What if all of Earth’s mythologies, legends, and folklore existed in the same universe? What if Thor butted heads with Zeus, or if Hades met Osiris in the Underworld? This is the concept behind the Argoverse, a shared universe of mythologies that I’m developing.
The more I dig into it, the more I realize that this developmental process is way more involved than I initially thought. So I’m beginning an ongoing blog thread to document my process and I invite all of you to participate! Share your thoughts in the comments on what you would do to adapt and refine these incredible stories to fit within a single narrative.
My Goals and Vision for the Argoverse
The overall vision for the Argoverse is that it makes up a shared universe of all Earth’s myths and legends, from Greek, Egyptian, and Norse mythologies, to lesser-known mythologies (at least in the western world), to the Arthurian Legends, to fairy tales and folklore, to more recent literature like Frankenstein, Dracula, and Sherlock Holmes, and possibly even the Cthulhu Mythos. In short, I want it to be a massive universe covering most public domain stories of a mythical nature.
I am a fantasy author, and so I am not just creating this universe for the fun of it. I am creating it with the intention of telling stories within this universe. In fact, I have already done so. My Faerie Queen series is part of the Argoverse. But I’d like to do more, and possibly get other content creators involved. But I have to flesh out and properly realize the world first.
So with that in mind, there are a couple of objectives in adapting this world:
1) Include All Mythologies
The central goal for this universe is to include every story from every mythology in one form or another. This will not always be possible, as there are often different versions of different stories. But I will do my best to combine them as necessary and be as thorough as possible.
This is naturally a humungous project. I consider it to be my life’s work, my magnum opus.
2) Maintain Respect
I want to stay as true to the original myths as possible, with the understanding that not all stories can be adapted literally, and that in the case of myths that have multiple, competing versions, I will need to consolidate these ideas into a single story. Other deviations may be necessary, but in each case I will try to at least acknowledge the original myths.
3) Create Plausibility
Is Athena literally going to spring out of Zeus’ head? Will Loki literally give birth to a stallion? These are examples of some myths that can’t really be taken literally, at least not when I’m trying to include the stories as part of a plausible fantasy world. I will need to adapt these types of stories to fit a narrative that pays homage to the original but manages to work for modern audiences.
For example, Athena could be Zeus’ brain child, somehow coming from his thoughts. This acknowledges the original myth that she was born from his head, but also makes the situation a little more plausible to modern audiences.
4) Address the Problematic
There are a lot of issues with ancient mythology, and I don’t want to just ignore them. But I am writing for modern audiences, so I’m going to tone down the stories to at least a PG-13 level. So not quite as toned down as Disney would make it, but enough to not offend too many people. I also want to make sure we address some of the more problematic elements of the myths.
For example, in most adaptations of Greek Mythology, Zeus is made into a kind of hero father figure. The reality was that he was a terrible person, thanks to extreme infidelity and being a serial rapist. I don’t want to just sweep this under the rug and pretend it never happened, as most modern stories involving Greek Mythology do.
Instead, I think it would be more interesting to really examine the motivations and consequences of such actions. What drives Zeus to be this way, and what would be the real-world consequences?
Will it turn Zeus into a villain? Possibly, but it could also lead to some major character exploration. I haven’t quite figured it out yet for this particular example, but you get the idea of my approach.
5) Make it Fun
Ultimately, it’s my goal to make these stories enjoyable. I want people to want to pick up a book set in this universe not because it’s a shared universe, but because the stories are actually good. So I will be applying standard principles of plot, characterization, pacing, action, and other storytelling elements to make these genuinely good stories.
Or at least, I will try my best.
Let me know if you like this idea, and give me any suggestions you have in the comments. I’d really love this to be a collaborative process, so sound off below.
Next time I will dive into the overall timeline for the Argoverse, so you’ll get a sense of how it will all fit together. Then we’ll start diving into more specific areas of the universe and figuring out how it will all work.
I hope you enjoy!