Sunday, December 28, 2008


This vacation I've been reading Superpowers by David J. Schwartz.

I picked this book up as an impulse buy, and here's why:

First of all, it's a novel about college students in Madison, WI. Since I spent a large slice of my college career there, all the locales mentioned in this book are easily remembered. When the characters go to the SERF, I remember myself going to the SERF.

However, you don't need to know Madison to enjoy this book. The concept alone is enough to merit a read: ordinary people wake up one morning transformed into beings with superpowers. You won't find a cliche supervillain subplot here--mostly this is about what would happen if an ordinary person suddenly had extraordinary powers.

The five powers themselves make for a great conversation piece: which of the five would you choose if you could pick one of them for yourself.

1. Speed. The ability to run 20 miles in a couple minutes. When you run, objects in the world seem to be standing still, so dodging bullets isn't out of the question. Running to a nearby state is not a problem.

2. Flight. No wings necessary. The ability to soar through the sky.

3. Invisibility. Can be turned on and off at will.

4. Super strength and near invulnerability. Think of the powers of the Thing, except you still look normal.

5. Telepathy. Not just able to read the minds of those nearby, but also the ability to scan an internet-like web of thoughts.

Which would you choose?

Schwartz does a good job on this novel. It doesn't surprise me that he has a large selections of comic and science fiction/fantasy reviews that he has documented from a former blog and also a current blog. If you enjoy reading reviews, give them a try.


Jackie Ballarini said...

Can the telepathy be turned on and off at will too?

RichSkyline said...

Great question. No--and the guy with telepathy is the least happy with his power, mostly because he learns a lot of the uglier side of life, much like the guy in Robert Cormier's FADE.

I'm not done with the book yet, but he's experimenting with different types of helmets to block thoughts. He also went through a period of depression, but seems to have come out of it stronger mentally.

Jackie Ballarini said...

You can't turn it off huh? No thanks then.

It did make me wonder: what if we knew what our students were thinking while we were teaching. For about a tenth of a second I thought it would be helpful. Then it got rather frightening.

RichSkyline said...

...didn't do my homework...Mr. G looks like he gained a few pounds over break...what's our new homework?...oh, got a text message!...what's she looking at? one in our group did the homework...Mr. G is looking at me...

Jackie Ballarini said...

Oh, those weren't the frightening thoughts I was having... those I could deal with.

FireSaiyan said...

I would get the ultimate power that everyone always wants, flight! You wont be going super fast but it would be easy traveling from place to place quickly by going over all of it! Someone once asked the question "If you could flip a coin and one side you would die but the other you wold have the ultimate super power, flying, would you do it?

RichSkyline said...

Flight so far has by far the most votes out of the people who have answered this to me face to face.

Teleportation would be better, IMO, if you could teleport like the kid in the novel Jumper (I haven't seen the movie version).