Thursday, August 02, 2007
Guess the Plot
To Serve in Heaven
1. Tired of not fitting in with the other angels, Shem joins a company of dysfunctional misfit angels. When demons and wizards unite against the angels, Shem gets his wish: his first chance to fight against evil. Also, an eccentric swordmaster.
2. Upon dying, Michelangelo sees the angry face of God . . . who didn't like how his portrait turned out. Now, Michelangelo has been charged with painting a much larger ceiling--the ceiling of Heaven itself--and getting the details RIGHT this time. Will God's micromanagement ruin Michelangelo's artistic vision?
3. Satan couldn't believe it when his performance review came in. No longer would the board of directors allow him to reign in hell. Now he must serve in Heaven. And God is a lousy tipper.
4. Sometimes the afterlife isn't all it's cracked up to be. Joe was a bartender in life, and while he narrowly escaped eternal damnation, in Heaven he's a busboy. Maybe that deathbed conversion wasn't such a great idea.
5. Hell just wasn't any fun. Sure it sounded good when Satan used that famous recruiting line: It's better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven. The trouble was, Satan was the only one who did any ruling. Everyone else suffered eternal torment. Can Elgin find that elusive chink in the brimstone that will allow him to escape? Also, a clock that runs backwards.
6. Jury duty in heaven is hell. After 1,562,354 years, Molly learns she still can't talk about Satan's trial after his fall from heaven . . . which means she will never, ever get to be on Oprah. This leads her to the biggest existential crisis she has ever faced. Luckily for her, she has plenty of time to think about it.
The Grigori—or, Watchers—is ostensibly an elite order of angels chosen to protect the City of Lights. In truth, it is a haven for the disaffected. [Angels. You just can't trust 'em.] Volunteers come seeking escape from the council's oversight [What council?] and the company of other misfits. A magician driven by obsession with forbidden research develops spells for the order. A berserker indulges his taste for blood. An eccentric swordmaster finds a use for his gifts—even if he'd rather be a dancer.
The day after young Shemyaza joins, the order's leader is found dead in a snowbank, murdered by demons. It's final proof of what Shem suspected all along—the demons and wizards have once again united against the angels. What he didn't suspect was that the ruling council would appoint him head of the Watchers despite his lack of seniority. [Is this the same council as the one in the first paragraph? Because earlier you said misfits joined the Watchers to escape the council's oversight. Now you say the council appoints the Watchers' leader, which implies they have mucho oversight.] Evidently, the other Watchers are too dysfunctional to be trusted.
The outbreak of war is the best thing that ever happened to him. Shem finally gets his to chance to fight evil—and is suddenly swimming in more respect and praise than he can handle. But the war isn't going well, [If his first chance to fight evil is going badly, why is he getting so much praise?] and he blames the council. Some days it seems they aren't even trying. [They're the Randy Moss of angelic councils.] He begins to investigate the council's origins, fining only secrets and misdirection at every turn.
Desperate for information about his own homeland's history, he turns to an unlikely source: Cain. The First Murderer and enemy general mistrusts his supposed allies, too; an alliance of necessity is formed. [I can see turning to Cain if he needs an ally; why did he turn to Cain for information about his homeland's history? Cain was, after all, an unlikely source. Aren't there any likely sources? Plus, if I'm a leader and I'm at war with demons and wizards, I think I'll put off the history lesson till things quiet down.] Shemyaza knows he's playing a dangerous game, but if he can win the war, isn't it worth it? Even if achieving peace means [destroying the entire universe?] betraying Cain and the Council?
To Serve in Heaven is a 90,000 word fantasy of power and divided loyalties. Set in another world, but infused with biblical symbols and imagery, it chronicles a young angel's growth from a naïve pawn to a canny iconoclast. May I send you the completed manuscript?
We don't need the 1st-paragraph list of examples of the types of angels who are Watchers. You could start with the second paragraph, adding what it is Shemyaza joined.
According to Wikipedia, the leader of the Watchers was named Samyaza. He also had several aliases, including Shemyazaz, Shamazya, Semiaza, Shemhazi, Semyaza, Amezyarak, and Shemp: the fourth Stooge.
So was Shemp appointed leader because they thought they could use him, or because the others were too dysfunctional? It seems the plot starts when war breaks out. The Council appoints Shemp as leader, thinking he'll be their stooge, but he surprises them and leads his team of misfits to victory. That sounds interesting, but I'm not getting that from the query.
Wait a minute, a bunch of misfits save the day--isn't this the movie Stripes, with Bill Murray as Private Shemyaza?