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supernaturalist

The Supernaturalist

The Supernaturalist, by Eoin Colfer (author of the ‘Artemis Fowl’ series) is a science-fiction novel (influenced in many ways by film noir and other predecessors of the cyberpunk science fiction movement, resulting in what could be termed a cyberpunk novel). Colfer is currently working on a sequel.

Plot summary

The Supernaturalist is a story set later in our current millennium, the third millennium. The story starts in an orphanage, the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys, in Satellite City, a city controlled entirely by a huge satellite, under ownership of Myishi Corp. Cosmo Hill, an orphan found abandoned on Cosmonaut Hill, and his friend, Francis "Ziplock" Murphy, escape from the institute, commonly used by corporations to test new unsafe products, and a source of many beatings and 'accidental' deaths. However, Ziplock dies in the escape and Cosmo is surrounded by blue creatures that apparently are sucking the life force out of him. He is saved by a trio of youths who call themselves the Supernaturalists, shooting the creature with electricity, overloading it and causing it to explode into blue bubbles. Stefan Bashkir is the ringleader and takes his job seriously. He lost his mother three years ago and blames the blue creatures (which he calls the Parasites) for her death. Mona Vasquez is a girl about Cosmo's age. She is a professional mechanic. She was part of a street racing gang called the "Sweethearts". Stefan had to use extreme bribary to win Mona's freedom from them. Mona can also see the Parasites. The last member is a Bartoli Baby nicknamed Ditto, because he tends to repeat what people say. Bartoli Babies came from genetic experiments from a scientist named Bartoli to create a superhuman, but only succeeded in turning them into mutants. Ditto's power is inhibited growth, healing and the natural ability to see Parasites. Cosmo becomes one of them and aids them in their many missions. The Parasites are usually seen by younger people with near-death experiences.

After a certain mission concerning a competition with the Sweethearts and other rivalling gangs, the team meets Ellen Faustino, Stefan's old instructor at the Police Academy. She too can see the Parasites, but she tells them that the Parasites spawn into more Parasites when they are killed. Stefan and the team are devastated that all their hard work has just been helping their enemy. She informs them they are made of energy and recycles energy. She tells the group giving them nuclear, 'dirty' energy will kill them and gives them a device to kill the Parasites at their nest. They discover that the parasite nest is under the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys. Cosmo and Stefan then head for the nest. After a little run-in with Marshal Redwood, an old nemesis of Cosmo's from his days at the institute, they rid of the Parasite nest. When they return, they see Ditto with a weakened parasite in their headquarters. Ditto makes a cut in his finger and lets the Parasite take some life force from Ditto. Stefan kicks him out, but Ditto reveals that the Parasites are benevolent. They take away people's pain, not their lifeforce. It is discovered that Ellen knew this, but she wanted the Parasites for their energy. She manipulated the Supernaturalists into knocking out the Parasites at the institute and her men are collecting their bodies, she then uses them as a replacement for water in a nuclear reactor. It is also revealed that someone can see a Parasite due to the chemical fogs found in Satellite City combined with a near-death experience. She was the one who killed Stefan's mother and almost killed him. After escaping from nearly being dissolved in acid and being wrapped (special bullet that releases litres of sticky cellophane theat completely covers the victim and in some cases can crush bones), the team confront Faustino for one last time. Her secret gunman fatally wounds Stefan, but Ditto takes his pain away, a special ability due to being a Bartoli baby (and incidentally the same ability the Parasites have), so that Stefan could fight Faustino. After a brutal fight, Stefan dies and Faustino is arrested. The parasites used to power the machine are freed to do their natural duty for humanity. The Mayor and chairman of Myishi, Ray Shine, who was earlier revealed to have known about the project, and Faustino decide to relocate their studies to the South Pole. It is implied that Faustino boarded a helicopter to Antarctica at the end of the book to complete the project. This suggests a likely sequel, and Colfer has confirmed that he is indeed working on it.

Characters

Cosmo Hill - Was discovered as a baby, abandoned on Cosmonaut Hill, which was how he got his name. From then on, he grew up in the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys. He was almost killed along with his best friend (Francis 'Ziplock' Murphy), but Cosmo was 'saved' from the Parasites by the Supernaturalists, who at the time still believed that the Parasites were bad. 14 years old when recruited into the group.

Francis 'Ziplock' Murphy - Cosmo's only real friend at Clarissa Frayne. Francis got the name "Ziplock" when he talked too much to a certain inmate at Clarissa Frayne, and got the bind from a ziplock bag glued over his mouth by another 'no-sponsor' (a child without parents) to stop him talking. He has a habit of being unable to stop talking particularly when he has a joke or insult in mind. This constantly puts him in trouble as he is always infuriating Marshal Redwood. Ziplock is killed near the beginning of the book, after fleeing Redwood and falling into a rooftop generator with Cosmo. (Cosmo gets rescued by the Supernaturalists.) Marshal Redwood - A marshal at the Clarissa Frayne Institute, he is known for his cruelty and strength. He tried to stop the Supernaturalists from setting off the pulse bomb towards the end of the book.

Stefan Bashkir - The de-facto leader of the Supernaturalists, of Russian descent. Started fighting Parasites when they supposedly killed his mother. Tragically dies at the end of the book after getting shot in the chest. He has the worries of someone much older than him, despite being only 18. He is also well over 6 feet tall. A character by the same name is mentioned in Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident.

Mona Vasquez - One of the main characters in the Supernaturalist. Former member of the Sweethearts, a street racing gang. 15 years old. She is of Spanish descent. Also Cosmo's love interest.

Lucien 'Ditto' Bonn - A "Bartoli Baby" being the product of the gene splicing experiments done by a Dr. Bartoli 28 years before the story began. He suffers several mutations because of the experiments such as arrested physical development (Ditto is 28 years old but appears to be about 6), Ditto has "healing hands" (the ability to take the pain from a person or animal's body) and being a spotter. He pointed out to the rest of the Supernaturalists near the book's end that the parasites actually fed on human pain, not on human life force as thought earlier (Ditto was caught by Mona deliberately cutting his finger and offering the pain to a parasite, proving that he knew this secret all along but never told anyone). He is the medic of the group.

Ellen Faustino - The evil mastermind who manipulates the Supernaturalists into helping her catch Parasites. Former Instructor at the Police Academy, she is now President of the Development section in Myishi Corp, and was responsible for the death of Stefan's mother. Also the one who caused Stefan's death.

Splinter - A former Supernaturalist that pre-existed Cosmo. Not much is known about Splinter, and he is never actually in the book, and only mentioned in passing. He is used as an example of how spotters can become terrified of their visions of the Parasites. He lives with blue-shaded sunglasses that hide the Parasites from his eyes, and never takes them off.

Satellite City

Satellite City is a city that totally relies on technology. Things such as broadcasting and road trips rely on the Myishi Satellite 9.

Lightning Rods

These weapons are simply long, metal rods (like a torch or a light saber) and are similar to a pistol. On some of the more high quality rods used by paralegals and the like there is an eyepiece so the user can track and more easily hit at a distance targets. The front of the rod is narrowed and pointed at the user's targets. A green button is used to prime the weapon, and a red button is used to fire a shock of electricity (or other projectiles) at enemies. This can also be used, but not recommended for use as defibrillator, but it's mostly used for shocking targets. Another notable use of the lightning rod, is for "shrink wrapping" people, by firing a slug round with a virus that wraps its victim in cellophane, rendering the target immobile. It is unclear if all cellophane slugs have sedative in them or if only some variations do. After being hit the target(s) are moved to a vat of acid which slowly eats away at the cellophane enclosing the person. Cellophane slugs are commonly used by the officials of Satellite City because of its non-lethal but still incapacitating nature. Another variation of the cellophane slug method is one the Paralegals used, which has every other slug filled with electricity to deliver a jolt to the victims. There are many other slugs that can be fired from the Lightning Rod, such as a 'Gumball', which glues chewing-gum like substances to the object, and many variations of darts, one of which, known by the boys at the Institute as a 'Creeper', nearly kills Mona near the beginning of the book.

Extendable Bridges

This is seemingly a flat steel tray and can be hung on the user's back. A cable reel is attached to one end. The other end can be placed on the edge of a building. Once the reel is turned, the end of the tray farthest from the user extends forward, forming a bridge reaching the edge of another building. These extendable mini-bridges are helpful when one has to cross far distances. This does not last long, for this piece of equipment is powered by gas.

Climate

Weather in Satellite City isn't extremely unusual. However, a thick layer of smog covers the city's sky (maybe even the whole world), most likely due to pollution. The smog can change color depending on which chemicals are in the air at the time, or what time of day it is. During sunrise and sunset, the smog is a multitude of colors. When the smog turns red, it would be better to wear a gas mask outside. People with allergies suffer when the smog turns purple. However, if one was to look down on the Earth from a celestial point of view it would still be blue. Due to all the chemicals in the air the raindrops in Satellite City are much larger than ours, and Looking up in a rainstorm can take your eye out. The other interesting thing about the weather is that it can change very abruptly. One second it could be raining, then next it is as if someone 'Turned off the faucet up in heaven', as the book describes it.

Food

Regular everyday food can be found in Satellite City, such as beer and pizza. However, there is also a new fast food craze called the "pazza." It is simply a calzone filled with pasta shells stuffed with different sauces. This is the perfect food for a busy or travelling person but Ditto has trouble stomaching it. There are also self-heating non-perishable food packs which the Supernaturalists sometimes eat, and military rations that Cosmo ate while he was at Clarissa Frayne that are fully edible--food and packaging both. They were surplus from the army, rejected because of lawsuits from soldiers, claiming they caused internal bleeding. The Clarissa Frayne institute bought them all and fed them to orphans every day.

Myishi H.Q.

A very fancy hi-tech place, home to some main characters like Ellen Faustino. Here is also where the Supernaturalists find out that she is creating a master plan to get the perfectly clean energy source for the satellite from the parasites at the same time as betraying them.

Transportation

In the book the transportation isn't that much different from ours today. Eoin Colfer states in the book when they get on a Clarissa Frayne truck they say it's a hundred years old because it still uses rubber tires instead of modern plastic treads. It is also known that drivers don't drive vehicles manually but they use auto-pilot for the car to drive itself to its destination. According to the book manual drive has become so obsolete that when the Clarrisa Frayne driver used the steering wheel he had trouble driving. As Eoin Colfer states in the book steering wheels are only used in illegal drag races in the Booshka region and in rural zones. It has either been seen that having more than four wheels is superior, or it is just trendy. Whatever the reason, several "Krom" vehicles were mentioned with more than four wheels. The real piece of notable change from the standardized vehicle design of today is the Myishi Z-12 which a state-of-the-art car (it is unclear if it's nature was racing, or being a luxury sports car) The Myishi Z-12 used nitrous as a main fuel, and because of the fact that nitrous burns so quickly the entire car had been converted into one big fuel tank.

During the story the Supernaturalists use a vehicle called the 'Pigmobile' so called because it is made of pig-iron. This reference to pig-iron is also made when the book talks about Satellite City as the city's other name is the 'Big Pig' due to the abundance of pig-iron like metal.

Communication

In 'The Supernaturalist,' forms of communication appear to be very similar to what we have now, however this impression could be because the Supernaturalists do not have high levels of up-to-date technology. During the book they use standard mobilephones to send texts, in a way that you would expect now. The reader gets the impression that companies use more high-tech forms of communication which are not fully described.

Fuzz plates

Fuzz plates are face masks that are used to stop paralegals (combat lawyers, designed to reach disaster and crime spots before the police) from getting an X-ray shot of your skull and being able to produce a representation of your face for court. Fuzz plates can also wipe video, which makes it very handy for the Supernaturalists. Obviously, they are used a lot by the Supernaturalists to protect themselves from prosecution.

Trivia, Facts, and Connections

  • In most book reviews, The Supernaturalist is compared to a Charles Dickens novel and a futuristic movie. According to Bookpage, this book "has the feel of a Dickens novel in a Blade Runner world." According to The Times, the book "reads like The Matrix crossed over with Oliver Twist."
  • The name Stefan Bashkir actually appears in one of the Artemis Fowl books as one of Artemis's numerous alter egos (in this case, a junior champion chess player).
  • Phonetix, a communications company based in Chicago from Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, is mentioned when Faustino says that "Myishi is going to kick Phonetix's butt next quarter". Phonetix is also mentioned in Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception - Artemis' bodyguard buys a Phonetix car kit, and Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code — the main antagonist's phone company is second only to Phonetix.
  • One of the sentries in the gang of the Bull dogs has his tattoos done in the Ink Blot tattoo parlour, the same place where Loafers McGuire from Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, got his tattoos done.
  • Myishi is the same name of the scientist who sold his soul to the devil in The Wish List.
  • When the Supernaturalists are headed for the satellite Mona describes them going just above the atmosphere. The FAI defines the boundary between space and earth's atmosphere as 100 km (62 miles). However for the satellite to be in continuous contact with Satellite City it would have to have a geostationary orbit which would place the satellite around 35,786 km (22,240 miles) or have ridiculously large rockets running continuously using vast amounts of fuel. Considering Faustino's desire to produce the ultimate power source to stop the satellite from falling, this could feasibly be the case.

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