When I got my copy of Masked, I mentioned on Facebook that I was going to hold a giveaway and suggested I might as folks to send in suggestions for new superheroes as part of the deal. Instead, I've decided that to enter the giveaway, I'd like for people to email me ideas about new superpowers. No power is too weird, useless, or dumb to earn a spot in the giveaway. What am I going to do with all these superpower suggestions? Well, I've got a project in mind for a new series of interweaving prose superhero adventures, and one of the heroes at the heart of it will have the superpower of being able to download new superpowers.
The premise: In 1985, runaway teenager Tommy Appleton was kidnapped by a supervillain and used as a human guinea pig to test a teleportation belt. The test did not go well. Tommy was disintegrated, his subatomic particles trapped in a state of quantum flux for twenty-five years until a team of government scientists investigating the villain’s inventions managed to hack the programming of the belt to allow Tommy to solidify once more. However, the belt arranged his body in an unstable state, and he discovers that his altered atomic structure grants him certain superpowers depending on how the belt’s programming is tweaked. Feeling he has no secrets to keep after being forgotten by the world for so long and wanting to use his powers for good, Tommy publishes the code for the belt on the internet and invites hackers to write programs to grant him superpowers he hasn’t even thought of yet. Live-casting all of his adventures, Tommy becomes gains celebrity as Ap, the world’s first open-source superhero.
I plan to be writing stories starring Ap and his fellow heroes starting this fall, and would like to solicit ideas for odd superpowers. If I have Ap use a power you suggest, I’ll acknowledge you within the body of the story. And, anyone who emails me a superpower suggestion by September 1 will qualify for a drawing in which I’ll give away a signed copy of my superhero novel Nobody Gets the Girl as well as the Masked anthology edited by Lou Anders. The Masked anthology is hands down the best collection of short prose superhero fiction assembled to date, and I’d say that even if I didn’t have a story in it.
To enter the drawing, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “superpower.” You can suggest more than one superpower, but your name will only be placed in the drawing once. The way I envision Ap’s powers working is that his costume has a high speed connection to the internet, and he can browse the programs people upload and download them as needed. Using a power requires dematerializing and rematerializing parts of his body—and sometimes parts of his brain—so it’s not something he does on a whim. Also, the power he gains only lasts until he switches to a new power. Finally, he often has to choose an ability to download in the heat of battle, so the power should have some short, concise name. To use a non-original idea, the power to stimulate the molecules of materials that Ap gazes upon until they burst into flame would be a program called Heat Vision. The ability to locate socks lost in the laundry would be Sock Radar. So, when you send me the superpower, I’d like the catchy name along with a short summary of what it does. The drawing for the books will be held in early September, but if you’d like to send along superpower ideas for Ap after that, I intend to be writing the character’s adventures for the next few years.
A few other things about Ap and the world he occupies: Ap will operate in the universe of my superhero novel Nobody Gets the Girl. Superheroes are reviled in this world after the destruction of a major city, but Ap goes public as part of a team known as the Covenant. These heroes have taken a pledge to only use their powers in cooperation with lawful authorities. They operate without secret identities, and go out of their way to remain connected with the general public through social media. They are financed by the wealthy widow Katrina Knowbokov, and refuse any compensation for their deeds.
Despite being from an earlier era, Ap is quick to embrace social media. But, there’s a reason he was a runaway twenty-five years earlier, and for all his public embrace of openness he’s determined that the world will never learn the dark secrets of his past.
Of course, everything I’m saying about Ap could change between now and the time I actually write the first story about him. My characters tend to morph the longer they remain in my head, and change further once the typing begins. Still, all projects must begin somewhere, and this is enough to build on for now.
So... power up, and good luck!
Welcome to my worlds!
I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), the superhero novels Nobody Gets the Girl and Burn Baby Burn, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collection, There is No Wheel. In 2017, I'll be releasing a new superhero series, The Butterfly Cage. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public.