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

Sham bam bamina! posted:

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.

Many oppressed peoples have the ability to kill, or not kill. I'm not sure why you're hung up on the magical earth mage aspect.

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Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




I'm not sure why you're going out of your way to ignore the point I'm making, nor why you're being such a prick about it.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


Ccs posted:

Ann Leckie's The Raven Tower.

I just want to say the power dynamic in this story is similar to The Fifth Season (powerful being subjugated), but Strength and Patience doesn't commit genocide to get what it wants, it liberates, and the city loses the luxury they obtained from the raven subjugating it.

Ccs posted:

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.

Most of them could have revolted, or liberated earlier, but the colonists had convinced them they lacked enough power.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


Jaxyon posted:

Many oppressed peoples have the ability to kill, or not kill. I'm not sure why you're hung up on the magical earth mage aspect.

Power disparity exists in the real world without magical earth mages. The problem pretty much everyone itt has with this book is how it addresses power dynamics, and the implications of that in the theme of oppression. like ccs pointed out: oppression flows from power, not to.

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

Sham bam bamina! posted:

I'm not sure why you're going out of your way to ignore the point I'm making, nor why you're being such a prick about it.

I'm not ignoring the point. I'm not even sure what it is. You seemed to be trying to support CCS's point.

killer crane posted:

Power disparity exists in the real world without magical earth mages. The problem pretty much everyone itt has with this book is how it addresses power dynamics, and the implications of that in the theme of oppression. like ccs pointed out: oppression flows from power, not to.

Uh "everyone in this thread" except the people who disagree, I guess?

Anyhow, your argument seems to rest on the idea that the Guardians have no power or not enough to defeat the orogenes, but the book makes it clear that they certainly are able to completely genocide them when a Fifth Season comes.

Jaxyon fucked around with this message at 22:16 on Apr 6, 2021

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




Jaxyon posted:

I'm not ignoring the point. I'm not even sure what it is. You seemed to be trying to support CCS's point.
The point is that slavery was preserved for so long because the slaveholders had deadly force at their disposal – guns, most saliently – that crushed slaves' attempts to rebel or even simply escape. Slavery was only ended after people with more guns shot the slaveholders in a bloody war. If the slaves had been the ones with the guns – weapons that make it very easy to kill, in the same way that a supernatural mastery of the elements might – slavery would never have been an institution in the first place.

Jaxyon posted:

Anyhow, your argument seems to rest on the idea that the Guardians have no power or not enough to defeat the orogenes, but the book makes it clear that they certainly are able to completely genocide them when a Fifth Season comes.
Aren't Fifth Seasons centuries apart?

Sham bam bamina! fucked around with this message at 22:30 on Apr 6, 2021

Harold Fjord
Jan 3, 2004



Historically, minorities and especially black people have been portrayed a possessing superior physical strength, but lacking intelligence and control. The usage of "natural athlete" as a microagression from Matt Walsh's Nazi in Community springs to my mind here. Playing on that to wizardry seems reasonable to me. There are different kinds of power, and numbers is a kind minorities are at relevant disadvantage In by definition.

I believe they are not all and each strong enough to take out a continent, for that matter. And some of them may have participated in subjugation of their fellows I'm exchange for social perks.

Harold Fjord fucked around with this message at 22:51 on Apr 6, 2021

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

Sham bam bamina! posted:

The point is that slavery was preserved for so long because the slaveholders had deadly force at their disposal – guns, most saliently – that crushed slaves' attempts to rebel or even simply escape. Slavery was only ended after people with more guns shot the slaveholders in a bloody war. If the slaves had been the ones with the guns – weapons that make it very easy to kill, in the same way that a supernatural mastery of the elements might – their insurrections and escapes would have prevailed and killed the institution of slavery before it could even become one.

Slaves were frequently in situations where, guns or not, they had the upper hand due to sheer numbers, yet didn't rebel. Yet there were also, guns be damned, slave rebellions. The orogenes in the book, are pscyhologically broken from a small age by an abusive immune magical police force. There are rebellions, that's what Alabaster does. He also kills a huge number of people and most any orogene who uses their power is going to do that because very few have the fine control to do micro-targetted magic. Most would be destroying entire villages full of regular people.

It's like asking why black people in the US don't bomb state capitols on the regular, and ignoring the existence of police.

The earth bending is the fantastical part of the story. It's not realistic, nobody should expect it to be. The experiences of the main character are the parts you're supposed to identify with. And because it's a fantasy, she does magically get the ability to be agent , an opportunity a lot of real people in her position do not.

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Harold Fjord posted:

Historically, minorities and especially black people have been portrayed a possessing superior physical strength, but lacking intelligence and control. The usage of "natural athlete" as a microagression from Matt Walsh's Nazi in Community springs to my mind here. Playing on that to wizardry seems reasonable to me. There are different kinds of power, and numbers is a kind minorities are at relevant disadvantage In by definition.

But that's why using the metaphor is dangerous. Racism and sexism, etc are the result of irrational fears based on misconceptions, usually employed to strengthen the current ruling class. Wizard powers, at least as depicted in The Fifth Season, are a legitimate threat. This changes the context of the oppression that these storytellers seem to want to explore. Even if the reaction to this danger is overly harsh, the ordinary humans are still acting out of self-preservation. This is almost never the case in real-life oppression.

For varying definitions of self-preservation, of course. Captains of industry might complain that their profit margins aren't as high and thus they aren't as comfortable if they're not able to exploit certain oppressed groups.

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




Jaxyon posted:

abusive immune magical police force
That makes a lot more sense. I've seen people go back and forth over these books so much on the forums that I thought something this basic would have come up a lot more. I also didn't see anything so direct after a cursory search for more information. Please forgive me. This is why I was keeping quiet before!

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

Sham bam bamina! posted:

That makes a lot more sense. I've seen people go back and forth over these books so much on the forums that I thought something this basic would have come up a lot more. I also didn't see anything so direct after a cursory search for more information. Please forgive me. This is why I was keeping quiet before!

You haven't read these but you were participating in the argument?

And yes, the Guardians are able to control and subdue orogenes very easily, and even have specialized teams where they are can defeat them with a touch, no matter how powerful, as well as the lifetime of being an abusive parental figure that makes it very very hard to disobey them psychologically.

People who don't think that kind of trauma matters if you're a wizard, have often not been the victims of that kind of trauma.

The protagonist's abuser is a sociopath with endless experience, a hugely imposing figure and enough strength to break bones with zero effort, and he can drain her magic.

As for why people discussing the books, seem to ignore the existence of guardians

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




I just don’t think the existence of Guardians is relevant to how making the oppressed group a legitimate threat distorts the central metaphor.

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

Ccs posted:

I just don’t think the existence of Guardians is relevant to how making the oppressed group a legitimate threat distorts the central metaphor.

You don't think the literal hand of oppression is relevant?


vvv Give the first book in the Broken Earth series a read. It's pretty well regarded.

Jaxyon fucked around with this message at 23:09 on Apr 6, 2021

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




Jaxyon posted:

You haven't read these but you were participating in the argument?
Got ahead of myself after posting about something that I did read, and I haven't had anything better to do at work today.

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Jaxyon posted:

You don't think the literal hand of oppression is relevant?


vvv Give the first book in the Broken Earth series a read. It's pretty well regarded.

I’ll echo my post above: Racism and sexism, etc are the result of irrational fears based on misconceptions, usually employed to strengthen the current ruling class. Wizard powers, at least as depicted in The Fifth Season, are a legitimate threat. This changes the context of the oppression that these storytellers seem to want to explore. Even if the reaction to this danger is overly harsh, the ordinary humans are still acting out of self-preservation. This is almost never the case in real-life oppression.

The Guardians, as agents of the humans desire for self preservation, don’t change the problem of the metaphor.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


Jaxyon posted:

Uh "everyone in this thread" except the people who disagree, I guess?

yeah, that's what i meant.


Jaxyon posted:

Anyhow, your argument seems to rest on the idea that the Guardians have no power or not enough to defeat the orogenes, but the book makes it clear that they certainly are able to completely genocide them when a Fifth Season comes.

The power dynamic between humans and orogenes isn't changed. So the guardians can genocide orogenes, because the orogenes can/will/have murdered entire cities in accident during fifth seasons. In the book that's seen as a bad genocide, which you think any genocide should be... BUT the orogenes go ahead and genocide humans (who don't have the powers to stop them), and that genocide is seen as completely justified. Which goes back to the idea that causing the right kind of suffering to the right kind of people is justifiable.

Jaxyon posted:

It's like asking why black people in the US don't bomb state capitols on the regular, and ignoring the existence of police.

To extract the metaphor like below, in the story they do bomb the capitol, they bomb the city, they burn down every house and apartment, they poison the water supply, and they are completely justified in doing that. They don't just kill the cops, or the instrument of the state, they kill anyone, guilty or innocent, for living in the society they are oppressed in. In the end it's to save the world.

Hey, maybe it's a tear down the system metaphor, but it justifies genocide to do it.

killer crane fucked around with this message at 00:41 on Apr 7, 2021

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

Ccs posted:

I’ll echo my post above: Racism and sexism, etc are the result of irrational fears based on misconceptions, usually employed to strengthen the current ruling class. Wizard powers, at least as depicted in The Fifth Season, are a legitimate threat. This changes the context of the oppression that these storytellers seem to want to explore. Even if the reaction to this danger is overly harsh, the ordinary humans are still acting out of self-preservation. This is almost never the case in real-life oppression.

The Guardians, as agents of the humans desire for self preservation, don’t change the problem of the metaphor.

The Guardians are literally the police boot on the neck of black people, for the purposes of this metaphor. Black people don't stop being a legitimate threat to authority because they're oppressed.

Your problem appears to be that you don't think the author powered them up enough for the metaphor to work and you don't buy them as antagonists.

Whites are voting for fascists right now, and supporting murderous cops right now, because they fear, legitimately in their eyes, that they are in danger if they lose their position of supremacy. Even though most minorities have no interest in treating whites as bad as whites have treated everyone else, that's what they're worried about. Even if the reaction to this danger is overly harsh, whites are still acting out of self-preservation.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



Jaxyon posted:

The Guardians are literally the police boot on the neck of black people, for the purposes of this metaphor. Black people don't stop being a legitimate threat to authority because they're oppressed.

Your problem appears to be that you don't think the author powered them up enough for the metaphor to work and you don't buy them as antagonists.

The problem is that wizards as black people is completely incoherent, because the wizards can trivially slaughter normal humans with absolutely no repercussions at all. Go reread the opening of the first book again, where Nassun gets mad her son was killed and trivially butchers an entire village, indiscriminately destroying people, buildings, and nature. The regular people can't even fight back, because Nassun can split crossbow bolts in flight. This isn't a metaphor for collective action or anything, this is just one angry woman who on a bad day can slaughter a town and nobody can do anything about it. It's not a study thing, it's not a training thing, it's entirely a eugenics thing based on inherited magical power. This parses to black people...how, exactly? A black man has the same intrinsic abilities as a white one.

Thus the metaphor collapses in two separate ways: while race is made up incoherent bullshit to justify oppression, Jemisin postulates a world where eugenics actually works and that the people who aren't born superior are conspiring to keep down the people who are. We see this idea a LOT in science fiction, because it's the kind of infantilizing crap of "Fans are Slans" and other power-fantasy crap where the oppressed nerd minority is actually smarter and cooler if only those drat jocks would let you finish telling the cheerleader about your 3000 points of Space Marines.

Now, I don't think anyone thinks the Guardians are good, because they do cartoonishly evil crap like rent out child sex slaves a la Pizzagate. That said, they get slaughtered to a man remotely at the end of the third book, so I'm not sure why everyone is so hung up on the Guardians' powers being sufficient to control orogenes, because they get completely destroyed every time they take on a protagonist in a straight fight. They don't even work as a metaphor for cops, Alabaster says in the first book their ranks are drawn from the children of orogenes who don't display any powers, and they're all given powers by the Evil Earth - who, at the very end of the trilogy, is not defied or defeated, but bribed to stop orogenic oppression. The Guardians, however, are slaughtered to a man, which is why I have such difficulty with all the arguments in the thread that orogenic power is, like, 100% controlled by the Guardians, maaaaaan! There's the scene with Edki in the first book, and he's overcome by using a magic rock instead of a magic earthquake.

The Fifth Season posted:

We are the gods in chains and this is not. Rusting. Right.

It's poo poo like this that invites the Ayn Rand comparisons. To put this into context, this is thought by the protagonist as the Guardian takes away her power and prepares to kill her for raising a magic rock, and thus she causes a massive fuckoff explosion. You can easily compare this to Terry Goodkind's Richard Rahl whining about how the evil Mooch Empire wants to destroy magic forever. Both Goodkind and Jemisin have a class of hereditary magic users who are hated and feared by the common people because they can slaughter them with impunity, and they both depict the people opposed to the hereditary masters as a bunch of evil turborapists. Goodkind is more open about it by having Richard Rahl constantly quoting Ayn Rand, but it's the same principle that people who inherit magic are better than you.

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




But you’ve fallen for the bad metaphor. Whites are acting on a perceived threat that doesn’t actually exist. Humans in the Fifth Season are acting on the legitimate threat that people who can cause earthquakes with their minds exist. This is why giving magic powers to a group and then having them be oppressed due to these magic powers doesn’t work. It changes the context of the metaphor, because there is actually a legitimate reason.

It’s not that the Guardians weren’t powered up enough, it’s that the metaphor falls apart. With enough work, you can set up a story where all the world’s governments have rallied together and made the giant robots or elite death squads that would be necessary to oppress wizards. But then you get into the social and political problems. Namely that it introduce new contexts that justify hatred against wizards and can’t get around the fact that they’re justifying hatred. This can work if the goal is to create a multisided conflict where each side has a legitimate grievance, but it absolutely falls apart when modeling real-world bigotry and oppression, as so many stories of downtrodden wizards are trying to do.

Harold Fjord
Jan 3, 2004



I don't think the protagonist is meant to be "better"than anyone. That's weird to me.

I don't think danger justifies hatred either. And I don't think NKJ thinks so. I think you might be getting hung up in the super level 10 wizards when I think many of them are about as dangerous as any idiot in a car in a populated city. But I haven't read in a while.

Harold Fjord fucked around with this message at 01:26 on Apr 7, 2021

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Hmm I should probably rephrase that, it might not condone hatred but it does provide a reason for it beyond “I imagined a bunch of nonsense about x group” that constitutes racism and sexism. Since in this case the deadly magical powers actually do exist.

On the previous topic, I will say that recent discussions about NFTs have made me wish for social workers with pikes who go around stabbing anyone who has ever heard of the concept. Jemisin may be on to something.

Ccs fucked around with this message at 03:52 on Apr 7, 2021

remigious
May 13, 2009

Destruction comes inevitably




Hell Gem

I’ve only read 2.5 books of the Broken Earth trilogy. I think she is an incredible author and very imaginative, but the books are just too loving bleak. And I know that’s exactly the point, but every now and the something good needs to happen.

BananaNutkins
Aug 26, 2004

I'll split you open and I don't even like coconuts.


https://nkjemisin.com/2013/02/from-the-mailbag-the-unbearable-baggage-of-orcing/


N. K. Jemisin posted:

Orcs are human beings who can be slaughtered without conscience or apology.
Think about that. Creatures that look like people, but aren’t really. Kinda-sorta-people, who aren’t worthy of even the most basic moral considerations, like the right to exist. Only way to deal with them is to control them utterly a la slavery, or wipe them all out.
Huh. Sounds familiar.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Ccs posted:

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!
(This response isn't just to this quote, but to several ideas running parallel to it; I've picked this one for convenience)

1. During slavery in the Americas, white people would routinely work themselves up into a frenzy about their slaves rising up and plotting to do mass poisonings or whatever, publishing stories in their newspapers that warned of such nefarious conspiracies that the Daily Mail editors would blush. Their imaginations, no doubt fueled by inner horror that they did deserve whatever retribution they were dealt, was always magnitudes worse than the realities of the periodic and usually small slave revolts. In a real sense, many whites did feel like their oppression needed to continue, because they feared what would happen if they didn't. Racists have continued to hold that belief that they are in grave danger from the people they're oppressing, hence Nazis and other slime-based life fretting about 'white genocide' and other hysterical fantasies.

Obviously, most oppressed people just want to stop being repressed, and unlike a Hollywood movie where protagonists routinely go on homicidal streaks or nurse grudges for decades, regular people are rarely so consumed by revenge.

2. Throughout history, many oppressed groups vastly outnumber their oppressors. The Ottoman Empire used slaves for its Janissary soldiers, which seems counter-intuitive that they'd go ahead and arm the people they had abducted as children, especially given that they were denied the basic rights of ordinary people, but it worked out great for awhile because social control is an incredibly powerful thing. Black slaves in the South greatly outnumbered their oppressors in areas, but everyone in the region was raised to conform to social rules, black and white, and most people conformed. Changing a society is an incredibly difficult thing, because people have trouble seeing how to live other than the way they live. More, it needs the oppressed groups to organize, because it's their collective power that can enact change, and attempting to organize usually triggers a massive response from the oppressors (whether it's Sparticus, the Stono Rebellion, or to pick a more modern example, Amazon workers in Alabama). One cannot fight an entire social system alone. Roman Emperors often got the 'ol Julius treatment, but all most people could think to do was take the Emperor's place; changing the system was anathema to them, no matter how horrifying life might be.

Given the real examples of oppressed people often having a lot more power than their oppressors, it shouldn't be beyond belief that a caste of wizards could be leashed by social systems and oppressed, especially given a police force specifically designed to hunt them down and murder for rebellion them no matter how far they run. What's the cost of rebellion for an orogene? The total destruction of your life. Well, that's a hell of an incentive not to rebel.

Going back to (1), though, the panic about orogenes as metaphors for the oppressed ignores the thought experiment Jemisin is proposing with them. We can all agree that oppressed people are not revenge driven sociopaths; as you note, queer people aren't a threat to straight people, and the fears that racists and other vermin cultivate is irrational. But what Jemisin is proposing is: What if the fears were founded? What if the oppressed people really could ice entire towns or shake apart cities? Wouldn't oppressing them be justified? And of course, the obvious message in the books is: No. It wouldn't be right to enslave and oppress minorities even if they were mighty earth-wizards.

FPyat
Jan 17, 2020


I read The Ones Who Fight Back, and I don't think Jemisin actually supports killing people with corrupt knowledge. Within the rhetorical structure of the story, it looks more like the social workers are a self-evidently absurd bone thrown to people who believe that utopia must come with a hidden dark side, just as Le Guin put in the abused child without having a sensible reason why the torment would make life better for everyone else.

The story is a bit sanctimonious, admittedly.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


Uranium Phoenix posted:

But what Jemisin is proposing is: What if the fears were founded? What if the oppressed people really could ice entire towns or shake apart cities? Wouldn't oppressing them be justified? And of course, the obvious message in the books is: No. It wouldn't be right to enslave and oppress minorities even if they were mighty earth-wizards.

I think that is where the metaphor/thought experiment breaks, if that is the message she intended, because once you apply that to current, real world power structures it becomes libertarian liberation fantasy. You can't apply everything else directly to the metaphor, but say the power structure are imagined power structures in real life. Once you take into account the power disparity then the real world application becomes Elon Musk complaining about higher taxes, or Mitch Mcconnell complaining about higher participation in the democratic process. To make democracy work, or any social program work, yes, we do need to take control from those in the minority with power, the 1%.

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Uranium Phoenix posted:

Going back to (1), though, the panic about orogenes as metaphors for the oppressed ignores the thought experiment Jemisin is proposing with them. We can all agree that oppressed people are not revenge driven sociopaths; as you note, queer people aren't a threat to straight people, and the fears that racists and other vermin cultivate is irrational. But what Jemisin is proposing is: What if the fears were founded? What if the oppressed people really could ice entire towns or shake apart cities? Wouldn't oppressing them be justified? And of course, the obvious message in the books is: No. It wouldn't be right to enslave and oppress minorities even if they were mighty earth-wizards.

But IS that a message anyone should agree with? I'll give an example of how this metaphor stops working for me.

If I'm walking down the road and I see a guy with a different skin color coming towards me and I cross the street to get away from him that's a lovely thing to do. It's predicated on racist fantasies of danger.
If I'm walking down the road and I see a man with metal claws coming out of his hands, I am well within my rights to cross the street to get away from Mr. Stabby.

It's like the orogenes all are born with AK-47s inextricably attached to them. Now we all believe oppression against minorities is wrong but most people think controlling and regulating dangerous weapons is A-Ok. In a sense the book's message plays into right wing fears that if you try to regulate dangerous weaponry its the same as oppressing a minority group.

I do not think for one instant that Jemisin intended that reading. Oppressed wizards is a trope with a lot of cultural inertia behind it and she got swept up in the trope. As did Stan Lee, Hajime Isayama, etc.

Crespolini
Mar 9, 2014



Sounds a lot like the problem comic books have with mutants being a stand in for minorities, but also having Cyclops accidentally blasting a dozen bazookas whenever his sunglasses slip.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


killer crane posted:

I think that is where the metaphor/thought experiment breaks, if that is the message she intended, because once you apply that to current, real world power structures it becomes libertarian liberation fantasy. You can't apply everything else directly to the metaphor, but say the power structure are imagined power structures in real life. Once you take into account the power disparity then the real world application becomes Elon Musk complaining about higher taxes, or Mitch Mcconnell complaining about higher participation in the democratic process. To make democracy work, or any social program work, yes, we do need to take control from those in the minority with power, the 1%.

The thought experiment is specifically "what if oppressed minorities were powerful" and again, the oppression would not be justified. I have no idea where you're getting the libertarian/politicians/1% stuff because they are not an oppressed minority; it is not a metaphor for them at all. Jemisin is clearly writing black fantasy, rooted in black American experience. Also, it's not a book about democracy or what political institutions could look like.

Ccs posted:

But IS that a message anyone should agree with? I'll give an example of how this metaphor stops working for me.

If I'm walking down the road and I see a guy with a different skin color coming towards me and I cross the street to get away from him that's a lovely thing to do. It's predicated on racist fantasies of danger.
If I'm walking down the road and I see a man with metal claws coming out of his hands, I am well within my rights to cross the street to get away from Mr. Stabby.

It's like the orogenes all are born with AK-47s inextricably attached to them. Now we all believe oppression against minorities is wrong but most people think controlling and regulating dangerous weapons is A-Ok. In a sense the book's message plays into right wing fears that if you try to regulate dangerous weaponry its the same as oppressing a minority group.

I do not think for one instant that Jemisin intended that reading. Oppressed wizards is a trope with a lot of cultural inertia behind it and she got swept up in the trope. As did Stan Lee, Hajime Isayama, etc.
But your fear of Essun Scissor-Hands there would not be founded, because the idea in the books is that the destruction the orogenes are unleashing descends from the pain that is inflicted on them. Imagine a society where everyone's humanity is valued. Earth-wizards and claw-handed people alike aren't going to be lashing out because of a common love and community the society feels; the social systems we create can influence people to be good. The geode-city, and the people trying to create a harmonious society, show that this is possible. Obviously external forces prevent this, but when there's mutual acceptance, the wounds start to heal and there's peace. It's not instant, because reconciliation isn't. Yeah, claw-hands can kill you, but so can a random stranger with a gun; so can a random stranger with a car. But most people don't want to murder people for no reason and if you create a just society, violence declines (paralleling real-world research into things like social programs and less economic inequality also decreasing crime and a lot of other socially bad stuff). Yes, you'll occasionally get a sociopath who kills a bunch of people, but they'll do it whether or not they were born with gun-hands or just bought the gun. Most people will live in harmony with each other. Full gay earth-wizard communism.

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Uranium Phoenix posted:

But your fear of Essun Scissor-Hands there would not be founded, because the idea in the books is that the destruction the orogenes are unleashing descends from the pain that is inflicted on them.

You've stretched the metaphor to its breaking point and its still not working. Magic powers are a better compared to weapons than any sort of marginalized trait. And no one should be comfortable around people carrying weapons.

Sure, they probably won't use the weapons unless provoked. It's still a weapon. It justifies the fear, which doesn't map to real world marginalization or oppression.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


Uranium Phoenix posted:

The thought experiment is specifically "what if oppressed minorities were powerful" and again, the oppression would not be justified.

That's just picking and choosing to not apply the power dynamic to the metaphor. There's a vast difference between "oppressed minorites who happen to be powerful," and "a minority oppressed because of their power."

Even as a "what if oppressed minorities were powerful," it then goes on to justify them committing genocide. It just doesn't work.

Uranium Phoenix posted:

I have no idea where you're getting the libertarian/politicians/1% stuff because they are not an oppressed minority; it is not a metaphor for them at all.

Because in the story the orogenes are specifically a minority oppressed because of their enormous power. Currently what minority group holds extreme power? What do they view as oppression against them? They absolutely believe they are being oppressed for their power.

Uranium Phoenix posted:

Jemisin is clearly writing black fantasy, rooted in black American experience. Also, it's not a book about democracy or what political institutions could look like.

I don't think she's "clearly" writing that, because the metaphor is broken by the power dynamic she chose, so it's not clear. She may have intended that, but I don't really care about authorial intent; so maybe you don't believe in death of the author, and that's where the disagreement comes from.

I know it's not a book directly about political institutions, but it's a book alluding to our current society, and the power dynamics within that society.

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

TheGreatEvilKing posted:

The problem is that wizards as black people is completely incoherent, because the wizards can trivially slaughter normal humans with absolutely no repercussions at all. Go reread the opening of the first book again, where Nassun gets mad her son was killed and trivially butchers an entire village, indiscriminately destroying people, buildings, and nature. The regular people can't even fight back, because Nassun can split crossbow bolts in flight. This isn't a metaphor for collective action or anything, this is just one angry woman who on a bad day can slaughter a town and nobody can do anything about it. It's not a study thing, it's not a training thing, it's entirely a eugenics thing based on inherited magical power. This parses to black people...how, exactly? A black man has the same intrinsic abilities as a white one.

Because it's a black woman clearly writing about the oppressive structures of racism in a fantasy setting that doesn't work exactly 1:1?

quote:

Thus the metaphor collapses in two separate ways: while race is made up incoherent bullshit to justify oppression, Jemisin postulates a world where eugenics actually works and that the people who aren't born superior are conspiring to keep down the people who are. We see this idea a LOT in science fiction, because it's the kind of infantilizing crap of "Fans are Slans" and other power-fantasy crap where the oppressed nerd minority is actually smarter and cooler if only those drat jocks would let you finish telling the cheerleader about your 3000 points of Space Marines.

She's created a book where she can write about trauma where it's not just a repeat of reality, so she gave the characters the actual powers to be heroes. Or villains. But at least have agency. It's similar to X men but I written by a black woman, which doesn't happen very much.

And it's fascinating to hear eugenics here when eugenics has been historically used to "breed out" the oppressed group and it's characteristics and the breeding program here is meant to mimic that which happened under slavery and be horrifying to the reader instead of empowering, but I think you missed a lot there.

quote:

Now, I don't think anyone thinks the Guardians are good, because they do cartoonishly evil crap like rent out child sex slaves a la Pizzagate. That said, they get slaughtered to a man remotely at the end of the third book, so I'm not sure why everyone is so hung up on the Guardians' powers being sufficient to control orogenes, because they get completely destroyed every time they take on a protagonist in a straight fight. They don't even work as a metaphor for cops, Alabaster says in the first book their ranks are drawn from the children of orogenes who don't display any powers, and they're all given powers by the Evil Earth - who, at the very end of the trilogy, is not defied or defeated, but bribed to stop orogenic oppression. The Guardians, however, are slaughtered to a man, which is why I have such difficulty with all the arguments in the thread that orogenic power is, like, 100% controlled by the Guardians, maaaaaan! There's the scene with Edki in the first book, and he's overcome by using a magic rock instead of a magic earthquake.

The protagonist has plot armor? Better ignore all the oppression of most of the other orogenes, including abuse and murder by people who are supposed to protect them, because that's not eeexxaaactly how cops work in th real world.

Like every criticism in here is "if this is a metaphor for the experience of a black woman why is it not exactly that but with names changed" and it's honestly a bizarre response.

quote:

It's poo poo like this that invites the Ayn Rand comparisons. To put this into context, this is thought by the protagonist as the Guardian takes away her power and prepares to kill her for raising a magic rock, and thus she causes a massive fuckoff explosion. You can easily compare this to Terry Goodkind's Richard Rahl whining about how the evil Mooch Empire wants to destroy magic forever. Both Goodkind and Jemisin have a class of hereditary magic users who are hated and feared by the common people because they can slaughter them with impunity, and they both depict the people opposed to the hereditary masters as a bunch of evil turborapists. Goodkind is more open about it by having Richard Rahl constantly quoting Ayn Rand, but it's the same principle that people who inherit magic are better than you.

This is absolutely wild poo poo, on a number of levels, not the least of which is that orogenes are literally an oppressed subclass who are slaughtered when a fifth season occurs so that food isn't wasted on them but Rahls are god-emperorors of a vast land.

But I mean, whatever you have to do try and make the Ayn Rand comparison work between the black woman and the guy who wrote about a group literally named the Mud People.

Jaxyon fucked around with this message at 16:55 on Apr 7, 2021

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Jaxyon posted:


Like every criticism in here is "if this is a metaphor for the experience of a black woman why is it not exactly that but with names changed" and it's honestly a bizarre response.


We get that's what it's trying to be. Storytellers often want to push back against oppression and marginalization, so they decide to use a parallel. But when the source of the oppression is switched from "a different race" to "a deadly power that can be used as a weapon" it changes the context of the metaphor so drastically that it no longer functions. It introduces implications that the story trips over.

There's a number of issues with changing the metaphor to oppressed wizards which I've covered in disparate posts in this thread but I'll bring them together here:
1.) It's difficult to oppress wizards. Authors make an effort to give the evil humans some kind of countermeasure to negate the advantage of magic, and they’re almost always woefully inadequate.
2.) Oppression flows from power, not to it. A supernatural power simply doesn’t align with the reasons anyone is actually oppressed.
3.) It makes the wizards into an actual threat to the people around them by the nature of their deadly powers. It absolutely falls apart when modeling real-world bigotry and oppression.

There's solutions to this problem. Wizards can be oppressed by other wizards (see The Inheritance trilogy). Or the wizards can be oppressed for another marginalized trait that maps better to reasons for real world oppression. Or the wizards were all in one country that was invaded by another, making the reason for their oppression nationalism as opposed to because they have superpowers.

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

Ccs posted:

We get that's what it's trying to be. Storytellers often want to push back against oppression and marginalization, so they decide to use a parallel. But when the source of the oppression is switched from "a different race" to "a deadly power that can be used as a weapon" it changes the context of the metaphor so drastically that it no longer functions. It introduces implications that the story trips over.

There's a number of issues with changing the metaphor to oppressed wizards which I've covered in disparate posts in this thread but I'll bring them together here:
1.) It's difficult to oppress wizards. Authors make an effort to give the evil humans some kind of countermeasure to negate the advantage of magic, and they’re almost always woefully inadequate.
2.) Oppression flows from power, not to it. A supernatural power simply doesn’t align with the reasons anyone is actually oppressed.
3.) It makes the wizards into an actual threat to the people around them by the nature of their deadly powers. It absolutely falls apart when modeling real-world bigotry and oppression.

There's solutions to this problem. Wizards can be oppressed by other wizards (see The Inheritance trilogy). Or the wizards can be oppressed for another marginalized trait that maps better to reasons for real world oppression. Or the wizards were all in one country that was invaded by another, making the reason for their oppression nationalism as opposed to because they have superpowers.

I get the objections, I just don't agree. It's fantasy. You have the option of given powerless people literal power, and some do. I've never had the probelem with X-men being a civil rights or gay rights metaphor despite the existence of omega level mutants. If you do, cool. This book and x-men is probably not for you.

What I really don't get is the people stretching to make the Ayn Rand poo poo work when one has a person giving a 60 page explanation as to why everyone should worship them and one has a black woman save the world that white people hosed up, despite the fact she'll never be thanked.

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Jaxyon posted:

I've never had the probelem with X-men being a civil rights or gay rights metaphor despite the existence of omega level mutants. If you do, cool. This book and x-men is probably not for you.

I mean the thing is the metaphor not working is only an aspect of the story. A pretty major aspect, all things considered, but not enough for me to discount The Fifth Season. Personally the reasons I didn't enjoy it so much had more to do with the second person narration than the oppressed wizard trope, but choice of point of view is a matter of taste and not something I can spend time arguing about haha.

It's the same reason I still enjoy Attack on Titan despite feeling that it fails its attempt at the same trope. The overall theme of AoT is "war brutalizes us all but especially our children." I agree with that and I think it does a good job of conveying that theme, but like with The Fifth Season it tries to use the oppressed wizard trope and causes its other themes to become confused. There's more than one theme in The Fifth Season too, so the trope not working only invalidates some of them.

Sarern
Nov 4, 2008


Won't you take me to
Bomertown?
Won't you take me to
BONERTOWN?



Jaxyon posted:


But I mean, whatever you have to do try and make the Ayn Rand comparison work
All they have to do is read the books, OP.

I like Jemisin's prose and I've read most of her stuff except the new NYC book, but the Fifth Season absolutely lends itself to readings most goons would find politically problematic. No one has to read the books that way, of course, but the books support that reading very well, it's one of the problems that comes with setting up a series of novels in conversation with the Dragon Age video games (source for the Dragon Age claim). Which was carefully elucidated in the Bonfire thread two times.

None of this is to say that liking Jemisin's writing makes you a counter-revolutionary or anything, or that the holy writ of praxis demands you memory-hole these books. I like her writing and need to pick up the new book I haven't gotten yet.

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

Sarern posted:

All they have to do is read the books, OP.

I like Jemisin's prose and I've read most of her stuff except the new NYC book, but the Fifth Season absolutely lends itself to readings most goons would find politically problematic. No one has to read the books that way, of course, but the books support that reading very well, it's one of the problems that comes with setting up a series of novels in conversation with the Dragon Age video games (source for the Dragon Age claim). Which was carefully elucidated in the Bonfire thread two times.

None of this is to say that liking Jemisin's writing makes you a counter-revolutionary or anything, or that the holy writ of praxis demands you memory-hole these books. I like her writing and need to pick up the new book I haven't gotten yet.

I've read the books, and a bunch of the awful goodkind books, and wow is that a stretch comparison.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



Jaxyon posted:

She's created a book where she can write about trauma where it's not just a repeat of reality, so she gave the characters the actual powers to be heroes. Or villains. But at least have agency. It's similar to X men but I written by a black woman, which doesn't happen very much.

And it's fascinating to hear eugenics here when eugenics has been historically used to "breed out" the oppressed group and it's characteristics and the breeding program here is meant to mimic that which happened under slavery and be horrifying to the reader instead of empowering, but I think you missed a lot there.

My entire point is that the X-men/Slan/hereditary superpowers bullshit is a bad trope that fantasy authors need to stop using because it's a dumb power fantasy. It's the old "Slans are fans" poo poo used by science fiction fans to whine about how nobody understands them, or how Harry Potter is just two groups of ubermensch fighting over to what degree they're superior to regular people. Thus when Jemisin repackaged this same flawed metaphor but its actually about how racism is bad, it just doesn't work because all of this crap is fundamentally about biological determinism and how that makes people more powerful. When I bring up eugenics, its because Jemisin is very clear that you're born with power or you don't have it.

Thus we get to the Richard Rahl comparisons I keep making. The Imperial Order is bad because it wants to destroy magic that's in the hands of a hereditary few. The Fulcrum is bad because it wants to destroy magic that is the orogenes' birthright. Both books portray evil conspiracies led in part by people terrified of the hereditary magic users designed to keep these born aristocrats from taking their rightful places, and that's just such an irredeemably lovely idea that it doesn't matter who writes it. Whether it's a kooky weirdo like Goodkind or Jemisin replying to, of all things, Dragon Age, it's a terrible idea! We are clearly supposed to see it as a metaphor for black people - the characters literally discuss why white people can't say the n word - but it's the same metaphor that all of these white male authors use to whine about how women don't like them because they're too smart.

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




TheGreatEvilKing posted:

My entire point is that the X-men/Slan/hereditary superpowers bullshit is a bad trope that fantasy authors need to stop using because it's a dumb power fantasy.
Forgive me for weighing in again, but it's really weird how Jaxyon keeps conflating this with "agency". It keeps coming up and keeps getting the same redefinition of terms in response.

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

Sham bam bamina! posted:

Forgive me for weighing in again, but it's really weird how Jaxyon keeps conflating this with "agency". It keeps coming up and keeps getting the same redefinition of terms in response.

I interpret people having power fantasies as having fantasies of agency. If you want to be a super powerful wizard it's probably because there's things you can't control in your life you'd like to have control over.

You can call it dumb but that IS what people are mostly doing with any superpower fantasy. That's why people jerk off over power levels in Dragonball or whatever.

Now go read the book.

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