Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "A Matter of Breeding"

This poem is spillover from the October 7, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from rix_scaedu and Anthony Barrette.  It also fills the "introspection" square in my 9-1-14 card for the Genprompt Bingo fest.  This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

WARNING: This poem discusses eugenics in British and Nazi history.  While the verses are not graphic, some of the links are, and the implications run deep.  Sensitive readers may wish to skip it.

A Matter of Breeding

People argued for years
over whether superpowers
were a matter of breeding
or a matter of achievement.

In moments of introspection,
Whammy Lass always suspected
that it was some of each, and as time
passed, that indeed proved to be the case.

There remained those
who stood staunchly by
the premise of breeding, and
sought to manipulate opportunities
to improve the rate of manifestation.

Whammy Lass kept a sharp eye on
Rupert Leatherby, a super-intellect
in Britain who hosted mixers for
single people with extraordinary gifts,
hoping to encourage matches that
might yield more exceptional offspring.

Others felt that superpowers
constituted a freak of nature
that should be removed
from the gene pool.

Whammy Lass could not help but
recall Dr. Mengele, whom she had
apprehended after the war; he
had since been tried, convicted,
and executed for horrific experiments
performed in the line of Nazi eugenics.

As far as she was concerned,
the field of eugenics was mad science
on a level with the Sterbenfeld device.

Rupert survived, though, and presently
met a young empath named Beatrix
at one of his socials, whom he married.

Whammy Lass felt quietly vindicated
that none of their five children
or fourteen grandchildren
showed any sign of superpowers.

* * *


Rupert Leatherby -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short straight brown hair.  He is a veteran of WWII and a professor of philosophy at Oxford University in England.  In the 1950s, Rupert began organizing social events for singles with extraordinary abilities, including both superheroes and supernaries, in hopes of encouraging matches that would produce even more exceptional offspring.  That's where he met his wife, Beatrix.  Rupert has five children and fourteen grandchildren, all of them ordinary, a source of perpetual frustration to him.
Origin: He was born smart and grew into super-intellect over time.
Uniform: professional wear.
Qualities: Good (+2) Chess Player, Good (+2) Event Organizer, Good (+2) Handsome, Good (+2) Veteran Soldier, Good (+2) Teacher
Poor (-2) Snob
Powers: Good (+2) Super-Intellect
Motivaton: To increase the presence and awareness of superpowers in the world.

Beatrix Leatherby -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and short curly brown hair.  She was a rescue worker in London during WWII, retiring afterwards to become a housewife.  Beatrix met her husband Rupert at one of his mixers for extraordinary singles.  She has five children and fourteen grandchildren, all of them ordinary, and she doesn't care a whit that none of them inherited any superpowers.
Origin: Her empathy emerged during puberty.
Uniform: street clothes, preferring a dress to trousers.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Mother, Good (+2) Gossip, Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Rescue Worker
Poor (-2) Thinking for Herself
Powers: Good (+2) Empath

*   *   *
Eugenics is the pursuit of improving humanity through manipulating inheritable traits, by positive selection (reproducing the best individuals) or negative selection (removing "undesirable" individuals from the reproductive stream).  The Eugenics Society in Great Britain has a regrettable track record.

Dr. Mengele is infamous for his work in Nazi eugenics, the highwater mark for taking a good idea (improving genetic health) and doing monstrous things with it (torturing and murdering people).  In our world he managed to escape.  In Terramagne, Whammy Lass brought him to justice. 

Mensa: The International High IQ Society provides a variety of activities including singles mixers for its members.

Sterbenfeld device -- a super-gizmo dating from WWII, whose name literally means "death field."  It generates a plane of energy fatal to everything.  The Germans never had very many of these, and couldn't get the area of effect large enough to outstrip conventional weaponry, but it was still terrifying.  The technology remains rare but has appeared in modern times.

Genetics is the study of inheritence patterns, which can be simple dominant/recessive pairs of genes or much more complex interactions.  Some superpowers can be inherited, and thus run in families; others come from different sources.  Enhancements to standard human abilities (Super-Intellect, Super-Strength, etc.) are more likely to be inheritable than additions (Flight, Teleportation).  Different genes may produce similar powers, so just because two people have the same ability doesn't necessarily mean they have it the exact same way.  There's a latent ability that can be activated into superpowers, and which is passed on genetically.  Two latents have a higher chance of producing a superpowered child, and two soups have a much higher chance -- but it's not a guarantee.  Compare the genetics of leopard and paint spotting in horses.  Epigenetics may also play a role.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, history, poem, poetry, reading, science, weblit, writing

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