement for the novella. Larssen’s hilarious take on the Norse creation checks all the “authenticity” boxes, including featuring first humans Ask and Embla.
Yet, despite its historicity, this is a comedy of errors at its delicious best. Don’t read this book unless you are in company that is alright with you
howling out loud with laughter. The three gods are bumbling, stumbling, idiotic, and its freaking hilarious.
Odin wants to be the leader of the group, but can’t figure out how to milk a cow. The story is told from his perspective. Somehow, in three-quarters of 100 pages, Larssen manages to bring such realism to Odin and his brothers, and paint their individual personalities, that you will get a real sense for exactly what each other the brother’s motivations are, and how they differ from one another.
I don’t want to spoil the incredible lines in the novella, but I just have to note on of my favourite passages:
“As things were, the stream quieted..Sun seemed to shine less bright. Danger was in the air…’What is that?’ Odin cried, waving his hands around in terror, trying to drive away the attackers. Ve just screamed wordlessly, slapping and slamming the air, some of which suddenly visible and silently spun, danced, slashed. Fast, ruthless colourful chunks of Gods’ inevitable doom. ‘This is called “Ragnarok”‘,
” Odin’s last thought. ‘Butterflies,’ said Vili, grinning. ‘Sorry’, Odin’s previous thought added sheepishly. ‘I really thought I was the last one. Carry on.'”
Watching the clumsy embarrassment of the three gods, as they try to one-up each other in terms of how useful their creations are, and are terrified by the most innocuous things they create, makes for some amazing satire, and few fantasy writers can do this quite the way Larssen does it. Larssen mixes the dark and harrowing with the lampoon flawlessly.
The Pratchett and Adams comparisons you will hear when Larssen’s name is spoken about with great esteem in fantasy circles is for a reason. Larssen is extremely gifted and if you have not read him yet, you really should! “Creation” is a triumph, and packs a huge punch for something you can read cover to cover in a couple of hours or less.
I can’t wait for the next part of Odin’s journey in Part Two!