Ray Bradbury once wrote, “the good Lord knows, the scientific method and I are only nodding acquaintances,” when distinguishing between the fantasy and science fiction branches of speculative writing. (Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow, Bantam, 1952) Bradbury considered himself primarily a fantasy writer, who focused on the wonder and the unknown, rather a scientist exploring what ifs based on a scientific knowledge.
Where does the fan place superpowers along that axis? Do superpowers really have a basis in science, or do we just marvel at them? In The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t with Her Mind, the first in Jackson Ford’s superpowered series, Teagan Frost, a young woman with telekinesis, works as an assassin and fixer for a top secret U.S. government agency. Not only does Teagan track a serial killer all over Bradbury’s backyard, Los Angeles, she also fights to keep track of life’s wonder and fantasy against a dark backstory .
Both her superpowers and the demands of the job impose a strict life on Teagan, who really just yearns to lose herself in a world of new sensations. For this reason, she loves Los Angeles, and especially the food scene. Her superpowers run on calories, so she eats a ton and dreams about it more. She talks like she had Wade Wilson for a grammar school teacher. She has a disrespect for authority that stems from a backstory involving geneticist parents and sadistic government scientists, which does not go over well at her job where she routinely works alongside a former contract killer, a retired Navy quartermaster, and former Army pilots. However, in part because Teagan partially narrates, the anger feels justified. The rules seem pointless until the ride gets into a collision and the airbags fly. Every action Teagan seems to take leads to a longer string of goons with agendas, all orchestrated by an adversary who knows her better than she knows herself employing a thug who has the same superpowers as Teagan.
To top it all off, Teagan’s beloved Los Angeles turns on her – to say nothing of its legion of suburbs. Teagan chases down leads from Long Beach to Burbank, with that distance giving the baddies plenty of time to lay traps and hunt her down, and, of course, this whole episode takes place during wildfire season. At times, Teagan almost seems to be fighting against the world. But unlike most supers, Teagan’s not merely trying to preserve the world for peacekeeping purposes. Teagan’s hungry and desperate to fit in, especially to spend time with her one steadfast ally/love interest, Nic. The answer can only be found in balance, between her own independent nature and the conformist attitudes that would use her as a weapon.
While Teagan manages to end the threat posed by her superpowered nemesis and makes her own peace with the government, she ends her first volume on a cliffhanger. She earns the right to exist in a world outside a prison cell for at least one more day, though the fluid world will surely turn on her. This first entry came out back in 2019, so I have a bit of catching up to do, but Teagan Frost’s story continues in Random Sh*t Flying Through the Air.
Three out of five stars.