I made a very interesting and unintentional connection a few weeks ago between Jemisin’s work and the occurrences in my every day life; I forgot about this connection (in the moment I didn’t even think to write it down, ugh!), but it came back into my mind when I was reading The Obelisk Gate and was grappling with the many questions that encompassed my overall thought of “what the rust is going on?!”.
This question is more geared towards the looming ambiguity surrounding the role that the Fulcrum plays in all of the craziness (conspiracy, as my mind kept going towards) that surrounds The Stillness and the Seasons. We know when working through The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate that the Fulcrum is involved in some shady, ambiguous activity, such as the nodes, the secret rooms within the Fulcrum, the creation and purpose of the obelisks, and more.
As the Fulcrum became more of a topic of interest for me, I couldn’t help but notice the use of the term fulcrum in a show my friends would watch (as I was sitting in the background trying to tune it out as I was working through The Obelisk Gate). The show is Chuck, which according to my friends is (not only a great show, but) a show that revolves around comedy and spy-related action. The main character, Chuck, receives an email from an old friend who now works for the CIA, and this message, according to wikipedia, “embeds the only remaining copy of a software program containing the United States’ greatest spy secrets into Chuck’s brain, leading the CIA and the NSA to assign him handlers and use him on top-secret missions”.
In Chuck, the fulcrum is a codename for a secret hostile espionage organization, that is trying to access the embedded message from the CIA that remains in Chuck’s brain. It is the main antagonist for much of the show, and there is not a whole lot of concrete information about it and its intentions. What is known is that it is a rogue faction within the U.S. intelligence community, that splintered from the CIA, and will hire citizens and mercenaries to do work for them in a low-key manner. Simply, they are out to get Chuck and his special brain that holds all the government’s secrets
I’m writing this post to verbalize the similarities I found between both the fulcrum in Chuck and in The Fifth Season/The Obelisk Gate, in light of our discussion in class about how Jemisin pulled inspiration from many different media. I was very surprised to hear the word fulcrum being used in a show my friends were watching, as I had never heard the word being used before reading The Fifth Season, so I just really wanted to share my little moment of “wow, cool!” even if there isn’t much to it!
*A quick disclaimer: I haven’t actually fully watched Chuck, so some assumptions of similarity may be a little off by just basing my observations off of internet research and what my roommates have told me.
Here are the few similarities I noticed: Generally, in both of these works, the fulcrum is unfamiliar territory to the viewer/reader. You only know things about the fulcrum from what others have told you, not by finding out the intentions directly from the fulcrum itself. This is related to a lot of the feelings I experienced when reading The Obelisk Gate: I couldn’t help but wonder about what we didn’t know about the Fulcrum, what characters weren’t telling us, and the role the Fulcrum was playing in everything that happened in The Stillness… aka, my brain kept saying “conspiracy?!?!”. Additionally, the fulcrum in Chuck is one of many smaller organizations that makes up what is called The Ring, another spy organization in the show. I related this to the use of rings and their direct relationship with the Fulcrum in The Fifth Season/The Obelisk Gate. Lastly, all leadership roles in the fulcrum of Chuck are assigned to those with higher ranking or those with more experience in dealing with their assets. This is similar to the role of leadership in the Fulcrum of The Stillness, where those with more rings hold higher positions of power.
If you are familiar with Chuck at all (or at least more familiar with it than I am!) I invite you to investigate if there are any other similarities that you may notice between the show and the books. I would love to do it myself, but right now I’m in the middle of watching Game of Thrones, and I will be honest, all of my TV watching time is entirely dedicated to it (needless to say, I’m definitely addicted!).