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3 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +8 points

Aye, there's the rub.... can you end a system built on exploitation without ending everything? Asking for a friend civilization.

The tuners are going to try, evidently. And evidently they succeeded in taking down Syl Anagist in all its glory. The Stillness, all these thousands of years later, is still mostly preoccupied with bare survival, although a few people in a few places now and then get to have a little more than the minimum.

But everything they have still depends on treating people as tools. most explicity in the case of the orogenes, of course, but even the "human" use-castes are taught to know their place and their function.

And all these thousands of years later, children are still being sent to the briar patch. The Stillness has forgotten everything else, but it hasn't forgotten how to do that.

There are 256 nodes of Syl Anagist. Of cpurse there are: the whole world is as single byte to the Plutonic Engine.

3 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +3 points

"Vehimal" -- huh. An animal that is a vehicle, a vehicle that is an animal-- who's responsible for its stable and food and such? Did it get lonely, all these thousands of years in the dark?

Its voice is "female, polite, detached, and somehow reassuring." Just like all the "Voice of the Metro" ladies who tell you to stand back while the doors are closing. Some things never change.

It troubles Nassun that the vehimal has no face to look at. And that reminded me of that line in Harry Potter and an otherwise dissismilar situation: "Haven't we taught you not to trust anything that can speak for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain?"

It sounds like a wonderful idea, to be able to get to the other side of the world in a few hours. But there's always a price to be paid. Schaffa's paying now; what's going to be asked of Nassun? and who paid, originally, back in Syl Anagist?

3 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +4 points

Tools are tools. resources are resources... and doesn't that mindset sound familiar?

Without going all "Gaia" about Mother Earth-- treating living ecosystems as resources to be exploited but not cared for, well, it probably isn't going to end well.

3 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +5 points

I had to keep reminding myself of the sheer scale of this place. I'm used to thinking that "underground" means "small, enclosed space," or at best, the dwarf halls of the King under the Mountain. But this is L. A. or Chicago or something, entirely roofed over and forgotten. (I believe that Jemisin has said that the Stillness was meant to be an imaginary world and NOT some future Earth, but I don't care: Syl Anagist will always be Los Angeles to me.)

I wonder what an Innovator-archeologist from the Seventh University would have made of this.

Countless people, crumbled away... when the poet told us that "golden lads and girls all must / As chimney-sweepers, come to dust," somehow I don't think that this was what he had in mind.

Steel continues to be creepy and manipulative. Those not-dead vines are creepy and worrying. "It's petrifying!" exclaims Nassun, and we agree: it's all turning to stone, and it's also all frightening.

The arrangement of its substance is almost crystalline, in fact, cells lined up in neat little matrices, which she's never seen in a living thing before. --- But we have! We've seen the price of magic on living things, and we begin to really wonder about Syl Anagist. "One person's normal is another person's Shattering," as we keep seeing deomnstrated over and over again.

You know what's really creepy, though? It's that living train-car. Cool, undeniably, but would you want to just walk in and sit down?

3 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 2 replies · +4 points

"Syl Anagist: Five."




What happens when we get down to zero?

I'd forgotten, if I'd even noticed the first time, that "Syl Anagist" isn't just a single city. It's apparently the whole network of cities, each adapted to its environment like a jewel to its setting. All, apparently, through the power of renewable energy and the mere force of life. No cutting down the forests and poisoning the rivers and polluting the air-- ancient times were horrible, weren't they? But everything is alive and well in Syl Anagist!

But we're all genre-savvy enough to distrust this apparent Utopia; we know it can't be as simple as it looks. A city which treats even a handful of tuners as tools rather than people, may be hiding other secrets. Other compromises between ideals and perceived necessities.

Life is sacred in Syl Anagist, but sometimes death is necessary. Uh huh. I've heard that before.

("Syl Anagist" -- the more I say it, the more it sounds like "Los Angeles." It's got the same rhythm. Los Angeles-- lotusland, la-la-land, shaky town(!). City of Angels.
Are you a lucky little lady in the City of Light?
Or just another lost angel?
City of Night...

Probably it's just me.)

As for art, no there's not much of it in the post-Shattering Stillness. There are the pop lorists and their oral storytelling, there's party songs and lullabies, there must be statues, Yumenes before the Rifting is described as having a certain amount of frivolous architectural embellishment. But most people, most of the time, are preoccupied with bare survival. Life is hard, even during the ordinary seasons of the Stillness. Wasn't it Alabaster who says, "Once, we were so much more."

(And quit dissing railings. Railings may not be a perfect guarantee of safety, but at least they're there when you need something to clutch in a death grip as you creep very very carefully around the balcony or down the stairs or across the bridge. Railings are our friends.).

3 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +7 points

Yes, this is really uncomfortable, isn't it? We'd like to be happy that Schaffa and Nassun are finding comfort in eahc other, that Nassun (still a child) has someone to take care of her, that Schaffa has someone he can care for without abusing, that redemption is possible.

But that's really not what's happening here. The very first time that Nassun met Schaffa, he took silver from her without her consent. The fact that she's consenting now, even offering, doesn't make it better. He's still taking, and she still thinks it's her responsibility to give.

It's heartbreaking that Nassun thinks that she's the one that needs redemption. "Determined to be a better daughter," indeed. And (maybe I've read too much old-fashioned children's fiction) what are the traits of a "better daughter"? Compliance, obedience, submission. Putting Father first, always.

Everything will be better, until the end. Eeep.

So the kind of volcano that's a caldera within a caldera is called a sommian. You learn something new every day. (Declining to comment on the name of this particular sommian.)

The "deadciv" gate is a round slab of perfectly white material that is neither metal nor stone
Stone erodes, metal rusts, but PVC is forever.

3 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +3 points

"I still can’t get over how creepy the word “decanted” is in this context."

Reminds me of a conversation in one of Lois McMaster Bujold's "Vorkosigan" books-- one of hte few authors to engage in the implications of technologically-assisted reproduction.

Clone designed and brought up by psychopathic terrorists: "I don't know what you'd call it when I was taken out of the uterine replicator."

Woman from society where the replicators are common: "Well, when I was taken out of my uterine replicator, my parents called it my birthday."

... creepy is as creepy does; it's not the tech, it's what you do with it.

The wire chairs, on the other hand, will never not be creepy.

If Nassun can only get out of the system by not existing, she's prepared to make the whole thing stop existing right along with her.

3 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +2 points

Another name for the most common type of moonstone is "hecatolite," after the goddess Hecate, a deity associated with magic, witchcraft, women, ghosts and the moon.

So perhaps that name, or the Stillness equivalent, persisted when the moon and the goddess were both forgotten, and the word becaume just a collection of syllables. For that matter, I suppose the word "moonstone" itself could have become just a sound rather than a reference.

3 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +7 points

Oh, and congratulations to N.K. Jemisin on being awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.

the foundation highlighted Jemisin’s achievements, saying that her works immerse readers “in intricately imagined worlds and gripping narratives while exploring deeply human questions about racism, environmental crises, and familial relationships. Her novels push against conventions of science fiction and she is expanding the spectrum of participants in the creation of speculative fiction.”

3 years ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +4 points

Schaffa remembers the Moon?! I don't think I'd realized just how old he had to be.

"a mother oppressed by the fulcrum" -- it's true, she was. And yet, the Fulcrum itself was a product of the fear and hatred shown toward orogenes, an acquiesence to a "police yourselves or we'll police you worse" ultimatum.

The Stills fear and hate the orogenes, but need their labor to maintain their system. Again, not really subtle.

And so that's the end of the Found Moon/Jekity partnership, and the end of Found Moon itself. Another try at coexistence ends in tears, literally. Poor children, who won't get to be children much longer, and poor Nassun.

But apparently Found Moon has fulfilled its purpose when it found Nassun. And Steel is ready to help her get where she needs to go. She's got a ticket to ride, it seems, even though she has nothing to barter for it. "Fortunately, there are other ways to pay."... like that's not ominous at all. Do we trust Steel? Not one bit.

She cannot have both Shaffa alive and the world's hatred dead.. And like that's not chilling at all. You can't leave love alive without allowing the possibility of its opposite. Not even a twisted codependent trauma-poisoned love like Shaffa's.

"It isn't right that there's no end to it." No, it isn't right.
"well now I'm crying." You and me both.