<Nova Australian University Press, in partnership with the Catalpa Heritage Board, is proud to present the centennial edition of Dispatches from Tomorrow: Eighteen Months in the Super-City of Catalpa, by renowned journalist and superhuman correspondent Jessica Switt. The 1970 monograph was one of the earliest popular accounts of the burgeoning superhuman subculture of the mid-20th century, and the first intimate exposure many baseline humans had to the fledgling community of Catalpa. This new printing (coming Fall 2070 in paperback, hardcover, digital, and new neural-pollen formats) comes with annotations from leading superhuman, 20th century, and Catalpa historians. With the full permission and cooperation of Jessica Switt’s estate, we have also been able to include her original draft notes. Excerpts below.>
February 28th, 1967:
To my knowledge, Catalpa is the first city on this planet to have anything close to a superhuman majority. It is perhaps sadly fitting for its first funeral to be for an ordinary man.
I am sorry to admit neither myself nor Mr. French1 ever got to know Jacob Gittleman. In a city full of wonders, it is easy to forget there is no such thing as a boring human being2. I’m told by those who knew him well that Jacob was a New Australian—though long before that term became fashionable—a Jewish escapee from interminable Russian pogroms3. Some things, unfortunately, never change. Most such refugees ended up in the USA or Britain, though I am sure our country is better for having had Mr. Gittleman in it. He married, raised a family, ran a shop, and bought a house; the Australian dream4.
His family was so assimilated into the fabric of the nation that, when his son found out his daughter could jog twelve miles an hour5, he and his wife immediately called the DDHA. The elder Gittleman, though, had a long memory, and took Naomi far, far away. It seems strange, that such a child would need the help of an old man to escape mere mortals, but only if you don’t know children.
Now Jacob Gittleman has returned to dust, a dead Jew in a town with no rabbi; not even any other Jewish adults. A problem to be sure. Luckily, Catalpa boasts a fine religious scholar—even if she is only ten years old.
Ideally, a Jewish funeral is held as soon as possible, but the measles have kept everyone indoors and isolated for weeks. Embalming is forbidden, not that the town has any morticians. Perhaps Miss Kinsey could do the job, but who would ask such a thing of her? No matter. Catalpa has crypts of ice and alien steel.
It’s hot today, but it’s always hot this far north. If anything, the weather’s improving. It hasn’t rained for two whole days. The air is thinning again. Most of Catalpa has gathered in the grasslands beyond town, whether out of respect for the deceased or cabin fever. Few mourners are in black, for few Catalpans brought formal wear when they left for this strange new world. There are exceptions. Someone, Mrs Barnes perhaps, has provided Naomi with a white dress. The founding children’s polymorphic costumes have all forsaken their usual bright colours. David Barthe’s costume in particular—which I’m told he didn’t even have to be bribed to wear—puts me in mind of the sea on a starry, cloudless night. Wallace Grimsby’s suit is a tailored void that eats sunlight. Its perfect blackness feels as showy as a peacock’s tail feathers, but I have no doubt that for Close Cut, dressing down would be the ultimate disrespect.
A plot has been dug without mechanical or supernatural aid, at Allison Kinsey’s insistence. Mr. Gittelmen was the one irrecoverable causality of the epidemic. I fear his death is a weight on Miss Kinsey’s conscience.
Four strong men carry the coffin: all superheroes, all in costume. There was some argument about that. There’s never been enough super-people in one place for people to decide if costumed pall-bearers are gaudy or uplifting. I for one wouldn’t say no to being carried to my grave by actual superheroes, and Naomi agreed with me:
“I think Granddad would like that.”
And that was the end of that discussion.
The box is plain pine. If this was a Gentile funeral, I’d put that down to poverty, but I’m told that’s traditional for Jewish coffins. An aron, they call them. A man is shut inside—body unburdened by chemicals or preservatives—and not seen again by anyone except God. A pragmatic burial for a pragmatic people.
As proxy rabbi, Miss Kinsey begins the service with a brief eulogy. Like many eulogies given by caring strangers, it is nonspecific and broad, though heavy with what I believe is genuine sorrow. She thanks Nurse Sandy for tending to Mr. Gittelman in his last moments, I suspect for her own sake as much as the man’s. She promises Naomi that she will be looked after, as though she isn’t a child herself. There’s guilt in that promise, I think. Allison has only recently left the orphan’s clique, and now she welcomes another girl into it.
The other mourners voice their agreement in hushed voices. Naomi places her face in her hands, either to hide new tears or shield herself from the weight of all this attention. Either way, I can’t say I blame her.
A few people speak for Mr. Gittleman. Not too many—Jacob was a quiet, retiring type, and I suspect still conflicted about the crime committed in his granddaughter’s name. This funeral is as much for her sake as it is her grandfather’s, and I think even for the town as a whole. It is how they remind themselves they’re still civilized, out here on the edge of the world. Still, those who do speak, mean it. Nurse Sandy speaks of his good humour in the infirmary, when he was still able to speak. Chen Liu talks about their common profession as jewellers, while also alluding with grim wryness to their shared otherness among us white folk. At the end, Naomi works up the courage to speak:
“I think—Granddad was the nicest man in the world. And very brave.”
She need say nothing more.
Miss Kinsey leads the crowd in a Jewish hymn. She sings like a cantor’s daughter. Maude Simmons follows without difficulty. The rest of us… try our best, or remain respectfully silent.
Later, I asked6 Mrs Barnes—town standard bearer for Catholicism—if she felt strange singing Jewish songs:
“They’re still for the Father, ma’am.”
As I listen to the old Hebrew words, I find my mind wandering to the Jewish right of return. I wonder, if a Jewish superhuman felt the need to leave their homeland, where would they go? Israel or Catalpa? Which is stronger? Faith, or power?
We each drop a handful of dirt atop the coffin, and the service concludes. A portal is opened to the wake in Freedom’s Point. I am not surprised Naomi does not linger. I do, though, watching the gravediggers finish filling in the plot. I think about the man who, in a way, started this city: Herbert Lawrence. Was this how he imagined the end of the human species? Respectfully interred by our successors?
From what I’ve seen, the people who buried Jacob Gittelmen don’t seem all that changed.
Later, a fence was built around the grave, with space for more. Pragmatic.
March 9th, 1967
“Turkey sandwich for Mrs Abebe!”
“She’s in the back, Billy.”
The boy beside me scowls, and, with an air of petulance, states:
“I’m wearing the costume.”
“Right. Right. He’s in the back, Growltiger.”
Billy smiles. In this town, on a good day, he is known as Growltiger. Everyone does their part in Catalpa: even the children. It sounds practically dickensian, but the children themselves don’t seem to mind. Growltiger runs a sandwich route, delivering lunch to the hardworking people of Catalpa.
I follow Billy into the greenhouse. The scents of oranges, apples, pomegranates and more spice the humidity. Lumusi Abebe is stroking a pepper plant:
“Come on, honey, do not sulk,” she says, her words honeyed and gentle. Her English is excellent for a native Ghanan7. Since Allison Kinsey widened the recruitment drives, Catalpa has gotten very international.
Back very straight, Billy presents his newspaper wrapped package like it’s vital military intel. “Turkey on white, lettuce and cheese,” he rattles off.
Mrs Abebe raises an eyebrow. “I told them brown.”
Billy’s eyes widen. “Oh. I can take it back—”
Mrs Abebe waves off the suggestion. “Do not worry about it, child. Just not used to the white stuff, that’s all.” She smiles. “Thank you, Growltiger.”
Billy seems to grow half an inch at the use of his supernym, though his expression quickly sobers. He nods gravely. “I’ll tell Miss Sybil, though. You work hard.”
I glance around the indoor jungle. “I’m shocked you feel the need to order out.”
A sighing laugh. “Trust me, Miss Switt, fruit can get very boring.”
Billy scarpers off to hand lunch over to the lesser horticulturalists. Lumusi watches with bemusement. “That boy better find someone kind, or he will be eaten alive.”
Next we stop by a construction site. The influx of new residents has demanded much expansion, some of which is being overseen by Barry Robson. Sometimes, they call him Fo-Fum8.
“Parole officer here to bring me my BLT?” the big man asks.
“Yep!” Billy smiles waggishly. “Long as you haven’t robbed any banks today.”
“With Comet doing heavy lifting work right across the street? I’d be mad, lad.”
“Oh. He’s over that way? Cool. He was up next.”
“I take it you have a history with Barry?” I ask as we leave.
“Yeah. Me and some friends beat him and his friends up for being bad… Miss Switt?”
“What’s a parole officer?”
As we near the end of the route, I ask Billy why he feels this is the best use of his time. Sandwich toting does feel like an odd calling for a living philosopher’s stone.
“You could make raw materials for the tradies or scientists.”
“Oh, I do that too. Just thought I could help more.”
Billy is a ridiculously good boy.
We come to a stop at Billy’s house. The metal walls are painted to resemble white plaster. The patio is made of wood from no living tree.
“Miss Switt, could I ask you something?”
“When you put all this in your book, do you mind saying my name is ‘Billy Sullivan’? Not St. George?”
I nod. “Hand to God.”
I watch Billy embrace his mother on their doorstep. Mr. and Mrs St. George, you missed out. He asks that you do not contact him9.
May 16th, 1967
There have been many child rulers throughout history. Elagabalus10 of Rome, Tutankhamun11 of Egypt, Puyi12 of China, and now—whether people admit it or not— Allison Kinsey of Catalpa. For everyone’s sake, I hope the fates are kinder to her than her spiritual predecessors13.
Today I am shadowing Miss Kinsey. She wakes up at 5am, and not half an hour later is outside my lodgings (a high-tech former prison cell) ready to drag me kicking and screaming into the morning. Normally, I would credit this early-rising spirit to dedication and work ethic. In this case, I think it’s safer to say it’s because she’s ten years old.
Still, Allison Kinsey is the only ten year old I have met who wakes up with bags under her eyes.
After everyone else in town has had their breakfast, Allison takes her morning meeting with the city’s worthies. The main subject of the day is city expansion. The town’s population is on the brink of tripling, with new residents hailing from Melbourne to Moscow. Catalpa must bloom. As I sometimes do between research and helping Mr. Lewis, I take the minutes:
BARNES: We need more street lights. A lot of heavy goods workers are returning home after sunset, and there’s been a few near misses.
(I should know. Just three days before, I was nearly trampled by a chariot drawn by enormous goats.)
KINSEY: Okay, so if we get a couple miles of PVC piping and copper wire, we can wire up the outskirts to the tower. Then as the city expands, we can—
SIMMONS: Billy can’t handle PVC yet. Says it makes his teeth feel fuzzy. Lots of copper, too. Not much left of it to scavenge from the tower.
(Allison runs her hands down her face.)
KINSEY: Right. Maybe if we use iron—
GRIMSBY: I can handle it, girl.
(Allison regards the old fellow the way my niece does an unopened Christmas present.)
GRIMSBY: Get Billy to whip me up some aluminium, I can cobble together something to fabricate some street lights. If Ralph is willing to lend a hand on material hunting, I should be able to fit them with photovoltaics.
RIVERS: In English?
(Close-Cut smiles indulgently.)
GRIMSBY: They turn sunlight into electricity, dear.
RIVERS: You lot and your loony gadgets.
KINSEY: It’ll take Billy a while to make that much aluminum. We don’t want him going nuts and turning the cove into a bubble bath again.
(David Barthe was deeply torn about that.)
SIMMONS: Would anyone mind if I popped off to the Kuiper belt for a rock? I can bring it back here for mining.
(I suspect Mistress Quickly wanted some time alone.)
KINSEY: How long will that take? We need the saucer for pick-ups.
SIMMONS: To get to the belt and back? Maybe a fortnight.
GRIMSBY: Another six days to set up the automation.
(Allison claps her hands)
KINSEY: Right, go do that.
Once that’s done, Allison makes her rounds. Mrs Abebe at the greenhouses says Eliza Winter wishes to set up something called an “appkin plantation.”
“Sure,” Allison tells her. “But we’ll need to set up a pen for them. They bite14.”
Therese Fletcher is assembling stock for a town library from all over the globe. She assures me she’s paying for them, though where she gets the money eludes me. Allison and Louise “Brit” Michelson put down a brewing race-riot between newly arrived Japanese and Korean residents. Fred Barnes of all people speaks both languages passably.
Allison rarely feels the need to linger long. There’s always more to do. At about half past one, she stops for lunch with her mother.
“Why don’t you go play with David?” she suggests. “He says you haven’t been to his beach lately.”
Allison shakes her head. “We’re both busy.”
“I don’t think David’s ever busy, darling. Sometimes he’s just… useful. You promise you’ll take a day off tomorrow?”
Allison huffs. “Fine.”
After this interlude, Allison holds court in the former warden’s office at Freedom Tower, ready to serve her subjects:
“I need thirty pounds of uranium,” entreats Miss-Demeanour. “I promise it’s not for a bomb this time.”
“I caught my son smoking,” says Hettie Haldor, marble arms folded. “Kids in this town are getting wanton,” she tells the child-queen.
“So, me, David, and Mr. Grimsby are up to a new Watercolours thing with the other hall kids,” says Mabel Henderson, her living fibre suit a mess of angry war-comic panels. She points next to her. “And he turns up to auditions twenty minutes late.”
David Barthe sighs dramatically, dripping wet onto the shag carpet “I had a date with Brit! I brought a ‘sorry’ shark!”
“What am I going to do with a big dead fish, David?”
“It wasn’t dead yet! And lots of things! Set decoration! Catering!”
Allison Kinsey takes it all with quiet patience. It looks very similar to boredom.
It’s eight o’clock before Allison’s mother deems her work done for the day, calling her home via a Barnes sent note. I’d say she’s got more done today than most office workers do in a week. As I walk her home, I hope she takes Mrs Kinsey’s advice tomorrow.
“Miss Switt?” Allison asks tiredly.
“Would you like to come have dinner with us tomorrow?”
I’m surprised. Allison barely appeared to remember I was there most of the day. I am flattered, though. “Of course.”
May 17th, 1967
I feel my invitation to the Kinseys’ table had ulterior motives. Allison and Chen Liu sit opposite each other. Allison stares at the man with what I think is… suspicion? Mr. Liu, meanwhile, is tucking into Mrs Kinsey’s shepherd’s pie with some enthusiasm. More than the food deserves, if I am honest. The man can’t be faulted for his tactics. Drina, for her part, is glaring between myself and Allison as if wishing we’d catch fire.
After the first twenty minutes of this, I set down my fork.
“Is this a bad time?”
“No,” Allison says brightly, just as her mother says “Yes.”
I nod, and keep my quiet. It’s one of the first things you learn as a reporter: silence asks the best questions. Mr. Liu breaks first:
“No offence intended, Ms. Switt. Drina invited me here to get to know her daughter.” Very quickly, he adds, “And Miri. Not for an interview.”
Miri beams at the acknowledgement. It seems the terms of her relationship to Mrs Kinsey have yet to be negotiated. She’s wearing Brit’s body to dinner. Says that Mrs Barnes was serving something she didn’t like down at the Children’s Hall.
I raise my empty hands. ”Do you see a notepad? I didn’t even know you were going to be here, Mr. Liu.”
Allison has her arms folded. “Why do I need to get to know you? We know each other plenty. You attacked me and my friends.
Chen shrugs. “Me and your mother. We’re… spending a lot of time together.”
Allison cuts to the point. “You’re not my dad, AU.”
That’s the first lesson of Catalpa. I tell it to all who come here. This town is built on a thousand broken hearts. Everyone has a story. Oftentimes, it can be gleaned just by who’s not at the table with us.
“Allie!” Mrs Kinsey snaps. “You know Chen doesn’t like that name.”
I can’t blame him. Makes him sound like a currency abbreviation. Perhaps when the new money is rolled in?
Chen sighs. “Allie, I’m not trying to be anything you don’t want me to be.”
“Yes you are! You’re coming over all the time, eating our food.” Allison points at her mother. “Mum’s married. To my dad.” She sputters. When she speaks coherently again, I think she’s attempting to channel Mrs Barnes. “It’s… sinful!”
Silence. I am genuinely glad I brought only my memory. A pencil against paper would’ve been loud as gunfire.
Miri is the first to break. “…Can he be my dad, though?” she asks her sister. “He’s nice.”
Blood rushes to Chen’s face. This is the only time I have ever seen Allison glare at her sister. “No.”
Miri shrills, “Why not? I haven’t even met your dad! Chen’s nice!”
Drina sets her fork down beside her plate.
“Allie. Look at me.”
She speaks in that tone that forces children to obey. I’ve tried it a hundred times—usually covering primary school puff pieces—but never figured out how to make it work.
“Drina,” says Chen. “It’s fine, really…”
Drina raises her hand. “Chen, this has nothing to do with you. Allie.”
Allison looks at her.
“Your father isn’t coming, Allie,” says Drina. “He wouldn’t come with me, and I don’t intend to wait for him.”
The quiet that follows is broken only when Allison stands from the table, and asks to be excused. Miri follows, a hug brewing between Louise’s arms, bless her heart. From upstairs, those who remain can hear her sobbing.
I pick up my wine glass.
“Times are tough all round,” I say, staring into the red liquid.
“She’ll get there,” says Drina, her fists clenched on the tabletop. “She just needs time. Please excuse yourself, Ms. Switt.”
Frankly, the command is a relief. I’m a journalist, not a voyeur. I head into the night, and go to Libertalia to drown out what I just saw15.
June 13th, 1967
Eliza Winter does not live in Catalpa. She says she has obligations some miles east, to the powerless of this world. Still, distance means little in this town, so she is frequently dragged through wrinkles in space-time to mend misadventures. Today though, she’s visiting her nephew.
David Barthe runs laughing over the water. Every comparison I can think of is both blasphemous and inaccurate. David is no one’s saviour. He exists all for his own sake. He’s naked, but it’s easy to forget that. His brown16 skin seems to radiate warmth. His wet black hair lies seal-slick against his scalp. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it dry. The boy is the perfect blend of European and African, a living refutation of homogeneity. All around him, fish are flung from the ocean into a floating globe of water the size of a whale’s head. It could be an alien planet, streaked with drifting archipelagos of silver fish.
“Eliza, are you looking?”
I and Miss Winter are on a drift of ice, sitting atop a beach towel. With her orange cloak swapped out for an equally orange one piece swimsuit, Miss Winter does not look thirty-five years old. Lucky woman. Eliza smiles with proud languor behind her sunglasses:
“Yes, David, I’m watching.”
David sucks his lip in delight, and proceeds to cartwheel around the globe, more fish flying, flopping and gasping into the water. This is David’s great contribution to Catalpa: fishing. It’s hard to see it as a job, though, the way he does it. We should all be so lucky to find work indistinguishable from play.
Eliza turns to me. “He never used to smile like that. It’s beautiful.” The words sound painful for her. She looks back at David, wistfully. “I wonder what his father would think…”
“Surely he’d be pleased?”
Miss Winter nods vigorously. “I know he would be. Nothing else mattered to him. It’s just…” She shakes her head. “I’m not sure how much of Hugo is left in David. Was that all he got from his father? The parts that hurt?” She shakes her head. “Silly, greedy thought. Children aren’t made to be mirrors. But Hugo would be happy that David reflects him so little. It’s… strange.”
David is standing before us, arms folded, an arch, princely frown on his face.
“I have plenty of Dad in me.”
Eliza stammers. “Of course you do, David—”
David shakes his head. “You don’t have to lie, Auntie, even if you’re wrong.”
I feel an interview coming on. “Would you like to share, David?”
David smiles. “We both liked movies! And I’m really good at maths!” He stands very straight and recites, “One, one, two, three, five, eight…”
Eliza conceals a chuckle behind her hand. “The Fibonacci sequence.”
David nods happily, hopping onto the ice-raft and settling beside Miss Winter. He leans into her, eyes closed. “I’m not angry, Auntie. It can be hard to tell. Daddy was human. I’m not.”
Eliza frowns. “Oh, David, don’t talk like that.”
David looks up quizzically. “But it’s true!”
“Laurie said a lot of silly things about us.”
David shakes his head. “Not like Laurie said. We’re not the same. You’re a human, Arnold’s a human. Allison’s… still kind of human, a little, but I think she’ll stop once we’re bigger.”
Do I detect a note of hope in the boy’s voice?
David puffs out his chest. “Me, I’m not even a super. I’m water. All of it.”
“Like Neptune?” I ask. “Are you calling yourself a god, Mr. Barthe?”
It’s not an unreasonable idea. More than one superhero has claimed to be a byblow of the Olympians. I could believe David bleeds gold.
David jumps to his feet and wriggles proudly. “Bigger.”
“How so? To me, you seem the model of a healthy, superhuman ten year old. I hope that doesn’t offend, it’s still a wonderful thing to be.”
David regards me thoughtfully, head cocking back and forth. He places two fingers under his chin. “…I could show you.”
My pen cuts a bleeding black gash across my notepad as I stagger to my feet. Every cell in me says “Yes!” well before my mouth does.
“David,” Eliza says sternly. “Don’t go playing tricks on Miss Switt.”
“I’m not!” David protests. “She wants to understand.”
I throw a glance back at Eliza. “I’m a big girl, Miss Winter. I can handle myself.”
I walk to the edge of the ice as Miss Winter watches warily. David takes me by the hand. I feel the warmth of it beneath his thin glove of water droplets. At his prompting, I step out onto the sea. For a moment, it bears my weight like a concrete sidewalk.
Then, it swallows us.
He takes me down. I’m not sure calling him “David” is entirely appropriate here. His body falls away as a cavern of spun ice forms around me. Its inner surfaces are riddled with whorls and spirals; a child’s drawings on a kitchen wall. We descend deeper and deeper over fields of coral and long, waving seaweed. I find myself wondering how much air is in this thing. Might David forget we who breathe?
The diving bell reaches the seafloor. A man’s shadow stands behind the green blue ice. Its owner steps through as if the walls aren’t even there. A man who could be David’s cousin, or perhaps his uncle.
He is a god. I say this without hyperbole. It is evident in every part of him, though it’s not the body. No crass emulation of statues in old galleries. His skin is moonlight, not dead marble. Indeed, this man is slender, his features fine. His musculature defined, true, but faint. No. It’s in his bearing. The careless arrogance in eyes that glow with a far deeper, more ancient light than the boy who brought me here.
He has David’s curls, and David’s beauty. There, the similarity ends.
“You want to understand us,” he says in a voice that contains no words beyond the quiet power of the surf. “You will fail.”
“I’d still like to try.”
David tears himself free from the ice. “Hey Grandpa.” He squints his fog green eyes. “You look… alive today.”
“This human is brave,” the man says. He smiles. His teeth are plated with abalone.
“…Did you brush your teeth?” David asks. “Where’s the algae?”
“She can ask her questions, my child. As many as she pleases.”
July 17th, 1967
On Monday, July 17th, 1967, a East Berlin border guard was shot attempting to pursue a fugitive fleeing into the western half of that fractured city. The Warsaw Pact claimed the man was a spy for NATO. NATO claimed he was simply a refugee. Even today I can’t say what the truth is. What I do know is the German Democratic Republic blockaded West Berlin, with full Soviet backing. The Americans sent in their planes, and the the Soviets provided their allies with anti-aircraft guns, “to guard against imperialist bombings.” The Americans called it a blatant act of intimidation. Vietnam was emptied of troops for Germany. On the 28th, the Fulda Gap bled Soviet tanks.
I wasn’t there when World War 3 began, but I saw it’s end.
1. Ronald French (born April 5th 1947) was the photographer who accompanied Jessica Switt on her journey to Catalpa. Many of the pictures he took in this period became illustrations in Dispatches From Tomorrow, but he would also release his own book—Burnished Light and Rippling Capes—to great success. ↩
2. [Ed. note.] A good line, but is it true? Might seem insincere. Eh, it’s probably true for better people. ↩
3. It is believed Jacob Gittleman was a witness to the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, which ended with between forty-nine and a hundred and twenty Jewish casualties, along with a number of rapes and damage to over a thousand homes. ↩
4. Jessica Switt was most likely referring to the property ownership aspect of that sentence. The Australian dream could be said to have a narrower focus than its American cousin. ↩
5. [Ed. note.] Do I ask the girl for her best time? Is that rude? ↩
6. [Ed. note.] Oof, tense swap. Can I sneak it through? ↩
7. [Ed. note.] I mean, I assume it is. Haven’t met many Ghanans. ↩
8. Fo-Fum, a member of the briefly lived Fearsome Three (originally Four) supervillain team. A small-time outfit, the group itself made little impact, though their attempted robbery of the rural town of Northam was the first recorded engagement of Growltiger, Brushstroke, Steelwing, and Elsewhere. After leaving the group, its fourth member Primadonna would be briefly associated with the Coven as the second Vixen, while Chisel would find great fame as a founding member of the Aegis. ↩
9. [Ed. note.] Check with legal. Bryant St. George crushes people with money like that Alma-Tadema painting. ↩
10. Elagabalus, officially known as Antonius, Emperor of Rome from 218 to 222 AD. Elagabalus was placed on the throne after a revolt led by his grandmother at the age of fourteen, and was assassinated by his own Praetorian Guard four years later. Elagablus is largely remembered for his bizarre list of sexual eccentricities, which purportedly included prostituting himself in front of brothels dressed in women’s clothing. However—similar to other colourful emperors like Nero or Caligula—historians are divided on the veracity of these accounts. Some scholars even regard Elagabalus as one of the earliest recorded transgender individuals, having reportedly preferred feminine pronouns and sought out a physician who could provide him with a vagina. ↩
11. Late 18th Dynasty Pharaoh of Egypt, Tutankhamun took his throne at the age of eight or nine. He is known for his restoration of the traditional ancient Egyptian religion after its abandonment in favour of Atenism by his presumed father, Akhenaten. His reign, though eventful, was short, ending with his death at age eighteen or nineteen, from causes still debated to this day. Morbidly enough, “King Tut’s” mummy provides us with the earliest genetic evidence of malaria. ↩
12. Puyi, the Xuantong Emperor, last ruler of the Chinese Qing Dynasty. Chosen by his great-grandmother as emperor at age two, he was only six when he was forced to abdicate by the Xinhai Revolution, though he was allowed to retain his title and privileges, being treated much as a foreign monarch would by the Republic of China, in order to smooth the way for President Yüan Shih-k’ai’s bid to be crowned emperor himself. He was also briefly restored to his throne by the warlord Zhang Xun for eleven days in July, 1917, after which he was installed by the Japanese Empire as puppet-ruler of Manchukuo. After the defeat of Japan in World War 2, he was extradited by the Soviet Union back to China, where the new communist government chose to rehabilitate him into something resembling an ordinary citizen. By all accounts, he was much happier as a gardener. ↩
13. Younger readers—raised under the compromise of liberal democracy and the Power Dynasties—might wonder why children being active in geopolitics seems so remarkable to Jessica Switt. We must stress, all the individuals she lists were completely mortal and baseline, despite certain claims to the contrary made of the first two. ↩
14. Eliza Winter was a pioneer in the field of humane, sustainable meat. Her early successes largely consisted of asexually reproducing, sub-animal masses of beef and poultry, that existed in a state of constant chemical bliss, even orgasming when cut apart. Eliza Winter’s power and genius as a biologist is unsurpassed, but she will be the first to admit PR is not her strong suit. ↩
15. [Ed. note.] Didn’t work, obviously. Not sure if I’ll print this. Feels like a violation. Maybe I’ll keep it in the files. If this book ever gets somewhere, they can release it when I’m dead and my grandchildren want some cash. ↩
16. [Ed. note.] “Caramel” makes it sound like I want to eat him. ↩
17. [Ed. note.] I still think he and David are putting on airs. “More than gods.” Who do they think they are? The Beatles? ↩
18. [Ed. note.] He was alright, once he got some practise in. Not exactly Zeus, I’m thinking. Now, if only he could give an actual interview worth a damn. ↩