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Superhero diction in India

19 Oct 2013 12:03 #33608 by brantley
Superhero diction in India was created by brantley
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samit_Basu

samitbasu.com/

Just came across him from links in a post about science fiction in India at the Science Fiction Research Association listserv. Just got his first superhero novel, TURBULENCE, and a sequel, RESISTANCE, is due out shortly. A recent interview shows where he's coming from, genre-wise:

www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/07/an-int...uthor-of-turbulence/

I gather from other sources that there has been a spate of superhero/superheroine comics and novels in the Middle East too.

--Brantley

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19 Oct 2013 19:24 #33614 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Superhero diction in India
I read the author's description of Turbulence. Basically, all the passengers on an airline flight go through some kind of disruptive force and are granted whatever superpower they wish for. It's written from an Indian and British perspective.

The author does state that the passengers choose very different abilities than would have been the case if this book had been written in the 1960's in America. They all chose what we would call "side-kick" powers, as well as contemporary powers (such as gaining unlimited followers on Twitter). The author states that primary superpowers (flight, super strength, invulnerability) would useless to change the world today, so nobody chooses those kinds of abilities. He implies those are the dreams of the past, not the present or future.

He's essentially saying that "social technology powers" (my term) are more important today than traditional physical super powers. An interesting point, and one that deserves some thought, but one that might not fit my kink, if you know what I mean.

Still, it could be interesting to see what this Asian writer imagines a group of modern superheroes would be like, all of them working together to solve problems, each with some kind of power.

If I can find a Kindle version, I'll give it a try. Might be some interesting ideas inside, but likely outside our usual genre.

Shadar

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19 Oct 2013 22:17 #33617 by d_k_c
Replied by d_k_c on topic Superhero diction in India
Clearly he doesn't realize that a hot chick with super strength.....Would also gain an unlimited amount of twitter followers.

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19 Oct 2013 23:53 #33624 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Superhero diction in India
Good point... given the way celebrity gossip focuses on physical beauty, fitness, body shape, etc., our kind of superheroine would put all celebrities to shame, not to mention the impact of that kind of awesome strength, invulnerability and flight powers would have. If they were on Twitter, everyone would want to read what they wrote.

All you have to do is imagine her dressed in any of Supergirl's iconic costumes from the 60's to now, floating weightlessly in front of you, long hair blowing in the gentle breeze, her eyes so bright, those legs so long, holding a car over her head with one hand. I think everyone, no matter how "modern", no matter what their politics or sexual kink or preferences, would be blown out of their minds although possibly in different ways. Nobody would be blasé.

But obviously this Indian author doesn't imagine things that way. Too bad for him.

Shadar

d_k_c wrote: Clearly he doesn't realize that a hot chick with super strength.....Would also gain an unlimited amount of twitter followers.

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20 Oct 2013 00:22 #33625 by clipfreak
Replied by clipfreak on topic Superhero diction in India
If you could only wish for one superpower, super intelligence is the one to go for. Because it would open the door to all other powers by doing science (genetic altering, nanotech, manipulating nature at the string level etc).

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20 Oct 2013 00:40 #33626 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic Superhero diction in India
I figure I'm intelligent enough already, so I might go for charisma to get more people to pay attention to my ideas.

--Brantley

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20 Oct 2013 00:50 #33627 by www1969
Replied by www1969 on topic Superhero diction in India
But say we take the description literally and the person on the plane gets ONE superpower. As in one-and-only-one. She can't just wish to be Supergirl, she'd have to wish for super strength OR flying OR invulnerability OR heat vision, etc. Changes the dynamic quite a bit, and suggests that maybe this guy's on to something with his "social technology powers".

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20 Oct 2013 15:53 #33645 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic Superhero diction in India
Which also explains why I couldn't wish for restored youth or immortality – because I couldn't also wish it for my wife.

--Brantley

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20 Oct 2013 16:39 #33648 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Superhero diction in India
I hadn't given sufficient thought to the "one" superpower restriction. That makes it really hard. Superstrength without invulnerability would get your torn apart. Flight would likely kill you. Invulnerability alone is kind of neat, though.

I see all kinds of moral hazards here, which might make the book a better read than I thought. To Brantley's point, wishing for incredible beauty/handsomeness, youth or super-intelligence or charisma or immortality or just about anything you can imagine would leave behind the other people in your life. Stepping outside the bounds of humanity is likely to make life pretty lonely.

I believe the book deals with how this plane full of people, all now given this one power (some of which might not have been the wisest choices), band together to try and bring good to the world. They have something in common that they don't share with any other people on Earth. But that said, the internal conflicts and figuring how to combine powers to actually accomplish something is going to be a huge challenge. Imagine the likely range of personalities in an airliner full of random people.

Shadar

www1969 wrote: But say we take the description literally and the person on the plane gets ONE superpower. As in one-and-only-one. She can't just wish to be Supergirl, she'd have to wish for super strength OR flying OR invulnerability OR heat vision, etc. Changes the dynamic quite a bit, and suggests that maybe this guy's on to something with his "social technology powers".

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20 Oct 2013 16:42 #33649 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Superhero diction in India
Just bought the Kindle version for seven bucks... will start reading it today and let you know what I think.

Shadar

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20 Oct 2013 17:10 #33651 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Superhero diction in India
OK, everything I thought about the book is wrong.

It starts off with a man with slightly weaker versions of Superman's powers as he prepares to destroy the nuclear weapons facility in Pakistan. Instead, he winds up in an airborne dual with a Pakastani F-16, and manages to knock it out of the air. He crashes into a mountainside in the flaming wreckage, escaping it at the last second to slide through a cave entrance to come to a stop in a well-lit cavern with a bunch of Taliban who blast him with dozens of AK47's, but the bullets feel no worse than hail stones. Acupuncture by AK47, or so he calls it. It makes him feel really good. Very strong. He deals with the Taliban. End of chapter one.

A wild opening that fits perfectly into our genre, except that the flying, bulletproof, super-strong hero of chapter one is a man. There were 402 other people on the airplane where he gained his powers. He's presumably now off to find them.

So, obviously the people on the plane don't get just one power, as this guy (named Vir) got a reduced version of most if not all Kryptonian powers.

Writing is decent, lots of excitement in the opening scene. Technical quality on the F-16 fight is OK but not perfect, and its clearly written from an Indian geo-political viewpoint. (Where the Pakistanis are the bogeymen, and the Pakistani's American allies are to be avoided at all costs, as the the Chinese. But that's the geo-politic reality in India, not fiction.)

Nice heads up, Brantley.

Shadar





shadar wrote: Just bought the Kindle version for seven bucks... will start reading it today and let you know what I think.

Shadar

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20 Oct 2013 22:52 #33664 by www1969
Replied by www1969 on topic Superhero diction in India
So maybe it ends up being more like a Justice League of India, with everybody having different but more traditional superhero roles.

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21 Oct 2013 12:47 #33680 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic Superhero diction in India
Their leader even jokes about it being a "Justice League of India."

I'm reading it now, and it is obviously inspired by Western models, but also stirs in Indian culture and politics -- and has a strong ethical sense.

Vir Singh, the first superhero we meet, can fly but is also somewhat invulnerable *about the level of an Arion Beta in Shadar's AU fiction). He's about to attack a Pakistani nuclear installation when he gets a cell phone call from a man who tells him (1) it's a suicide mission even for him, (2) it hasn't really been ordered as Vir believes by the Indian Air Force and (3) it's a stupid idea to begin with because it would touch off World War III.

Vir is one of those who, on a plane trip from London to New Delhi, had an Effective Dream that turned him into a superhero. The guy on the cell phone, Aman, can tap into the Internet and all electronic communications with his mind alone. Uzma is an aspiring Bollywood actress who has the gift for making anybody like her. Tia is a girl who can duplicate herself. Sundar is a scientist who can invent strange things, but only when he's asleep. It all has to do with what each of them dreamed. But Aman, who is organizing the group, has learned that a lot of others who presumably gained superpowers have been/are being killed off, probably by the government; and another group has started a religious cult that seeks power for itself.

It's all very serious, at least on the level of WATCHMEN and WILD CARDS here, but written with a lot of wit, as when Vir is hovering over that nuclear installation and a bird uses him for a pit stop, or when Uzma arrives at Bollywood, where, among other things, Buddhist monks moonlight as DJs.

--Brantley

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22 Oct 2013 21:01 #33710 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic Superhero diction in India
Just finished it, and it holds up. There are some things you expect, like knock-down drag-out superhero fights. But there are others you don't, like how Aman's attempts to improve the world through control of international finance, go wrong. But the final battle with Jai (The one who wants to be emperior of the world) has a surprise ending that I didn't see coming, although it did figure out who one of the supervillains had to be. And Uzma has the last word -- but I won't say any more than that.

--Brantley

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