I think that the most disturbing thing from The Broken Earth trilogy is the Node maintainers. Even as we have read the other two books, very few things have shocked me to my core as Syenite and Albastors journey into one. The concept of Node maintainers is very fascinating to me, the idea, however gruesome it may be, that they are at all times affecting the ground around them is a genuinely interesting thought. I tried to think of ways this could maybe be applied to our world and actually found something kind of similar.
Australia has a Bureau of Meteorology that regulates buoys on the coasts that are one of two types of instrument used by the Bureau of Meteorology (Bureau) to confirm the existence of tsunami waves generated by undersea earthquakes.” To me this description is similar to the first description of Nodes that we get, “As the Imperial Roads link the former vassals of the old empire with Yumenes, so do the nodes connect far-flung quartents with the Fulcrum, to extend its protections as far as possible” (Jemisin, The Fifth Season, 119). These Australian buoys are extensions themselves being used as a warning system.
What makes these two systems very different is the way that they are ran, and of course how they work. In The Fifth Season we learn the horrifying truth about Node maintainers, and the horror of the wire chair. Orogenes are used for their powers, deprived of a real life Syenite describes “tubes and pipes and things, she has no words for them-going into the stick-arms, down the goggle-throat, across the narrow crotch” (Jemisin, The Fifth Season, 139).
Luckily, and frankly unsurprisingly, the way Australia’s buoys work is fairly different. “A typical tsunami buoy system comprises two components; the pressure sensor anchored to the sea floor and the surface buoy. The sensor on the sea floor measures the change in height of the water column above by measuring associated changes in the water pressure. This water column height is communicated to the surface buoy by acoustic telemetry and then relayed via satellite to the tsunami warning centre.” I think that this science is really incredible. The ability to forecast increible natural disasters has revolutionized our safety, and makes the world a better place.
In the end I don’t think Nodes and these buoys are too similar. Which is probably a good thing as exploiting people like the Fulcrum does the Nodes would most likely be a war crime. But I think the ideas behind their creation are very similar. Both were created in the interest of national security, of keeping people safe. The biggest question when it comes to Nodes is does the ends justify the means?
“Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre.” Australia’s Official Weather Forecasts & Weather Radar – Bureau of Meteorology, Scheme=AGLSTERMS.AglsAgent; CorporateName=Australian Government – Bureau of Meteorology, 2018, www.bom.gov.au/tsunami/about/detection_buoys.shtml