"Okay," the twelve-year-old fanboy asks his friend, "if you could have one superpower, what would it be?"

"Easy," his friend answers. "I'd be Chameleon Boy. Then I could be all the superheroes!"

As superabilities went, malleability beat even being able to see into the girl's locker room with your x-ray vision. To turn into anyone or thing you wanted was about the coolest thing a young writer with shaky self-esteem could imagine. The "reality" of shape shifting has to be more complicated, of course, though most fantasy has chosen to ignore the stickier questions that revolve around it in favor of identity games.

"Shapeling" is my attempt at dealing with some of these issues. It also offers insight into the origins of Adipost Zone, which means - look out, you metricphobes - that weights are gonna once more be in kilograms. A couple of readers have commented on my use of metrics in this future world, and the reaction kinda surprised me the first time I got it. It ain't that difficult to convert from one mode to another. Even a relative naif like me (can't balance a checkbook to save my soul) can do it, so what's the beef? Grab a calculator and multiply those kgs. by 2.2! It's kind of fun, actually; once you've converted the figures, it's like the character's gotten fatter even when they haven't!

It's also, I should note, my attempt at writing a musical (without having to do any of that messy melody stuff). Like so many of my inspirations around the Adipost Zone, this has its roots in a Judge Dredd story: a comic from the late nineties where the characters "sang" much of their dialog. Considering the large amount of musical references in my stories, this was probably inevitable - hopefully, most readers won't find it too annoying a conceit.

This is the first freebie appearance of "Shapeling." It was written over the summer of '97 for the Pay-Per View section (though some of the song lyrics that appear in the tale are a bit older), and was tweaked slightly in early Spring 2001.

April 2001