3. Dark Orbit - Strengths and Weaknesses

2

Another theme introduced early is the concept of the nkida - a strength that is also a weakness. How did that theme manifest itself in the story? Have you heard this concept given a name before? What separates a nkida from something that's just a strength?

How are this theme and the theme about the destructive qualities of observation tied together in this novel? Or are they?

Comments

  • 3

    In gaming terms, nkida make for great Fate Aspects! It's a common-enough trope, I think: the flaw that ends up saving the day. I don't think the concept was emphasised enough in the novel. Thora talked about her nkida but didn't really identify nkida in anyone or anything else. It wasn't a key point of the novel.

    I don't understand what you're getting at with tying nkida to the observation-as-interaction theme. Could you please expand?

  • 1

    I'm not getting at anything specific, just wondering if there's a connection between the two. If you can change something when you observe it, does that make the act of discovery itself both a strength and a weakness of humanity, for example?

    I agree, even though this theme was one of the first introduced, it wasn't fully exploited, perhaps. Thora's nkida is the inability to trust. How did that affect her choice in the climax? How was it a strength for her through novel? How was it a weakness? She seemed pretty trustworthy of the Torobonians, so I'm not sure even how often this trait manifested. It seemed to me that Sara was the one with the trust issues. Or Atlabatlow. Thora actually seemed pretty trusting and open minded.

  • 1

    @Apocryphal said:
    I agree, even though this theme was one of the first introduced, it wasn't fully exploited, perhaps.

    This is something I noticed in the book, and it seems you picked up on the same thing. There are lots of interesting ideas in the book, but there are many more introduced than are developed and explored. Would the book have been better if the world-building had been tighter, with the narrative focussed on just the themes that were central to the story? Or did people like the sense of a rich world existing outside the strict requirements of the plot?

  • 0

    I would say that as written, the plot built more on the idea that you get forced repeatedly into situations which expose your weakness unless and until you have confronted it. That emerges in both psychotherapeutic and religious contexts.
    Like you two, I didn't see the theme as stated emerge too much, but the one I mention was all over the place. For example, Thora who finds it hard to trust is put somewhere literally dark in which she has to trust the good nature of the occupants. Sara is forced to deal with and ultimately work creatively with the security guy whose ingrained habits of thought are opposed to her own (equally, without wishing to spoil, she realises that a specific act of trust she did make was ill-founded).
    Yes, I absolutely liked the sense of the "rich world existing outside the strict requirements of the plot".

  • 1

    @RichardAbbott said:

    Yes, I absolutely liked the sense of the "rich world existing outside the strict requirements of the plot".

    Me too. I really enjoyed that not everything in the book was utilitarian narratively speaking.

  • 1

    I felt that some of the worldbuilding was developing a rich universe that the characters lived in outside the novel. But I also felt there were several elements that seemed to be there to set up a theme or conflict in the novel, but weren't followed through. The emphasis on the Waster/Plant split and the Torobe/wender split was the largest example.

  • 1
    For the Wasters, having no home and being outside time was both a strength and a weakness.
    For the people of the planet, blindness was both a weakness and a strength. Or reversing it, being able to see is both a strength and a weakness.
    Or access to technology, the weakness being reliance on tools.

    I somehow didn't pick up on it as the major theme, but it certainly came up a lot.
Sign In or Register to comment.