Book Review

The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

a fun book but not a real one, y'know

Yes, more genre fiction like a massive nerd, but I struggle with not reading my entire way through series of books when I begin them, or certainly I do if I read one and two in relatively quick succession. Thus, I suppose, it was always going to happen that I moved on from The Sheltering Sky (was that it’s name? No, it was The Fifth Season), which I read in mid-August, through to The Stone Sky, which I began reading on my birthday but I didn’t actually finish until a full week afterwards, and now it’s two days after that. More, even: three days after. No, two days, I was right the first time. Today is Friday 11th September, I finished reading the book on Wednesday. This doesn’t matter.

My dead paternal grandfather’s birthday was today (today is/was my dead paternal grandfather’s birthday), I remember it because he always used to comment on how his birthday suddenly became a date unable to be passed without comment in the media, because of “them slags” and their (Danny Dyer) “nut-freaking out” terrorism of nineteen years ago. Colonialist, disintegrating, prejudiced discourse sings as powerfully now as it did then. Christ, what a mess the world is.

I was reading this book about the end of the world (though sort of the end of the world after tens or hundreds of “ends of the worlds” have already happened) the same week that COVID second spikes begin to stab into the data sets of multiple large countries, the week that the skies of the West coast of America have turned the wrong colours due to massive wildfires and the smoke they produce, and also the same week that I went to see Tenet in a cinema, which is also about the end of the world. It’s been a world-ending kinda week. And, as mentioned in my previous post, my lover has gone away to work for several weeks, so I’m feeling pretty fin-de-siècle myself this week.

It’s very reminiscent of two seperate periods of my life; the summer of 2017, in which I lived alone in the unfamiliar house I’d briefly shared with my ex while I essentially terminated my sense of permanence in London (me and Cubby alone, working multiple jobs so leaving him alone and feeling guilty, trying to not drink to avoid the risk of self-harm etc (I had one vodka-sparkling water before bed last night and slept through my alarm this morning so missed some online work; I think I need to be stricter, though, then again, yesterday I did a 60 minute walk with Cubby, 55 minutes on a treadmill, cycled (15 minutes, hilly) to and from irl work, worked a ten hour shift that was mostly spent on my feet, so I was pretty physically tired. Also, my alarm was not set at maximum volume. I have fixed that, repaired that. (Oh, and the other time it reminded me of was 2016, when I was the person who left a miserable partner in a grey city to go and have the longest period of joy (and sobriety!) I’d had in my life, and I don’t want to disrupt my lover’s exciting out-of-the-city work by being the whingy person stuck in a dull day-to-day and discussing my pisspoor mental health to bring down someone who’s looking positively towards the future. All I’ve gotta do is maintain myself and Cubby until November. It will be fine. We will prevail.)

Yesterday I wrote some poems I submitted to a magazine that I entitled “sad limericks”, but rather than “sad” they were actually very bleak, very frank, discussions/descriptions of my current bleak depression and recent return to self-harm. Lol. Oh no. Not sad, instead harrowing limericks, I think, and I fear the magazine’s editor may read them as satirising mental illness, rather than as a formally-inappropriate/”transgressive” act of confessional poetry. Christ. I’m unproductive atm. (later note: all the submitted limericks were rejected lol)

Tenet, yeah, Tenet was good, well maybe not good good, but entertaining. It’s fun. It’s silly, but it’s basically James Bond with time travel and faux-complexity (which sometimes Bond has itself tbf). It’s a great piece of popcorn cinema and as I usually only watch films during the day on weekdays, my experience of watching this in a socially-distanced cinema space was no different from my “usual” (i.e. pre-COVID) experience of cinema. Also I sat in a special vibrating chair that moved in response to action on the screen, which was a LOT of fun, though deeply deeply stupid.

The Stone Sky is the end of a trilogy, and it is about the protagonists from the previous volumes coming together/apart in order to try and stop the disintegration of the Earth: one party wants to destroy the planet forever, as the only way to escape the eternal horrors of existence (I was rooting for that side), the others want to do a revolutionary-reformatory type thing where they recapture the flung-away moon and restore an Edenic type Golden Period, which obviously, like all Edenic utopian Golden Periods doesn’t exist; I was disappointed that, in the end, hope won, because hope is idealistic; complete destruction is purgative, is effective, is a way to gain peace.

This book is different to the other two in the trilogy in that it focuses more on the history of the planet’s awareness of its history, exploring how, when and why the moon was discarded and displaced and how the various factions that the first two books had described came to be.

Tbh, the first half of the novel I found a bit tedious: these dynamics and intentions had all been evoked and explored pretty clearly and directly already, I didn’t understand Jemisin’s need to fill in gaps to further world-build a world she’d already carefully built. However, by the end, I’d gotten fully on board with all this myth-making as the showdowny-finale hundred pages were riveting.

So, yes, I [lamely, disgracefully], enjoyed this genre fiction book. Will I read more? Yes, I suppose I will, though I’ll still feel ashamed whenever I do: as I should.

OK, I need to shave and get ready for work and then walk Cubby to work, just like in those olden days, back in a city, in a country, much more tolerant of dogs than this one. Canada may not be the most exciting country in the world, but I think it’s one of the safest places I could have ended up in as I live through a terrifying, awful, pandemic.

Note to self: read more real books and do some writing. (Note from the future: this hasn’t happened.)

2 comments on “The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

  1. Pingback: Out of Time by James P Hogan – Triumph Of The Now

  2. Pingback: The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin – Triumph Of The Now

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