“Am I a hero?”
This is what the protagonist of my latest story, “How MoliÃ¨re Saved Lydia Bruer: A History in Two Fragments,” will be wondering in the next edition of Crossed Genres. Each issue of Crossed Genres revolves around a different concept, and the theme of the coming issue is “Superheroes.” The editors asked for tales of heroes that are a bit different, that make readers think about what heroism means.
When the Crossed Genres theme was announced, I asked myself if my story qualifies. A narrative of heroism is certainly present, but it’s not the sort of caped crusader story readers will expect.
Considering the theme, I thought of the first time I was invited to play Marvel Superheroes by TSR with a gaming group. My reaction was something like, “Heroes, like mutants in tights? Sounds silly.” I’d gamed with other groups, but mostly in classic fantasy settings, and I had a hard time picturing a superhero game with depth. We’d probably be involved in lots of high-powered combat, zooming around in capes, rescuing citizens from burning buildings, battling supervillains, that kind of thing.
To my complete surprise, the game proved to have not only emotional depth, but inspiring moments of sacrifice, thoughtful ethical dilemmas and character growth. Whole game sessions passed without any combat whatsoever (other gaming folks out there may ascertain that I’m a “role” player, not a “roll” player, as they say).
Since those days, I’ve become a fan of superhero comics and films, notably those that grapple with the personal cost of hero life, such as Promethea, the Luna Brothers’ excellent Ultra, and The Watchmen. Character counts, and that’s the sort of fiction I most want to write, regardless of genre.