Where do superpowers come from?

Power: personal, unique power. Power is the centerpiece of every Rough Passages Tale. Who has it, what happens when people gain it, how it can and can’t change their lives, how the uncertainties and adverse aspects of power rollovers  make that world different than ours…this can be deep story stuff.*

How do those powers work? The short answer is: no one knows. That’s one of many things that makes writing about it interesting.

Everyone with a rollover powers taps into some kind of energy, but that’s where certainty ends. Some poz can see this energy post-rollover, other feel it, all are affected by it and use it one way or another, but what that energy is, or how it works?

It’s still a mystery.

Why? For one thing, it’s impossible for nulls to detect, so disbelief hampers research funding. For another, the phenomenon is less than a hundred years old. The scientific community is still at the stage of documenting, describing, and postulating mechanisms based on existing established systems.  Think radiation in the early 1900’s, electricity in the 1800’s, or chemistry in the 1700’s.

All the uncertainty results in a constellation of valid ideas, wrongheaded hypotheses, and wild-ass speculation.  It also supplies thesis fodder for doctoral candidates and researchers in every field of study from physics to psychology. Ambitious scientists dream of being the next Curie, Faraday, or Mendeleev.  And lots of them already think they have uncovered Major Truths that are dead wrong but fit the facts.

Want an example? (You’re getting one.) Take an observable fact: T-series trolls can ramp up their own abilities and provoke each other into radical physical changes by tapping into their powers near each other. At its worst, the feedback loop will drive them into a collective, destructive frenzy. They train hard to control this effect, called rampage, because a mindless stampede of berserk armored giants is hard on real estate and anything else that can’t get out of their way.

Let’s look at the current scientific model. Explanations for T-series power use are based on studies of pheromone communication and hormone-driven metamorphosis in other species. The model fits the observed data and is an accurately predictive tool…in most cases. Most importantly it allows for engineering useful tools like rampage detectors and assorted training devices. So everyone accepts it as accurate.

But as the Watchmaker of the world, I’ll let you in on a secret. Rampage and powering up aren’t triggered physically.  The model has cause and effect flipped. It’s a pure energy phenomenon, a matter of resonance and exchange from more powerful individuals to less powerful ones, one that has the effect of triggering hormone releases.

Is any of that information useful to you, dear reader? Probably not. But speculation is fun, and so is trivia collection. So I thought I would share.

The takeaway for today? Power is tricky. People are fallible. And science is a process.


*Paranormal personal powers are not the only kind people deal with every day. Power can come from social status, political position, cultural acceptance, and economic prosperity too. Upending people’s lives after they’ve spent decades establishing their place in the socioeconomic power structure that is modern society? Well. That makes for super-duper drama. And drama makes good fiction.


Oh, and the BOOKS! Here are links to the buyable stories. Because they’re awesome.

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6
Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW
Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv
Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn

 

 

The most recent ramblings of me

I’ve been busier creating more than consuming of late, and I’ve also taken some tedious life detours, but here’s the latest “what I’ve been enjoying” scoop.

Readings

1636 Chronicles of Dr. Gribbleflotz: Kerryn Offord & Rick Boatright. Fun, lighthearted alternate history sf/fantasy.  It’s an installment in the Ring of Fire bookset. (21 novels, 7 anthologies and going strong.) That is both an asset and a drawback. Good: It’s a familiar world, yet it is so thoroughly filled with unique characters that nothing ever feels like a retread. Bad: There are so many intersecting plots that it’s easy to lose track of all the tangential characters who get mentioned. And it’s just…there.

Wild Harmonic: Beth Patterson.  Great setting, clever concept, urban fantasy that feels urban AND fantastic. Good, solid fun read.  Reminded me a little of War for the Oaks in that it’s all about musicians and hidden worlds, but it’s also nothing like WFtO, and I was immensely pleased that it captured the feel of New Orleans as I’ve experienced it instead of going all cliche smoky-sugary-angsty vampire-packed like certain other NOLA-based series do. I liked it so much that I barely minded it using present tense.  And I do not get along with present tense at all. Nope.

I’m including a purchase link with because it’s also a brand new book by an author I know, that isn’t available in most bookstores (REMEMBER TO ASK YOUR LIBRARY TO BUY IT) and well, you know how I am about pushing things I like. Here you go: BUY LINK.

Once Broken Faith (and more) Seanan McGuire. More urban fantasy. All fae, all the time.  I started this series with book 1 and I love the way it’s developed. This is the the latest, and I embarked upon a re-read. I think the plot doesn’t hit its stride until book 3 or 4, much like the Dresden novels, and like those, I enjoy a periodic visit down memory lane.  I’m into the third book again.

Viewings both TV and Movies

Supergirl continues. Season 2 moved to the CW, and I still like it.

Frequency. New series based on the same concept as the movie from 2000. (Cross-time ham radio communication between parent & child.) Was recommended to me by someone who knows my dislike for time travel, so I risked the pilot. Glad I did.  Four episodes in, it’s atmospheric, dramatic, polished and well-acted.

Designated Survivor got booted off the viewing list. They put in five good episodes before pulling out the flags, regressive ideas and dog whistles, but they did, and now I’m out.

Veronica Mars. The Movie. It did a good job of capturing the feel of the television series, the story was engaging, and I enjoyd it. There is something to be said for fan service, and this movie did it well.

Locke. I don’t remember why I ordered this movie from Netflix even after viewing it. Tom Hardy may have entered into the decision process.  It was an interesting exercise in storytelling through conversation, it was a phenomenal character piece…and it all takes place in a car, driving at night. Hrrrrrrm.

Silver Chalice. Paul Newman. This oldie was showing late-night on a commercial free channel. I hadn’t seen it in 40 years and decided what the hell. Good choice? I dunno. Perfect for the time, but I in pain on pain meds. It was as awful, stilted, and trippy this time around as when I was young and didn’t know how bad bad could get.  It’s like a sword & sandals New Testament epic interpreted by someone taking LSD.  So weird. SO BAD.

Big Screen:

Dr Strange. Cumberbatch + cape + special effects+ fabulous cast = excellence. Wong the librarian is glorious, and Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One…well. I can’t think of a movie she’s in where I haven’t adored her.  (Yes, even the awful Constantine movie. She was phenomenal in that, and she’s delightful in Dr. Strange.)  ANYway. It was good. I’ll see it again. I’ll own it. And when Thor 3 comes out, I might have slightly higher than bargain basement hopes for it, since it appears it will star, Thor, Loki AND Dr. Strange. (swoon)

That’s all in the “taking things in” category.

Kitchen magic:  Made apple crisp and applesauce and only burned some of it. Used up old frozen bananas and stale beer to make delicious banana beer bread, proving bad ingredients can make tasty results. Laid in the first of the frozen winter cookie doughs. PErfected my salsa/rice/chicken lazy bake. And last week all my food energies went into making puddings, jelloes and experimental mashed potato varieties, courtesy of oral surgery recovery.

For those keeping score, I like strawberry jello and red raspberry but not black raspberry–and never lime or orange–and the pudding has to be the kind that gets cooked in  pot and chilled. Vanilla is best. Seriously. Baked sweet potatoes mash super well in a bowl with butter, salt and onion powder, but mashed white potatoes are better if they’re boiled, drained and whipped together  with cheddar cheeses, milk  (and butter. Because butter is the secret of life.)

Dirt therapy: SPOUSEMAN AND I GOT OUR FALL BULBS PLANTED RIGHT! I wouldn’t be all shouty-caps excited except that last year I…didn’t. Spouseman buys some every year as a little treat to our spring selves, and we plant them together. Last autumn nothing was fun and life fell on our heads and I ended up shoving bulbs into the ground like a manic squirrel around Thanksgiving so I could stop feeling guilty about spending the money. It worked out, the bulbs all came up, but the experience was neither relaxing nor healthy.  This year, there was a day of sunshine and digging and much satisfied soreness the next day. Huzzah.

And that’s all the all there is right now.



Obligatory regular reminder: I write books that can be bought with money all over the interwebs. NOT ONLY ON AMAZON! Here are some handy links.

Weaving in the Ends books2read.com/u/47kr0j

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6

Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW

Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv

Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn

 

And I shouldn’t leave out Amazon because 3 books are exclusively available there: author.to/kmherkes

Audible.com even has audio editions of some books. You can buy them direct on Amazon or iBooks too.

 

 

Flash Fiction: “A Bloody Mess”

If anyone ever asks where my ideas come from, I’ll be able to say honestly, “Facebook posts plus illness-related sleep deprivation plus general depravity.” I’m blaming this one on a friend’s post about a dripping ceiling fan.  I have no idea if I’ll ever do more with it (or if it’s worth pursuing)  but I have the shape of the story jotted down, just in case.

Blood dripped from the bathroom ceiling, seeping through the edges of the light fixture to fall like dark tears onto a shiny tile floor.  Drop after drop plinked into a rippling puddle beside the clothes hamper, and the liquid pooling inside the lightshade  cast eerie crimson shadows over gore-splattered walls. The air reeked of iron and piss.

Before Joelle Petak entered the crime scene she applied a fresh layer of lip gloss and rolled it back and forth until the eucalyptus scent rose into her sinuses and dulled the stink.  The she lifted one sneaker-clad foot over the black, buzzing lump of flesh in the doorway and hopped a little to clear the obstacle. An irritable cloud of flies rose at her passing, then returned to their feasting. Joelle landed in the clear spot of floor beside the toilet and regarded the lump of meat in the bathtub. The second corpse was as much of a shredded, anonymous mass as the first.

A hot wash of fear and disgust caught at Joelle’s belly, loosened her insides until she had to clench every muscle to keep her bowels and bladder under control. This one was going to be bad. She had seen worse carnage than this only once, when a sorority pledge had been tasked to complete a Greater Demon summoning and actually cast it perfectly–on the open quad on a Saturday night during football season.

This case might be worse by the time all was said and done. This time, the monsters were still on the loose. She pushed aside those concerns and swung her big purse of holding around to the front. Good, bad, or ugly, her job didn’t change. She was here to make the past give up its secrets in the service of justice.

bloodbath-891262_1280

The snap closure on her purse popped open with a sharp noise, and Joelle froze as she caught a glimpse of motion in the hallway. Both patrol officers behind her had dropped their hands to their weapons belts. She slowly lifted her field recorder from the bag with two fingers. “Y’all aren’t gonna shoot me over a little razzle-dazzle, are you?”

“Sorry, ma’am,” the patrol officer on the right said. His dark face had a sickly grayish cast and gleamed with sweat. His female partner had her other hand over her mouth, and her fingers were trembling. She shrugged, and the dull pain in her eyes spoke volumes. She had lost someone to death here tonight. Joelle wondered how many first responders had gone down before the big guns were called in.

 She lifted her eyes to the ceiling and the blood now raining down from the dimmed fixture. “How many more, do you think?”

“We aren’t sure,” said the woman patrol officer. Her words had thick, rounded edges, as though she was forcing them out around some obstruction in her throat. “In some bedrooms there are piles—” a shallow breath, and another, and she finished, “There’s no way to tell.”

“I’d best get my mojo moving, then. There’ll be a lot of flashing light. Please don’t shoot me, ‘kay?” Joelle  raised the recorder and muttered the triggering spell.

 Glitter exploded from the device in her hands and spread in a rainbow sphere of sparkles that chimed bright melodies. The flecks of light clanged and rang in dissonant notes as they struck surfaces and reached the doorway.  The shimmering veil hung for a moment, then melted away, leaving behind pale residue on everything but Joelle herself. The buzz of the flies stopped. A pall of acrid smoke hung in the silence.

The recorder chirped its happy done-collecting-things tune, and Joelle brushed away an errant dead insect. “All righty, then. One room down. Twelve to go.”