The author of The Awesome Adventures of Pickle Boy, known only as “Jack Bee“, is concerned about security and insists his real name not be used. It is rumored, however, that the web-page www.pickle-boy.com may yield some extra bits of information on the author and/or further Pickle Boy adventures.
Let’s face it, we would not want to live in a world where there were super-powered beings routinely zipping around, even if they were mostly on our side.
This has nothing to do with the fact that everyone not lucky enough to have special abilities would basically feel like second-class humans. No. I’m talking about life as we know it.
Imagine a world in which a major super-battle occurs every month or so. Sure, it would be cool the first time, maybe even the second (assuming the good guys always win, of course). After a while, though, with billions in property damage and chunks of cities’ important parts destroyed, the surviving citizenry would much rather return to the world as it was before the arrival of its new saviors. It’s essentially a recurring series of 9/11-level events. And let’s not forget the annual plus-sized threats such as alien invasions, out of control robots trying to destroy the planet, ancient mystical curses unleashing a zombie plague, or the world running out of coffee (ok, that’s my snark moment right there). It would be pretty stressful for your average, non-invulnerable citizen to go through life trying to make a steady living. The best way for the heroes to ensure Earth’s survival is to move off-planet and take the bad guys with them. Things should calm down a lot after the whole lot of them are gone.
It’s definitely entertaining to read about, though. That’s why we like science fiction – it’s an escape from reality. But when crafting my stories, my goal was always to place the characters in the more familiar boundaries of the real world. Then move those boundaries, ever so slightly. And then move them just a bit more. When writing for kids, I felt it would let the reader relate more to what was going on. With this in mind, I began to write.
Several years ago, when I began putting pen to paper for The Awesome Adventures of Pickle Boy (an awesome adventure story for middle-school and YA readers), the superhero subset of the science fiction genre was not quite the rage it is today. Every new book that targeted this age group seemed to be about vampires, a Harry Potter knock-off, or about vampires in a Hogwarts-like setting. To my knowledge, there were no non-comic book versions of the classic superhero tale. Knowing that the premise of a regular person suddenly acquiring some kind of extra abilities is very attractive to young (and really, most) readers, especially against the backdrop of just trying to make it through school, I believed that my book would be unique, as having the young reader form the tale in his mind would forge a deeper connection to the story than a comic book or graphic novel would.
By the time I finally completed my book to the point that it was public-ready, the wonders of self-publishing had enabled many talented writers with superhero tales to tell have been able to publish their own superhero stories. A quick search on Amazon under “superhero novel” yields 210 pages of results! However, a quick scan through them revealed some interesting trends. First, many feature worlds in which the concept of superheroes is already well established. Some of them are snarkish takes on the whole genre, others are more serious, building characters with a great deal more depth than what you would find in the comics. This is not saying that any one style is better than any other. It’s just that I haven’t seen many stories that take place in our good ol’ real world, where there are no aliens, sorcerers, or super-advanced technology, and the only out-of-the-ordinary thing that happens is the main character itself.
I am hoping that my book, featuring a real-world setting, portrays how we would all react to the emergence of one of these extra-ordinary people. It’s made more complicated by the fact that it’s a child, and at the same time I believe it’s more appealing to kids (and to the kid in all of us) since they can more readily relate to the main character and imagine the events happening to them. Well, that’s my obviously biased opinion. I am curious, though, as to the preferences of the esteemed sci-fi community in general. Do readers prefer to get engrossed in a world containing a multitude of powered folk, or is a real-world setting more appealing? I am also interested in hearing readers’ pet pros and cons on books told in the narrative style (my book is not, however I like a good story however they come). Let the debate begin below.