Guest Post: Tracy Deebs on the Pandora Myth

I'd like to welcome Tracy Deebs, author of Doomed, to the blog today to talk about the Pandora myth!

Pandora’s just your average teen-glued to her cell phone and laptop, surfing Facebook and e-mailing with her friends—until the day her long-lost father sends her a link to a mysterious site featuring twelve photos of her as a child. Unable to contain her curiosity, Pandora enters the site, where she is prompted to play her favorite virtual-reality game, Zero Day. This unleashes a global computer virus that plunges the whole world into panic: suddenly, there is no Internet. No cell phones. No utilities, traffic lights, hospitals, law enforcement. Pandora teams up with handsome stepbrothers Eli and Theo to enter the virtual world of Zero Day. Simultaneously, she continues to follow the photographs from her childhood in an attempt to beat the game and track down her father—her one key to saving the world as we know it. Part The Matrix, part retelling of the Pandora myth, Doomed has something for gaming fans, dystopian fans, and romance fans alike.

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Thanks so much for hosting me today—I really appreciate it!

The myth of Pandora, curiosity, and consequences

Pandora has always been a favorite of mine in Greek mythology, but I’ve always thought she kind of got a bad rap. In the real Pandora myth, Prometheus (Theo in Doomed) and Epimetheus (Eli in Doomed) were charged with creating all the creatures on earth. Epimetheus, the impetuous one, created things like the platypus and the sloth and the hippopotamus while Prometheus labored and labored over only one creature. The gods gave them a certain number of gifts to give out to these creatures that they created and by the time that Prometheus was done with his creation—humanity—Eli had used all the gifts on the other animals. So Prometheus stole fire from the gods as his gift for humanity and the gods’ answer was to create Pandora to punish him. Which hardly seems like it was her fault, right?

So Pandora was created by Zeus and programmed with insatiable curiosity for the express purpose of punishing Prometheus. Of course, he’s the smart planner of the group and he figures out quickly that Zeus, who is angry with him, wouldn’t be giving him a present unless he had an ulterior motive. So he refuses Pandora, and warns his brother to do the same. But Epimetheus is more impulsive and not quite as smart as Prometheus and he accepts the gift. He marries Pandora and leaves her in possession of a box that they all know she shouldn’t open. But, again, she’s been created for just this purpose, so of course she opens the box and then she gets blamed for eternity for unleashing evil when really she was only doing what she was created to do.

Which isn’t to say there aren’t consequences for her actions, because obviously, they are. The human world suffers terribly for her actions—a fitting consequence in Zeus’s mind for possession of the fire/progress/scientific knowledge that was meant only for the gods. Pandora herself pretty much ceases to exist. And Prometheus, who thought he was smart in refusing Zeus’s gift, ends up staked to a mountain top where his liver is eaten by an eagle (or some other bird of prey depending on which version of the myth you pay attention to). Every day he is eaten alive and then at night his entrails regenerate and the whole torture starts all over again.

This is Greek mythology’s creation story for humanity and what always strikes me is the similarity between it and the Judeo-Christian creation story with the Garden of Eden and the apple. In both stories, curiosity is punished with dire consequences.

In Doomed, I try to keep as many elements of the Pandora myth as I can. Theo steals symbolic fire from the gods in the form of the game matrix and Pandora opens a link instead of a box—a link that her father created especially for her so that she could release a devastating computer worm on the world. Plus the personality and roles of the characters stay very much the same from the Greek myth to my book (Theo tries very hard to get rid of Pandora in the beginning) but there is a bit of a love triangle between Theo, Pandora and Eli—much like there was in the Greek myth. Her father also plays a powerful Zeus/godlike figure throughout the book and … well, there’s a lot more of the myth and other elements of Greek mythology in the book besides what I just mentioned, but I don’t want to ruin all the twists and turns, so I’ll leave it at that for now ;)

Thanks again for having me!
Thanks so much, Tracy, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on Pandora with us! It's so true about Pandora and Eve. Poor curiosity - it isn't enough that it kills cats, it has to doom the world to misery too!

About Tracy
Tracy Deebs collects books, English degrees and lipsticks and has been known to forget where—and sometimes who—she is when immersed in a great novel. At six she wrote her first short story—something with a rainbow and a prince—and at seven she forayed into the wonderful world of girls lit with her first Judy Blume novel. From the first page of that first book, she knew she’d found her life-long love. Now a writing instructor at her local community college, Tracy writes YA novels that run the gamut from dark mermaids and witches to kissing clubs and techno-Armageddon stories… and she still has a soft spot for Judy Blume.

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  1. Great post! I love the trend for retelling myths and fairy tales. I must admit I never thought much about the inherent sexism of blaming Pandora for unleasing hell! I am a secondary school librarian and think this sounds like a good read for my girls.

    1. Pandora with her box and Eve with her apples! Thanks for stopping by. :)

  2. Hmm. I don't think I would have even considered reading this book if I hadn't read this post. But I love that she tried to stay true to the original mythology in Doomed. I'm all about the retellings these days.

    1. I love retellings, too. I've been thinking about doing a post on them.


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