Jess Waters ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Assistant Books Editor
Reading The Incredible Superfets feels like watching a modern art film: it’s flashing, disjointed, deliberately bizarre, beautiful, and it leaves you with the distinct sense that the creator knows something you don’t. The collection of serial short stories tells the tale of a group of five people who call themselves the Superfets, from the word superfetation, defined by author Michael Schuck in the beginning as:
- Something that rats, rabbits, kangaroos, sugar gliders, and humans have to deal with sometimes.
- A weak analogy for an indescribable feeling.
The ‘real’ definition of superfetation, according to Wikipedia, is the occurrence of a second conception during pregnancy (not uncommon in rats, rabbits, kangaroos, and sugar gliders, but extremely rare in humans), or the accumulation of one thing on another. Yet the dictionary brings us no closer to understanding the “indescribable feeling” Schuck seeks to describe.
What ties the Superfets together, on the most surface level, is that they are a group of four friends who all work as Easter Bunnies, either in malls or at birthday parties or some combination thereof. The Superfets are friends — they drink together, party together, hang out together — and when a young woman named Agnes shows up on their porch in the rain, they make her one of them. A vaguely cultish oath is involved, and alcohol, and pasta, and a few weeks later an Easter Bunny costume shows up Agnes’s door with a contact number for someone who’ll hire her at a local mall.
From here, the story’s shape takes on some kind of non-Euclidean geometry. There are science fiction elements, industrial accidents, frictionless skin, and a rare and deadly virus called Leprus Lepus. Yet The Incredible Superfets defies a strictly sci-fi categorization. It shies away from anything so neat as genre or resolution. It skips from one Superfet describing the time she witnessed a man having a seizure on a bus to another Superfet’s disappointing sex life to another taking his cholesterol pills, like a radio skipping through channels or like Polaroid snapchats pinned to a wall. The Incredible Superfets ridicules constraint and cohesion, and creates something that has less to do with telling a story than with communicating a feeling.
This feeling can’t be parsed in the course of a review, but if the ending of Superfets is anything to go by, it’s a feeling of something a lot like loneliness. It’s a feeling of something like turning up on a porch in the rain and hoping someone will answer the door. It’s a feeling of something a lot like the humiliation and vulnerability of sex. It’s a feeling of something a lot like frictionless skin, unable to touch or be touched. And although the definition of “accumulation” is not one that Schuck uses explicitly, it’s a definition that fits, as the imagery, the flashes, the scenes of Superfets accumulate one on top of the other to create the story; a definition that fits the way moments in a person’s life accumulate to create their personality.
The Incredible Superfets is launched April 28th and can be purchased through Wilde Press.