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Emergency Skin
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Novelettes > Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin (Goodreads Author)

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message 1: by Kateblue (new)

Kateblue | 641 comments Mod
I'm thinking this puppy should get nominated despite the fact that it's an Amazon production. It was the best of the six stories in this Amazon group.


message 2: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 1492 comments Mod
Thank foe the info!


message 3: by Rebecca (new) - added it

Rebecca | 10 comments Kate- have you read all six? If so I would love to chat about "You have arrived at your destination"

Now when it comes to Emergency Skin, I liked the use of the HeLa strain as I read The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks awhile back and I found a bit of irony in the idea that a presumably white capitalist (actually, capitalist might not be an accurate description, maybe more oligarchy?) colony is dependent upon cells stolen from a person of color and cultivated by people of color who seem to have done well for themselves.

I do suspect both cultures have their propoganda- I doubt it was as easy as they left and we figured out how to fix everything.

Of all things, the colony reminded me of Proton in one of Piers Anthony's nonXanth series, with Citizens and a huge underclass of serfs who believe that they somehow have it good compared to elsewhere.


message 4: by Kateblue (new)

Kateblue | 641 comments Mod
Yes, I have read them, but I don't remember "You have arrived at your destination". I can go back and look, maybe tomorrow


message 5: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 1492 comments Mod
I plan to read the whole collection closer to the month's end


message 6: by Antti (new)

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 238 comments Mod
I read Emergency Skin a couple of weeks ago. Taken at face value, the story was somewhat naive, but really the whole novelette was just one big middle finger directed towards Ayn Rand - this is Jemisin's answer to Atlas Shrugged.

And it was funny to read this right after the Broken Earth trilogy: Jemisin sure likes to write in second person, huh?


message 7: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 1492 comments Mod
I haven't finished the story but I thought it was more against the modern management class, those famous 1% and disaster capitalism as they are depicted by the US left


message 8: by Antti (last edited Jul 08, 2020 01:11AM) (new)

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 238 comments Mod
Oleksandr: Yes, very much so.

I don't know how familiar you are with Atlas Shrugged, but the basic gist of the book is that the innovators and capitalists leave the society that constantly vilifies them while sucking all their wealth away to lazy no-good hoi polloi. As a result, the society collapses, but the business leaders build a better society in a remote valley.

Emergency Skin has this very same premise: the 1% leaves Earth to build their utopia elsewhere. But Jemisin turns the tables and shows how their society is horribly oppressive and exploitative, while Earth immediately improves tremendously, since it was those 1%-ers who had caused all the problems in the first place.

It was pretty funny, if somewhat naïve.


message 9: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 1492 comments Mod
Antti wrote: " But Jemisin turns the tables and shows how their society is horribly oppressive and exploitative, while Earth immediately improves tremendously, since it was those 1%-ers who had caused all the problems in the first place."

Yes, exactly. An extremely naive idea, to a large extent I guess based on ex-aggregation of family/small group experience. If we (usually) help each other without expecting recompense within a family, let's scale up it to a society, where everyone cares about everybody else


message 10: by Antti (new)

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 238 comments Mod
Yeah; time and time again certain sorts of people conclude that the only reason reciprocal altruism doesn't scale to societal level must be due to some malicious exploitative cabal, the Enemies of the People!

(At the same time it *is* true that the big companies cause lots of harm in the world and many of their CEOs are borderline psychopaths. It's not that the critique of capitalism is wrong; is just that the solution isn't "let's destroy capitalism and something better will magically emerge".)


message 11: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 1492 comments Mod
True words, Antti!


message 12: by Kateblue (new)

Kateblue | 641 comments Mod
Antti wrote: "Emergency Skin has this very same premise: the 1% leaves Earth to build their utopia elsewhere. "

My opinion is, if the 1% leave, others will just rise and take their place. It's like drug dealers. So you take some out? Others replace them. Or cockroaches. :-)


message 13: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 1492 comments Mod
Agreed, Kate, after a group leaves we are still having 100% the whole society and after ranking (even without grabbing any assets) we'll have 1% of the richest


message 14: by Antti (last edited Jul 08, 2020 10:18AM) (new)

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 238 comments Mod
Not necessarily; there is a theory (I forgot who originally proposed it, but Thirteen by Richard Morgan included a variant of this theory) that there exists a neurodivergence similar to but distinct from psychopathy that makes people extremely ambitious, manipulative and without emotional empathy. These people will use every means possible to rise to positions of power, and as a consequence our political leaders and the "1%" are mostly if not solely comprised of these people.

If this theory was true (not saying it is, but as a thought experiment) it would mean that getting rid of the 1% would, indeed, make the world better off: although some other people would fill the power vacuum, they wouldn't be quasi-psychopaths, so they wouldn't do as heinous things as our current elites.


message 15: by Kateblue (new)

Kateblue | 641 comments Mod
Interesting, Annti! Thanks for something to think about


message 16: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 1492 comments Mod
While I generally support the idea that top politics and top enterprise attracts sociopaths or people with some similar deviation, the very bonuses these positions give attract other people as well. Some, who are in love with their own voice, others, who just want to milk the position, also true altruist to whom the situation hurts, etc., etc.

Sociopaths are limited in how the can effectively socialize (esp. with other sociopaths) therefore an idea of 1% cabal (i.e. joined prolonged cooperation) seems far-fetched even while I agree that the share of such deviants at the top is likely higher than in population in general


message 17: by Kateblue (new)

Kateblue | 641 comments Mod
I so hope that the theory Antti stated is wrong. But I see that the library has a copy of Thirteen, so maybe I shall see what I think.


message 18: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 1492 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "I so hope that the theory Antti stated is wrong. But I see that the library has a copy of Thirteen, so maybe I shall see what I think."

Not as much wrong as incomplete I guess


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