The Original Werewolf
King Lycaon of Arcadia had many wives, and by them he had fifty sons: Acontes, Aegaeon, Alipherus, Ancyor, Moe, Larry, Curly, Shemp, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey, Doc, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, Michael, Laa-Laa, Dipsy, Tinky-Winky, Po, John, Paul, George, Ringo, Sylvester, Tweety, Bugs, Daffy, Goofy, Mickey, Donald, Huey, Lewy, Dewey, Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, Zeppo, and Nyctimus.
Some of those names might be wrong, but the list gives a good idea of just how many birthday cards Lycaon had to buy each year.
Now, one day, Zeus came down to the Mortal Realm in the form of an impoverished traveler and begged a bit of food from King Lycaon’s hospitality. “And make it good because I’m actually Zeus in disguise,” the sky-god added with a wink.
The story gets a bit cloudy at that point, but somehow Nyctimus got killed, butchered, and heaped onto Zeus’s plate. Maybe it was meant to be a gruesome test of the traveler’s claims to godhood. Maybe the impious sons of Lycaon were deliberately mocking Zeus with a child sacrifice. Or maybe it was revenge for how Zeus tricked his way into Lycaon’s daughter’s bed and yadda, yadda, yadda, she’s been transformed into a bear.
Whatever the intent, Zeus was so offended that he transformed Lycaon into a wolf. And also his remaining sons. And he returned Nyctimus to life to sit on the Arcadian throne. But in the end, the only way Zeus could wash away the taste of undercooked mortal flesh was to flood the entire world, causing the Great Deluge.
This was a meal that literally ended the world!
In the post-Apocalyptic age that followed, the surviving descendants of Lycaon continued to carry his curse, living part of the time as wolves and part of the time as humans. Lycaon’s name became the root for the word “lycanthrope,” a term used for human-animal shifters in general and werewolves in particular.
The werewolves of Greek mythology have inspired folklore, horror movies, and Teen Wolf reboots ever since. Expect to see some Lycaonides in a future episode of Becoming Hercules.
Kindle Vella Update
“Speaking of Becoming Hercules, how did this serial fiction thing start and how’s it going?”
Well since you asked…
It started this past spring, when Amazon, Earth’s largest bookseller, invited authors to sign up for a new story delivery platform called Kindle Vella.
Instead of complete print novels or ebooks, Vella stories would release over time as serialized episodes. Readers would buy tokens to redeem on their chosen serials at the rate of one token per hundred words, with authors and Amazon theoretically splitting the proceeds.
For those of us who believe that creators should be fairly compensated for their works, and that those creators should have ultimate say over when, whether, and how their works can be given away for free, there were red flags in the arrangement that I’ve detailed elsewhere.
Many authors expected Amazon to do some legwork to earn their fee, actively marketing to its massive worldwide customer base, lending the legitimacy of its brand, and innovating with its bleeding-edge technologies. Instead, Kindle Vella launched in beta with limited promotion, an opaque algorithm, and availability only to United States-based readers.
Readers familiar with other serial fiction platforms have said that the Kindle Vella site as it presently exists doesn’t offer the discoverability and interaction that’s expected by readers on competing platforms. Or in other words, the Vella platform offers a substandard reader experience.
Luckily, I was never expecting big bucks from my Kindle Vella serial. If I were only in it for the money, I could have made more in ten minutes with a “WILL READ STORIES FOR CASH” sign and an overturned hat.
Working with Amazon has been like hiring a trained monkey to carry my hat around while begging strangers to purchase and redeem Banana Tokens for a peek over my shoulder at the words on my screen. Then, at the end of the day, learning that the monkey just bought himself a gold-plated yacht and is off to the Azores. Then, for months after that, waiting for the monkey’s accounting firm to exchange that hat full of worthless Banana Tokens for an actual check.
That’s how it’s gone so far, but here’s how it’s going to go from now on.
No thanks to the trained monkey, it turns out that I do write better and faster with a weekly deadline and people looking over my shoulder. In a few months, I’ll have assembled a book’s worth of material, and hopefully I’ll also have accumulated some satisfied who will be telling all their friends about this funky mythology-based story they just have to read.
Telling stories and making connections is what this author biz is all about, right? So does it really matter that we’ve allowed a monkey to sail off into the sunset with the bulk of our hard-earned profits?
Which is why I’m working on a service to cut Amazon out of the transaction while improving the reader experience. Stay tuned for details, myth fans, and let me know in the comments what your Kindle Vella experience has been like.
—Greg R. Fishbone, Mythology Disruptor
Mythoversal brings inclusion to Greek mythology by broadening representation, amplifying marginalized identities, and reversing centuries of gatekeeping and erasure.
Our entry point to Mythoversal Hellas is the multicultural city of Thebes, where we disrupt and deconstruct Greek, Hellenic, Roman, and Byzantine sources to create a mythic environment that's inclusive, inviting, and relevant. This is the setting for Becoming Hercules, which provides a window into the past and a mirror for today. Non-US readers, click here for an Access Guide to learn about Amazon’s location-gated content restrictions and how to bypass them.
If you’re looking to jump into reading serial fiction on Kindle Vella, here’s a batch of sci-fi and fantasy serials to check out.
But wait, there’s more. This list focuses on Young Adult and New Adult fantasy serials.