Superheroes of the Midwest Unite

Given the curve-ballish nature of reality, it makes perfect sense to me that the people who finally develop superpowers will live in Madison, Wisconsin. They won't have a Gotham City or Metropolis packed with a high per-capita rate of supervillains to fight. They'll just be regular people, struggling with ordinary things. That's the premise of David J. Schwartz's forthcoming novel Superpowers, about five college students who develop superhuman abilities from a strange alcoholic concoction at a party. Suddenly, they have to switch out of party mode into great justice mode. And it's not easy. The book has already gotten advance praise from speculative fiction greats Karen Joy Fowler and Kelly Link. Below we've got a teaser for you.

Here's the quick description of the book:

Madison, Wisconsin: In the summer of 2001, five college juniors wake up with . . . not just a hangover, but superpowers. . . .

Jack Robinson: Grew up on a farm, works in a chem lab, and brews his own beer. Age: 19. Superpower: SPEED.

Caroline Bloom: Has a flair for fashion design and a mother who's completely out of touch. Works as a waitress for a lunatic boss.

Age: 20. Superpower: FLIGHT.

Harriet Bishop: Studied violin, guitar, and piano . . . and was terrible at them all. Now writes about music for the campus paper.

Age: 20. Superpower: ­INVISIBILITY.

Mary Beth Layton: Is managing a 3.8, but feels like she's working three times as hard as the people around her.

Age: 20. Superpower: STRENGTH.

Charlie Frost: Has an anxious way about him, and always looks like he's on day 101 of his most recent haircut.

Age: 20. Superpower: TELEPATHY.

But how do you adjust to an extraordinary ability when you're an ordinary person? What if you're not ready for the responsibility that comes with great power?

The novel also takes place in the months leading up to the 9/11 attacks in the United States, which gives Schwartz's undertaking a geopolitical sheen I find ingriguing. The book comes out next week from Three Rivers Press, and simultaneously as an e-book from Random House.

Superpowers [via Amazon and Random House]