RQ: World Building with NK Jemisin


Keep the following questions in mind as you listen to Ep.148 of the Ezra Klein Show, “I Build a World with Fantasy Master NK Jemisin.” The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

How can elements in the worlds you build act as allegories for key ideas as well as literal features?

How does geography shape social interaction?

How can/should anticipate and respond to the knowledge audiences will bring to your world as they read it?

What is element X? What examples of element X do Jemisin and Klein provide listeners?

According to Jemisin how do societies develop in relation to their inherited pasts (syncretism)?

According to Jemisin how do societies develop characteristics intended to distinguish themselves from their nearest neighbors (differentiation)?

According to Jemisin how do societies develop stories about their cosmic origins and how do those stories influence social, political, technological, etc. relations (cosmogony)?

According to Jemisin how do societies develop systems of extenchange and resource distribution (economy)?

How are societies defined by what they have to offer other societies?

Do the powerful ever listen to those they once scorned?

Do societies ever become so unjust that they cannot be redeemed?

What do we have to understand about our own world in order to build a convincing fictional one?

How does Jemisin’s defintion of power, i.e. the ability of an individual or group to control or coerce other individuals or groups with impunity, determine social norms or defaults? How does power determine who is marginalized and why?

How does power determine ways individuals or groups are likely to react to scarcity in times of crisis?

How does building a fictional world also create a model of the actual world and time the author occupies?

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