Wednesday, November 08, 2006

When The Sleeper Wakes

And today's title from an old H G Wells novel, by the way.

Years ago I had an idea for a superhero comic. I wanted to look at some of the ideas in the superhero genre, some of the assumptions and the things that were bothering me at the time. Ideas about violence, ideas about identity, about constraints.

Probably wouldn’t have worked. But as a start-point I had a sextet of classical music playing schoolgirls, aged fourteen or fifteen, high achievers, who travel to Palomar Observatory… and five years later wake up with superpowers.

The “discovering that you have superpowers” scene was relatively easy – there are things you can do in your daily life that alert you to the presence or absence of superpowers. Getting the lid off that jam jar is easy, say, if you’ve suddenly got Hulk-level strength – although it was interesting to look at how useful and how useless super-strength is for someone who probably hasn’t formed a fist in ten years. And how superstrength could almost be an impediment for a certain kind of girl in a certain social environment.

Boys have it simpler. Superboy, you see, would be stronger and faster and less vulnerable than all the other boys. He could dominate, could beat the other boys up and no-one could beat him up, that’d be what made him super.

But what would a Supergirl be like, a girl who dominates and excels? A supergirl could make everyone hate you and make you think that it’s your own fault, and make every other girl and boy love her.

Now, I know that things aren’t so simple, but that was the basis of one of the issues – what would happen to a girl who found herself with super-strength and super-speed and worst of all, invulnerability. Like most of my stories, it ended badly for many concerned.

Anyway – why this boring prelude?

Because another of the characters (superperson name Quartet) gains the ability to quadruplicate herself, to be in up to four places at once, doing four different things (relevant to anyone’s life? Anyone?) at one time. The way she discovered this was gradual. She felt hungrier. She woke tired. She began to feel as if there was something in the house, would wake and find things moved about. One night she spent in terror, lying in bed listening to what turned out to be one of her selves, nefariously making a peanut butter sandwich in the kitchen and singing a U2 song.

Eventually she works out what is going on, meets up with her friends: the super-strong one, the one with the new voice, the one who looks like an angel from the Book of Revelations… hijinks ensue.

Why is this even peripherally relevant? Because I had a Stilnox tablet (zolpidem, 10mg)* last night, and this morning I woke up and all of my food was eaten.

Sarah has been wonderful with me being in here, more wonderful than I deserve, and last night when she visited she brought me some bocconcini. It’s one of my favourite foods and I was looking forward to eating it, and this morning I discovered the empty container on the bedside table.

Apparently I’ve already had my treat. I’d eaten it. Either that or someone came in at night and stood by my bed when I slept, sinisterly eating cheese.

And that’s not all. I have the not-to-be underestimated luxury of reading before sleep here, and apparently while I was somnambulistically scoffing bocconcini I was reading too: “The Autobiography of a Geisha” by Sayo Masuda. When I went to bed the book was open about a third of the way through, the setting was nineteen forty, and Little Crane was a senior novice. Now it’s more than half way, it is two years later and the chapter title suggests Little Crane has “awakened to love”.

So the least bizarre explanation is that while I slept I read and ate. Bizarre.

It’s a really weird feeling, seeing evidence that you’ve done something about which you have no memory. Occam’s razor suggests that I sleep-walked, sleep-ate and sleep-read, even though I have no memory of it at all. I can’t prove it, of course, that would require Occam’s razor and lather, maybe even Occam’s shaving set, but someone scarfed my food and read my book while I slept, and I suspect the guilty party is me.

The good thing is I get to read that part of the book again, and I’m quite enjoying it. The frustrating thing is “I” missed out on the sensual pleasure of eating bocconcini, whereas calories eaten while asleep do count.

Maybe I could set up a punching bag by my bed, or a treadmill, do a bit of aerobic work, sleep kick-boxing…

Anyhow, thanks for listening

*apparently this is quite common with zolpidem. I am being changed over to zopiclone.


Blogger Niamh Sage said...

The idea of Quartet and the classical music playing superheroes is brilliant. Do you have any plans to work it into a story or comic? I'd love to read it!


ps word verification is suggesting that you try "qtibbol". I presume the side effects of that one might include you waking up and finding that you've argued with every other person on the ward during the night. Or perhaps rounded up all the neighbourhood cats.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Benedict 16th said...

Good to see you posting dude,
Did you know they call stilnox Ambien in the USA?
Didn't one of the Kennedy Senators use the "Ambien defence" when caught intoxicated, under the influence in a car crash, and he didn't know how he got there, denied drinking alcohol (despite witnesses) etc, Funnily enough being a DC boy he apparently got off?

10:47 PM  
Blogger Juanita J. Sanchez said...

I wish I could use the Ambien defense to explain all the crap I've been eating lately! Unfortunately, I'm fully awake and remember every bite. Oh, and I'm not taking Ambien at the present time either. Oh well. Sorry you missed out on the bocconcini, that would really irritate!

9:32 AM  
Blogger lauritajuanitasanchez said...

I'm just catching up on your past three posts.

I'm so glad and grateful that you're still with us.

I'm also continuously amazed at your talent as a writer, you ability to write about pain and horror with humor and intelligence.

And I loves me some AMBIEN. :D Sorry about the cheese. Get well. I'm glad you've got Sarah's laptop.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Sean said...

Great to read you're up and about more or less.Your posts remind me of a phrase that helped me in some difficult times: "...but the spirit of Monkey was irrepressible!" - I think you qualify for the equivalent of being buried under a mountain!
Lots of Love and big Hugs to Sarah too

5:16 PM  

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