I had made a previous post about the alternate biology that Jemisin writes about. At that time I was still unaware of the existence of magic or magical essence as well as poorly stating that I was assuming that the people of Jemisin’s world look and act according to Earth humans. I’d like to re-examine the concept of alternate biology, but feel that it would be a more fruitful to start asking about science and magic’s coexistence.
My previous post made the assumption that orogeny was a gift/curse given to children by an unknown power. This gift/curse is passed down by means of the Fulcrum’s breeding program or accidently when a family line is either not entirely known and so produces a “feral.” I believe that I’ve faltered again in my comments on this power. I’d made the presumption that orogeny was a kind of training of how magic is dealt with though I now understand it to be independent from the magic that Jemisin introduced in The Obelisk Gate. It was interesting to think of it as a school of magic created by the Fulcrum to mask the presence of the real power of magic from the grits though this was not the case.
Having finished The Obelisk Gate I now have a better understanding of the intersect of orogeny, magic and biology. With this improved understanding I wanted to offer some things I have been thinking through rather than propose any of the grand theories I hope for in The Stone Sky. I should preface with another correction that I’ve maybe mistakenly called Jemisin’s orogenes non-humans by accident while trying to talk about the biological differences they might have. In light of recent events and a recollection of the misuse of the sciences to provide biological justifications for racism, I’d like to offer a counter to my previously held belief that Jemisin’ humans are a degree off. Initially, I had described the presence of their sessapinae as a reason to justify a distance from Jemisin’s humans and provoking the title “alternate biology.” I’ll now offer the scientific discovery here as a rebuttal to myself. Given the ability to find new organs in our own bodies after more than a millennium of study, it seems that it’s just as likely that we may find a distinguishing organ like the sessapinae since we’ve already been able to find this mesentery inside our bodies already.
Stone eaters are a group that would have been more suited for a discussion on biology considering that they seem to not be carbon based life forms as well as possessing supernatural abilities in locomotion and what I can only assume to be transmutation (arm eating and the likes). The “would have been” should be emphasized as I have another post in the works that supposes a trick by Jemisin to get the reader to think of the stone eaters in the same way Stills think about orogenes. Similarly, Guardians appeared to be in a group outside of Jemisin’ humanity, but my completion of The Obelisk Gate has illuminated the source of their power. Their corestones are certainly different from organs and the biological matters I mentioned, but they present themselve as part of Jemisin’s work towards writing powers that are explainable even if they are absolute fantasy. Guardians are really humans who have been aggressively altered by an angry and old order. I’m prepared to say that as well as give a nod to the placement of the cornerstone at the junction of the body and the mind. This placement would give the corestone the ability to affect the entire nervous system through whatever means it has and so is lent a shred of plausibility. Everything else about the corestone seems to point towards an analog for mental illness (racism included though that idea needs to be unpacked at a later date) and so falls outside of this talk about humanity.