Posted by: nastypen | May 14, 2008

I Love Mutants

I almost cried when I saw a book recently. It brought back fond memories. It was John Wyndham‘s The Chrysalids. I read that for a book report in third year high school in Canada. It blew my mind away. It’s a slim novel delving into mutation. This was published in the 50s, a good decade before Stan Lee wrote the X-Men which is the only comic book I truly got involved in.

It was about a boy who could talk without moving his mouth, meaning he can project images to another person’s mind. Telepathy. Interesting to note that it is set in a post-apocalyptic society with the Norms afraid of the people from the Fringes.

So what the Norm society is is a collective of “normal” people under a theocratic system run by fundamentalist Christians. I remember I was chuckling as I read it because the “logic” and punishment espoused by the fanatics reminded me a lot of my teachers in Catholic school of brimstone and fire lecture series.

I just turn on the news, surf the net and there is always some form of malignancy brought about by religious fanaticism. I still remember my classmates and teachers telling me that homosexuality is the devil’s work and that the gays burn in hell. Well, the things you learn in school…..

I never felt one with the majority. And that sucks because at a young age I knew what “The Majority Wins” means. There were even guidelines in the school rules condemning homosexuals. Every single day I felt like a freak in that school. Every. Single. Day. For. More. Than. 10. Years.

Anyway, this was the cover of the book I read back in the day:

Creepy. But can also be a bit campy. At first glance, I thought it was pretty awkward. This was the book that enticed me to read science fiction further. Because of The Chrysalids, I slid into the imagination of Isaac Asimov and was happy to linger in it.

This is the cover of the recent edition:

I like it. Vast improvement. I am always assured by Penguin books that their cover designs are updated and snazzy.

Of course, the English teacher asked us to hand in a book report. Being the nerd that I am, I gave her more than what she asked for. I still remember the title of the book report: “Being Different: Ostracism is Literature.”

I compared The Chrysalids to Victor Hugo‘s Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gaston Leroux‘s The Phantom of the Opera, and Christine Sparks‘s Elephant Man. My theoretical framework then was man’s inability to digest what he considers not normal or those who are vastly different from him.

It was a labor of love, that book report. With my sheltered, naive and young mindset, I delved into the harsh subject matters of racism and homophobia with these books giving me supporting text. The English teacher wrote on my paper “Congratulations. Such maturity! This is a university-caliber paper.”

This is why I love mutants. i can relate to them. There was a study conducted among comic book lovers. The finding did not really astonish me. A great number of X-Men readers are Jewish, African-American boys and young homosexuals. These are the marginalized ones in society.

Also, I secretly wanted to look as fierce as this X-Man (the one with the glowing violet blade):

I don’t care if I’m a freak…because it makes me fabulous…normalcy can shove it.

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