I need help identifying a book I read in the 90s or early aughts. My Google-fu has failed me. Help me StackExchange, you're my only hope.

Anyway... Here's what I remember. Like the title says, it was a collection of short stories about how the old gods are adapting (or failing to adapt) to the modern world. It had a framing device that a newly formed god was being shown these events by a guardian angel/teacher, so he can understand how the gods fit in and what his place is. Beyond that I remember three specific elements.

  1. During one of the framing episodes, the new god meets one of the Japanese goddesses and is attracted to her. But his teacher pulls him away, telling him to focus.

  2. In one of the short stories, two gods are dueling by summoning champions. For one round the champions were 'giants'. One god summons an old style giant; super tall humanoid in fur pelts and carrying a club. The other god summons a battleship, which proceeds to easily blast the giant with its guns and missiles. I think the story was used to show why the gods needed to adapt and what happened if they didn't.

  3. In one of the short stories, a soldier dies and goes to Valhalla. But he quickly gets sick of the endless fighting. He is resuscitated, and thinks it might all be a dream, until the Valkyrie who brought him to Valhalla shows up as a nurse, and tells him not many people have a chance to make it to Valhalla twice. He decides he is going to try to die peacefully of old age, because Hel can't be worse then Valhalla.

Anyone remember this, or have the Google-fu to find it (assuming I'm not mixing up multiple books)?

(I'm putting the Norse Gods tag because Valhalla and a Valkyrie are the only things I remember for sure. Except an unknown Japanese goddess, and there is no Japanese gods/myths tag.)

  • That sure sounds like an interesting book! Mar 3 '17 at 19:53
  • Quick question, do you actually mean the place/person Hel or is that a typo for Hell? Mar 3 '17 at 20:01
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    @Gandalf'sFISTS - I meant Hel (the Norse afterlife), because that is where one would typically go instead of Valhalla. But I can't say that I am not remembering it wrong, because multiple mythos were represented. Mar 3 '17 at 21:07
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    At first I thought it might be Anansi Boys or American Gods both of which follow a similar vein but I can't place any of those evens in either story. It does sound like something Neil Gaimen would write though so you might want to check his short stories.
    – John
    Mar 3 '17 at 21:56
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    @John - It's not American Gods, I know that book. Mar 3 '17 at 22:13

I found it. Literally. It was in a box of books I lent to my parents, that my mom returned after I asked if they remembered this. Anyway:

The Gods of War: Introducing TEK: Lord of Battle

The Gods of War: Introducing TEK: Lord of Battle

The titular Tek is the new god I described. And it turns out Gandalf'sFISTS was correct; it was Hell, not Hel; the story in question is Dispatches From Valhalla by Brian. M. Thomsen. The literal last line of the story is "And Valhalla is Hell."

And the duel I spoke of did happen, but in one of the framing episodes, not one of the stories. Don't want to spoil it any further.

  • Please tell me the Mike Resnick story has Teddy Roosevelt as one of the gods. Please.
    – Broklynite
    Apr 1 '17 at 21:40
  • @Broklynite - Not that I recall (though I am too lazy to grab the book and look it up right now). Why do you ask? Apr 2 '17 at 19:13
  • I just happen to love his Roosevelt stories, and it seems potentially perfect for the purpose.
    – Broklynite
    Apr 3 '17 at 3:35

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