Hero or Villain

“Every villain is a hero of his or her own story” Christopher Vogler, The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition

Throughout Jemisin’s work readers are often left in the dark of the finer details of things.  There is no clear good side or bad side. You don’t really know people’s intention. In the first novel, we assume that Essun is good and the Fulcrum/the guardians are bad.  By the second novel the Fulcrum doesn’t exist anymore so who can you shift the role of the bad guy too, because we all instinctively label people as good or bad. By the third, I’m questioning who really is the “good” guy.  It’s really hard to tell which side is which. Continue reading “Hero or Villain”

Starting Over After the End of the World

Authors: Sarah Bracy, Ashley Daddona, Steven Minurka, Lauren Ngo, Elena Ritz, & Jose Romero

“They came from diverse tribes and countries, and their traditions had no word for what had happened. But they were one in their shock and grief, huddled under the pall of hunger, the fear of disease, and the utter fatigue of starting over after the end of the world” (Babcock 1).

With pain there is beauty, which is surely demonstrated in the interactive piece by Lorena Babcock Moore, titled Tsunami Art. The Earth rests on the back of a turtle which is shook by an earthquake, causing a tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Each section of the shell has a different story to tell about the devastation that came with the tsunami, and the incredible artistry is a beautiful way to tell the story of the disaster, and those who fell victim to it, for years to come. This intent to tell the story of the disaster and its effects is an interesting parallel to the stonelore that we see throughout Jemisin’s trilogy, which serves the same function — keeping relevant information alive throughout time. Continue reading “Starting Over After the End of the World”

The Deeper Inspiration of Catastrophe

By Denis Hartnett, Jonah Goldstein, Patrick Alexander, Michee Jacobs, Lizzie Gellman, Heather McFarlane, and AJ Jurado

The 2011 earthquake in Tohoku, Japan was a disaster on a scale to which the modern world is unaccustomed. The tsunami following the earthquake caused a number of nuclear power plants in to shut down and deplete. The earthquake rendered a great deal of land uninhabitable in an already limited living space. The after-effects of the tsunami and earthquake affected all aspects of environmental life and caused a tremendous upset of the ecosystem. The 9.1 magnitude earthquake originated a short distance from the coast of Japan, generating a gigantic tsunami wave that collectively caused 15,890 deaths and $235 billion in damages, making it the most costly natural disaster in history. The Earthquake’s preliminary quake went on for 6 minutes, followed by aftershocks that destroyed many buildings and a great deal of infrastructure. This earthquake gave way to a massive tsunami which caused the majority of the near 16,000 deaths. This was not the end of the event however, as the forced shutdown of nuclear reactors in the affected area which led to the meltdown of these reactors and the contamination of those areas by nuclear byproducts. Continue reading “The Deeper Inspiration of Catastrophe”

This Volcano Erupted in 1991: You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!

By: Kristopher Bangsil, Xavier Bodensieck, Sabrina Chan, Andrew Cook, Abigail Ritz, and Helen Warfle

The story of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption began several months before the actual explosion. On April 2, 1991, a series of small explosions caused a fissure to open up on the side of the mountain, alerting geologists to the volcano’s reawakening. Because of this, scientists from the USGS Volcano Hazards Program along with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) began a joint operation with the US military to create a seismic map and observatory to monitor the volcano. Using technology developed in 1981 to monitor the Mount St. Helens eruption, the scientists were able to predict that the volcano would erupt around June 15, and they were surprisingly accurate. On June 6, a series of volcano-tectonic earthquakes began to “puff up” the volcano – that is to say that the volcano was preparing itself for the eruption. Thus, on June 10, 15,000 people were evacuated from the area. On June 12, the first eruption occurred, spewing a twelve-mile high ash column and convincing the scientists the evacuation had been warranted. On June 15, exactly as the scientists predicted, the volcano exploded. The eruption was so large that a new, 1.6-mile wide caldera was formed at the top of the volcano. Valleys in the area were filled with volcanic flows of magma and rock, layered as thick as 660 feet and the ash column grew to reach as far as twenty-eight miles into the atmosphere.

Continue reading “This Volcano Erupted in 1991: You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!”

Split Self: Essun’s Identities (And My Own Procrastination)

Brain freeze.  That’s possibly the best way to describe my stress response.  Metaphorically, my brain stumbles, frizzy-haired and wild-eyed, into a classroom, late to a midterm she didn’t realize was happening, and the world — whom I imagine to be a disappointed, McGonagall-esque sort of presence — slides her a multiple choice exam sheet and an exam with only one question: “You must handle [insert stressor here], what is your best response?

A) Fight

B) Flight

C) Freeze

D) None of the above, handle this situation in a way you know you are capable of doing”

And my brain, in all of her primitive and evolutionary wisdom, lights up, because she knows the answer (everyone knows this one, it’s so easy)!  Iiiiiiiiit’s… freeze (because the answer is always C)!

Thus, I freeze.  I freeze like a possum playing dead, like a stone eater aboveground, like a corpse in rigor mortis (not playing dead). I freeze like cream-that-will-soon-be-ice-cream in liquid nitrogen.  Continue reading “Split Self: Essun’s Identities (And My Own Procrastination)”

The Link Between Worlds (and people)

As established throughout The Broken Earth series, orogenes have the ability to connect to one another via their orogeny and become more powerful as a result of this. Utilizing this ability to foster greater orogeny through connections, Essun was able to activate the Obelisk Gate, wipe out Rennanis and their army and locate her daughter via the network of obelisks in The Obelisk Gate, all due to the focus granted to her by her connection to the roggas of Castrima. Other groups of connections formed in the distant past of Syl Anagist composed of the tuners that were used by their oppressors to utilize the Obelisk Gate as Essun does in the future, but for Syl Anagist’s own purposes. It is my own theory that these connections function as an analogy to the metaphorical connections one forms with another that they trust and depend on, or relationships. I intend to more closely examine the nature of the more mystical connections orogenes share and compare them to relationships in order to confirm or deny my theory of analogy. Continue reading “The Link Between Worlds (and people)”

Parasitic and Symbiotic Relationships

A passage that struck me while discussing The Stone Sky in class was Nassun’s query into her symbiotic relationship with Schaffa which “she will have already decided that family will do” to define their bond. I began to wonder if family was the same as symbiosis, which typically means different organisms mutually benefitting off one another and what this meant for the relationship between Nassun and Essun.

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The Art of The Dedication

While combing through all three novels to look for quotes for a blog post I’m currently writing, I took a second to once again look at Jemisin’s dedications. These drew my attention because of how impersonal they are. Generally, book dedications will be for friends, family, or even a funny shout out to the fans. But Jemisin’s are distinctly different than most that I have encountered before. Upon first glance they can be slightly confusing, however, the more you read and the more knowledge of this world that you acquire, the more they begin to make sense. Continue reading “The Art of The Dedication”

Shattering Season(s)

Since The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin’s use and significance of the word “shattering” in the trilogy has always intrigued me but I constantly felt that I was unable to coherently parse enough thoughts together to formulate a blog post about it. As I scrolled through the 101/431 tag on the (Im)Possibilities blog, it only made sense for Abby’s post to catch my eye with her introductory blurb focusing on the earth’s shatterings in Jemisin’s world.

Continue reading “Shattering Season(s)”