With the recent successes of such films as Batman, Spiderman and various other stuff, the movie-going world is eager for super-heroes, but recent polls have shown that everyone’s tired of them being so plausible.
Therefore I submit the following very serious proposal to whom it may concern for a new kind of superhero: one who is at once everyday and fantastic, a homebody and an intergalactic adventurer.
There is a simple man who likes folding origami animals, knitting and making those picture-stitching things on round hoops, with flowers and trees and stuff. His name is Abducere Unum.
He is quite content until one day his large sewing scissors slip and cut his right index finger. It’s not a bad cut so he doesn’t think much of it. He bandages it up and takes break from sewing for the day.
But that night Abducere has strange dreams. He’s running though rolling fields of trees made of stuffed fabric… even the sun is just yellow felt in a blue felt sky. It’s wonderful and he prances merrily about for a good while, until he touches something. He reaches his hands out to a lovely yellow rose, to gently seize without breaking it, and inhale its robust fragrance, but is horrified as the flower slices apart at his touch.
He sits down in frustration and his hands turn the smooth grass to cut-up burlap chunks.
“Nooooooo!!!” he cries.
He wakes up with a start, thankful that it was just a dream.
Until he sees his darling paisley bed sheets have been cut to ribbons! It’s then that he realizes that the accident with the scissors has changed him forever.
He’s no longer Abducere Unum, but SCISSOR MAN!!
It’s really hard for him to lead his practical life. He wonders why the powers that be would let this happen to him.
Then he hears about some strange goings-on. Something or someone is fastening stuff together which simply shouldn’t be joined. Skyscrapers merged, all leaning-over-like. People shaking hands and getting stuck, fruits not coming from trees like!!
The world’s top scientists confer to figure out the problem, but even though their brains are really big and there are a lot of them, they still don’t come up with a solution.
By this time Scissor Man is living on the street. He can’t hold a job, literally can’t hold anything. His girlfriend’s left him, his t-shirts are all in tatters. He feels he has no purpose in the world.
Then he hears of the weird joining force, that what’s joining stuff, and he feels that God’s given him a mission. Tentatively, he tries to unjoin some white daisies that got stuck together along the river where he’s been camping.
He goes on to unjoin houses and people, until he’s prancing around the city unjoining stuff, merrily chuckling and composing little ditties right and left.
When the government notices his success, they give him help. On a huge crane, he unjoins skyscrapers, makes a mountain range like a real range again, and not just a single massive clump of rock.
Humanity’s nemesis behind the joining makes an anonymous announcement on all TV and radio stations: in response to all this undoing of his work, he is going to join the earth to the moon.
Everyone is horror struck. Some look to Scissors Man with abhorrence. Others say he was just trying to help.
He withdraws from them all, sits and thinks in a real good thinking spot, down by the river he lived by when he was homeless.
Who could be behind this? Who would have the power?
Eventually, he remembers a fierce rival in his sewing competitions. Coniunctio Mulier was her name. Brilliant but vicious, many suspected that she had arranged the apparent accident which crippled her opponent’s lead hand, which made her the default winner of the Great Western Sew-off of 1965.
It must be her! thinks Scissors Man.
He works to track her down, but she’s gone from her ancestral home in the woods with a bunch of crazy people. Only her father remains there, knitting and cackling fiercely. Scissors Man wonders if all the others have been killed.
Leaving that place, he looks fearfully to the sky.
The moon is already closer!!
He sprints to the Pentagon and petitions the president for a space ship. The president reluctantly agrees, but refuses to send anyone to help Scissors Man drive it.
“Fine!” barks Scissors Man.
He goes anyway, somehow figuring out the controls on the fly, mostly using his mouth and feet. Up in space, he sees a great web of finger-knitting connecting the moon to the earth. The net is getting thicker even as he watches.
It’s almost too late!
Nudging the controls with his nose, his cutting hands ready, he edges closer. When he’s near, he dawns his specially-fitted space suit and exits the craft. Out in space, he begins cutting the web.
He’s making decent progress when Coniunctio Mulier shows up, riding in a ‘borrowed’ alien spacecraft which looks like a turnip. Her hands are swollen from all that knitting, yet her fierce visage shows that she’ll do whatever it takes to make good on her threat.
A fierce fight ensues, with Coniunctio Mulier trying to join Scissors Man’s hands together, while he tries to cut the bonds apart and attack her for good.
Finally he cuts the tether which ties her to her space ship. She joins herself back! He cuts it again, but she joins back again! And again!! He cuts her again, but she rejoins herself again!!!
Seeing no other recourse, Scissors Man gets some distance, goes behind a nearby asteroid. He enters into deep meditation.
Peering out with his special spiritual vision, he sees Coniunctio Mulier’s astral body. Some special power, looking like ball lightning or something, is connected to her with these fibrous light-thread things!
Reaching out with his own astral body, he cuts the tie between her and her power. Coming out of meditation, he goes to battle her again.
Yay! She can no longer join things! He defeats her easily at that point.
The UN bars her entrance back on earth. Needing fuel, she is forced out into space to deal with the aliens who’s ship she ‘borrowed.’
Scissors Man returns a hero. Science develops a metal strong enough to withstand his hands and he is fitted with special gloves so he can function pretty normally. He meets a girl with incredibly heavy feet and they really hit it off.
They live happily together, being sure never to go on ships or up into flimsy buildings, lest her weight crash through the floors, killing them and people beneath them.
(Paintings by the lovely and talented Jayanti dasi)
Fantasy writing can be a huge allegory where all the races, places, people and events correlate to equivalents in our world. You could also look at fantasy worlds as being like alternate dimensions of our world, where all the qualities, places and events have been kinda mixed around and matched differently.
Of course this could be heavy-handed: “This guy’s obviously speaking about the cold war. The gnomes are the Americans, the dwarves the Russians, and the super-mushrooms are nuclear weapons. But why does he hate Russia so much?” or “Hey! This is really about the clash between baseball teams, not dragons and elves! This guy’s got an agenda! I want an objective story!!”
Now the way I see it, there are some great advantages to this one-step-removed-from-reality-approach. If an author stays away from blunt and simplistic expositions of one point of view, he or she can say a great deal about this world we’re in, without getting caught up in specifics of race, country and history which people feel really personal about. The moment I say Egypt, or France, or India, or Muslims or Africans or women, people with experience knowing or being those places and races will have a host of preconceived ideas. It’s harder for me to start fresh. But if I make a world and races up, drawing inspiration from this world, I might be able to show you a fresh take on things here.
On the other hand, if an author sets fiction set in this world, he or she can draw from readers’ experiences more directly. If you’ve been to London, if I just write a few lines about walking into Leicester Square on a sunny day, a whole picture replete with scents and sounds will come to your mind.
An author writing fantasy will generally try to have the best of both worlds: setting their story in an alternate world, but drawing many things from this one. A lot of the flora and fauna may be the same, as well as the laws of physics and ways that people interact, express emotions and so on. You can really only go so far from this world without losing your readers.
If you don’t believe this, please read the following poem I wrote in my own, newly invented language. It’s not in the boring Roman Alphabet.