Breeding in Science Fiction

A few weeks ago we read selected passages from the works of Octavia Butler. I noticed that in both Wild Seed and Dawn there were references to breeding practices and I remembered that in Jemisin’s work there is an entire use-caste devoted to breeding. Selective breeding, of course, has its own place in human history, but I began to wonder why it was such a common theme in both science-fiction and fantasy novels.

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Power in Details

While reading the Syl Anagist sections of The Stone Sky, we are introduced to six tuners. These tuners were created to be emotionless and inhuman.  They were to function in a way that we use tools. Ironically, they are all amazingly human despite there caste in life. The characters are fully fleshed out; finely tuned beings. I’ve been learned that there are no small parts in Jemisin’s novels. Continue reading “Power in Details”

The Connection towards Home

While working on the group blog post about geologic disasters, I was recalled back to The Fifth Season when I read about communities of people who refused to leave their homes when disaster was imminent. Throughout the trilogy, the connection to home in the face of geologic disaster plays a pivotal part in places such as Allia and Castrima. I decided to look into why this occurs in our own world, and what it means for communities who face natural disasters.

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Sympathy towards Nassun’s Motivations

One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky is the development of Nassun as she comes to grips with the realities of the world. Her motivations in the third book have developed into an interesting parallel to Essun, as Nassun turns into a version of what Essun easily could have become. What I find most interesting is that even though Nassun is seeking an end to the world, I find her motivations completely understandable and it is as easy for me to root for her as it is for me to root for Essun.

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Earth and Syl Anagist: a Disregard for Human Life

Before class on Monday, I was reading through the blog looking for inspiration for a new post. While I didn’t end up with a specific idea of what I wanted to write about in my next post, I did thoroughly enjoy reading Michee’s post, “The Dehumanization of Civilization.”  I knew I wanted to address her thought-provoking post, but I could not decide what I wanted to focus on in regards to expanding my own thoughts and connecting it to Jemisin’s work. However, in class, Dr. McCoy sarcastically said “life is sacred in Syl Anagist,” and I immediately knew what I wanted to write about. Both Michee’s post and Dr. McCoy’s repetition of a line from The Stone Sky got me thinking more about the value of life both on Earth and in Jemisin’s trilogy. I believe that in addition to the trilogy revealing that life in Jemisin’s worlds is not, indeed, “sacred,” our world today seems to increasingly disregard the value of human life. Continue reading “Earth and Syl Anagist: a Disregard for Human Life”

Essun’s Personal Rifting: Fractures in Identity

Amidst the many shocking revelations of The Fifth Season, we came to know our singular protagonist by three names: Damaya, Syenite, and Essun. Since then, the identities of various characters have undergone shifts, some voluntary, some not.  Schaffa and Hoa, too, shift (and Tonkee, though Essun notices that she is in many ways still the same ol’ Binof). Again, I will be drawing on psychologist Robert Jay Lifton’s work in The Protean Self, this time to explore the ways in which this fracturing, this fluidity of self, can be adaptive or regressive. Continue reading “Essun’s Personal Rifting: Fractures in Identity”

What Can Or Cannot Be Maintained

Having been a little invested with the parallels of our world and with that of Jemison’s, I’ve been the most fascinated by the environmental distinctions. While they are rather different in the plains of reality and tangibility – they draw upon similarities in regards to natural disasters and the occasional indignities via the lovely human race. Much emphasis on lovely.

My primarily thoughts as of this moment pertain to the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia that my group has been been working on. Admittedly I was rather aloof upon the initial delving of tsunamis, and particularly that of a country that I’ve never seen or had the interest in ever seeing. While I am of course empathetic towards tragedy via natural disasters and those who become affected by them. It has and still is a tragic focal point when furthering discussion on the environment, yet it is one of the very raw parallels that fascinate me when considering Jemison’s fictional world and how far off of reality it is, yet at the same time it is not much different when considering the indignities of a damaged world. The circumstances are by no means comparable, yet considering so many lives being easily taken away due to natural disasters (with California being a recent instance), regarding the hundreds of lives lost back in Indonesia is in a similar vein to the destructive power we have become witnesses to in the literature we’ve been reading (pg. 384 in case you wish to skip this next paragraph).

One passage pertains to how much the world – or in this case, the Obelisk Gate can maintain. The overwhelming amount of history this planet has been accustomed to would have me wonder how much is too much? If not that, how much is this world worth? How capable can it be, and the natural disasters that come with it – how much of a disaster is it really? Before I go on a tangent about world peace and or free coffee, here’s the passage: : “It is a stalemate that cannot continue. The gate cannot maintain its connections forever, and the onyx cannot contain the chaos of the rifting forever – and two human beings how ever-powerful and strong-willed. cannot survive so much magic for long.”

Despite the powers that be via the primary characters, how much can be taken? Could this be no different than the typical college burnout, or with that of how the world may react when a boiling point erupts. As with one particular character who believes in the destruction of the world, one may wonder how valid such a belief can be. The world goes through devastation and brings about devastating consequences, and that is quite daunting. Can there be some notion of balance? Is such a thing tangible sometime in a few decades? Free coffee?

Sylanagistines Taking on the European Burden

“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”

Heavy Names

Do you know that awkward (maybe infuriating based on frequency) moment when someone mispronounces your name? Or when the Starbucks employee spells “Sabrina” “Sabreena”, “Dominique” becomes “Domanic” or “Melisha” is ‘corrected’ to say “Melissa”? Though these instances are not intentional Jemisin has taught me that misplaced intention should never excuse closer investigation. In The Stone Sky—and throughout Jemisin’s trilogy—where we are reminded that “Names have power” (239) and it is here that Jemisin challenges me to think about the processes of renaming.

(Sorry folks, this is a lengthy one)

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The Moral Ambiguity of Albus Dumbledore

I would like to preface this post by stating that I have no advance knowledge of the Harry Potter series.  I have read the series once and seen the movies a few times. This makes me in no way an expert on the world of wizards and witchcraft that J.K. Rowling created.  So everything I say is speculation based on my limited knowledge and some research I have done.

I have long since been confused by the hero status that Dumbledore holds in the eyes of many fans.  Many fans praise him and even Rowling herself has defended him against haters describing him as “the epitome of goodness.”  However, Dumbledore was making questionable choices since the beginning and as the series went on I grew considerably more concerned for the children left in his care. Continue reading “The Moral Ambiguity of Albus Dumbledore”