Tag Archives: Afrofuturism

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 94: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

After reading this first book of The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin, I have crossed two reading rules that I thought I would never break:

1) You must like the characters to enjoy a work of fiction

2) You must be able to relate to the characters in order to have a true reader-writer connection in work of a fiction

Well, The Fifth Season broke both of those rules for me. I did not liked or related to any of the characters in this well-regarded, post apocalyptic fantasy novel.  However, I thought the world-building (an essential element in imaginative fiction) was outstanding and the characters were intriguing to keep me interested into finishing the novel.

The story takes place on an alternate earth called the Stillness, which is tormented by seismic activity. This leads to frequent near-extinction events called “Fifth Seasons” that keep people on pins and needles. The evidence of prior civilizations are scattered throughout the planet — ruined cities, incomplete ‘stonelore’ passed down from previous generations, and strange obelisks that float through the atmosphere like low-altitude satellites and serve no purpose. The civilization that we meet in the novel, the Sanze Empire, has survived for a long time by siphoning the power of orogenes — people born with an innate ability to control their environment. The orogenes can start or stop earthquakes. They can save cities, or gain power from living creatures and “freeze” them. Their powers are horrifying yet essential, so the empire develops a caste of Guardians who have the power to neutralize the orogenes when necessary. The orogenes are held in contempt and called “roggas” by ordinary humans. Despite all their power, they cannot control their own lives. They are either hunted down and destroyed or sent to the Fulcrum to be trained and used by the empire.

Jemisin tells the story through several characters and creates an interesting, multicultural world unlike anything I’ve ever read from a work of imaginative fiction. Representation comes in various ways and Jemisin crosses all types of boundaries in this story.

The Fifth Season is not an easy read and it does take at least 50-60 pages to get a handle on what’s happening in the story. Also, she uses a second person narrator that creates distant style of storytelling that is jarring upon a first reading.  Despite those reading challenges, I can see why this novel (and the subsequent books) have received so much praise and recognition in the science fiction and fantasy world. I will admit that I did not love this book from a pure reading enjoyment experience.  However, I did respect Jemisin’s imaginative storytelling skills and will continue on reading the rest of the trilogy.  There is a difference between reading a work of fiction that becomes a favorite than one which becomes one of importance.  The Fifth Season is the latter part of the prior sentence and I can appreciate the work on that level. Well done, N.K.

 

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 87: How Long ‘Til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin

I have a question for readers.  Has there been an author or authors you have tried repeatedly to read? N.K. Jemisin has been one of those authors for me. Jemisin has gained recognition in the science fiction and fantasy genre over the past several years with groundbreaking works like the Broken Earth and Dreamblood series.… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 73: The Dark Fantastic by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas

“The principles of the dark fantastic are so ingrained in our collective consciousness that when the expected pattern is subverted, most audiences cannot suspend disbelief. Readers and viewers complain that dark heroic protagonists are not likable. Critics observe that the characters, settings, circumstances, and resolutions are unbelievable. Agents regret that they just cannot connect with… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 66: Brown Girl In The Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Nalo Hopkinson is an author I have wanted to read for a long time.  I have seen her novels over the years but had not gotten around to reading one until now.  Hopkinson tends to get overlooked in the current trend of black authors writing science fiction or fantasy. I don’t why that has happened,… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 50: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

I want to update a review from 2012 for one of my all-time favorite novels, Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. Parable of the Sower is the story of Lauren Olamina, a teenager growing up in a grim LA suburb where their gated community provided a semblance of a normal life while anarchy reigned… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 36: Binti Home by Nnedi Okorafor

Can you ever go home again? Binti Home by Nnedi Okorafor attempts to answer that question. Binti returns home after a year away on a spaceship at Oozma University. She brings her friend, Okwu, for support. However, the homecoming does not go as expected and the family treats Binti like a pariah. She discovers a… Continue Reading

Cassandra’s Revelation: A Kammbia Short Story

“Cassandra’s Revelation,” is about a chance meeting between Cassandra Applebaum, a sultry-voiced singer who hadn’t sung in years, and an old friend—one who saw Diondray stop a rainstorm. Inspired by her friend’s account, Cassandra penned a new song, “The One Who Made the Rain Go Away.” After a few days, she received a call from… Continue Reading