N.K. Jemisin is currently my favorite author. Hands down. After the awful 2016 election with all its attendant harms and the visibility of so many incorrect, aching, angry people, I had to ask myself about the stories we tell. The stories we tell either open up possibilities, or shut them down. They tell us what is and isn’t possible; who we are; who we aren’t and couldn’t possibly be.
I have seen so many people voice their “opinions” in recent days that the US cannot do anything about guns. It’s not possible. There is no way to stop school shootings. Their opinions are countered by facts [see Australia], but they’ve been told the story over and over that nothing can be done, so they believe it, despite facts to the contrary.
After the election, I realized I’d been reading too many of the wrong sorts of stories that reinforce the harmful systems we have in place and overtly and subtly suggest/insist there isn’t anything we can do about these systems. So I started looking for other stories, other worldviews, other takes on “human nature” that aren’t so extremely offensive as to suggest/insist that even if you’re not a monster, almost everyone around you is, and that’s why we can’t have nice things, like equality.
Enter N.K. Jemisin and The Fifth Season. I was so blown away. There was everything I wanted from a story! Just, every single thing I wanted to see and felt was missing in what I had read, and there it was. One of my favorite things about Jemisin is how ENJOYABLE her novels are to read, such a pleasure. She doesn’t give in to despair or darkness. There is always hope. There is always action based on that hope, that commitment to change. And there are always moments of joy, no matter what’s happening to the characters or what they’re doing. The writing and plotting are excellent too.
So read The Fifth Season, then read the rest of The Broken Earth Trilogy, then read everything else Jemisin has published. She’s good for the mind and soul.