Sunday, May 24, 2009

Superheroes, Alternate Realities & Some TV Magic

I don't know about you, but I'm finding this recession / depression a real drag. Crappy job market, hurting businesses, diminishing cash flow for the Everyman, Dick Cheney still showing his face in public... Economic downturns just aren't where it's at.

So, in the spirit of a little escapism, today's post is all about superheroes and a mid 90s' television show set in an alternate reality.

First off, author Steven Bereznai has just published his second novel — Queeroes. Bereznai is a former Editor in Chief of Fab Magazine in Toronto. During his time at Fab Bereznai published his first book, Gay and Single... Forever? A look at modern gay relationships and dating behaviour. Gay and Single tackled the fear of almost every gay man under a certain age — 'What if I'll be single forever?' Bereznai carried off that book with style, compassion and good humour.

Queeroes is a young adult fiction title about a group of high school students who develop superpowers from drinking contaminated bottled water (don't drink the water, indeed) All the teen stereotypes you remember from high school are here — Troy Allstar, the closeted, emotionally-repressed jock who works at Aberbombie and Stitch (a cringe worthy twist on Abercrombie and Fitch), Troy's younger brother, Gibbie Allstar, gay geek, the cheerleader (Chad Lenwick) and his gal pal Mandy Kim.

Since no superhero novel would have the makings of the classic Good vs. Evil struggle without suitably menacing villains, Bereznai offers readers angry loner Lisa Larsdon and gay goth Devon. Devon and Lisa are also given superpowers when they drink the water, but being tortured outcasts, decide to use their powers to get revenge on their tormentors.

Queeroes makes a fun, light summer read that will keep readers engaged. You can read sample chapters of the book on Bereznai's website here.

The book launch for Queeroes will be at Fly Nightclub (8 Gloucester St., Toronto, Ont.) on Friday, May 29, from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Moving from superheroes to a boy in a coma (couldn't think of a better transition) In the past couple months, I've been lucky enough to find the complete episodes of my favourite old television show on YouTube. The Odyssey aired on CBC from 1992 to 1995.

Each half hour episode tells the story of Jay Ziegler, an 11-year-old boy who falls into a coma after hitting his head on a tree. In Ziegler's coma-induced reality he finds an authoritarian state created by children (no adults exist in Jay's new reality) In the show's first season Jay and his friends, Alpha and Flash, set out to find 'The Tower.' You can find the complete run of The Odyssey on YouTube here.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot, so I'll just say that I found The Odyssey one of the most engaging, original series I've seen on television. The only other show I would give that distinction to is the American and British versions of Queer as Folk.

The series creators of The Odyssey went above and beyond writing a simple childrens' series. Re-watching the show 14 years after my first exposure to it (I was 9 at the time) I'm still impressed by the tone and mood of the show. The CBC, cash-strapped as it is, could put The Odyssey on air again, and it would still feel as fresh as it did back in 1995.

So, for everyone else who's had enough of the recession blahs, Queeroes and The Odyssey are two entertaining diversions you might want to check out. And when you're done that, get outside! Spring is here, and the weather is warm again (here in Toronto anyway)

Feel the sun...

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