Saturday, 27 July 2013

Earthman, Beware!

Poul Anderson's "Earthman, Beware!," collected in his Alight In The Void (New York, 1993), is a superman story though not a Superman story. It is not about Kal-El from Krypton but is about a superior humanoid extraterrestrial found in a grain field as a baby and adopted by " elderly local couple, childless and kindly." (p. 40)

This story was published in 1951, just twelve years after the first installment of Superman. Did Anderson consciously mimic the origin of Clark Kent or did these circumstances just seem appropriate to him as they had to Jerry Siegel?

Anderson's superman, Joel Weatherfield:

like Kal-El and Jor-El, has a name meaning "God";
at age six, patented, in his foster father's name, farm machinery improvements that enabled his parents to buy any books or equipment that he wanted instead of sending him to school;
soon devised a wig to conceal his permanent baldness;
conceals other bodily differences beneath clothes;
entered Harvard at thirteen;
graduated with every honor at fifteen;
invented the ion-jet space drive, the controlled-disintegration ion process, the cure for the common cold, the crystalline-structure determination of geological age and a robot chef;
won the Nobel prize in physics for his relativistic wave mechanics;
pioneered a new branch of mathematical series theory;
in his youth, wrote brilliantly on archaeology, economics, ecology and semantics;
founded new schools in painting and poetry;
has an immeasurable IQ;
controls an errand-running cat by whistling;
developed an X-ray technique for photographing different layers of tissue just to study himself;
used a variation of his crystalline-structure method to determine that his deceased mother was at least five hundred years old;
has a heart with more functions than its human counterpart;
has a better organized brain, preventing insanity;
has, in the brain,  a "telepathy center," sensitive to neural currents in other organisms;
has developed limited telepathy by comparing human reactions and words with detected emanations;
can also emit emanations although no human being can detect them;
quickly predicts any acquaintance's reactions and verbal responses;
knows their feelings better than they do;
has a cerebral center for voluntary control of pain, endocrine regulation etc, but has not learned to use it effectively;
has not learned what some other centers are for;
became a multimillionaire in five years;
discovered a radiation unrelated to electromagnetism that will be the subject of a further post;
thus, is homo superior in many ways that were beyond the imagination of Jerry Siegel - Superman's models were the Biblical and Classical strong men, Samson and Hercules.

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