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Literature / Exhuman

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A story about terrible superpowers, the terrible people who hold them, and the terrible people who do not.

Exhuman by ZoeTrope is a Web Serial Novel based in the year 2251 in a world which has survived a global nuclear war and the random appearance of superpowered individuals (the titular Exhumans) and yet humanity has managed to remain pretty much the same.

In the author's words, the story explores the terrifying question of "what if, in the future, instead of everything changing, nothing did?" and does so by following the life and struggles of Athan Ashton, who wakes up one day to find himself with the to control lightning.


Thrown out by his own family and hated by society, surviving a failed imprisonment, execution, and exile, Athan begins his life over, meeting a fantastic cast of strangers, many of whom are interested in his death, in his bone, and at least one, in both.

Exhuman launched in September of 2017 and updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Athan's father does not take well to the news of his son being an Exhuman. At all.
  • Action Girl: Karu wears armor, flies around on a jetpack, and in AEGIS' words, is "literally 50% weapons".
  • After the End: Averted, and hinted at being played straight. China and the United States swapped live nuclear weaponry, but the States had an experimental defense system in place which protected most of the country. From what we've seen, cities, suburbs, and natural beauty all continue in America just as we see today. China, on the other hand, is hinted at being a sheet of glass.
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  • Armor-Piercing Question: Why is it okay for Athan to hate Saga for being a Sino but he's fine with her being an Exhuman?
  • Battle Harem: The first three characters Athan meets in exile are a Techno Wizard girl who crushes on him immediately, a Bounty Hunter girl who wants to crush him immediately, and a girl with Telepathy who hasn't seen a man in a hundred years.
  • Dirty Mind-Reading: With Saga's domain over mind powers and Athan a Hormone-Addled Teenager, this was all but inevitable.
  • Elemental Powers: Athan, obviously, but it is hinted that this is fairly common among Exhumans, such as in chapter 13, Blackett pulling up a file on a hydrokinetic or Athan mentioning a dynakinetic in chapter 10.
  • Five-Man Band:
    • The Leader — Athan, though he's not quite sure why, except that without him everyone else would kill each other.
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    • The Lancer — Saga, when she's not busy laughing in the face of Athan's pacifistic tendencies with a heaping of gratuitous murder.
    • The Smart Guy — AEGIS firmly believes there's no problem you can't plan around if you work at it hard enough.
    • The Big Guy — Karu might not be much larger than average, but she needs a jetpack to help her carry all those guns and opinions.
    • The Heart — Lia's a sweet kid, and the only one that seems to believe in live and let live.
  • Or, within the P-Force:
    • The Leader — Still Athan, unsurprisingly.
    • The Lancer — Mage is as unfathomable, dangerous, and inexplicable as they come. And also kind of a bitch, especially for a 13-year-old.
    • The Smart Guy — Jack likes to wait for orders and launch precision strikes using his powers to get in and out.
    • The Big Guy — Tem is a frail, anorexic waif, but her powers are arguably the strongest in the whole series.
    • The Heart — Tower is a big guy, but he's generally keen to just go with the flow unless he feels like someone's getting trampled on.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Saga's opinion on everything, it seems. She has good reason, though: she's been imprisoned for a hundred years, and, oh, she's immortal and before the facility vanished and the guards all left, they used to find amusement in killing her in new and creative ways. Not to mention she was probably reading their minds and feelings the whole time.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: AEGIS and Athan refer to each other as roommates and great friends, but would probably be shacking up if they could find each other.
    • As of the end of the Coalescence Arc, AEGIS definitely became a little less than innocent in her habitation.
  • Internalized Categorism: Athan has a lifetime of social indoctrination telling him Exhumans are evil and then becomes one. No matter how cool or useful his powers, he constantly battles with hating himself for having them.
  • Iron Woobie: Saga has endured a lot over the last hundred years, and while she doesn't like talking about it, seems to accept it as just a part of being an immortal Exhuman.
  • Kick Chick: AEGIS, after she escapes her box exclusively relies on kicks when she fights, with dropping an axe kick being her favorite.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: AEGIS suffers from type 3, having no memories of anything before she met Athan.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Already used once so far to revive Karu, after Athan accidentally kills her while they are fighting.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: AEGIS' reaction when she installs a new HD holo lens and Athan's Male Gaze wanders.
  • Shock and Awe: Athan's Exhuman power.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: Saga was unaware there even was a Sino War, despite living in a prison under a mountain in one of the nuclear exclusion zones.
  • The Paladin: How Karu seems to see herself as she spouts hellfire and shoots off hellfire missiles.
  • Robot Girl: AEGIS is sort of an odd case, being a simulated intelligence which built a body to run inside. She often talks about her body and herself separately, as though she were piloting it instead of it being her.
  • The Woobie: AEGIS has spent the last dozen years staring at a camera feed in a dark room alone. When Athan finally finds her, she cries and thanks him with all her heart for saving her from the life in blackness. And then her last camera feed goes out as he accidentally breaks the power supply.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Standard XPCA policy seems to be executing Exhumans just for existing, even the ones who surrender peacefully.
    • With the death of the previous XPCA director they seem to be moving in a new direction. New Eden and the P-Force are both options open to Exhumans...though death is still on the table, especially if an Exhuman is a Code-X.

Example of: