Ultimate Power

Exhibit 19.20

Creature Problems

A fly just flew into my coffee. And not like you might think, like the fly was cruising around the room, landed on the lip of the mug, and slowly worked its way too close to the liquid. Nope, this fly dive bombed right into the cup and went out with a tiny little splash, just like Goose. It was the oddest thing I’d ever seen an animal or insect do except:

A squirrel fell out of a tree in front of me yesterday. And not like you might think, like the squirrel was running around a low branch, jumped down, and ran off fine. Nope, this squirrel fell from a fairly high branch and landed with a thud on its back. Sure, like any teenager on a skateboard, it tried to play it off like whatever happened had happened on purpose, but in the brief moment the squirrel and I shared a look, it knew that I’d seen everything. It ran away–and I think did sort of a little ollie to try to retain some rodent-dignity–and got right back on that horse (by which I mean tree).

There’s only one explanation for this convergence of events: in addition to this newfound interest in skateboarding lingo, my recent and much delayed puberty has given me the mutant power to confuse otherwise infallible* creatures with my very presence. This immediately makes me more interesting than anyone on the hit NBC drama Heroes.

*Okay, infallible outside of their respective failures to understand the concept of glass and to defeat the neighborhood birds. That said, who’s to say any of us truly understand glass or aggressive sparrows.

3 Comments / Posted in Animals, Insects, Ultimate Power

Exhibit 18.21

On the Royals

A week back I was going to write something about the Royals’ great start to the season, but I decided to wait until they’d cooled down a little and couldn’t jinx them. They’ve since lost four in a row, and I’ve been appalled about having ruined their season by wishing for their failure.

(Yes, I have the power to manipulate the world with what I write about here [or, in this case, consider writing about while watching Coco Crisp leg out a triple]. No, I can’t use this power for good, only to change the outcome of sporting events. Yes, it is a very specific power of no particular value).

It’s gotten so bad that last night’s game actually got 10-run ruled in the second inning. Or at least it did as far as Anders and I know.

Still, things are going well for the Royals. They’re 18-15 and more or less tied for 1st place in the division despite the fact that they’re without one of their best hitters and their All-Star closer, most of the lineup is still under performing, and that alien stretching out Sidney Ponson’s skin got six starts. Sure, some guys are over performing and Ponson wasn’t that bad, but the remarkable thing is that the Royals seem like they not only deserve their record but should maybe even be a few games better.

Why? I don’t want to engage in any hyperbole here, so I’ll let Sports Illustrated do it for me:


For all of the other reasons the Royals seem like an actual professional baseball team for the first time in 15 years, none quite match what Greinke has done. I don’t need to go over the numbers here, but if it helps give you some perspective, these are his worst three starts this season:

5 inning, 0 ER, 11k, win
7 inning, 2 ER, 8k, win
Complete game, 1 ER, 4 hit, loss

I don’t know if he’s Pedro Martinez, Bret Saberhagen, or circa 1994 little leaguer Matt McMurtry, but Greinke really is the best pitcher in baseball (as Posnanski’s article details). And so this year’s team is for real, or at least it is as long as Zack is out there every fifth day. Soria will be back. Gordon will provide a spark in July. Mike Jacobs will continue to infuriate America with his bleached hair. They won’t win the division, probably, but for the first time since I was a kid playing T&C Surf Designs on the NES, they’re contenders.

As long as I, Adam Peterson, don’t somehow screw it up. I’m not ruling that out. We all remember what I did to Australia’s cricket team against Zimbabwe in 1983, right? Right?

Comment / Posted in Royals, Sports, Ultimate Power

Exhibit 10.1

It’s official, Clock King is the worst “super” villain imaginable:

“The Clock King has no metahuman powers or abilities, although he is athletic and extraordinarily punctual.”

Oh, well, okay then. By that reasoning, my dad should be Green Lantern’s mortal enemy.

Clock King is an awful super villain but a great hourly employee. Why are those qualities always mutually exclusive?

1 Comment / Posted in "Super", Kings, Ultimate Power

Exhibit 8.13

On Editing a Novel #5

CREATING AN ANTAGONIST. Okay, first, you should probably just choose a Nazi. If you do choose a Nazi, skip ahead to #41 CHOOSING THE ANCIENT ARTIFACT YOUR NAZI ANTAGONIST BELIEVES WILL UNLOCK THE ULTIMATE POWER.

However, if you are writing a science fiction novel set in a Nazi-less alternaworld or a historical novel set in a pre-Nazi past (and you are unable to use a comparable fascist lizard alien or Victorian proto-Nazi, respectively) you’ll have to try harder. Without an immediately identifiable bad guy, your readers will immediately choose one based on the distance of a character’s birthdate from their own.

Once the decision has been made, it can’t be undone, so make it easy on your readers by doing any or, preferably, all of the following:

1. Have the antagonist’s name rhyme with Bad Foe (for example, Chad Lowe).
2. Have the antagonist intermittently and loudly express hatred of baby giraffes.
3. Have the antagonist tip less than 10%.
4. Have the antagonist have an antagonistic pet.
5. Have the antagonist express Nazi sympathies, even in the hypothetical (“Even though I’m an Arthurian knight, I can imagine a future where Germans or fascist lizard aliens share my genocidal and authoritarian political philosophies. I’d be as for that as I am against baby giraffes.”)

It should be noted that you may already have an antagonist and just not know it. Read through your novel and note if any of your characters have scars, canes, capes, antagonistic pets, unusual heights and/or weights, glass eyes, henchmen best friends, or an abnormal fondness for precious gold. If one does, that’s your antagonist. If you thought that character was your protagonist, you were wrong.

1 Comment / Posted in Editing, Ultimate Power, Writing