Back in the late 80's and early 90's, I was a big fan of the Wild Cards series of science fiction novels. Created by popular writers with a mutual love for comic book heroes, the books explored an alternate history in which an alien "Wild Card" virus endowed some with superhuman powers ("Aces") and cursed others with bizarre mental and physical deformities ("Jokers"). Set during the latter half of the 20th century, the Wild Cards live through (and sometimes alter) the history we're familiar with...often with shocking and decidedly R-rated results.
Sounds a bit like a rip-off of DC's Watchmen, doesn't it? Believe it or not, I don't think it was, since both Watchmen and Wild Cards were published at virtually the same time (1987). Whatever the case, one of my favorite elements (from both of them) is the pseudo-documentary materials included in their closing pages. Watchmen would often feature authentic-looking magazine pages, news clippings, photos, or top secret stationery, while Wild Cards included an appendix with excerpts taken from history books and science reports.
One of the more entertaining Wild Cards excerpts was from a talk by Dr. Sharon Pao K'ang-sh'i of the Harvard University Department of Metabiophysics. After discussing the physics-defying abilities of various flying, running, and power-zapping "Aces", Dr. K'ang-shi'i turns her attention to a sub-group we (as comic book fans) are familiar with: the Gadget Masters! We know them well: they're the guys with the ultra-advanced armors, ray guns, and assorted gimmicks that can perform wonders...but here's a different take on them and their miracle tech:
"...a salient feature of the so-called 'gadgets" ––anti-gravity belts, dimensional portals, armored suits –– is the fact that none of them can be replicated. On disassembly and examination they're often found to make no mechanical or electrical sense. Each is a nonreproducible result. This explains why some enterprising gadget-master hasn't marketed, say, a personal light-speed flying belt, or an antigravity forklift. Only the creator could make one that would work. In some cases, the components consist of ludicrous assemblages of debris, up to and including apple cores, hairpins, and the torsos of Barbie dolls. Others consist only of a diagram of a circuit, which, like the chimerical Hieronymus machine, work as an actual circuit 'should'.
The explanation is, once again, a manifestation of psychic ability. The creator has in effect impressed himself upon his work in a metaphysical (in the current scientific meaning) sense. This explanation makes sense of the frequently observed phenomenon that there seems to be a limit to certain "gadget masters'" creativity, that they will sometimes have to disassemble an old device to get a new one to work."
I love that. Useless, nonsensical equipment as a focal point for immense psychic powers. If you enjoy that kind of thing, give Wild Cards a try. Like I said, some of it gets pretty rough, but overall, it's a sprawling, fascinating, quasi-historical, pseudo-scientific adventure.