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Cursed With Awesome / Literature

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Being Cursed With Awesome in literature.

  • Quite a few characters inflicted with Animorphism will bemoan their fates so Wangstily when they are turned into things like swans, bears, or dragons, you wonder how they'd react if they were turned into worms.
    • In Animorphs, Tobias flat out calls morphing "the Andalite's Curse". Early in the series the characters range from neutral to excited about the power, and even after becoming intimately familiar with the major downside the kids often have moments of delight in being certain animals and in Mundane Utility. Everyone likes flying as birds or experiencing the mindset of dogs and dolphins. The major curse aspect is really because when they were given this power they were drafted into being guerilla fighters in a traumatic, long-lasting war that only they can fight, and the further they get into the series the more likely a given character is to consider their powers grimly.
      • Speaking of Tobias, his home life is terrible and his delight in being a hawk and far removed from human concerns means that within days of gaining the morphing power he gets careless about the time limit and enters Shapeshifter Mode Lock - it's a little ambiguous about to what degree this was voluntary, but it wasn't a careful and considered choice. He loves flying and having sharp eyesight, but the reality of being a bird full-time quickly takes a toll - he has to kill to eat, his social and entertainment life is just about gone, and his lifespan is going to be curtailed. At some point he's given the ability to morph as a hawk, including to temporarily take human shape, and angsts about that still, uncertain if he's happy, both missing his human body and feeling frustrated with its limitations, identifying more closely with the hawk, and knowing that if he became human full time he wouldn't be able to help the others.
  • In Bone Song by John Meaney, zombies are treated as second-class citizens and considered inferior to humans... in spite of the fact that they both retain their human personality and gain some magical powers which they didn't have as humans.
    • In Dr. Franklin's Island the castaways are put through Involuntary Transformation. Miranda-the-bird's form seems much easier to live with than Semi-the-fish's or Arnie-the-snake's - she's lost her arms to wings, but can fly with ease and her feet are constructed like hands, albeit scaled and taloned. It's mentioned that she loves being a bird but hates being a bird in a cage. She can't talk, though, and she starts losing her mind when it starts to look like Semi will become human again and she will stay a bird.
  • Vampirism is often an example of Cursed With Awesome, depending on how Your Vampires Are Different. Potential upsides: immortality, super-strength, shape shifting, hypnotic powers, or sometimes just open-ended Functional Magic. Potential downsides: parasitic dependency, social isolation, inability to endure daylight, addictive cravings and/or psychotic need to kill, various Kryptonite Factors, demonic or even decayed appearance, and loss of one's soul (whatever that may mean in your reality). Whether one is merely cursed or actually Cursed With Awesome depends on how much from Column A you get relative to Column B.
    • Sluggy Freelance spoofs this (and Anne Rice's vampires in specific) in this exchange.
    • The comedy Love at First Bite also ends with Cindy Sondheim agreeing to become a vampire because it was pretty awesome. Also, she fell in love with Count Dracula - and she never was a morning person.
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    • Interestingly, in Christopher Moore's You Suck, a woman loves being a vampire because she no longer has to be afraid of other people, whereas her boyfriend, whom she turns into one to be with her, realizes he hates having to suck blood and not being able to go out during the day.
      • It's even better when you realise why they take it so differently: the girl had been a living accessory to rich, powerful men all her life, with no real skills, ambitions or capabilities. As a vampire, she is finally important and powerful by default, which is like a dream come true. Her boyfriend, however, despite being a 100-pound-nothing weakling, always knew what he wanted to be and had the guts to leave his home (with his family's blessing) and strike out on his own, taking most things that happen to him with pretty good humor. So vampirism really has nothing to offer to him, it just takes away the things he already had and liked.
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    • The vampires in Twilight "suffer" this to the extreme. Yeah, they have to drink blood and they can't go out in sunlight, but they also get Super Strength, Super Speed, super-attractiveness, skin as hard as diamonds, and the only the way they can be fully destroyed is by tearing them apart and burning the pieces. Oh, and the reason they can't go out in sunlight isn't because they'll burn up... it's because their skin sparkles. If they live in an area where the weather is usually overcast, like the Olympic Peninsula, they can go outside whenever they feel like it. And the blood they drink doesn't have to be human blood... the Cullens subsist on animal blood.
      • And Word of God says in the Illustrated Guide that there really is no downside to eating animal blood. It just doesn't taste as good.
      • And hey guys, Twilightverse vampirism doesn't affect your sperm viability!
      • Although your 'true love' is likely to die from the pregnancy.
      • Bella naturally lampshades the Angst Dissonance from start to finish.
    • Werewolves in The Dresden Files are either cursed into it, in which case they're violent murderers who kill anyone they love, which really does suck, or they choose it willingly. All who've chosen it willingly seem to really, really enjoy it.
      • Of course, this is partly because there are four different types of werewolves in the setting, and most people who choose it willingly will choose one of the types that has minimal drawbacks.
      • From the same series, Thomas Raith (A Vampire more accurately classified as an incubus) laments his vampirism semi-regularly until the only major problem (inability to be with his girlfriend) is to have threesomes her and other gorgeous women.
    • In The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries, vampires are legally recognized and citizens. However, they can't marry, and their blood is a popular drug. There are people who kidnap vamps, bind them with silver chains, drain all their blood, and just leave the weakened vamp out in the open. Since they're unable to get to cover before daylight, they generally die. This has the handy side effect of destroying the victim and the witness in one fell swoop. Even if they do survive, it takes them months to recover.
    • In President's Vampire, Cade sulks about the fact that he's a cursed creature of the night forced to drink blood. His human co-worker Zach and his fellow vampiress Tania both point out that being immortal, ever-young super-strong and super-fast predator with eidetic memory and Nigh-Invulnerability is actually pretty cool, even if sunlight burns you.

  • You'd think that having a marked tendency to accidentally break every third thing you touch would count as a curse. The protagonist of Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians certainly does. But what if you learned this "curse" extended to breaking doors that you need to get through, or your grandfather's restraints, or that gun the villain is about to shoot you with ...
    • One of his ancestors who had the same Talent broke time and space in the area around his tomb.
  • In the Alex Verus series, Luna's luck-stealing curse has the nice side effect of rendering her immune to casual misfortunes and making her generally lucky. Plus, it doesn't just affect people she likes: She brings bad luck to her enemies, too. Justified in that the curse was created by taking a useful (if morally questionable) luck-draining spell and making it permanent.
  • Garion in The Belgariad. He's The Chosen One, and he spends most of the series asking "Why me?" He is a sorcerer- sorcerers work by using the Will and the Word (they direct their will at something and speak the word to make it happen.) Although it's pretty awesome as to what he can do, in Queen Of Sorcery, he believes himself to be evil after he burns the killer of his parents to death using sorcery. It's a Running Gag that nobody else thinks there's anything wrong with his situation, and eventually he passes the question on to other characters after he grows up and stops whining. Considering part of his Cursed With Awesome is "Oh, you know that legendary one-eyed god who's psychotically evil and still REALLY mad about his being maimed? Who's indirectly responsible, one way or another, for the horrible death of your parents and lots of your ancestors? You have to confront him. Nope, no one else gets to do it. Nope, no way out. It's all you. Even though up until very recently as far as you knew, you were an ordinary farmboy being raised by his aunt. Good luck!" It's more like he stops whining not because he grows up but because he actually lives to do it and the suck side is drastically reduced.
  • Eustace Clarence Scrubb from The Chronicles of Narnia was turned into a dragon, and this is treated as a punishment. Probably because of the ring he had put on as a human, which did not grow and was squeezing his wrist the whole time. There's also the issue that he could no longer associate with humans, since the vast majority would hunt him down and kill him. On top of that, he wouldn't have fit on the ship, and would therefore need to be left behind; and it's strongly implied that dragons are highly territorial and solitary. And before his change of heart, he was an intellectual bully who needed an audience he could abuse and act superior to in order to feel better about himself. So he was facing a long, lonely life in a strange world with no chance of ever returning to human society. Once the pain of the ring had been eased by Lucy's healing cordial, he actually began to enjoy his dragon form and the special abilities it gave him not least because he used those abilities to contribute to the group and for the first time had real friends. Thus began his Heel–Face Turn.
    • He gets a bit of a better deal in the movie version, where he gets the bracelet yanked off pretty early on, is able to fly alongside of the ship, and uses his fire-breathing to help fight the sea serpent.
  • The clockworkers in Steven Harper's Clockwork Empire series have a disease that will drive them insane and eventually kill them, but in the meanwhile they become super-geniuses who can bend time and space in addition to improved strength and reflexes. Could also be considered Blessed with Suck, but not a bad deal overall.
  • Several retelling of the French fairy tale, "Diamonds and Toads" invoke this trope for the stepsister who is cursed with having reptiles and amphibians fall out of her mouth whenever she speaks. In the Gail Carson Levine story, the stepsister ends up opening a snake racetrack and makes money as a bookie. In the Heather Tomlinson novel, the stepsister's snakes save everyone by eating all the plague-carrying rats. Another continuation of the story has her fall in love with and marry a herpetologist.
  • The Librarian at Unseen University in the Discworld novels was accidentally transformed into an orangutan (NOT a monkey. If you value your life, do NOT call him a monkey.), and he has gone to great pains to ensure he stays that way. Not only is he now strong enough to twist the head off of anyone who annoys him, but he can reach the high shelves without a ladder, and can safely read those books filled with Things Man Was Not Meant to Know, since he's not technically a man anymore.
  • The needle-symbiote-infected humans in Eden Green have to deal with painful transformations and potential And I Must Scream scenarios brought about by their new immortality, but on the bright side, they can survive any injury and are able to fight back against the monsters invading their city.
  • In Sukhinov's Emerald City decalogy, eight years old girl Corina is cursed by the Wicked Witch of the East to age ten times slower than normal. A horrible curse when you are eighteen in a body of a nine years old! When you are eighty in a body of a fifteen years old? Not so much.
  • In Emily of New Moon, Emily Starr considers her imprecise and very rare psychic manifestations as awful, never-to-be-spoken-of incidents, when these powers only ever are shown as helping people. However, Justified when one considers Values Dissonance — psychic powers were classified under "insanity" in the Victorian era.
  • Orson Scott Card's Ender series has Olhado, who lost his eyes in an accident when he was a child, and they were replaced with high-tech metal eyes capable of recording what he sees for later playback. His mother laments his deformity, and his brother marvels that a freak like Olhado could find a wife. Rarely do characters treat Olhado's metal eyes as an advantage rather than a curse. Olhado himself doesn't seem to mind them; he's arguably the most well-adjusted member of his family.
  • Gods and Monsters: Aristanae and all her female ancestors suffer from this in Darkness Becomes Her. As descendants of Medusa, they are all doomed to either die or be killed before their twenty-first birthday, or become a monster. However, Ari herself is able to control the power to extents no one had seen before, and she is feared by some of the most powerful gods, but still, no one knows what will happen after her birthday...
  • The Heroes of Olympus: Frank Zhang could darn well be the Trope Codifier. To balance out the many gifts granted by his ancestry, including the Zhang family's Animorphism powers, the gods link his life force to a stick. If it burns down completely, he dies. However, the fire from the stick has been shown to be able to free Death himself; who knows what other awesome stuff it could do.
  • People descended from the Meyerdahl Beta wave of genetic modification in the Honor Harrington 'verse (including the eponymous protagonist) are faster, stronger and gain an intelligence boost, but anytime it comes up the heroine seems to fixate on her increased need for food (from the enhanced metabolism) and the fact that approximately a 3rd of them don't regenerate well (which is only an issue for the main character because she has a propensity towards getting mutilated in the line of duty).
    • A sufficient number of Honor's peers have openly bemoaned the fact that Honor can eat as many chocolate chip cookies and brownies as she wants without gaining weight, that Honor acknowledges that maybe having a voracious appetite is not all bad.
  • The novella "How I Wrote the New Testament, Ushered in the Renaissance, and Birdied the 17th Hole at Pebble Beach" by Mike Resnick has, as the description puts it, "an itinerant Jewish businessman commanded (condemned?) by Christ to "tarry here until I return," spending the next 2000 years trying to keep busy and occasionally helping along the advancement of civilization".
  • In the Hush, Hush series, being a fallen angel means that you don't feel pain, are insanely strong, and can mind control others. All fallen angels still hate what they are.
  • Elva of the Inheritance Cycle is originally purely Blessed with Suck. However, she figures out very quickly how to use her empathetic abilities to her advantage, eventually becoming a Manipulative Bastard antiheroine.
  • Villain Protagonist of Kane has been cursed by a Mad God to roam around the world, unable to die, unless he is killed in an act of violence. Which is also not easy, since a part of his curse is immense healing ability, not to mention his strength and cunning. This has distorted his mind and perception of time and at times weights very heavily on him, leading him to dark despair.
    At times the awesome curse of immortality weighed on Kane beyond all endurance.
  • In The Kingdoms of Evil, the main character is forced to rule half a continent.
  • In the Knight and Rogue Series Michael becomes the only intelligent human with magic abilities after being experimented on by a Mad Scientist. He instantly labels himself a freak when this power is still restricted to heightening his ability to sense magic in nature, and is frightened to the point of nausea when it gives him the ability to... make water wetter, though he calms down somewhat when Fisk points out that this isn't that big of a deal. When he figures out how to use his abilities to basically give his horse superpowers to escape being murdered and save himself from a 300 ft drop, he still thinks it's the worst thing in the world.
  • Davian (and the other Augurs) in The Licanius Trilogy initially dreads discovering his Augur powers because it marks him out as a target for execution. Once he learns how to manage them and sees how he can help others, he's eager to put them to use.
  • Lilith's Brood: The Oankali consider humans uniquely blessed and genetically very attractive because we have... cancer. It turns out the same genes that can go so horribly wrong also can be used for regenerative abilities they've never seen before.
  • The Mortal Instruments shows us Simon. He thinks it's bad to be a vampire. Other vampires tell him that they can not understand what he's bothering about, because he has sharp senses, is superhumanly strong, immortal, and in addition one of the few vampires who do not mind sunlight. But Simon is bothered that he will be forever young, while all his friends are getting older. He is also religious, and as a vampire can not longer enter a synagogue.
    • There is also Luke. He was previously a nephilim, but was bitten by a werewolf, and then turned into one. Initially, he finds it terrible to be a werewolf, mainly because he was a fanatical demon hunter, and will be cast out of his friends and sister after his transformation. But later he thinks it's nice to be a werewolf.
    • And there is also Jace Herondale. He is much stronger and more resilient than the other nephilim, because Valentin has experimented with him. However, he believes that he is partly a demon, and thus a dangerous monster. At the same time he is in love with Clary, whom he considers his sister, and considers himself more of a monster. However, when he learns in the course of the action that he is partly an angel (even more than the other nephilim), and that he and Clary are not related, he is pleased.
      • In later books, it turns out that he actually has a small portion of demon blood in him, because he is a descendant of the witch Tessa Gray.
  • The robot Giskard in Robots and Empire has the unique ability to not only read the minds of humans, but alter their thoughts as well. This would be great for a human, but for a Three Laws-Compliant robot (this is an Isaac Asimov story, after all), it's a burden more than anything. Protecting humans from physical harm is easy, but protecting their more delicate psyches is a much greater challenge.
  • Star Wars Legends: Winter Celchu (introduced in the Thrawn novels and subsequently featuring in the X-Wing Rogue Squadron comics) has a perfect memory, which leads to a curious case of both Cursed With Awesome and Blessed with Suck: in her work as an Intelligence agent her ability to remember conversations verbatim and maps with a single glance (just for a start) was doubtless of endless use, but the pain of such horrible things as the destruction of her homeworld Alderaan never fades. She's very pragmatic about the ability, though.
  • In the first Sword of Truth book, Darken Rahl curses Richard in what he THINKS is a completely debilitating way: His enemies will see him as himself, and his friends will see him as their worst enemy. This has the expected effect (including being attacked by Zedd and Kahlan), but shortly afterwards, he meets his half-brother, who KNOWS WHO HE IS! Justice ensued.
  • In The Tamuli by David Eddings, the Delphae are cursed by their God with a horrifically gruesome death touch, and a glow that warns others not to touch them. Since both also come with an off-switch, and since the power eventually evolves into greater magical abilities, the Knights are a bit stumped as to why it's called a "curse", until the Bhelliom explains that there's a literal difference between a blessing and a curse—a blessing's radiance makes those blessed easily detected by anyone who could sense magic, but curses are, by their very nature, concealing, and actually dampen the "sound" of magic near them. Since the Delphae are trying to hide from the rest of mankind a curse was the most suitable... which kinda makes it a curse In Name Only.
    • A downside would be that everyone fears and hates them. Also, the Delphae themselves are not fond of the power, as making people rot when you touch them is not fun, even if they're your enemies. Several have breakdowns during the war as a result of having to use it too many times.
  • The (adult) villain of The Thief Lord wants to use the MacGuffin to become younger. He ends up de-aged all the way to a child. This is treated as Laser-Guided Karma, but if you think about it, he actually got exactly what he wanted - he just has to wait a few years.
  • In Watersong, the sirens tell Gemma they view their curse like this, since they get to be eternally youthful and beautiful and spend their days doing the things they love most.
  • James "Demise" Spector of the Wild Cards series. Sure, he has the unpleasant experience of coming back painfully from the dead, but this leaves him with the nifty superpower of being able to kill any opponent (or just plain anyone that he feels like killing) by making eye-contact and having them psychically experience the full, appalling agony of that death. He 's later able to refine his control of this to allow him just to render an opponent unconscious, if he feels like it. He's also indestructible. He does still feel pain like a normal human being, which sucks a bit, but otherwise? Cursed With Awesome.
    • There is the slight drawback of constantly reliving his death, however.
  • This is the linchpin of A Wolf in the Soul. In order to be victorious over the werewolf taking over his body, Greg needs to fully internalize that this isn't the case, even if he already thinks on an intellectual level that it's horrible.
  • In Tara Duncan the eponymous heroine spends most of the books complaining and wishing she had weaker magical powers, even though it is said powers - that she is very happy to use and abuse by the way - that often save the day and that many of her friends or enemies, in front of which she loves to complain, sacrificed a lot to obtain a mere fraction of her magical ability.
  • In Keeper of the Lost Cities the heroine, Sophie Foster, was genetically engineered to have various superpowers, whereas her friend and the entire Elvin specie usually only have one - if they're lucky. Similarly, she often complain, even in front of those who do not have a power yet, that she has too many powers and does not wish to have more.
  • The Wildered Quest, a Magic The Gathering novel, has a Knight-Scholar named Elowen, who was hexed by a witch when she was very young to be anti-magic. While it means she can never use any kind of magic, unlike most knights of Eldraine who are Mage Knights, it does mean she's effectively immune to any other kind of hex, enchantment, charm or what have you, which makes her singularly good at traversing the magic-infested Wilds, and is a crucial plot point when Oko curses her to become an eagle; the spell lasts exactly long enough for her to fly back to Castle Ardenvale before wearing off due to her hex, and bring back The Cavalry.


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