That “Solarpunk” Thing

Due to my increased curiosity with the term and without enamored me and my group was with it…and in my trend of getting sick again before class, I’d feel that this would serve as a perfect excuse to keep talking about/another excuse to ramble on about how cool and mind-blowing it sounds.

One thing to consider is how young of a term it is, which would very well explain why me and such contemporaries have not heard of it until just recently. I remember thinking “if we need world peace, then let’s Doctor Manhattan the earth!” Of course that would be incredibly unpleasant, and I suppose in a way, that was my (or our) initial thought when looking into solarpunk. Besides reminding me of Vitamin D and Joe Strummer, I was thinking of a rather progressive – yet far beyond that – idealistic world where virtually every single problem has been solved, or is virtually capable of being solved with little to no issue. Another example came about Greek Mythology’s Golden Age via the rule of Titans, which in itself may also refer to the rather powerful hands at work throughout our current reading. One of the best readings from Monday would likely come from this if anyone may be willing to look further into it. Skeptics be damned, like myself. Yet all the more fascinated.

This may also bring about the indifference or uncertainty of such a world. This is especially evident when considering our own realities and the many pros and cons that come with it. The first quoted line in Jemison’s The Stone Sky further brings about that skepticism – yet all the more intrigue – “One person’s normal is another person’s Shattering.” I would not want to exploit the line for this particular purpose, but I feel that this instance becomes further enhanced by the lines “Would’ve been nice if we could’ve all had normal, of course, but not enough people wanted to share. So now we all burn.” This borders less on my sacred cynicism but high school-era Steven’s pessimism. As horrifying as that sounds/was, there is a very rough yet-honest truth in the powers of simply giving way to allocation, let alone contribution for the bettering of society and or the world. One could argue that independence can be rather dangerous if under the circumstances of self-interest or exploitation. Whereas the means of independence as in the means to think and decide for oneself offer a tremendous weapon against blind ruling.

What I’m trying to get here is perhaps the means of independence and individualistic ideals are both important and dangerous if used improperly. When revisiting the ideas and dreamlike scope of a solarpunk society, it seems to encourage both independence but also unity. The latter is of course something we are struggling with virtually every single day of the week and of time itself so far, be it in fiction or in reality. So maybe some of us have become so integrated with such views that consist of a general norm so much that we’ve been (in a way) brainwashed by an alternative form of unity that appears to be work in a somehow ideal way. This leaves me wondering how much of my thoughts consist of my own, or essentially footsteps of something someone else came up with. That itself could be dangerous, as is life…and stuff. Or maybe it could be beneficial in order to begin something in the lines of a solarpunk world? Maybe?

Jemison’s Trilogy Fights the Problematic Canon of “American Optimism”

America is known for its optimism. American entertainment and stories are generally much more optimistic than European ones. This stereotype is seen in most superhero movies where it is assumed that good will prevail.  However, a much darker, more complicated truths present themselves in real life.

What exactly am I talking about? Jemison knows. Continue reading “Jemison’s Trilogy Fights the Problematic Canon of “American Optimism””


After reading through some feedback from Dr. McCoy on my first few blog posts, I have decided to go back through those previous blog posts to sift through and think about some of the things that I had begun to put together, but never revisited after the initial post. It was great to look back at the first posts I made to reflect on all the little, yet equally important things, that have happened throughout the course of The Fifth Season, as well as The Obelisk Gate.

What I would really like to focus in on a bit is the development and change we see in Essun’s character between The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate. Specifically, her negative self-esteem and self-worth is something worth noting. In my Optical Illusions post, I touched upon the shifting between identities that Essun experiences throughout The Fifth Season, and how this shift between three different, separate identities can represent a continuous growth of maturity in Damaya/Syenite/Essun’s character. Essun is able to change and grow stronger-both physically and mentally- while remaining in her current identity once she is introduced to a new society where she is not (for the most part) discriminated against. Continue reading “Backtracking”

Solarpunk and Solving “Real World” Problems

On Monday, Dr. McCoy split us into groups and asked my group to research “solarpunk.” We learned that solarpunk inspires Jemisin’s world, Syl Anagist, in The Stone Sky. I had never heard of solarpunk, but I found learning about it fascinating, and it inspired me to think about concepts in Jemisin’s trilogy that I had not yet considered. Solarpunk is an idea discussed on many sites such as Tumblr, in which one blogger pictured a “plausible near-future sci-fi genre, which I like to imagine as based on updated Art Nouveau, Victorian, and Edwardian aesthetics, combined with a green and renewable energy movement… a balance of sustainable energy-powered tech, environmental cities, and wicked cool aesthetics.” The idea developed into a movement focused on sustainable cities with different systems of energy delivery, and imagining a future much different from typical apocalyptic cli-fi novels, in which the future is only imagined as bleak, and the Earth seen as being in a slow decline that will eventually result in disaster. Jennifer Hamilton, a professor at the University of Sydney explains of solarpunk: “Solarpunks argue that the problem with imagining such a dark future (or no future, for that matter) is that, while failure may be cathartic, it thwarts the possibility of thinking about alternatives.” Continue reading “Solarpunk and Solving “Real World” Problems”

Women and Their Age

Reading The Fifth Season, I was irked as I came across a male Breeder’s weak attempt at a compliment as he said “you’re only forty-three” to Essun in Chapter 14. It was a brief comment, and holds no real significance to the development of the plot. But in the time humans have occupied the planet, women have consistently been categorized and assigned a “worth” based on several physical attributes. But, especially age.

Continue reading “Women and Their Age”

Jemisin, Sessing the Symbolic Power of Apocalypse

One of the many books I regret not finding the time to finish is psychologist Robert Jay Lifton’s The Protean Self: Human Resilience in an Age of Fragmentation. While I will discuss the insights and illustrations in The Broken Earth series regarding fragmentation in a future blog post, I would like now to address how Lifton and Jemisin are in conversation regarding the age-old topic: “the end of the world” (Jemisin, 2015, literally page 1). More specifically, why do writers such as Jemisin view apocalyptic scenarios as useful for an exploration of Afrofuturism? The key lies not just in what the Afrofuturistic movement is, but what it is not.  Continue reading “Jemisin, Sessing the Symbolic Power of Apocalypse”

Slavery Broke the World

In N.K. Jemisin’s work we see an earth twice (if not more times — remember, much of history is unwritten) shattered; once torn apart by the mysterious loss of the moon, once fragmented by Alabaster’s explosive and revolutionary orogeny.  In both cases, the shattering acts as a catalyst, as an end of on era: in the first case as an end to that stability which allows humanity to flourish (perhaps too much?) and a beginning of that chaotic existence which destroys society after society; in the second, the shattering is an end to the oppressive Sanzed regime and the beginning of some (thus far unknown) new world.  We can make geological and environmental connections galore in this world of unreliable, yet controllable, earth, but after stumbling upon a specific quote from Toni Morrison I have been mainly entranced by the myriad of metaphorical connotations this shattering embodies. Continue reading “Slavery Broke the World”

Parallel Fulcrums

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?!”.  Continue reading “Parallel Fulcrums”