Although the Robinsons--Teri and Phil, a nice young couple--have never before felt the need to hook up with a personal god, as Divine Misfortune opens they've recently been rethinking that stance. Phil's once again been passed up for a promotion, and this time it's patently clear that if he'd been paying obeisance to even a minor deity he would have been on more equal footing with the guy who got it.
And so, after going back and forth on it--Phil wants one, Teri doesn't, then he changes his mind, then she does--they settle in to watch videos on Pantheon.com. Since any deity who has to resort to personals is by definition not a deity much in demand, the videos tend toward the cheesy.
"Hello. My name is Anubis. I like long walks on the beach, carrying departed souls into the underworld, and the cinema of Mr. Woody Allen."
Eventually they find one they can agree on. Luka, god of prosperity and good fortune, who's got a racoon head and a fresh, open attitude.
"Let's be honest here. You don't care about what I like or don't. You just want to know what I can give you and what I want in return. I've seen better days. Kind of ironic, considering I'm a god of luck...All I really need is a fresh start, and maybe that's all you need, too. I don't need your blood. None of that animal sacfice nonsense. You won't have to mutilate yourself or promise to wear your shoes backward or leave the lid off your trash can."
They click the proper button (which does require a bit of blood from each of them), and as they're wondering whether Luka's idol will be delivered to them or if they'll have to pick it up, the doorbell rings. It's not an idol, it's Luka ("Call me Lucky") himself, and he's moving in.
As the Robinsons learn, even when a god of prosperity and good fortune is living with you, you still have to take the occasional bad hair day along with all the change you find in the sofa cushions. And when that god has a millennia-long feud with another ancient deity, and is being stalked by yet another, it begins to seem that their karmic wheel is continuing to tilt in the wrong direction despite the tribute they're paying by having Lucky (and his buddy Quetzalcoatl--just call him Quick--laying low for a few centuries after the debacle of having let his worshipper base fall to the conquistadores) live with them. I mean, sure, Teri's car miraculously avoids being crushed by the giant truck that rolls over it in a multi-car pileup she's involved in...but would the pileup even have happened if Lucky hadn't come to stay?
A. Lee Martinez is a master of the light and antic, action-packed but still intelligent science fiction romp. His novels are populated with gods and monsters and demons and other supernatural beings, all just trying to make their way in the modern world alongside their mundane planet-mates, people. If you want a full course meal, go ahead and settle in with Neil Gaiman's American Gods. But if you want a delicious puff pastry appetizer or a sweet and wonderful dessert, then pick up one of Martinez's books. You'll certainly want more, but you just as certainly won't be unsatisfied.