Numbers Game

Posted: 2nd April 2012 by Jeff Bouley / Deacon Blue in Ruminations

I’ve had to rethink various things in the Whethermen universe as I’ve gone along. For example, I’ve had to revise Query’s age slightly and his entrance onto the scene (historically speaking) in New Judah for things to make more sense. Also, I’ve gone back and altered just how long he’s been without sleep to have things seem more logical…at least as logical as they can be in a world of superheroes and supervillains.

Also, I’ve softened my stance on powers that are “impossible” and have either identified creative ways they might be made more plausible or have decided that as with so many things, there will always be exceptions to the rule. It’s just there won’t be very many and those who are the exceptions might never be known to be so to anyone else, meaning the world will continue to think such powers impossible.

But one thing that continues to haunt me is whether I have too many transhumans in the world. Or perhaps, more accurately, do I have too many with highly significant levels of power or overdone power sets (i.e. too many different kinds of powers)?

Given that I have most of my action take place in the fictional Connecticut city of New Judah just across the Long Island Sound from New York City (with occasional stops in fictional Marksburgh, PA; the very real Philadelphia, PA; and eventually fictional Gryphon, NV…and probably New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles someday), we’ll start there and use its 5 million residents as a starting point.

I’ve posited in the info pages on this blog that perhaps 10% of humans have active transhuman genes. By the way, the correlation with that number and the traditionally held opinion of the percentage of humans who are gay/lesbian is no accident. Nor is it an accident that it’s not much smaller than the percentage of the U.S. population that is black. To some extent, my stories are allegorical and metaphorical.

Anyway, if that number is accurate, then some 500,000 people are transhuman in New Judah alone. Now, that doesn’t mean much yet. Transhuman powers could be as slight as being a Morph who can only change his or her hair color or a Brute who just has slightly more strength than would be expected for a person of his or her height/weight/build.

Let’s just say that 10% of those transhumans have reasonably significant powers. So, 50,000 folks that might have one or two transhuman power sets, but still nothing extreme. People who could fly under the radar easily and still live normal lives, and who wouldn’t be suited to being superheroes or supervillains even if they wanted to do so. Some of them might use their powers such, if they had other training or skills, but the vast majority wouldn’t.

Now let’s drill down again, using 10% again as an arbitrary but reasonably conservative benchmark. Maybe 10% of those 50,000 have some serious powers, whether that just means several of them or a very potent one or two powers, or even several very potent powers. That’s 5,000. Of those, many would likely use their powers for gain, but not necessarily in an evil way or even a heroic one. Some would, of course. It probably would be easy to imagine somewhere between 800 and 2,500 of that group being police, thugs, military folks or highly placed consultants (among other possible roles), depending on their powers.

And what of the 10% of that 5,000? We’ll call these people the extreme cases. High levels of power, which likely would also mean more prominent psychological differences as is seen among transhumans. That’s 500 people who would be very drawn to be flamboyant and in the public eye (or creeping the shadows at night as vigilantes) and who could really do some damage (literally or figuratively) as well as elude police and/or escape imprisonment fairly easily. Would all of them give in the lure to put on a costume or otherwise put their powers to extreme use?


But I could see between 20% and 30% of them easily doing so. Add to their ranks some of the less powerful but more ambitious or deranged people from the previous group of 5,000 and I’d say that even if I ended up with 200 or 300 really committed costumed folks (even if they didn’t spend a lot of their time in costume), I wouldn’t be out of the realm of reality.

And that’s just in New Judah…

If we extrapolated that out to the entire nation of the United States alone, you’d have maybe 14,000 or 15,000 costumed (or plainly clad and adventurous) characters, I guess. Not sure if that’s excessive or not. A good chunk of them would probably be jailed for one reason or another, without any good way to escape. Also, having several hundred at least in a big city might be more a function of bigger cities attracting such individuals, so the overall national numbers might not match city numbers.

Even beyond the costume factor in places where there is a tradition of comics books and/or action shows with superheroes before the emergence of transhumanity visibly in the 1970s, I think we could see where certain nations (non-Caucasian ones where the trend toward transhuman powers is more pronounced) might be considered potential threats for being able to potentially field transhuman battalions or small armies of them.

I don’t know…what do you think?