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Friday, November 22, 2019

All the flavors of oppression

The Greatest "Science Fiction" Writer Ever explains why her work is such a joy to read:
“Each flavor of oppression tends to support others,” she said during a two-hour world-building workshop at the WIRED25 festival in San Francisco last weekend, where Jemisin coached the crowd in constructing secondary-world societies. “I’m most interested in character. However, character is informed by culture, and culture is informed by environment. In a lot of cases, to understand the character I need to understand literally everything about their world.” To do so, she applies two frameworks: one that focuses on macroworldbuilding (the creation of the physical environment in which the story will take place—planet, continents, climate, ecology, and culture) and one that focuses on microworldbuilding (the societies that result, in all their flavors of social stratification).

In the session, Jemisin unpacked the latter, explaining that one of the biggest pitfalls in world-building was that writers don’t approach it thoughtfully. “The screw-up is that people just don’t do it at all,” she said. “People go into creating a world that is not like ours with their embedded assumptions about how our world works still firmly in place. So they end up creating our world but with tentacle sharks.” She continued, “If you are going to go into this completely alien world still thinking like a modern 2019 American, then you’re not doing your job as a creator.”

Doing it right requires supreme attention to nuance. If you’re building a society from the top down—her recommendation—start with species (which she says is dictated by the macroworld’s ecology), then consider their morphology (“consistent physiological variations within a species, like lactose intolerance”), raciation, acculturation, power, and role.

It didn’t take long for Jemisin to get the audience involved. The inhabitants of their world, they collectively dreamed up, would be salmon-shark creatures with five tentacles on each fin living in a tempestuous channel on an Earth-like planet. (The stuff of nightmares, Jemisin noted.) Jemisin pressed them to consider physiology: “Are there some with different colorations? Are there some who prefer the top of the water versus the bottom of the water?” When one audience member suggested that some would have gills and others wouldn’t, Jemisin worked through the possible ramifications. “In this [water-based] society, if they are treating the people without gills as less important, that’s just straight-up genocide. My guess is that the power dynamics of the society are going to put no gills at the top, because you’ve got to have more resources for the people with gills.”
And yes, reading her work is EXACTLY as painful as this little vignette suggests.

...

Only more ellipses. A LOT more. The only thing Jemisin enjoys more than oppression is ellipses.

Labels:

91 Comments:

Blogger Karen took the Kids November 22, 2019 2:15 PM  

I've never had the 'pleasure' of reading her work and I never will.

Blogger Balkan Yankee November 22, 2019 2:16 PM  

N. K. Jemisin, Queen of Ellipses, and Scourge of SF.

Blogger Haus frau November 22, 2019 2:18 PM  

I love this. People like her are the reason trannies are destroying feminism.

Blogger Hyzer November 22, 2019 2:20 PM  

Had a friend recommend her series. Thanks but no thanks. "But it won the Hugo!" Exactly.

Blogger #7139 November 22, 2019 2:21 PM  

reading her work is EXACTLY as painful as this little vignette suggests.

Once upon a time, I attempted to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, her first novel. Vox does not exaggerate.

Blogger The Scribe November 22, 2019 2:22 PM  

"The inhabitants of their world, they collectively dreamed up, would be salmon-shark creatures with five tentacles on each fin living in a tempestuous channel on an Earth-like planet."

Wow, amazing stuff. I'm already looking forward to reading this certain masterpiece.

On a personal level for me, with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up the next week, I'll be continuing my annual tradition of reading "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy.

Now, considering the wisdom of NKJ, I realize McCarthy could have written a much better novel if only he thought more about power dynamics and social stratification.

Blogger dc.sunsets November 22, 2019 2:27 PM  

On a personal level for me, with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up the next week, I'll be continuing my annual tradition of reading "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy.

Darn, I'd have happily sold you my copy for the a penny over shipping.

Blogger VFM Bear November 22, 2019 2:28 PM  

Honestly I find it simpler to not read female authors of sci-fi or fantasy, period.

After reading the Monster Hunter Files, I feel vindicated in that. I'm not reading the MHI novel by Hoyt based on her story in the anthology.

Blogger sammibandit November 22, 2019 2:30 PM  

Yeah, I'll stick with pulpy spec fic with poison plants that walk, a feminist dystopia, and creepy alien kids with a hivemind. Give me more John Wyndham. His work may be dated but at least it's character driven.

Blogger ace November 22, 2019 2:32 PM  

So don't create Earth analogs or relevant topics, but let's be honest, we can't let Orcump get his hands on the nuclear torpedoes.

Blogger God Emperor Memes November 22, 2019 2:33 PM  

"My Immortal" was better fiction.

Blogger Barbarossa November 22, 2019 2:34 PM  

In this [water-based] society, if they are treating the people without gills as less important, that’s just straight-up genocide.

Obviously Aunt Jemima here didn't pass high school biology...or is she suggesting that people without gills developed evolutionary strategies to avoid drowning?

Either way, I'm burning all of my volumes of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, etc., and purchasing the complete works of...whatever her name is. All that wisdom contained in just one person!

Blogger Jacked Huwhite Boy November 22, 2019 2:41 PM  

Well the beginning recommendation, to not project your own social context onto an alien one, is actually good advice. Though she of course does exactly that in projecting a primitive's fixation on their progressive programming onto the five-fingered fish-men (Lord, what an idea for a story).

And treating some fish men as less important "...is just straight-up genocide". Jemmison is just a straight-up retard.

Blogger sammibandit November 22, 2019 2:42 PM  

It's actually believable since we know vampires and goths are super vain. All the descriptions of what people were wearing were so realistic.

Blogger Sillon November 22, 2019 2:44 PM  

my eyes, my eyes!

Blogger Christian Schulzke November 22, 2019 2:44 PM  

"Only more ellipses. A LOT more."

And, I take it, not in a 'woke on the JQ' sort of way.

Blogger Taqiyyotomist November 22, 2019 2:45 PM  

The ellipses thing is funny.

I remember reading Anne Rice's books and noting her glaring overuse of "preternatural". It was, I swear, on every other page in both her vampire and witch series. A drinking game based on that word in her books would be deadly.

Blogger Shane Bradman November 22, 2019 2:49 PM  

The human brain is incapable of making something truly original. Give up on that idea and work with something manageable. Madam Whatshername has her head very far up her ass so she can't see what the rest of us see. Tentacle fishmen are fake and gay.

Blogger S1AL November 22, 2019 2:59 PM  

So Jemisin is actually Nate in blackface.

Blogger carnaby November 22, 2019 3:01 PM  

So the ellipses are the good parts?

Blogger BillHinDaytona November 22, 2019 3:01 PM  

Reminds me of the video of the redesign of the STOP sign.

"We want everybody to stop, but especially women ..."

Blogger Noah B. November 22, 2019 3:04 PM  

Moar Hugos please.

Blogger Newscaper312 November 22, 2019 3:05 PM  

@17 Most cringeworthy word choice I've seen lately is in a thriller Ive been reading. Otherwise good male writer keeps using 'prodigy" when CLEARLY the context should be 'protege'. Ugh, talk about an anvil taking you out of the story.

Blogger Dan in Georgia November 22, 2019 3:10 PM  

She had me at lactose intolerant. How dare anyone not tolerate lactose!

Blogger Nikolai Collushnikov November 22, 2019 3:15 PM  

Lactose intolerance is pure racism.

Blogger Oswald November 22, 2019 3:18 PM  

I have enjoyed few female authors. I do enjoy hearing women sing as well as many other things.

This author it is easy to tell, knowing nothing about her and this being my first impression of her, is that she does not believe in God and that evolution is god. Surely, by her own theory she must realize that men and women are on different water strata.

Blogger Salt November 22, 2019 3:18 PM  

I felt the knuckles dragging the ground in that.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash November 22, 2019 3:20 PM  

Jacked Huwhite Boy wrote:Well the beginning recommendation, to not project your own social context onto an alien one, is actually good advice. Though she of course does exactly that in projecting a primitive's fixation on their progressive programming onto the five-fingered fish-men
Considering every single thing she's ever written boils down to
"I'm Black and I'm really really angry about it."

Blogger MaskettaMan November 22, 2019 3:20 PM  

Each Jemisin book is a portable genocide.

Blogger Lazarus November 22, 2019 3:27 PM  

The "living in water" is SO derivative. Sponge Bob Square Pants has had that nailed down for decades......

Blogger Bobbicus November 22, 2019 3:28 PM  

Good call. It doesn’t fit the rest of the series very well.

Blogger Oswald November 22, 2019 3:41 PM  

This is coming from someone with limited writing skills, as you can tell from my poor grammar, but I have to disagree with her thinking on world building that getting as far away from our world as possible is the best way to go, because when I think of the best made up worlds they are similar to ours, Middle Earth, Amber, and Star Wars. A total foreign world like she is talking about often comes off as fake. When I think of the time I read the Mormon bible, sorry I thought I was reading a made up story. Fake you just can't hide.

Blogger VD November 22, 2019 3:51 PM  

Stop commenting here and go find a job, spinoza.

Blogger Silent Draco November 22, 2019 4:11 PM  

I'm having more fun by letting a Vogon read its poetry at me.

Blogger Doktor Jeep November 22, 2019 4:26 PM  

Reading her work is like pounding my nuts flat with a hammer.

Blogger maniacprovost November 22, 2019 4:26 PM  

I reqd a few of her chapters and I felt that it was a fair description of gender neutral tea parties in space.

Blogger Crew November 22, 2019 4:26 PM  

Considering every single thing she's ever written boils down to
"I'm Black and I'm really really angry about it."


Does she talk about her hair a lot?

Blogger Starboard November 22, 2019 4:31 PM  

I overheard the clerk of a small town indie bookstore reccomend this author's work to a long time customer because she won the Hugo three years in a row, and "that's never happened before!" The customer seemed underwhelmed by the suggestion.

In their obviously naturally selected world, wouldn't the five finger tentacled salmon sharks without gills be pone to hop out of the tempestuous channel of this earthlike planet? Brainstorm by committee has produced another camel.

Blogger Cataline Sergius November 22, 2019 4:35 PM  

Credit where it's due, Old Man's War was at least readable.

The Fifth Season was such a chore to try and slog through, I gave up after the first chapter.

"Let's start at the end of the world why don't we? Get it overwith and move on to more interesting things."

Okay not a bad first sentence. It sets a tone that reminds the audience of Douglas Adams.

Next paragraph:

"First a personal ending. There is a thing she will think over and over in the days to come, as she imagines how her son died and tries to make sense of something so innately senseless."

Would it kill you to pick a tone and stick with it?

Her prose is like tar. Purple haired cat women think it's brilliant but it's impossible to wade through.

No wonder she can't support herself by her writing.

Blogger lowercaseb November 22, 2019 4:36 PM  

Only more ellipses. A LOT more. The only thing Jemisin enjoys more than oppression is ellipses.

In that case, Jemisin has done one good thing for this straight old white male. I've been overusing ellipses for most of my posting life, and I've been trying to quit. That statement above will give me the strength to go cold turkey and use proper punctuation going forward.

Blogger urthshu November 22, 2019 4:42 PM  

Oh then here goes some poetry:
"Sometimes...
...I get tired
Of tentacles."

/thank you.
My Patreon is now up

Blogger pyrrhus November 22, 2019 4:44 PM  

I avoid all female SF writers as a class, with the sole exception of Le Guin's EarthSea series.....And I would make book that Ms Hugo Award couldn't define "ellipse".......

Blogger dienw November 22, 2019 4:44 PM  

The Japanese would love the tentacled sharks...really ...love...them.

Blogger urthshu November 22, 2019 4:49 PM  

The article strikes as similar to the droning stuff I used to read about D and D, like how you had to have everything figured out before the first players even get rolled up, or that your world had to be exciting without the players to be worth a damn. It's all hogwash.

Blogger Crew November 22, 2019 4:52 PM  

Thomas Sowell is claimed to have said:

Activism is a way for useless people to feel important, even if the consequences of their activism are counterproductive for those they claim to be helping and damaging to the fabric of society as a whole.

I think a corollary of that is:

Oppression is a way for useless people to justify their lack of real achievements.

Blogger bodenlose Schweinerei November 22, 2019 4:58 PM  

“consistent physiological variations within a species, like lactose intolerance”

Clearly inhabiting the thoughts of an alien and not the petty obsessions of a modern 2019 American.

“What we need to look at are the ways in which human beings are evolving, societally speaking. I have no predictions for that.”

There have always been an abundance of talentless , self-important windbags promoted beyond their abilities for the purposes of others. I'd rather muddle through the musings of Koko the Sign Language Gorilla.

Blogger Tom November 22, 2019 5:09 PM  

She proves once again that progressivism is nothing more than depravity surrounding itself with a cloak of false virtue.

Blogger Boomer55 November 22, 2019 5:23 PM  

I repeated before that post-modernism is largely a rejection of any logical consistency, to people who want a "coherent" definition of "those right wingers with muh post modernism." I was called crazy and stupid.

But again and again this trend shows up. I'll give the devil "totally not meth" Peterson his due, Post modernism rejects logic, rejects grand themes of western culture, and replaces everything with power relations among groups. It all makes sense then!

Blogger Steve Canyon November 22, 2019 6:10 PM  

Greta Thunberg in Little Shop of Horrors. I'd read that, if lil miss ecocreepy gets eaten in the end.

Blogger Br1cht November 22, 2019 6:13 PM  

I´ve tried reading her debut but the endless fart sniffing and to be honest a style of writing that never goes past idle made it´s delivery to charity a given. I know that it sounds cruel to the poor unfortunates but there´s at least two visits to the WC that they have a guaranteed source of papper.

Blogger David The Good November 22, 2019 6:23 PM  

There are many flavors of oppression in TURNED EARTH: A Jack Broccoli Novel. Korean Communist Natural Farmer Oppression, Food Poisoning Oppression, Soil Tester Oppression, even Massive Fungal Entity Oppression. It's loaded with oppression. Can't figure out why it hasn't won any awards, though. Maybe not enough ellipses.

Blogger Gregory the Tall November 22, 2019 6:27 PM  

Exactly, in pricinple all books are dual use, but with some it is only the quality of the paper that matters.

Blogger Gregory the Tall November 22, 2019 6:27 PM  

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Blogger Calvin809 November 22, 2019 6:27 PM  

Just wait. It will be.

Blogger Balkan Yankee November 22, 2019 6:37 PM  

@38: ...because she won the Hugo three years in a row, and "that's never happened before!

Worldcon should just rename it the Oguh Award and move on.

Blogger Dave November 22, 2019 6:55 PM  

...

Blogger Johnny November 22, 2019 6:56 PM  

Apparently her books sell well enough, the local libraries have several. I was going to rent one just to see, but then I went over to amazon and read an excerpt. Seems like flow of consciousness writing for somebody with an unfocused mind.

Numerous favorable reviews. Too many I think for it to be fake. Somebody must like her writing. I wonder if it is liking it. or one of those the emperor has no clothes sort of things. Is it, you know, one of those things you have to like? A virtue test.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine November 22, 2019 7:05 PM  

"The Japanese would love the tentacled sharks...really ...love...them."

Exotic sushi with a side of fried calamari?

Blogger VD November 22, 2019 7:43 PM  

Is it, you know, one of those things you have to like? A virtue test.

They gave her three Best Novel Hugo Awards. In a row. What do you think?

Blogger Geir Balderson November 22, 2019 7:49 PM  

It all precipitates out to racism. Each and every time. It is all they have.

Blogger Meng Greenleaf November 22, 2019 8:13 PM  

WTF.... tentacle fin Solomon Shark society....Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...
No Thankyou

Blogger Dire Badger November 22, 2019 8:16 PM  

I have never had to top-down a world in order to create exciting and fun adventures for players. I cannot imagine that writing is that much different.

From an ability to relate point of view, I would imagine that one, single change that cements the world as 'different' in the mind of the reader would be vastly preferential to something that is so utterly alien that relating to the story is impossible.

I have read books like that, both fantasy and SF, and they are utterly snoozeworthy. I am not there to 'delve into the world of the author's design', I am there to be entertained. I guess some people enjoy that, but I have never had a conversation with one.

Blogger bramley November 22, 2019 8:47 PM  

Who?

Blogger God Emperor Memes November 22, 2019 9:00 PM  

HAHAHA! Especially that bit where the authoress spends an entire chapter detailing what every single person in the room is wearing.
"And then I slit my wrists."

Blogger God Emperor Memes November 22, 2019 9:03 PM  

That ship sailed during Season 1 of HWNDU. https://youtu.be/vCF2eSKJcSc

Blogger God Emperor Memes November 22, 2019 9:06 PM  

Where's a handy blurglecruncheon when you need one?

Blogger Unknown November 22, 2019 9:16 PM  

I sort of liked Andre Norton when I was a kid.

Blogger MrNiceguy November 22, 2019 9:33 PM  

Worse, it's like pounding your nuts flat with a NK Jemisin book. Or with NK Jemisin.

Blogger sammibandit November 22, 2019 9:37 PM  

Of course she's interested in the environment as a necessary component of character. She's stuck staring at her naval like it's a prairie sky and the only thing to look at.

Blogger damaris.tighe November 22, 2019 10:10 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger damaris.tighe November 22, 2019 10:18 PM  

If you like fish people then Lovecraft is your man.
I can see already that he won.

Blogger Lou Antonelli November 22, 2019 10:44 PM  

People like Jemison are what's wrong with this country. Want to talk about oppression? Try being a white straight conservative Christian male. That makes me like a fifth class citizen. Her pernicious drivel is not only ignorant and hateful, it's boring. She hasn't come up any new hate speech in years. Any honest or intelligent person can see she's a privileged charlatan.

Blogger Shane Bradman November 22, 2019 10:57 PM  

OT
Finished listening to Corporate Cancer with my father. He learned some useful things and had a couple realisations that are going to help him in his business. I don't know if you're million dollar benchmark yet but you're already saving thousands.

Blogger urthshu November 22, 2019 10:59 PM  

Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Blogger Jason the Gentleman November 22, 2019 11:21 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Jason the Gentleman November 22, 2019 11:23 PM  

Speaking of oppression, all of the DarkStreams that aren't book samples have disappeared from youtube. I sadly missed the one for tonight by an hour I guess.
It says they were removed by the owner, but I'm guessing it was actually forced private mode as has happened to others. Has a new battle line been drawn? Or was this a tactical decision?

Also, would clicking the 'Join' button on the youtubes for the DarkStream channel be of use now in potentially claiming tortious interference? Or is after too late?

Blogger Shane Bradman November 22, 2019 11:27 PM  

Darkstreams are made private by Vox himself. They are all on Unauthorized.tv and the most recent one will be up there soon.

Blogger Nate November 22, 2019 11:49 PM  

are we sure Jamison's real name isnt karen?

Blogger Jason the Gentleman November 23, 2019 12:23 AM  

Shane Bradman wrote:Darkstreams are made private by Vox himself. They are all on Unauthorized.tv and the most recent one will be up there soon.
Yes, I know that can happen, but he doesn't typically do it within an hour of the video being posted. Most of them were available. did I miss an announcement in which he said he'd stop leaving them up on youtube?

Blogger Newscaper312 November 23, 2019 1:56 AM  

@57 "Apparently her books sell well enough, the local libraries have several."
Librarians are usually hopelessly posturing liberals, means nothing but what their liberal trade rags tell them is "good".

@67 I second Andre Norton, at least for her more SF stuff: Star Rangers, Zero Stone, Starman's Son. Leigh Brackett was great. Some of Anne McCaffrey's earlier books (w her dragons actually being SF not fantasy despite initial appearances).

That about does it for my list of female SF authors worth a damn.

Sarah Hoyt, whose opinion writing I generally like, pissed me off with the one (and now only) book of hers I bought --she sneaks into the story, pretty farin , the fact that her POV protagonist is a fag, for her to virtue signal her 'not one of those bigoted conservatives' status.

Blogger God Emperor Memes November 23, 2019 3:34 AM  

Ni!

Blogger OvergrownHobbit November 23, 2019 3:38 AM  

@51 Agaricomycetes have your back! #We StandWithJack. It's a class action.

End fruiting body shaming now.

https://tempestinateardrop.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/hiatus-19-jack-broccoli-review-comic-smaller.png

Blogger Player 2 November 23, 2019 5:25 AM  

Newscaper312 wrote:@57 "Apparently her books sell well enough, the local libraries have several."

Librarians are usually hopelessly posturing liberals, means nothing but what their liberal trade rags tell them is "good".



Even if they aren't liberals themselves, books are often sent to them from some regional office. I live in a very small town, and our librarian is a very typical older, rural woman whose favourite book series is the Little House on the Prairie books. However, the books in the library that aren't donated are all sent from HQ, which is run by urban hippies, who also decide what "promotions" to run each month. Thus, despite literally almost no one here caring about it, there was a huge display of LGBTQ stuff out all pride month including children's books about accepting transgenderism.

Blogger bodenlose Schweinerei November 23, 2019 6:48 AM  

Canada is not a serious country:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-new-minister-of-middle-class-prosperity-declines-to-provide-clear/

Blogger Player 2 November 23, 2019 8:28 AM  

bodenlose Schweinerei wrote:Canada is not a serious country:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-new-minister-of-middle-class-prosperity-declines-to-provide-clear/


Obviously.
I live here and the only good thing about living in a fake country is the inevitable rise of regional nationalism.

Blogger Newscaper312 November 23, 2019 9:46 AM  

@player2 re donating to library
I am in a mid sized southern city, Mobile.
Years ago I was dismayed to learn after a couple significant donations that when you donated books, they pretty much automatically went to the fund raising sale. Very, very rarely did anything get added to the collection. Can't interfere with the gatekeepers.

Blogger Basta Con La Droga November 23, 2019 10:00 AM  

I tried to go through one Jamisin's books with an honestly open mind because "you never know." Well, it was just abominable, unreadable, hideous. I think most of her fans don't enjoy her books either, they just think liking her offerings is edgy. Also, she is clearly a dysfunctional person, she might find some racism even in "To Kill a Mockingbird". Why are we even talking about her anyway?

Blogger Player 2 November 23, 2019 10:41 AM  

By the way, if anyone wants a top rate example of what happens when one sells their soul to the SJW cause within the Fantasy genre, read Terry Brooks' latest series. In fact, as a lesson, read his second Shannara novel (The Elfstones of Shannara) first. Then watch just one episode of what he lets SJWs turn his fantastic female character into for the TV series (spoiler: she's now a grrl!), then read his latest books. You can see what happened not just to his ability to tell a story with any truth or beauty in it, but also what happened to his ability to even write coherently at all.

Blogger rcocean November 23, 2019 11:11 AM  

That's she's a "Hugo Winner" just shows how the award has become meaningless. Just imagine some poor slob wanting to "get into" SF, and saying "hey, this won a Hugo award, it must be top-line SF" and then trying to read her crap.

Blogger rcocean November 23, 2019 11:12 AM  

Scalzi of course was so HAPPY she won twice - or was it three times. Very, very, HAPPY. Yeah.

Blogger All Day Coffee break November 23, 2019 8:17 PM  

I read enough ameture sci-fi/fantasy stuff online and a lot of it is quite terrible.
Interestingly though, the female writers write so much better when it comes to leaders and how they think and behave. Nine out of ten men have no idea how to someone who isn't gamma.

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