Superpowers: A Rough Passages Q&A #2

Second in a so-far 2-part series. An intrepid reader sent me some excellent  questions about the alternate history setting for my Rough Passages stories. This is my way of providing answers. You can read Part #1 here, or read on for the second set of questions.

Do sports exist?  Are there professional leagues?  Have new powered sports been invented?  Telekinetic soccer for example?  Are there Null-only leagues?

Sports definitely exist, amateur and professional. I’m sure there are many hybrid sports whose details I haven’t thought through yet.  A critical point to remember here is age. Most professional sports are hard on the body. Even the super-powered are aging.  They can be super-fast but still have arthritis, super-strong but have bad knees.

Yes, there are non-powered-only leagues (can’t discriminate on R-positive status directly, that’s illegal!) ) and open leagues. Most NPO leagues keep things simple by implementing upper age limits, setting strict regulations on allowed weight/height etc, and allowing legal blood-test challenges after results much like our world does blood-testing for drugs.

I assume there are Nulls resentful of powered individuals entering the work force.  Say a crane operator being upset a telekinetic is moving steel beams on a construction site.

Yes and no. One particular super-powered telekinetic might get a good job moving steel beams, but they’re never going to put crane operators out of work — there just aren’t enough telekinetics out there total compared to the market, plus individual idiosyncrasies mean there’s no economy of scale. Six workers can all use one crane on six shifts. One TK is still only one TK. And hiring six with the same power ranking…not nearly as easy or cheap as training crane operators.  (What Mercury Battalion does with the recruits coming in and rotating out only works because they drill constantly toards the goal of adaptive improvisation. )

Plus there’s no guarantee that any given TK has the other job skills & licensing that would make them employable in construction (or wherever.)  Or that they have any interest in doing the work that would best fit their new power. If they’re a banker making $100k+ a year, f’rex, or already in retirement, or are a sole caregiver with a working spouse…yeah.

Of course there is resentment and discrimination, but most of it is more “freaks hogging all our public services, getting preferential treatment, living high off the guvmint hog while I have to work harder” than about stealing jobs. There would be more resentment & economic disruption if powers could be scaled predictably or appeared in younger people, but they don’t.

Do monkeys exist?

If you mean primates like capuchin monkeys/chimpanzees/gorillas. yes.

How good are air elementals at purifying air? Can they release air from rock or water? Can water elementals purify as well?  Can they break the bonds of oxygen and hydrogen?

The catch-all “It depends on the individual” again comes into play with elementals. (What can I say? It’s a theme.)

The Department of Public Safety officially refers to elemental talents as “materials affinities.” “Callers” or “movers” are more common than “makers.” They all have an ability linked to a certain material. How much and how far they can call or create, what they need to create it, The mechanism of how they handle their focus material (for example by purifying it) and how well they handle it– all these factor into the power ranking assignment.

There are minimum thresholds for every ranking. The top power ranking has no upper limit.  Some of the strongest 1A air elementals have been observed creating gasses in airless vacuum chambers. (Creating it from what? See the earlier question about physics and defying the laws thereof.)  Breaking the bonds of oxygen & hydrogen…well, yes. That is one thing a prime water elemental might be able to do, but it also isn’t how they would think of what they were doing.

Can Earth elementals strengthen rock?  Are differing rock types easier to work with, say granite versus sandstone?  Can they do delicate work?  Are there elemental sculptors?  Can they shape glass?  Or is that the purview of pyrotechnic artists and glassblowers?

I bet you know the answer to these at this point. In order:

  • Yes, some can.
  • Different people have affinities for certain stone types. Others have affinity for all things sandy. Or soil. Or “stone” as a concept. Or magma…
  • Some can do very delicate sculpting. Some can only do delicate work. Some can call gem stones from the depths of the earth’s crust and facet them without tools…
  • Aaaahh, glass. Beloved of air, fire and earth elementals. Workable by all…those of suffiient power ranking, of course.

Television, and satellite communication exists.   Is this just being handled in the background in your stories?

So far, yes. Radio, television broadcasts, cable, computer & network development  have all proceeded along timelines similar those in our world. The main differences come in control & distribution. Cable & bandwidth communications of all kinds are considered nationally-critical utilities and are regulated & controlled as such.

 

That’s it for now. I hope you all have enjoyed the information as much as I enjoy sharing it.