Jemisin explains in her afterward, “Where there is pain in this book, it’s real pain; where there is anger, it’s real anger; where there is love, it’s real love”. (416) The same rule applies to my reflection of her novels and the course as a whole.
I’ve always struggled with taking myself seriously as a writer. For the longest time, I refused to re-read my work. I would sit down, write an essay, and then refuse to think about what I wrote because I had a wall up against putting true effort into my writing. I think this was my defense mechanism against criticism. Like Syenite, I was only functioning as a part of myself. I didn’t want to think about any of the issues that defined me, or how I evolved into the person I am. Continue reading “Untangling the Knot in the Silver Thread”
After ending her trilogy, Jemison tells the reader of her mother’s death, by explaining, “mom had a difficult last few years” (416). This revelation made me think of the distant but protective relationship between Nassun and Essun throughout the book.
The first thing that came to my mind was how, no matter how far away they are from each other, they can still identify one another’s orogeny. They spend the whole duration of The Stone Sky living separate lives. Shortly after Essun wakes from her coma, or what Hoa would call “periods of half waking and half sleeping” (11), she begins to remember locating Nassun while opening the gate. She confides in Tonkee, “‘Nassun. I know where she is” (22), and exclaims, “‘I have to go find her”‘ (23). Continue reading “Last Wishes”
“Conquerors live in dread of the day when they are shown to be, not superior, but simply lucky” -N.K. Jemison, The Obelisk Gate.
Just like the Europeans have dominated and controlled most of the eastern and western world, Syl Anagist controlled for a time, most of The Stillness. Continue reading “Sylanagistines Taking on the European Burden”
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””
Education is something I am very passionate about as someone who has considered being a teacher and student taught in America’s inner city public schools. While reading about Damaya’s training in the Fulcrum, I couldn’t help but think if standardized testing and my own experiences with school.
The clearest similarity between the education system and the fulcrum is standardized testing. Continue reading “Standardized Revisionism in Practice”
After being captured by Antinomy, Alabaster learns how the seasons started. He learns that curious orogenes created a hole that reached into the core of the earth, expelling the moon and causing apocalyptic seasons.
Ultimately, one can summarize that digging the hole was waste of time and energy, much like college! This class has made me realize how much of my education is wasted because of stress about money or the one number that defines my ability to succeed in the future, the dreaded GPA. It costs over 20,000 dollars a year to go to a state school if you are a New York state resident. By the time you finish school, you’re well over 80,000 dollars in debt. Most people, in addition to school debt, have to pay rent, car payments, insurance payments etc. Therefore, the debt gets paid off gradually. Since it’s being paid off gradually—and not immediately—your loans are incurring interest.
The best part is that all of this is that your whole future (and ability to pay off this massive debt) depends on your GPA. I’m going to law school. My whole future depends on how I look on paper. They will look at this number, and make a decision that is crucial to my future. It feels like, the worse my grades are, the bigger the hole is. If I keep them up, minimal damage is done, but if I let them slip, I expel the moon and set off deadly seasons in my life. Continue reading “Waste”
Reclaiming a word can be a way to rebuild communities that have previously been fractured by the shaky world they live in. Many of the words that are reclaimed can still be derogatory if used by the wrong people in a bashful or ill intentioned way.
It is fascinating to think of the power that a single word can carry. The influence that words can have on people and their perceptions of the world is astounding yet horrifying. Continue reading “Response to “Freedom in Resistance: Yikka” by Elizabeth Gellman”
Something that I couldn’t shake from the back of my mind when reading The Fifth Season was the treatment of Alabaster’s children–otherwise known as the node maintainers.
Learning that they are sedated and used for the ability to quell shakes is disturbing. However, what’s even worse is learning that the affluent stills use these sedated orogenes for their own twisted pleasure. Continue reading “Excavating Old Rock Layers”
We talked a lot about the name “Stone Eater” in the lab on Monday and the informality of the word “stone” in geologic terms. With every couple pages I read, im finding that stone eaters are becoming increasingly more important to the structure of the post apocalyptic world that Jemison creates. I’m wondering if it was a conscious decision to use the less formal term, “stone” for this pivotal role. The word “stone” has a more medieval connotation than “rock”. The period of time when early humans discovered how to make tools out of rocks is not called “the rock age”, it’s known as the Stone Age. Perhaps Jemison wanted to use the word “stone” because it has a stronger correlation to earlier, more primal humans and the medieval period, which is known for its hierarchies and violence. This would create a parallel between the dynamic of nobles, knights, and serfs, and that of the Fulcrum, Guardians and orogenes. this emphasizes cyclical nature of violence, hierarchies and oppression among human societies.
Although Monday was mostly a day of geology and terminology, we briefly discussed the fact that Hoa eats rocks. It caught me off guard, and was a bit of a spoiler, but it raises the question of whether or not he is a stone eater. He literally eats rocks, wouldn’t that make him a stone eater? This is not the only odd thing about Hoa. When confronted with a wild animal, he manages to turn this animal into stone and break it into pieces. This is a strange ability that does not align with the abilities of orogenes.
Jemison also mentions his oddly shaped teeth during the tense interaction with Yikka at the house. His teeth were described as sharp and diamond like. Diamonds and the hardest rocks, and have the ability to scratch and even break other rocks. It makes sense that Hoa can eat rocks if his teeth are hard enough to pierce and break them. Simultaneously to the discovery that Hoa’s teeth are made of diamonds, Syenite finds that she and Alabaster have been “saved” by a stone eater. Is this a coincidence or is there a connection between the stone eater that Syen and Alabaster know and Hoa, the rock eating child? Are stone-eaters mystical creatures that live in obelisks under bodies of water? Or can they also disguise themselves as strange nomadic children?
I’m only halfway through the novel, so I’m not yet sure if there is a connection between Hoa and this mysterious creature that Syenite finds when attempting to clean the harbor. I’m predicting that some stone eaters, like some orogenes, walk secretly among “humans”, and have the sense to identify one another. Hoa senses that Nassun is an orogene upon meeting her and is able to track her family for weeks. If he can do this, he can surely identify and track other beings like himself. He, however appears tense when he meets another being like himself at Yikka’s house. Is he hiding from something, and what exactly is he? It will be interesting to learn more about Hoa as the novel progresses. I have a lot of questions about this strange, yet comical character.
In The Fifth Season, Jemison creates an alternate reality where Father Earth is desperately trying to purge himself of humanity through the use of people with geological powers. Something that I found interesting about this reality is that light blue eyes are a bad omen. Damaya, a young girl who discovers she has these abilities after using them on a classmate who threatened her. Her parents hide her and submit her to the guardians. When she first meets her guardian she reflects that, “she heard of eyes like these, which are called icewhite in stories and stonelore. They’re rare, and always an ill omen.” (29). This is interesting detail for several reasons. First being that today, light eyes—specifically blue eyes– are perceived as desirable. Transforming them into a bad omen defamiliarizes their desirability to the reader. When putting this detail into a historical context, it makes more sense to see blue eyes as a bad omen. Europeans are more likely to have light eyes, and are known for colonizing most of the world. Did the people colonized by Europeans see blue eyes as a bad omen? Blue eyes are also a bad omen when referencing the Holocaust because they were an identifying factor of the aryan race. Hitler viewed light eyes as superior to dark eyes, and many people who did not have this attribute were slaughtered. This leads to me think that Jemison made light eyes an “ill omen” purposefully to shine light on this history. Today, light eyes exist both as an unattainable beauty standard and a painful reminder of colonization for the non-European world.