Science Fiction and Fantasy novels are full of stories of powerful, but oppressed minorities. As magic users or mutants they haunt the genre. And authors have told powerful and wonderful stories featuring these characters. A. E. Van Vogt's novel Slan, is about a super-powered group of humans, called slans, who are feared and hunted by normal humans. There are also the very accomplished protagonists of Anne McCaffrey’s Talent Universe; the voyants in The Bone Season. On televsion there are the psychic psi-corp of Babylon Five; the 4400; the Sensates of Sense8; and the X-Men of the Marvel Universe’s comic books, movies, and television shows.
But none of these stories, wonderful as they are, give the sense of history, the sense of weight of living in a hostile society with the honesty of The Fifth Season. None of those other works show, with such heartbreaking believability, the grinding struggle that people face trying to build a life, a family, a safe place in a world stacked against them. None of them show the struggle of loving your children but training them to be afraid. None of them show how clearly you can’t protect your children from the entire world, no matter how much you love them, or how cruel you’ll let yourself be.
The Fifth Season is a compelling read. If it helps, The Fifth Season and its sequel, The Obelisk Gate, are beautifully written, exciting, and dreadful. This is the story of a woman of color who has power over earth itself. It has evil guardians, a horrible school, an unearthly child, a quest for vengeance, mysterious obelisks floating overhead, and pirates--libertine pirates! The writing is full of sharp, brittle moments that lodge under your skin as you read them, drawing you back, again and again. The Fifth Season has won a Hugo Award and been nominated for a Nebula Award.
I’ve never longed for and dreaded the release of the final book in a series the way I have for the release of the final book in The Broken Earth series. The Stone Sky, will be the end of the trilogy and is due out in August 2017. My stomach is already in knots. To put this dread in perspective, I’ve been reading the Game of Thrones series for years without much of a problem, beyond muttering darkly to myself as I open each new book that Arya had better be okay.