Fifth Season Ch 4 & 5

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Chapter 4

A chapter set in the Fulcrum, the home of the official orogenes. Syenite has an elliptical conversation with her boss, Feldspar. Syenite is being ordered to become pregnant by a senior orogene. Alabaster, the senior, is as unhappy about all this as Syenite, but both eventually follow their orders. They're being sent to do something with a coral reef in the harbour of Alliia, about a month's travel from Fulcrum.

This chapter is set in the Fulcrum, in Yumenes, which as destroyed in the prologue. We learn that there are different ranks of orogene, signalled by different numbers of rings on fingers. Increases in rank seem to come with increases in power, control, and behavioural reliability. We also learn that most orogenes are the children of Fulcrum orogenes, only a few, like Syenite, are "feral".

Chapter 5

Back to Essun. She's on the road, looking for Jija and Nessun. We get a bit of slice-of-life on the road, and hints that things will soon become very desperate and dangerous outside a comm. One night, she's visited by Hoa, a boy of about six or seven. Essun lets him sleep on her bedroll. The chapter postscript mentions non-human intelligences.

Questions

*In Fulcrum, the orogenes seem to have a lot of self-determination. It's a rigid order, but it's one that seems to be operated by orogenes. Does this mesh with the prejudice we've seen in the previous chapters?

  • Is Syenite's "suggestion" to have a child by Alabaster a sign of acceptance by the order, a punishment, or a loyalty test?

  • Skin tones: what colour skin do you imagine for the characters we've met in the books?

  • Who is Hoa?

  • And a meta-question: is it helpful to have these questions? Does it steer the conversation too much? Would you miss them if they went away?

Comments

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    I'm having minor problems seeing how the even number chapters integrate with the whole. Last time I thought that #2 was a flashback to Essun's early life, but it seems we're just being treated to a quirky set of background pieces of the jigsaw. But as @NeilNjae indicated, the picture these snippets present of orogene life are hard to equate with the violence and prejudice encountered in the odd numbered chapters. So I'm at a bit of a loss how to fit the lot together.

    I immediately assumed that the boy Essun meets is the same as the one that appeared from inside a rock back at the start. But I no longer trust my immediate assumptions with this book, and he's just as likely to be some completely new character emerging from the background.
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    I’m right now seeing these as the intros to three emerging quake-fighters, who are going to join an organization of such people called Fulcrum (aka The Uncanny Seis-Men) who will fight for tectonic Justice. We’ve got the second person ‘Wolverine’ type character - a badass from the world outside with no training. We’ve got the birthing insider ‘Cyclops’ like character who represents the viewpoint of the hero’s already inside the organization, and we’ve got the baby ‘Rogue’ type character who is rescued to be raised inside the organization, but is too new to really have either the outsider or insider perspective, but alternately acts as a foil for the other two as they clash.

    As for the person who ends the world, it remains to be seen if that’s Magneto or Xavier or someone else.

    Why everyone needs to take a mineral name is beyond me - seems a bit silly, but kinda in keeping with superhero stories.

    But it does make an entertaining forum question: what’s your mineral name, and why?

    Apophyllite seems like a good choice for me:
    1. Sounds like ‘Apocryphal’
    2. It’s white
    3. Generally attractive but with some sharp edges.
    4. Has a tendency to flake in the heat.
    5. Has roots in Scotland, the Harz mountains, and the Montreal area.
    6. Is relatively unfamiliar to the general public.
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    Lol @Apocryphal this is brilliant!! Love it. I have to confess that I had assumed that you'd invented this mineral, but Wiki soon proved me wrong and vindicated you! I shall have to do some mineral research of my own.

    More broadly, I like your mapping of the characters onto superhero/X-men identities and it has helped me get a handle on things. I don't object to themed names, especially if (as might well be the case here) they are "official" names rather than original ones. A bit like saints' names in Catholic countries, or true names in Earthsea.
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    @Apocryphal said:
    I’m right now seeing these as the intros to three emerging quake-fighters, who are going to join an organization of such people called Fulcrum (aka The Uncanny Seis-Men) ...

    Methinks you're not taking this entirely seriously...

    Why everyone needs to take a mineral name is beyond me - seems a bit silly, but kinda in keeping with superhero stories.

    Is it something to do with marking the imperial orogenes as separate, apart from the normal population? There's an element of clothing restrictions too: orogenes wear black, Guardians wear purple.

    But it does make an entertaining forum question: what’s your mineral name, and why?

    Probably chalk. It's from Sussex, where I grew up. It's soft, crumbles under pressure, and sometimes squeaks.

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    I reckon I'm graphite. You can use me to write with. Under immense heat and pressure I turn into diamond. Well, maybe not that last.

    I'd miss the questions if they weren't there, though having read the books last year I can't fairly answer some of them.
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    Of course, I am being foolish... my mineral name surely has to be Slate :)

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    @NeilNjae said:
    Methinks you're not taking this entirely seriously...

    Of course I'm taking it seriously - just trying to enliven my writing. Its not an unreasonable piece of speculation, is it? How am I doing, btw - cold, warm, hot? No spoilers please.

    Probably chalk. It's from Sussex, where I grew up. It's soft, crumbles under pressure, and sometimes squeaks.

    That's a brilliant choice - simple, sounds nice, and yet has some depth.

    Graphite and Slate are good, too. Slate is an inside joke that those who haven't read @RichardAbbott 's sci-fi novels might not get - it's the name of an AI character in those novels.

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    edited January 27

    My mineral name is Gangue. I hang around worthwhile minerals but am myself useless, and generally get in the way. The only reason I am ever discussed is how to remove me cheaply and easily. :D

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    @clash_bowley said:
    My mineral name is Gangue. I hang around worthwhile minerals but am myself useless, and generally get in the way. The only reason I am ever discussed is how to remove me cheaply and easily. :D

    This is worthy of one of those glossary things that @Apocryphal did for The Book of the New Sun... I for one had never heard of gangue until just now.

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    Speaking of which, are we still to have a final wrap-up for The Book of the New Sun @dr_mitch ? If not, I can stow my book away.

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    edited January 29

    I buried mine in the back yard, in an unmarked grave!

    ;D

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    @Apocryphal yeah I should probably do a final wrap post.
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    My mineral name is calcite, the main mineral in limestone, which is common where I live in Kentucky, and which, over the eons, dissolves into wonderful caves, which I sometimes explore.

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    Is Syenite's "suggestion" to have a child by Alabaster a sign of acceptance by the order, a punishment, or a loyalty test?
    

    Yes

    Skin tones: what colour skin do you imagine for the characters we've met in the books?
    

    I assume they are all some shade of brown. Certainly everyone she has physically described is some shade of brown, so my assumption is brownish, unless otherwise specified. It's obviously important to her, so I go with that.

    Who is Hoa?
    

    Damned if I know.

    And a meta-question: is it helpful to have these questions? Does it steer the conversation too much? Would you miss them if they went away?
    

    As of yet, the jury is out. I may decide one way or the other later on, but as of now, I have no opinion. Thought I should give a crack at answering them, though.

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    I’ve started reading our February book and ran across this in the first chapter;

    “He sketched out a glacier game, based on what sort of minerals could be gouged from rocks, what mountains destroyed, rivers dammed, landscapes created and bays blocked if—as in the entertainment—glaciers could liquefy and re-freeze parts of themselves at will.”

    — The Player of Games (A Culture Novel Book 2) by Iain M. Banks
    http://a.co/3nT5tPB

    When I first read it, I thought it said “a glacier [NAME] based on ... minerals.”

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