EXCERPT: Letter to the Editor by David D. Levine

CATEGORY:  Vectors and Properties in Nemeses Relationships

RULE 444.4: Every Genius Needs A Good Publicist

SOURCE: Doctor Talon, astrophysicst and criminal genius

VIA: David D. Levine

Brilliance comes with a hefty price tag. To understand the sciences at the level required for true mastery calls for sacrifice, hard work, and isolation. That level of commitment pulls a scientist away from ordinary life, swallows time that otherwise would go to a girlfriend, a bowling league, or poker night with the guys. But all work and no play  . . .  well, we all know where that leads.

But the narrator of our next tale, Doctor Talon, would argue that he’s not mad at all. He simply lacks the kind of powerful friends who could tell his side of the story in a sympathetic manner. For Doctor Talon, it’s not a question of a deranged mind—but simply being misunderstood.

In a world of caped superheroes and mysterious technology, it’s not easy to draw the line between hero and villain. For Doctor Talon, there’s only one way to redeem a life of strange science. He’s got to speak up for himself.

Just when the Op Eds were getting boring, here comes an editorial that might change your mind about a villain’s job.


Letter to the Editor
by David D. Levine

Once I was an astrophysicist. Once I struggled only with balky equipment, recalcitrant equations, obstinate administrators. Once I was well on the way to uncovering the secrets of the Universe.

But then he arrived. The caped and costumed alien who has occupied my days and dogged my dreams for my entire adult life.

You know him as Ultimate Man, or the Emerald Avenger, or the Champion of Humanity. You know me—if you think of me at all—only in relation to him: “Doctor Talon, Ultimate Man’s constant foe and implacable adversary.” Or perhaps to you I am “Doctor Talon, mad scientist” or “Doctor Talon, criminal genius.” But though I do not deny that some components of my actions have been against the law, I know that history will eventually exonerate me.

Everything I have done, you see, I have done to save the world.


In real life, the most important moments in science are not greeted by the exclamation “Eureka!” but by a puzzled frown and the words “That’s funny . . . ” So it was with me. I soon tracked the anomalous energy signature that had spoiled my radio observations of the Eagle Nebula to a humble dairy farm in Wisconsin, and then to a single point source. A point source that moved and grew and behaved in a most unusual way.

Intrigued, I studied the phenomenon as it developed. Despite its humanoid appearance, I soon ascertained that it was in fact an extraterrestrial energy matrix with a human shape—not even alive, in the conventional sense. More like a standing wave of solar energy.

By the time the media finally managed to notice a flying man in a gaudy green-and-gold costume zipping hither and yon over the city, over twenty years later, I had already verified, identified, and analyzed this extraterrestrial and determined that he was a threat. The rest of my career—of my life—has been devoted to this threat’s amelioration.


My personal relationship with Ultimate Man began with the famous incident in which my right hand was severed above the wrist. I won’t go into details about this unfortunate episode, except to say that the primary reason it is significant to me is not simply the physical pain it caused me. Nor is it the psychological pain resulting from the cruel nickname with which I have been saddled by the media, based upon the appearance of the eminently practical prosthesis I designed to replace my missing appendage. Rather, it was the data I gathered about Ultimate Man during the incident, which proved beyond question that my hypothesis about him was in fact correct.

It was shortly after the completion of my analysis of this data that I began performing the series of actions which have been described with wearisome hyperbole as “a criminal career without precedent in history,” but which, as I said above, were necessary in order to save the world.

I know that you will not believe this assertion, choosing instead to accept the conventional narrative that I have done what I have done because of an irrational, personal hatred for the alien being known as Ultimate Man (who is, by the way, an illegal immigrant—he arrived here without papers, and resides in this country under a false identity). But, as any thoughtful consumer of today’s media knows, it is the frame in which the facts are considered, rather than the facts themselves, that determines their emotional content and the impression the viewer carries away. Rather than “Mad Genius Threatens Crowd with Heat Ray,” for example, what would you think if you read the headline “Philanthropic Inventor Staves Off Global Destruction”?

You may scoff, but I can prove my position is well-founded.

[End Excerpt]