worldbuilding header 2 Rough Passages

Yes, But What Do They Eat?

Life in a super-powered world gets complicated. Speculation is an entertaining playground. Yes, there are big questions to answer, but I prefer to ponder issues that would affect people’s daily lives.  What kind of house paint would work for people who exhale acid gasses? How would the fashion industry cater to scales and tails?

Then there are the scientific conundrums. Elena is five feet tall.  Jack tops eight feet. Amy stands twelve foot-plus. They’re all humanoid, and that’s a problem. If they’re all built on the same framework of bone & sinew, supplied by the same nerve impulses and fueled by the same basic digestive system, the math doesn’t work. Physics and biology both shake their heads and say NOPE. Human bodies don’t scale up well.

And yet, no one would need proof that it works. They see it. They live it. So there’s no reason to explain in detail how joints have to be designed to support that much weight, how musculature would attach, etc, etc, zzzzzzz.* It isn’t story fodder. Oh, sure. Someone in Rough Passages America studies it. Someone is doing a thesis. But wouldn’t be a daily challenge to life, and I’m not writing about puzzled, frustrated scientists right now.

Other mundane details make fabulous story elements. Here’s one: how does someone as big as Jack or Amy survive in a modern world? What do they eat? That’s a point I addressed because it would be an unavoidable problem and a potentially funny one.

Research proved it wouldn’t be easy. Vegetarian animals have to spend up to 80% of their time fueling their bodies off nutrient-poor, high fiber food. And think of the elimination. Not a fun way for a civilized sentient to live.  Going with the carnivore model, we can look at tigers (which are roughly Jack’s size) and we find they burn through 8,000+ calories a day of nutrient-dense meat. And that’s on a lifestyle that sees them lounging around doing nothing 14-16 hours a day to conserve energy. Again, not a sustainable way of life in the modern human world.

My big T-series powerhouses have to be able to act and work with normal human soldier. So what do they  eat? Short answer: nothing and everything.

Under average circumstances their bodies are fueled by the same power that made them roll over in the first place.**  They channel and store that energy at a cellular level on instinct. Ah, but when they need more than they can tap from the environment or pull from their body’s reserves? Then their digestive tracts can break down pretty much anything at the molecular level as effectively as a blast furnace. They convert the resulting energy directly to cellular energy or mass as needed.

How?  Well, they don’t know, so I’m not telling. Ha.***  But think of the entertaining aspects. They don’t have to eat a lot normally. But when they do eat, they’ll eat whatever’s handy. A side of raw beef.  Rocks. Driftwood. Newspaper.

Why do I come up with ideas like this? Blame my analytic background. And the opportunities for humor.

That’s the best part of worldbuilding for me. I hope you enjoy the results as well.

Want to see T-series powers in action? I recommend you try my Rough Passsages Tale   Nightmares. Only 99 cents, and available for iBooks, Kobo, Nook and of course Kindle.

There. Mandatory book plug done. Happy reading.


Notes:

*  I can provide examples if challenged. I do the research. Animals as big as Amy have existed throughout history–even bipedal ones.  Cave bears, anyone? So it could work.

**there’s a whole ‘nother post full of authorial hand-waving on that topic.

*** I do have an explanation. It ties into the whole basis for what made the world change back on First Night,  but it gets into the snore-bore explication zone fast. And I steer clear of that quagmire.

4 thoughts on “Yes, But What Do They Eat?

  1. SylviaMcivers says:

    Tigers and predators need to hunt their food. Humans can have sedentary jobs and order food sent in.
    Elephants and vegan animals need truly massive amounts of food. Expensive for zoos!

    So think about The Flash & Superman – average size bodies (thank you hollywood for better than average faces) but hyper metabolism should mean they also have to chow down on mega amounts of food.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dawnrigger says:

      I have thought (and over-thought) the whole pseudoscience explanation of super-metabolism. 😀 Turns out it breaks down incredibly fast (pun intended) on close examination. Cells. Won’t. Work. That. Way. The obvious answer to me was “change the mechanism to some other system we don’t understand yet.” There’s plenty of scientific precedent! The old truism used to be “according to physics of flight, bumblebees can’t fly, but they do, so we still have things to learn.” Once high-speed cameras and big number-crunching computers hit the scene people figured out what was happening visually and hey-presto, built a model.

      Research makes me happy. I have done absurd amounts of study on how much and what kind of food different types & sizes of animals must consume for basic metabolism (and I have more study yet to do, I’m sure.) Zoo websites are actually excellent jump-off resources for such material, leading down many a research rabbit hole into the aspects like carnivore versus herbivore, active versus sedentary versus metabolic stresses like reproductive cycles, hibernation etc.

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