01/03/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 310 page indexed enlarged paperback. Price: $17.95 (US), $21.99 (CAN), £11.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-470-37338-5).
check out website: www.wiley.com
The one thing that can be said about this book from the start is ethics and philosophy about one reality dominated by super-powered beings can relate to them all. The TV series 'Heroes' is chosen for the examples here but well and truly, the same questions that are asked here about who polices such beings could work for the Marvel and DC Universes as well. A lot of this book centres on the ethical consideration or rather its removal if you, as a super-powered being, doesn't believe you should obey a society's moral obligations. Which is why the two aforementioned realities have super-heroes and super-villains who slug it out to differentiate between right and wrong.
Spread across eighteen chapters this examination will give you pause thought. It also pays special attention to two topics that I have more than a passing knowledge of and reacted most strongly to.
Morgan Luck with his chapter, 'Time Enough For A Hero' ties himself in knots trying to explain alternative universe theory and the 'killing your grandfather paradox' with Hiro Nakamura's jaunts into the past. This is really old hat because if every change meant the creation of another alternative reality and Nakaumura couldn't affect his original reality then what's to stop a multitude of other Nakaumuras out there doing a similar thing? The ultimate effect would be that any one of them would ultimately do a similar thing to our own reality ergo, the creation of alternative universes would not happen or if it did, then they'd instantly merged back into a cohesive whole with no one wiser as to what happened except the time traveller. The reason Nakaumura wouldn't be hit by the paradox is because he and anyone who took the trip with him would have been taken out of the time stream and it them who are actually the alternatives not the universe. Granted, his original reality wouldn't exist any more but he wouldn't phase out of existence in the process. Simple really and a stern reminder why it isn't likely to happen in our reality. At least, if it has, I can't remember.
Peter Kirwan's extremely long-titled chapter, 'Peter Petrelli, The Haitian And The Philosophical Implications Of Memory Loss', does a lot for explaining how your entire body tissue is regenerated in a seven year period but your memories still carry on in the new body. It's a shame that the implication of time travel would mean you would be meeting an earlier you than the same you if you travel back more than seven years.
I love the comment made by Michael R. Berry at the start of his chapter, 'Concealment And Lying: Is That Any Way For A Hero To Act?' about how Superman spouts about 'truth, justice and the American way' and how the Man of Steel lies all the time. It would have been interesting had he also explored the American way being total capitalism but it's a good introduction into how the heroes hide what they are capable of doing.
There is a glossary at the back of the book that lists all the characters and their assorted powers if you need a hardcopy checklist to all the characters, not just on TV but also in the graphic novels which is rather handy.
Like all these philosophy books, you're either going to soak up the examination of what these professional philosophers say or argue fiercely with what they have to say which is the whole point of philosophy in the first place. You are not supposed to be a passive reader of such things. As such, there is plenty here for all of you and combined with what you've seen on TV with 'Heroes' is likely to fuel many discussions.
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