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biracial bear for uncut
Jun 9, 2009

ask me about being the most obnoxious person of all time

killer crane posted:

Again, on it's own, it's a fine story, but the story as a response to Omelas is bad.

I'm not buying the assertion that it's a response to Omelas. Literally the only mention of it is talking poo poo about Omelas (as if Omelas and Um-Helat exist in the same universe). Are you also saying the story is a response to America? Because:

quote:

This is Um-Helat, after all, and not that barbaric America. This is not Omelas, a tick of a city, fat and happy with its head buried in a tortured child. My accounting of Um-Helat is an homage, true, but there’s nothing for you to fear, friend.

For anyone that hasn't read it, here's the story posted on Lightspeed Magazine's website with the author's permission: https://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-ones-who-stay-and-fight/

biracial bear for uncut fucked around with this message at 18:18 on Apr 5, 2021

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killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


Dude, the name of the story "The Ones Who...", the call to action at the very end "don't walk away," the fact that she mentions Omelas at all. It's not subtle.

Jaxyon
Mar 6, 2016
boring as hell and also can be low-key racist

killer crane posted:

Dude, the name of the story "The Ones Who...", the call to action at the very end "don't walk away," the fact that she mentions Omelas at all. It's not subtle.

I think BBFU is saying that it's not a "response" to Omelas as much is it is a conversation that includes Omelas.

biracial bear for uncut
Jun 9, 2009

ask me about being the most obnoxious person of all time

Jaxyon posted:

I think BBFU is saying that it's not a "response" to Omelas as much is it is a conversation that includes Omelas.

Pretty much this, yeah.

That would be like arguing that Frank Herbert's The Jesus Incident is a "response" to the New Testament just because it has a reference to it in the title and very few actual references to the Bible (literally a single line of dialogue and one character having a fever dream about the account in the New Testament IIRC, much like the story we're talking about here). When all it is is the author going off about a topic in general (the brutality of an uncaring capitalistic/racist society for Jemisin, the hypocrisy and hatred humanity has for people that are "different" guised in religious trappings for Herbert) and not particularly a response to other works being referenced.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


Then why name it what she did? Why end it with "So don’t walk away. The child needs you, too, don’t you see? You also have to fight for her, now that you know she exists, or walking away is meaningless." Why directly reference Omelas at all?

It's not a long story, with a few minor throwaway references to another story. It's short, and very intentionally invites the comparison.

As a conversation with The Ones Who Walk Away it fails because it doesn't add anything new, it just entrenches itself in defence of causing suffering. As an homage it fails because it doesn't address the heart of the original. And if the title, direct reference, and thesis statement of the piece are "just references," then the whole thing is a cynical attempt to latch herself onto a more respected author.

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




Its entire structure is also overtly modeled on the Le Guin story.

biracial bear for uncut
Jun 9, 2009

ask me about being the most obnoxious person of all time

killer crane posted:

Then why name it what she did? Why end it with "So don’t walk away. The child needs you, too, don’t you see? You also have to fight for her, now that you know she exists, or walking away is meaningless." Why directly reference Omelas at all?

It's not a long story, with a few minor throwaway references to another story. It's short, and very intentionally invites the comparison.

As a conversation with The Ones Who Walk Away it fails because it doesn't add anything new, it just entrenches itself in defence of causing suffering. As an homage it fails because it doesn't address the heart of the original. And if the title, direct reference, and thesis statement of the piece are "just references," then the whole thing is a cynical attempt to latch herself onto a more respected author.

If you think it defends causing suffering you didn't really read the piece.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


If the story had nothing to do with The Ones Who Walk Away then you're right, it's not a defense of causing suffering. But that's not the case. As a response to/conversation with/argument against The Ones Who Walk Away, which asks if would you allow suffering to continue to maintain the luxuries of society, The Ones Who Stay and Fight says, clearly, yes, as long as it's the right kind of suffering (we'll even do it humanely).

e: If it's a cautionary "change now, or suffer our fate," it's still saying to prevent the suffering of all later, you must cause suffering now... Now if that was to be "to prevent suffering later, you must endure your own suffering," then it's a rehash of Omelas, if it's "to prevent suffering later, you must ensure the right people's suffering" then it's a defense of causing suffering.

killer crane fucked around with this message at 20:16 on Apr 5, 2021

biracial bear for uncut
Jun 9, 2009

ask me about being the most obnoxious person of all time

killer crane posted:

If the story had nothing to do with The Ones Who Walk Away then you're right, it's not a defense of causing suffering. But that's not the case. As a response to/conversation with/argument against The Ones Who Walk Away, which asks if would you allow suffering to continue to maintain the luxuries of society, The Ones Who Stay and Fight says, clearly, yes, as long as it's the right kind of suffering (we'll even do it humanely).

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure this is the actual argument Jemisin is trying to make:

quote:

Perhaps you will speak of Um-Helat to others, and spread the notion farther still, like joyous birds migrating on trade winds. It’s possible. Everyone—even the poor, even the lazy, even the undesirable—can matter. Do you see how just the idea of this provokes utter rage in some? That is the infection defending itself . . . because if enough of us believe a thing is possible, then it becomes so.

And then? Who knows. War, maybe. The fire of fever and the purging scourge. No one wants that, but is not the alternative to lie helpless, spotty and blistered and heaving, until we all die?

Jaxyon
Mar 6, 2016
boring as hell and also can be low-key racist

killer crane posted:

If the story had nothing to do with The Ones Who Walk Away then you're right, it's not a defense of causing suffering. But that's not the case. As a response to/conversation with/argument against The Ones Who Walk Away, which asks if would you allow suffering to continue to maintain the luxuries of society, The Ones Who Stay and Fight says, clearly, yes, as long as it's the right kind of suffering (we'll even do it humanely).

From the piece

quote:

Does this work for you, at last, friend? Does the possibility of harsh enforcement add enough realism? Are you better able to accept this postcolonial utopia now that you see its bloody teeth? Ah, but they did not choose this battle, the people of Um-Helat today; their ancestors did, when they spun lies and ignored conscience in order to profit from others’ pain. Their greed became a philosophy, a religion, a series of nations, all built on blood. Um-Helat has chosen to be better. But sometimes, only by blood sacrifice may true evil be kept at bay.

I don't know that is saying that there's a right kind of suffering. It's saying there's still suffering to be had, no matter how "humane" you make it.

biracial bear for uncut
Jun 9, 2009

ask me about being the most obnoxious person of all time

And it also specifically says that suffering exists because you, the audience, cannot believe such a utopia could possibly exist.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


biracial bear for uncut posted:

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure this is the actual argument Jemisin is trying to make:

Then she's just landing on the side of causing suffering to make society more comfortable. As a response to The Ones Who Walk Away, it's just agreeing with those that choose to stay in Omelas. It's not staying and fighting, it's just rationalizing staying.

killer crane fucked around with this message at 20:56 on Apr 5, 2021

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




But the argument is that such a society is only possible by rooting out the people with bad ideology and getting rid of them. They might be bad people but they're still suffering, so she's saying a society with suffering is preferable to abandoning that society. Which I suppose I agree with, you've got to crush Nazis. Not all of them will be receptive to therapy.

The Omelas story had an interesting hook. What if the suffering of one person could ensure a utopia? That's a crazy idea and doesn't have much connection to reality, but its an interesting philosophical question.

The Ones Who Stay and Fight posits that if you just gank the people who might be bad, job done. Okay. I mean, that's how a lot of societies already function, except they don't have such progressive ideologies they're trying to protect. If in the former society a consensus hadn't been achieved about what would constitute a utopia, it suggests that in the development of the Um-Helat society, these social workers probably killed a lot of people who would not be executed by a majority of the citizenry. Not sure if the story was meant to cast doubt on democracy.

vseslav.botkin
Feb 18, 2007
Professor

Omelas has a very strong connection to reality: we don't live in a utopia, but we're still willing to let children suffer to maintain it, particularly if it's distributed suffering and especially if they're in another country.

The thing I find interesting about The Ones Who Stay and Fight is why people are bad: they are going out of their way to expose themselves to toxic ideas, which is obviously a very relevant concept in 2021.

team overhead smash
Sep 2, 2006

Team-Forest-Tree-Dog:
Smashing your way into our hearts one skylight at a time

killer crane posted:

. It's not staying and fighting, it's just rationalizing staying.

Staying and fighting involves causing suffering. You can’t say her response doesn’t work because it involves accepting suffering, while actually what she should have done is embrace a response which involves accepting a different kind of suffering.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



The sheer moral bankruptcy here is amazing. The response to the story in the thread is that, ok, you need to crush Nazis and people with bad ideology with the power of the state lest they infect others. Sure, I could buy the argument if the murdered man in the story had a big bomb and was going to blow everyone up while yelling "Heil Hitler" or something, but let's see what the story actually says, shall we?

Jemisin describes the condemned posted:

the strange alien world that is our own. Pamphlets are written and distributed. Art and whispers are traded. The forbidden is so seductive, is it not? Even here, where only things that cause harm to others are called evil. The information-gleaners know that what they do is wrong. They know this is what destroyed the old cities. And indeed, they are horrified at what they hear through the speakers, see on the screens. They begin to perceive that ours is a world where the notion that some people are less important than others has been allowed to take root, and grow until it buckles and cracks the foundations of our humanity. “How could they?” the gleaners exclaim, of us. “Why would they do such things? How can they just leave those people to starve? Why do they not listen when that one complains of disrespect? What does it mean that these ones have been assaulted and no one, no one, cares? Who treats other people like that?” And yet, even amid their marvel, they share the idea. The evil . . . spreads.

So the social workers of Um-Helat stand, talking now, over the body of a man. He is dead—early, unwilling, with a beautifully crafted pike jammed through his spine and heart. (The spine to make it painless. The heart to make it quick.) This is only one of the weapons carried by the social workers, and they prefer it because the pike is silent. Because there was no shot or ricochet, no crackle or sizzle, no scream, no one else will come to investigate. The disease has taken one poor victim, but it need not claim more. In this manner is the contagion contained . . . in a moment. In a moment.

Beside the man’s body crouches a little girl. She’s curly-haired, plump, blind, brown, tall for her age. Normally a boisterous child, she weeps now over her father’s death, and her tears run hot with the injustice of it all. She heard him say, “I’m sorry.” She saw the social workers show the only mercy possible.

The man's crime isn't that he subscribed to a bad ideology, it's that he knew the ideology existed in the past. He didn't go down screaming racist poo poo at the social workers, he apologized for the crime he committed. Go back to the way she describes the gleaners. No one is reading Jefferson Davis and going "gee, I wish I owned a slave," people are appalled by how bad the past was, yet this is described as "spreading the evil". So this man, who has done no wrong aside from learning his people's history and is so docile that he actually apologizes for his crime to his murderers, must be killed not because of what he did, but because of what he knows. The closest literary example I can think of is the works of H.P. Lovecraft and all the forbidden books therein, and hang on for a minute, we'll get there.

Jemisin describes the enemy posted:

But there is only one treatment for this toxin once it gets into the blood: fighting it. Tooth and nail, spear and claw, up close and brutal; no quarter can be given, no parole, no debate. The child must grow, and learn, and become another social worker fighting an endless war against an idea . . . but she will live, and help others, and find meaning in that. If she takes the woman’s hand.

Does this work for you, at last, friend? Does the possibility of harsh enforcement add enough realism? Are you better able to accept this postcolonial utopia now that you see its bloody teeth? Ah, but they did not choose this battle, the people of Um-Helat today; their ancestors did, when they spun lies and ignored conscience in order to profit from others’ pain. Their greed became a philosophy, a religion, a series of nations, all built on blood. Um-Helat has chosen to be better. But sometimes, only by blood sacrifice may true evil be kept at bay.

Let's pay attention to that last sentence, because that is an idea that comes up again and again throughout history. We see it in Robespierre and Lenin insisting that we can cleanse the state through terror and set up a republic/worker's paradise. This is Robespierre justifying the Reign of Terror.

Robespierre posted:

Society owes protection only to peaceable citizens; the only citizens in the Republic are the republicans. For it, the royalists, the conspirators are only strangers or, rather, enemies. This terrible war waged by liberty against tyranny- is it not indivisible? Are the enemies within not the allies of the enemies without? The assassins who tear our country apart, the intriguers who buy the consciences that hold the people's mandate; the traitors who sell them; the mercenary pamphleteers hired to dishonor the people's cause, to kill public virtue, to stir up the fire of civil discord, and to prepare political counterrevolution by moral counterrevolution-are all those men less guilty or less dangerous than the tyrants whom they serve?

Jemisin posted:

This is the paradox of tolerance, the treason of free speech: We hesitate to admit that some people are just loving evil and need to be stopped.

Thus we come to the recurring theme of Jemisin's works, as stated eloquently by Bravest of the Lamps: Masters are not bad because they are masters, but because we would be better masters. The execution social workers match Orwell's Thought Police in all but name. O'Brien is presumably a white Englishman, the executioners are a man, a woman, and a nonbinary person. The social workers slay their enemies to protect their community from evil ideology, Richard Rahl murders his enemies to promote "moral clarity". Yeine is a good master because she's a hereditary noble inheriting divine power. The orogenes are oppressed because of their nigh-infinite powers to maim and kill, Odd John and the Slan are oppressed because of their superhuman powers when they are the rightful masters. For all Jemisin's talk of how her work is a pushback against white men with too much power, her work comes down to the same power fantasies as the white men, just with a more diverse set of masters. The social workers need to prevent the forbidden knowledge of history from contaminating the society, H.P Lovecraft's protagonists need to prevent the forbidden knowledge from contaminating theirs. The irony, of course, is that the line of thought that some people need to be sacrificed for the greater good is the same line of thought that leads to colonialism, racism (the Mississipi slaveowners insisting it's too hot for them to work comes to mind) and atrocities like the Holodomor that this system is supposedly to prevent. Um-Helat lies in the shadow of a missile, yet despite condemning the old world's violence produces "beautifully crafted" weapons for its Thought Police. It's the same as the things Jemisin supposedly condemns - Um-Helat has the appearance of diversity, but the citizens are united in thought and deed. Everyone loves the ladybug once the executioner has her say. None of the social workers question whether to kill a man in front of his child - and the only character who does question the sentence, the child, is "septic with the taint of our world" for objecting to the trolley running over her father. It's the more women prison guards meme, but in earnest.

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




I've been avoiding engagement with this thread because I've never read any of Jemisin's stuff except for this story (after it was brought up in the thread), but it really reads like some right-wing satire of the Tolerant Left. Its righteously bloody Manichaeism is the kind of thing that a Sad Puppy would come up with as the future of cancel culture or whatever. The paradox of tolerance is about not tolerating intolerant ideas, not killing everyone who thinks has ever heard of them.

Sham bam bamina! fucked around with this message at 02:36 on Apr 6, 2021

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




I was gonna say that the story came off to me like the fever dream of a right wing nationalist believing he’s gonna get hunted by social justice warriors.

Honestly I really don’t like this story. The point it’s trying to make is bad and it’s so unsubtle, beating the reader over the head with sentences like “ But this is no awkward dystopia, where all are forced to conform.” (Really? I don’t believe you.) and “ This is Um-Helat, after all, and not that barbaric America. This is not Omelas, a tick of a city, fat and happy with its head buried in a tortured child.” (Okay we get it.)

The story can function because it’s defending current progressive values but values change and I would rather not have them enforced by thought police rebranded as social workers.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give


Ah, yes, noted "humane" execution method of stabbing someone multiple times with a pick

Harold Fjord
Jan 3, 2004



I think some of these criticisms of the wizard and x-men stuff overlook some simple human aspects. You can have all the power in the world but you can't make people like you and want to genuinely be your friend. A small minority of people with great power could be controlled and manipulated by society over generations based on that simple idea alone.

biracial bear for uncut
Jun 9, 2009

ask me about being the most obnoxious person of all time

Harold Fjord posted:

I think some of these criticisms of the wizard and x-men stuff overlook some simple human aspects. You can have all the power in the world but you can't make people like you and want to genuinely be your friend. A small minority of people with great power could be controlled and manipulated by society over generations based on that simple idea alone.

Expecting realistic human behavior in fiction? The nerve!

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Harold Fjord posted:

I think some of these criticisms of the wizard and x-men stuff overlook some simple human aspects. You can have all the power in the world but you can't make people like you and want to genuinely be your friend. A small minority of people with great power could be controlled and manipulated by society over generations based on that simple idea alone.

Is there a historical example you can point to there? Differences are punished unless they are exploitable in some way, in which case they are rewarded. A supernatural power simply doesn’t align with the reasons anyone is actually oppressed, any more than athletes are oppressed for being really good at sports. Though I suppose you could make some point about how college athletes are exploited, but overall if someone has a power that is useful in some way they would likely have an entrenched position of privilege.

biracial bear for uncut
Jun 9, 2009

ask me about being the most obnoxious person of all time

Ccs posted:

Is there a historical example you can point to there? Differences are punished unless they are exploitable in some way, in which case they are rewarded. A supernatural power simply doesn’t align with the reasons anyone is actually oppressed, any more than athletes are oppressed for being really good at sports. Though I suppose you could make some point about how college athletes are exploited, but overall if someone has a power that is useful in some way they would likely have an entrenched position of privilege.

We literally live in a world where extermination pogroms have been carried out against indigenous peoples throughout the centuries because superstitious white people believed the heathens were gaining mystical powers through deals with Satan (as evidenced by their darker skin or their big noses or some other superficial characteristic!) or the whole blood libel in exchange for longer life/riches/etc. that Christianity has applied to pretty much every non-christian religion in history.

It doesn't have to literally be a true supernatural power for people to oppress those they think are benefiting from "something" that they then fear because they won't/can't do the same thing (or are indoctrinated to believe is bad).

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




biracial bear for uncut posted:

We literally live in a world where extermination pogroms have been carried out against indigenous peoples throughout the centuries because superstitious white people believed the heathens were gaining mystical powers through deals with Satan (as evidenced by their darker skin or their big noses or some other superficial characteristic!) or the whole blood libel in exchange for longer life/riches/etc. that Christianity has applied to pretty much every non-christian religion in history.

It doesn't have to literally be a true supernatural power for people to oppress those they think are benefiting from "something" that they then fear because they won't/can't do the same thing (or are indoctrinated to believe is bad).

That's the old "but what about the witch trials" argument. None of those people had actual magic. If they did, they’d have used it to avoid being executed. The actual reason for the persecuting those people involved general hatred of that group or for a political land grab. Meanwhile, it’s fairly common for religious figures, Christian and otherwise, to claim they have supernatural powers. Sometimes they have to be careful how they flavor these powers so as not to violate doctrine, but they always find ways. If magic actually existed, religions would either embrace it or be formed around it rather than reject it as evil.

But on that point I do think it's possible to make oppressed wizards sort of work if you frame it as one group of wizards being opposed because of nationalism or another marginalized trait. But if in a society certain people are born with useful magical powers, it's really hard for me to believe that those people would be oppressed.

Ccs fucked around with this message at 15:51 on Apr 6, 2021

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


Harold Fjord posted:

I think some of these criticisms of the wizard and x-men stuff overlook some simple human aspects. You can have all the power in the world but you can't make people like you and want to genuinely be your friend. A small minority of people with great power could be controlled and manipulated by society over generations based on that simple idea alone.

Hey isn't that the theme to, like, all of Ayn Rand's books? The masses have controlled and manipulated the truly powerful because they don't like the powerful (they're jealous or afraid of them).

It's the disparity of power that makes these stories ridiculous. But I'll bite, say they were subjugated, say their powers were manipulated by others. What do they do when they're free to use their powers? In X-Men the powerful fight each other over whether they should subjugated normies or not. Ayn Rand just had the powerful leave the unwashed masses to wallow, it maybe passively harming, but not directly. The Fifth Season had them blowing up the most populous cities without warning, and killing the majority of humanity; sure they're trying to fix the world, but there was no attempt to mitigate death.

It brings it back to justifying causing the right kind of suffering to the right kind of people. If I, as a reader, didn't know Jemisin's race, or that it influencer her writing, The Fifth Season is a treatsy on might makes right; don't let anyone tell you not to use your power to create the world you want, whether you're a marxist, nazi, whatever. Destroy the world if you have to.

killer crane fucked around with this message at 15:58 on Apr 6, 2021

biracial bear for uncut
Jun 9, 2009

ask me about being the most obnoxious person of all time

Ccs posted:

That's the old "but what about the witch trials" argument. None of those people had actual magic. If they did, they’d have used it to avoid being executed.

Someone asked for historical examples and I gave that the exact response it deserved.

killer crane posted:

Hey isn't that the theme to, like, all of Ayn Rand's books? The masses have controlled and manipulated the truly powerful because they don't like the powerful (they're jealous or afraid of them).

It's the disparity of power that makes these stories ridiculous. But I'll bite, say they were subjugated, say their powers were manipulated by others. What do they do when they're free to use their powers? In X-Men the powerful fight each other over whether they should subjugated normies or not. Ayn Rand just had the powerful leave the unwashed masses to wallow, it maybe passively harming, but not directly. The Fifth Season had them blowing up the most populous cities without warning, and killing the majority of humanity; sure they're trying to fix the world, but there was no attempt to mitigate death.

It brings it back to justifying causing the right kind of suffering to the right kind of people. If I, as a reader, didn't know Jemisin's race, or that it influencer her writing, The Fifth Season is a treatsy on might makes right; don't let anyone tell you not to use your power to create the world you want, whether you're a marxist, nazi, whatever. Destroy the world if you have to.

If that is what you got from those books then you're a terrible person, because the point isn't "whoever survived was right after all" or "might makes right" or whatever you're projecting here.

Not every story an author writes has some uplifting moral point to it, or even pretends to. It's a story, with conflict and (usually) some kind of resolution. In a particularly well-written story, not everybody necessarily comes out the other end of it happy, but if the story is well written enough then "well, this isn't exactly a surprising result, given all the hosed up poo poo that happened all around" is more what you end up with.

Also drop the Ayn Rand horse poo poo, she was a poo poo writer and a poo poo person, stop dragging her corpse into this thread.

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




biracial bear for uncut posted:

Someone asked for historical examples and I gave that the exact response it deserved.


The "magic" excuse in the real world is a justification for engaging in racism, etc. The witch trials happened with magic as a proxy for hatred of independent women and complex local politics. If magic was actually involved the would-be oppressors would be annihilated.

I was looking for a historical example in which "A small minority of people with great power could be controlled and manipulated by society over generations based on that simple idea alone."
Unless you're asserting that "indigenous peoples throughout the centuries" had more power than their colonizers or that the colonizers ever assumed that the indigenous people had more power than them, lol. Accusing them of devil worship was just a convenient excuse to get rid of them faster.

The whole oppressed wizard trope just completely misunderstands how oppression works. Oppression flows from power, not towards it.

The people writing stories about oppressed wizards usually even realize this, because most of the stories are about wizards overthrowing said oppression and getting back on top. But its baffling that the wizards were powerful enough to overthrow an entrenched and structural system of oppression and not powerful enough to prevent it from happening to them in the first place.

This is only relevant to one of Jemisin's series, cause her first solved the issue by having gods oppressed by other gods. They are forced to serve humans at times, but the humans are only playing a part in a larger system of oppression upheld by a greater power. If the Guardians in Fifth Season has been stronger then I could have bought it. In fact the whole discussion has kind of veered off from its relevance to Jemisin's work to just be about a trope I don't like but other people seem to think works for reasons that baffle me.

Ccs fucked around with this message at 20:26 on Apr 6, 2021

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


biracial bear for uncut posted:

If that is what you got from those books then you're a terrible person, because the point isn't "whoever survived was right after all" or "might makes right" or whatever you're projecting here.

Not every story an author writes has some uplifting moral point to it, or even pretends to. It's a story, with conflict and (usually) some kind of resolution. In a particularly well-written story, not everybody necessarily comes out the other end of it happy, but if the story is well written enough then "well, this isn't exactly a surprising result, given all the hosed up poo poo that happened all around" is more what you end up with.

Sorry you're in a sub that discusses theme and subtext. Something can be well written and have poo poo themes. What do you think it means that the story justified genocide as world saving? That the fear of the wizards is portrayed as bigotry, when the wizards murder people often, and sometimes by accident?

Why do you think Jemisin chose such a wide power difference between wizards and normies, giving one the ability to singlehandedly commit genocide? Why write them as victim and savior? What does that say about those in/with power currently in the real world?

biracial bear for uncut posted:

Also drop the Ayn Rand horse poo poo, she was a poo poo writer and a poo poo person, stop dragging her corpse into this thread.

I bring old Ayn up because her fiction writing about discordant power structures, where effectively the ubermensch are kept down by lesser humans, is an apt comparison to the power dynamic is The Fifth Season.

Jaxyon
Mar 6, 2016
boring as hell and also can be low-key racist

Ccs posted:

I was looking for a historical example in which "A small minority of people with great power could be controlled and manipulated by society over generations based on that simple idea alone."

Sorry I'm too busy looking for historical examples of 300,000 year old night elves.

Steven Erikson writes about anthropology so it's vitally important that there be a historical basis for this. He covers real world themes and most of the textual night elves I can find just didn't live that long.

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Jaxyon posted:

Sorry I'm too busy looking for historical examples of 300,000 year old night elves.

Steven Erikson writes about anthropology so it's vitally important that there be a historical basis for this. He covers real world themes and most of the textual night elves I can find just didn't live that long.

Ha ha. I mean has there been any small group with outsized economic or military power in the real world that has been manipulated by society? I can't think of any. People like to imagine certain ethnic groups throughout history have been both rich and oppressed, but usually it's just because there was an even richer group oppressing them. The only arguments I've seen to actually support this point point to revolutions where an aristocratic or royal family was all killed or sent to the gulags. A number of France’s elite lost their heads in 1789, but just a few decades later they were back, ruling through their wealth and power like nothing happened. Wizards with intrinsic power would have clawed their way back to power in a generation or so.

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




Slaves in the antebellum South were stronger than their masters and had the advantage of numbers but were kept down anyway, which would seem to be an argument against Ccs's point.

When they did rise up for themselves, their masters shot them with guns, which is an argument for it.

Jaxyon
Mar 6, 2016
boring as hell and also can be low-key racist

Ccs posted:

Ha ha. I mean has there been any small group with outsized economic or military power in the real world that has been manipulated by society? I can't think of any. People like to imagine certain ethnic groups throughout history have been both rich and oppressed, but usually it's just because there was an even richer group oppressing them. The only arguments I've seen to actually support this point point to revolutions where an aristocratic or royal family was all killed or sent to the gulags. A number of France’s elite lost their heads in 1789, but just a few decades later they were back, ruling through their wealth and power like nothing happened. Wizards with intrinsic power would have clawed their way back to power in a generation or so.

What about magical golems who eat geodes?

Sham bam bamina! posted:

Slaves in the antebellum South were stronger than their masters and had the advantage of numbers but were kept down anyway, which would seem to be an argument against Ccs's point.

When they did rise up for themselves, their masters shot them with guns, which is an argument for it.

The Gullah people of SC literally provided food and technology to starving useless whites and still didn't get the vote when the country was formed.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


The British in India and Pakistan? French occupied Vietnam? Poland under soviet rule? Various points in Japanese and Korean history? Each of these had mixes of cultural, financial, and population power greater than their colonizers within the occupied area (ei Vietnam was not more powerful than France, but we're more powerful than the French in Vietnam). All is these eventually gained independence from the colonials, and some took generations, and sometimes only after realizing/consolidating internal power. They're not great examples, because the colonizers could just spend more power from outside the colony the overpower uprising within (see history), but they work as microcosm.

killer crane fucked around with this message at 21:23 on Apr 6, 2021

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




Jaxyon posted:

The Gullah people of SC literally provided food and technology to starving useless whites and still didn't get the vote when the country was formed.
I'm not really getting your point here. What comparison are you drawing between "providing food and technology" and magic powers that can kill with a thought? Now why do you think I brought up guns?

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


quote is not edit

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




If you don't want to have the discussion that's fine. I just think that the trope of oppressed wizards is lazy and in the worst cases creates a metaphor that is so broken that it ends up validating people who want to believe that oppression happens for a legitimate reason.

If authors want to write stories about oppressed magical characters it's best to have them be oppressed for other marginalized traits, or because of nationalism (this is Attack on Titan's one get-out-of-jail free card for using the oppressed wizards trope. It adds nationalism into the mix to provide a better justification. Still, as the internet can attest, many believe its metaphor to be hamfisted.)

I felt Fifth Season was well written but too miserable for my tastes. I also am not a fan of second person narration and had to struggle through. Same reason I didn't get far in Ann Leckie's The Raven Tower. Harrow the Ninth is the first book written in second person I actually enjoyed (there's a book where the wizards are running things, at least on a lot of planets. Because of course they are.)

There's so much cultural inertia behind the oppressed wizards trope and often used in attempts to encourage social justice. But I feel that's causes people to give it a pass while it weakens the story.

killer crane posted:

They're not great examples, because the colonizers could just spend more power from outside the colony the overpower uprising within (see history), but they work as microcosm.

Yeah I mean I assume the people who would be organizing a revolt were cognizant of the fact that the colonizers could outspend them. If we transpose this to fantasy literature it's similar to how in the Inheritance trilogy some gods have to serve humans, not because the humans are more powerful than them but because there are more powerful gods out there than can crush the currently servile gods.

Ccs fucked around with this message at 21:30 on Apr 6, 2021

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




Ccs posted:

If you don't want to have the discussion that's fine. I just think that the trope of oppressed wizards is lazy and in the worst cases creates a metaphor that is so broken that it ends up validating people who want to believe that oppression happens for a legitimate reason.
It's pretty much a fantasy vindication of Kanye West's comment about 400 years of slavery being a choice. People being kept down not because their attempts to break free are met with greater force but simply because, even though they have greater force, they lack the will to use it.

Jaxyon
Mar 6, 2016
boring as hell and also can be low-key racist

Sham bam bamina! posted:

I'm not really getting your point here. What comparison are you drawing between "providing food and technology" and magic powers that can kill with a thought? Now why do you think I brought up guns?

My point is that a lot of fantasy and Sci Fi uses things that aren't real as settings for stories that touch on universal themes.

Orogenes aren't real, but the story is a fantasy writer writing a character who is dealing with historical erasure, bigotry, oppression, systemic violence, etc. The book opens with a woman mourning a child who was killed out of fear and hate by someone who was supposed to be his protector.

These are themes a lot of people can relate to, and the're pretty well written and that's why the book has a lot of awards and fans.

The powerful earth wizards part is not a thing people can relate to. It's a fantasy element, just like heron-marked swords and dragons. Obviously there's subtextual themes there for agency, just like swords and dragons have subtextual themes, but I don't need to find an exact analogue in history for this story to appreciate much of what the author was doing.

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




Oppression is real, and killing people is real. That's why the ability to kill matters in a discussion of the oppressor/oppressed dynamic in the books.

Sham bam bamina! fucked around with this message at 21:42 on Apr 6, 2021

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Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Adjusting the power of the orogenes so that their powers can't be used in such targeted ways to kill humans might have helped my suspension of disbelief. Like if they could only stop earthquakes, not start them. It's just awkward in a book about how oppression is wrong to introduce a group of people who can easily kill with their minds. Oppression shouldn't be based on feelings on self-preservation! Other races are not a threat to white people, queer people are not a threat to straight people. People who can flash freeze others and cause an earthquake are a pretty big threat! Stop trying to change the context of the oppression! It doesn't work as a metaphor anymore!

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