No, not the movie “Gladiator” with Russel Crowe. I speak of the fine novel by Philip Wylie (better known for “When Worlds Collide “) written in 1930. “The Gladiator ” tells the tale of a young man (Hugo Danner) who, through an experiment by his father, grows up to be superhuman. He can withstand bullets, lift cars and jump vast distances. Sound familiar does it not? This predates Superman by several years and in fact is referenced as a possible inspiration.
Forget the comic book heroes, this is a totally realistic view of the horrible personal cost of being different. The novel follows Hugo throughout his life and the burden that great power places on him. This is not a joyful book, but a dark and brooding meditation on wielding power and being the outcast.
It is a bit dated, but still worth reading. Also has one of the most discussed endings in all of sci-fi.
Filed Under: Books