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Additional Information for Readers of Unexpected Occurrences

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    Additional Information for Readers of Unexpected Occurrences In my stories, as in the X-Men movie, Scott Summers is a mutant superhero who also teaches high
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      Additional Information for Readers of Unexpected

      In my stories, as in the X-Men movie, Scott Summers is
      a mutant superhero who also teaches high school. The
      movie doesn't specify what he teaches, but I've made
      him an English teacher. Xavier's Academy is a small
      school with a large variety of classes to choose from.
      Consequently each of the teachers takes on several
      different classes. Scott is seen in my stories
      teaching courses ranging from Shakespeare to Creative
      Writing to a poetry survey course, when he's not off
      on a mission. As Scott tells Logan in Canadian
      Nights, it's kind of a strange job. "Sometimes I teach
      English, sometimes I save the human race," he

      With Scott a major figure in most of my fiction, the
      stories tend to contain a lot of literary quotes, most
      of them guided by Scott's tastes in literature (which,
      strangely, mirror my own). It has been my practice to
      publish a literature guide providing references for
      the quotes in each series, along with URLs, where
      available, for those wishing to read the works quoted.

      This series has at least as much public health content
      as it does literary content. In addition to the
      literary references, I�ve provided some additional
      information and references in this guide for anyone
      wanting to know more about the public health issues
      raised in Unexpected Occurrences.


      Robert Frost. �The Black Cottage.� Scott quotes from
      this poem when he says to Logan, �Why abandon a belief
      merely because it ceases to be true?� This narrative
      poem tells the story of a visit to an empty cottage
      with a minister, who ponders life and change. Another
      line fits in well with the themes of this series:
      �Most of the change we think we see in life is due to
      truths being in and out of favor.� Read the poem at

      William Shakespeare. Sonnet 18. This is one of the
      best known of the Shakespearean sonnets, the one that
      begins �Shall I compare thee to a summer�s day?� The
      title for the last story comes from this poem. Read
      it, along with analysis at

      William Shakespeare. Sonnet 30. This sonnet, about
      melancholy and a tendency to self-pity, is one with
      pretty universal appeal. Will tells of how sad
      memories can kind of overpower someone, resulting in
      tears and grief. It ends on a much happier note,
      though, as he thinks of his lover (the "Fair Youth",
      whose identity is subject of much debate), saying:

      "But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
      All losses are restored and sorrows end."

      Adam references the poem when he says that
      "remembrance of things past" is rushing in without
      summoning, when he begins to recall his night with
      Jake. The phrase "remembrance of things past" is also
      the title of the English translation of Proust's
      novel, A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, which was
      featured in Safe House. The English title clearly
      comes from this sonnet, though, since it is not a
      translation of the original French title.

      William Shakespeare. Sonnet 116. The title of the
      third story in this series comes from Sonnet 116 as do
      some of Adam�s thoughts about constancy in
      relationships. One of the better known of the
      Shakespearean sonnets, Sonnet 116 talks about love
      continuing even when circumstances or the lovers
      themselves alter greatly. Read the poem and commentary
      at http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/116.asp.


      William Shakespeare. Julius Caesar. Cyclops quotes
      Antony in Julius Caesar when he says the federal
      government is lying about what let slip the dogs of
      war. Shakespeare�s play about the assassination of
      Caesar and its aftermath is available many pleases. I
      like the Shakespeare Online site for its easy-to-read
      print and its excellent commentary on the plays and
      poems. You can find this one at

      William Shakespeare. Hamlet. Wendy often quotes
      Hamlet in my fiction. In the eighth story she
      humorously quotes from the play�s best known soliloquy
      saying that for new parents sleep is �a consummation
      devoutly to be wished.� Perhaps Shakespeare's more
      read and performed play, Hamlet has something for
      everyone: love, death, intrigue, theatricality,
      ghosts. Read it at

      William Shakespeare. King Lear. Scott quotes a famous
      line from Lear in talking about how mutant lives are
      held cheap: �Like flies to wanton boy are we to the
      gods; they kill us for their sport.� Lear is the
      story of a king with three daughters, who rejects one
      of them, Cordelia, because she won�t promise to love
      him more than her husband. The other two make the
      promise falsely and cheat and reject him and he ends
      up mad and friendless. The story of parental
      rejection of the child who doesn�t live up to
      expectations fits in with Oliver�s story in this

      Charles Dickens. Martin Chuzzlewit. One of Dickens�s
      lesser known novels, this one has a picaresque
      plotline and a theme of selfishness vs. kindness. The
      title of the fifth story, �Change Begets Change� is a
      quote from this novel. The Project Gutenberg version
      can be found at

      Harriet Beecher Stowe. Uncle Tom�s Cabin. Abraham
      Lincoln is said to have told Stowe upon meeting, �So
      you�re the little woman who wrote the book that
      started this great war.� The story may be apocryphal,
      but it accurately reflects how influential this novel
      of slavery was at the time it was written. It remains
      a gripping story more than 150 years later. The main
      villain of the novel is Simon Legree, the cruel
      overseer. Adam jokingly refers to Charles as Simon
      Legree Xavier because of his propensity to give out
      lots of work. The Project Gutenberg edition of Uncle
      Tom�s Cabin can be found at

      Miscellaneous Works

      Vincent Bugliosi. Helter-Skelter, the True Story of
      the Manson Murders. In the fourth story of this
      series, Scott and Jean compare the (as yet unknown)
      people who started the War on Mutants to Charles
      Manson. Charles Manson and his followers committed
      the Tate-LaBianca murders that were front page news in
      the U.S. when they occurred in 1969 and throughout the
      trial that followed. The Manson murders and the people
      who committed them are explored in detail in this
      fascinating book by prosecuting attorney Bugliosi.
      The title of the book comes from a Beatles song that
      Manson believed included coded lyrics instructing him
      to start a race war. The book is not available
      online, but can be found in most bookstores and
      libraries. The lyrics to the song (which provide the
      title for that story: �Tell Me the Answer�) can be
      found at
      Charles Manson is in prison. His last parole hearing
      was in 2002 and he was turned down.

      Declaration of Independence. The name of the militia
      group that turns out to be behind the bioterrorism is
      �Sacred Honor,� a phrase taken from the Declaration of
      Independence. Scott is quite enamored of the
      Declaration as a work of literature and is seen
      teaching it in his English classes in other series.
      In this one, he quotes from the Declaration in the
      planning meeting with Charles and the Hudsons. .A
      very well-presented and comprehensive treatment of the
      Declaration can be found at
      At this site, provided by the National Archives and
      Records Administration, you will find the text, a
      photo of the original Declaration, extensive
      information on its history and comparisons with other
      major national documents of the U.S. Of particular
      interest is the essay at this link:
      which explores the Declaration of Independence as a
      work of literature.

      The Iliad. Homer�s epic poem of the Trojan War is
      referenced when Scott�s plan to invade the Sacred
      Honor compound includes hiding �Trojan Mutants� in
      Billy�s truck. The Project Gutenberg edition of the
      Samuel Butler translation can be found at

      More Information on Public Health Issues Discussed in
      Unexpected Occurrences

      A number of issues related to public health are raised
      in the events depicted in Unexpected Occurrences. For
      anyone interested in learning more about them, here is
      some information and some links.

      Plague as a Weapon of Bioterrorism � Although we�ve
      seen anthrax used as a bio-weapon in the U.S. and
      there has been lots of talk about the possibility of
      smallpox being used in that way, I personally believe
      that plague would be a more effective agent for that
      purpose. If a terrorist organization like Sacred
      Honor were to get hold of Yersinia pestis and managed
      to aerosolize it, it could spread very quickly before
      anyone knew what was going on. The early symptoms are
      much like flu, and effective treatment requires that
      antibiotics be administered within 24 hours onset of
      symptoms. As Jean explains to Scott, the pneumonic
      form of plague is spread easily person-to-person. The
      Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website has a good
      Fact Sheet on Pneumonic Plague at

      Other Bioterrorism Agents � When the X-Men invade the
      Sacred Honor compound they find a laboratory full of
      infectious agents � anthrax, tularemia, smallpox.
      Anthrax was used as a weapon of bio-terrorism in the
      U.S. in 2001. Anthrax is an acute infectious disease
      caused by the bacterium bacillus anthracis. It is not
      spread from person to person. The anthrax attacks in
      2001 consisted of anthrax spores sent through the
      mail. 22 individuals were infected and there were 5
      deaths. More information on anthrax can be found in
      the CDC FAQ at

      The U.S. federal government attempted a large-scale
      smallpox vaccination effort for health care workers,
      in preparation for the possibility of smallpox used as
      a bio-weapon. Compliance was voluntary and there were
      very few volunteers. It�s unclear to me why this
      particular agent was chosen for such attention, other
      than the fact that there is an effective vaccine.
      More information on smallpox can be found at

      Tularemia is another highly infectious potential
      bio-weapon. Information on the disease, both
      naturally occurring and as a bio-weapon, can be found
      In addition to preparing to respond to future
      bio-terrorism incidents, there is an ongoing effort in
      the U.S. to detect bio-weapons before an outbreak gets
      to the point that the one in Unexpected Occurrences
      does. Part of that effort consists of educating
      medical providers to be alert for outbreaks of
      diseases like the ones mentioned above. Part of it
      consists of Bioterrorism Surveillance Systems.
      There�s a good description of the latter at

      HIV and Drug Use - Adam�s sexual encounter with Jake
      is fictional, but the role of crystal meth in
      increasing sexual risk among men who have sex with men
      (MSM) is well documented. As Adam knows, crystal is a
      drug that provides a high, deadens pain, and lowers
      inhibitions. It�s an inexpensive drug and one that is
      spreading among MSM and often used in a sexual
      context. It is ingested, snorted, injected, or
      administered anally.
      describes HIV risk associated with its use.

      HIV � Occupational Risk and PEP � Jean-Paul is
      prescribed a course of treatment by Jean when it is
      realized that he has been exposed to HIV. The drugs
      he is given are collectively known as �Postexposure
      Prophylaxis� (PEP). Guidelines for PEP for Health
      Care Workers can be found at
      Presumably similar guidelines apply to occupationally
      exposed mutant superheroes.

      HIV � Negotiated Safety - Earlier in their
      relationship, Jean-Paul and Adam had agreed to follow
      a practice called �Negotiated Safety,� as described in
      my series Safe House. The concept is that a couple,
      after verifying that they are both HIV-, agrees to
      have unprotected sex, but only with each other. If
      either of them incurs any risk in activity with a
      third party, he immediately discloses that fact and
      they go back to using condoms until it can be
      determined that they are still negative. This method
      is very controversial in the gay community, because it
      depends on someone who has broken the compact in one
      respect (having unprotected sex outside the
      relationship) being resolute enough to keep to the
      rest of the agreement. When Adam alludes to the
      pitfalls of Negotiated Safety, Jean-Paul reminds him
      that that agreement was long in the past, and since
      then they�ve committed to true monogamy, and not just
      to a health-based agreement. A website telling how to
      work out a Negotiated Safety plan can be found at
      http://www.friendtofriend.org/nocondoms.htm. An
      article by a therapist on the topic can be found at
      A study from Australia found that the men studied did
      keep the Negotiated Safety agreements

      HIV � Oral Sex and Prevention � Adam and Jean-Paul
      discuss whether or not to use condoms for oral sex.
      Like many MSM they have not used them except for anal
      sex, but in light of Jean-Paul�s exposure, he suggests
      they rethink whether or not to have unprotected oral
      sex. What is the risk of contracting HIV through oral
      sex? No one knows definitively and a variety of
      opinions can be found. It�s generally accepted that
      it is a much less risky activity than anal sex, but
      how risky is a matter of much discussion. See
      http://www.skfriends.com/is-oral-sex-safe.htm and
      http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pubs/facts/oralsexqa.htm for
      two research-based, yet quite different opinions on
      the topic.

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