Science review: Radiation

I didn’t think I knew very much about radiation, but I’ve suddenly become full of insight since a freak accident in which I was saturated by gamma rays, leaving me with the ability to bend space/time thus altering the rules of probability and endowing me with the strength of a KGB-trained leopard. Well, and also I have been writing biographies of Marvel superheroes for a living.

Radiation is great for the underdog: it really helps them blossom, growing muscles and a desire to devote their lives to fighting crime. (Why so many policemen among the superheroes? Jobsworths, to a man. The world of post-radiation superheroism is a quaint place, rooted in the 1950s. Everyone is married or existentially tormented, and I had to delete, for noble moral reasons of word count, a breathless reference to Elektra’s habit of “loving for thrills!”.) For everyone else, it’s rubbish, because it gives people diseases and makes their hair fall out and then they die either of radiation sickness or because of choking on toast in the kitchen while reading an article about Chernobyl.

I read a book called Brother in the Land when I was quite small, about the aftermath of nuclear war, babies being born without mouths and dead cities and no one being kind to children because childhood is a luxury you can only have when no one has dropped a bomb on you recently (similar in this way to other luxuries eg dark chocolate, quilted toilet paper, Versace ashtrays etc). The book was full of radiation sickness, it was like the common cold in Shakespeare. All this was very troubling to me – I was far too young for the book, it was my comeuppance for having the intellectual equivalent of eyes bigger than my belly. To this day, when I see a particularly lurid sunset, I scan the horizon for accompanying mushroom clouds.

Radiation: On balance, not that great, but useful for manufacturing half-men half-beasts with the agility of an Olympic gymnast, the sheer brute strength of a Sumo wrestler and laser beams for eyes. 4 out of 10.


At 4:33 pm, Anonymous Dan Brown, PHD (from g.mckeith) said...

Loved that last bit about the sunset. (although of course not as good as my astute and stunningly original descriptions of gravel) Would you like to do work experience with me? You can photocopy cups of tea for me. Also, I am very in to sailing and All Things Nautical. Hint, hint.

At 4:35 pm, Anonymous Dan Brown, phd said...

Gillian says you can have an honourary doctorate from the McKeith School of Postgraduate Study. Dr Eskimo.

At 9:32 am, Blogger UnderCrackers said...

I remember watching 'Threads' as a child and being very anxious about visiting anyone in Sheffield.

At 10:11 am, Blogger Wyndham said...

As a child I was very keen to get me hold of a cannister of radiation, preferably glowing green, and a roomful of animals, in order to find out just what kind of super-power I would get as a result. Sadly getting hold of a cannister of radiation proved difficult, as indeed was getting my hands on some of the more exotic, athletic mammals. Even if the experiment worked, I'm not sure what the powers of a budgerigar would actually be, besides the ability to headbutt every mirror I walked past.



At 3:16 pm, Blogger Mr K said...

I think my favourite kind of radiation giving super powers was the kind that was't, in fact, radiation, it was toxic waste. Now I can see how one might make radiation work (all those random mutations, instead of, well, killing you, turn you into MORE THAN A HUMAN!) but how does toxic waste work? It melts you into more agile shapes?

To be serious for a second, you rate radiation quite lowly, quite forgetting its beneficial uses when used correctly. Radiotherapy, radio, those cool infra red heat things which never help the marines in films with aliens in. And, most important of all, x-rays to look through one layer of clothing.

Incidentally, I notice a web counter! I have decided that you have clearly stolen that from me, despite the fact that its probably been there for quite a long time.

At 6:37 pm, Blogger HA HA HA said...

i fel sory for anyboddy who didnt garow up redin postapocaliptyc sf. imagine nevar havign seroiusly contamplated etign ur neihgbors! what a bland bland joyles chlidhood that must be.

At 10:25 am, Anonymous Andrew H said...

Yes, radiation also played a large part in my childhood. Radiation and fear of the cold war turning warmer and the US starting a nuclear war (very left-wing household, it'd never have been the Russians that started it). Perhaps that's why kids today, with no threat of imminent death, spend their time slapping one another and videoing it on their mobile phones like so many little Lynndie Engands.

At 11:03 am, Anonymous Rob said...

HA, you are always right.

At 1:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really fancied the boy on the front cover of Brother in the Land. Even though it was a painting not a photo. And even though he'd be bald then dead within 6 months. And even though he didn't even exist in the first place and was simply a vehicle used by Robert Swindells to convey a jolly good yarn. I still fancied the pants off him though.

At 1:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny, that was his name. What a hotty. And his little brother was called Ben. He died, and was therefore, Danny's little brother in the land.

At 2:38 pm, Anonymous Eskimo's Fiancee said...

Woman! Update your blog! How can I live my life without your subtitles beneath it, explaining to em what I should think about thing? lots of love fromyour fiancee

At 3:38 pm, Blogger Mr K said...

eskimo has a fiancee? The plot thickens....

(rejected second sentences for that paragraph included "Damn, there goes my chance!" and "I wonder if she'll rate him?")

At 5:36 am, Blogger HA HA HA said...

raview somehgign alredy! jesus!

At 6:20 am, Anonymous Russell Allen said...

Without radiation old Brucie (Mk I) wouldn't have become the Hulk and old Brucie (Mk II) wouldn't have the energy to shag a former Miss World winner and flip cards in Play Your Cards Right. Radiation is good for people called Bruce. Fact.

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