Foreign Friday: Special Powers

I love fantasy and science fiction, mostly because I love the idea of special powers. Whether its magic or mutation, I am drawn to people who are “special.” However, through my vast readership of novels and manga, I have noticed that a truly clever writer can make a super power out of anything.

Of course, the flashy abilities are very impressive. It’s handy to have a character who can fly, or see through walls, or become invisible, or put his/herself into a special charged up state (often complete with a costume change and an equally flashy weapon.) But it can be just as impressive to read about a character whose real ‘special power’ is something more human. What about a hero whose empathic heart allows him to reach out to the hearts of others? Couple that with a daunting will, and you have the incredibly popular Naruto.


I love special powers, and have used them with cheerful abandon through many of my stories, but I’ve found that an amazing ability is not enough to make a character truly special, or even memorable. The choices they make, the way they use their powers, that creates a stronger impression of the character than the special power alone.

Take Rose Tyler from the BBC series Doctor Who. She’s a perfectly normal girl, whose determination to protect the person she cares for most led her to obtaining incredible power. But its not the power that leaves an impression on your mind when then episode is over. You’re left to contemplate the strength of her will, and the consequences of her choices. If that is what you walk away with, then the writers did well.


Special powers are awesome, but they should really be special because of the characters who possess them!

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