My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Tsana Dolichva to talk about how the power of dislocating her joints relates to Defying Doomsday.
My superpower is being able to mildly dislocate my joints in my sleep.
My genetic medical condition makes me double jointed — not enough to ever become a contortionist, alas — and some of my joints are a bit unstable. Let me tell you a funny story.
A couple of months ago, when I was feeling tense for work-related reasons, I went to bed and woke up with a sore shoulder. Waking up in pain is pretty normal for me, and it usually fades (eventually) as I move around a bit. This time it didn’t, and, furthermore, I couldn’t actually lift my arm forwards and upwards (this doesn’t usually happen). When it didn’t go away by itself in a couple of days (or with me trying to push it back into place against the wall), I made a physio appointment. Unfortunately, I had to wait a week and a half to get a time. In the meantime, I just had to put up with using my other arm to reach high shelves and holding the hair-dryer at a very awkward angle … it was fine.
Then a couple of days before my physio appointment, we had a significant snowfall overnight. Apparently it hailed, too. I was driving to work slowly when my tyre skidded on (I think) hail covered in snow and I ended up in a ditch. I was fine, my car was fine (once it was towed out and the mud cleaned off) and, I realised when I’d dealt with the whole car-in-ditch-situation, the accident had clicked my shoulder back into place. (And I’d been walking around with a dislocated shoulder for a week and a half, whoops.)
My chronic illness doesn’t only give me stupid/entertaining joints, it also gives me other problems, some of which can be quite annoying. For example, I can’t stand still(ish) for more than about an hour before feeling faint (or actually fainting if I don’t do anything about it) due to my low blood pressure. My joints also mean that if I don’t wear my orthotic insoles, I can’t walk very far without significant foot, ankle, knee and hip pain. I also have a lot of dietary restrictions.
My problems aren’t all that uncommon, and yet they almost never appear in fiction. This is one of the main reasons I wanted to create Defying Doomsday, the anthology I’m co-editing with Holly Kench. People with chronic illnesses and/or disabilities very rarely get to feature in speculative fiction stories, or if they do it’s as tired tropes and stereotypes rather than as proper characters. Especially when it comes to apocalypse survival fiction, there is often the (unspoken) assumption that all disabled/ill people dropped dead as soon as disaster struck. Holly and I want to create an anthology showcasing a broad range of characters dealing with difficult circumstances. Not to mention the fact that people with disabilities can often do things that “normal” people cannot.
We’re crowd-funding Defying Doomsday until the end of April. You can pre-order a copy (including a backer-exclusive hard cover, if that’s your sort of thing) over on our Pozible page.