Some have already noted the undeniable similarities between NBC’s new drama Heroes and Marvel Comics’ X-Men franchise. But much about the show—in which seven strangers discover they have superpowers—bears an uncanny resemblance to another literary source: Salman Rushdie’s 1981 novel Midnight’s Children.
For those of you who skipped English class that week, Rushdie’s novel recounts the history of the modern state of India through the fanciful tale of 1,001 children who were born at the stroke of midnight on Independence Day—"every one of whom was, through some freak of biology, or perhaps owing to some preternatural power of the moment … endowed with features, talents or faculties which can only be described as miraculous … powers of transmutation, flight, prophecy and wizardry."
If you know the book and happened to catch the Heroes premiere last Monday, the Japanese man on the show who can bend time may have reminded you of the book’s character with "the gift of traveling in time." Or the series’ young woman who has a dark relationship with mirrors may have brought to mind the book’s character who can step into and emerge from "any reflective surface in the land."
What’s more, the young Indian geneticist on the show, who sets out to find and nurture the budding heroes, shares the name "Suresh" with the doctor in Midnight’s Children who delivers the book’s narrator into the world.
Alas, any Rushdie references are coincidental. Heroes creator Tim Kring pled "complete ignorance" when Flash! asked him about it, lamenting that one of the "tragedies " of being a TV writer is having little time to be "a leisure reader by any stretch of the imagination."
But really, who needs books when you’ve got TV?
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