Noumena (book series)

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Name: Noumena, Axiom's End, Truth of the Divine
Abbreviation(s): TOTD
Creator: Lindsay Ellis
Date(s): July 2020-
Medium: Novel series
Country of Origin:
External Links:
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Noumena is a sci-fi book trilogy by YouTuber and video essayist Lindsay Ellis. Axiom's End is the first novel in the trilogy. Truth of the Divine, it's sequel, came out on Oct 19, 2021, and the third part of the trilogy (name yet announced) has no definitive release date. Though only contacted for three books, Ellis has stated she pitched five, and book four and five will likely only be contracted if the first three books do well enough.[1]

Despite being number seven in New York Times best sellers list when it released, Noumena has a relatively small online fandom presence, with the fandom's naming convention not solidified. The series title, "Noumena," is used rarely, with the two book titles, Axiom's End and Truth of the Divine (TOTD) used most often by fans. As such, fans may not use "Noumena fandom," but rather "Axiom's End fandom" when discussing the series online.

Plot

Axiom's End

Set in 2007, college drop out Cora Sabino navigates a life in which the connection to her conspiracy theorist father, Nils Oretega, has caused her to come in contact with a member of the amygdaline alien race. The alien, code named Ampersand, uses Cora as a mind-controlled puppet until they eventually are able to have a conversation and come to an understanding. Ampersand wants to find the location of a group of crashed amygdalines (the "Fremda" group) and Cora wants to save her family, who had been detained by the CIA after Ampersand had earlier broken into their house.

Eventually the two, and Cora's aunt Luciana, come forward to reveal Ampersand to the CIA. Ampersand and the Fremda group are thusly united. Representing Ampersand as his interpreter, Cora is allowed to stay on as a consultant for the aliens as they are all moved to a more secure military base. The group of aliens are given protection there, as higher-ranking amygdalines (the "Obelus Event") are looking for them to kill them in an attempt to complete a genocide. Cora and Ampersand grow closer.

The aliens in hiding, and by extend Cora, are soon discovered by the other group of aliens hunting them. Cora and Sol re-locate with the Genome, the last remaining remnant of the DNA that made Ampersand's group "defective" to their people. The sack containing the genome hatches into a alien who resembles amygdalines, but instead of being a robot the alien is all flesh, surprising everyone. After an attempt to re-locate again is thwarted, Cora is separated from the CIA, re-uinited with her aunt, and then finally re-united with Apersand and the Fremda group. However, Ampersand tells Cora to leave and not come back. After hearing screeching she returns anyways to find Obelus, the amygdaline who'd been hunting them, confronting the Fremda group. It is here that Cora learns Ampersand is actually pair bonded to Obelus.

Obelus grabs Cora and demands Ampersand bring him the Genome or else he will kill Cora and half of Ampersand's group. While captured, Cora tells Obelus's group about him being bonded to Ampersand, making Obelus a part of the defective blood line, and thus someone to be purged. Ampersand double crosses Obelus, entrusting the survival of his group, the Genome, and himself to Cora. While all the non-natural amygdalines are stunned she tries to kill Obelus with a shovel, but Ampersand forces her to stop.

In the end, Ampersand chooses to save Cora's life over that of the Genome's life after both of them are wounded. After Cora wakes up later in the hospital (finding her family all alive and well), Ampersand admits he fusion bonded to Cora in order to track her when Obelus had taken her hostage.

Truth of the Divine

Truth of the Divine is only set a few months after the events of Axiom's End, in 2008, with Cora still contractually obligated to assist the government in communication with the remaining Earth-bound aliens. She and Ampersand keep their fusion bond a secret, but it turns out their bond is different from the typical amygdaline/amygdaline bond. Instead, they can feel one another's emotions, which becomes debilitating for both of them due to their separate mental illnesses and trauma. When Esperas becomes aware of the depth of Ampersand's mental illness, he declares Ampersand must be euthanized, but nothing comes of this as Stelo and Krias rebel against Esperas and demand asylum on Earth, seemingly distracting him.

Ampersand's last remaining amygdaline symphyle arrives on Earth, named Enola Gay by the media. He comes to commit ritualistic suicide with Ampersand, as after Obelus's death Ampersand should have run out of symphyles other than Enola. He learns that no, not only does Ampersand now have a bond to human Cora, but Obelus was still alive. Ampersand placed Obelus's brain into the shell of the late Cefo and suppressed his memory, hiding him in a cave. Despite this, Obelus retains a superiority over humanity, and Cora, upon discovering what Ampersand has done, scares Obelus off as Obelus is the source of her PTSD. Cora and Ampersand are now on bad terms, but she helps him as he drains the "medicine" that Enola is addicted to out of his body, so that Enola won't die of it. At the same time, Cora meets Kaveh, a journalist for the New York Times, and befriends him. Kaveh then befriends the terrified and restrained Enola, renaming him Nikola. Nikola immediately becomes fond of Kaveh and delays the suicide for him.

Feeling betrayed by Ampersand, in part due to his extensive lies, Cora releases Nikola against Ampersand's wishes and Nikola explains the complexities of the known and unknown universe to her. Ampersand freaks out, terrified Nikola will force him to commit suicide together before also killing Cora, but that doesn't happen. Obelus is also still at large in Cefo's smaller body, being hunted by other Similars. After also feeling betrayed by ROSA and the government, Cora quits her job as Ampersand's official interpreter and speaks to the media while working with Kaveh. Nikola reveals himself to a gathering of anti-alien conspiracy theorists, and domestic terrorists use an EMP to power him down to try and then kill him. However, Cora and Ampersand show up to protect he and Kaveh, not before the EMP knocks Ampersand out too. Cora nearly dies at gunpoint shielding Ampersand, but they all survive. Ampersand then checks out mentally for weeks and refuses to speak to even Cora, having seemingly given up on life, but not ready to die. Cora uses Kaveh for his good will, living with him, starting a sexual relationship with him, and using him to treat her mental illness. It only half works and she continues to self harm mentally and physically. She admits to loving Ampersand to him when he asks, and he is not bothered.

Ampersand disappears and so does Nikola. Nikola appears to Cora and tells her he is looking for Ampersand, and she realizes he is probably trying to steal Obelus's old Similar body so Obelus can leave the planet. Nikola, Kaveh, and Cora intercept Ampersand and Obelus (still in Cefo's body). The Similars hunting him show up, as Nikola made a deal with them to give them Obelus and his old body as well. They take Obelus and the body and leave. The domestic terrorists show up while Ampersand and Nikola were downed by an EMP, and though Ampersand woke up in time to protect Cora, Kaveh was shot and killed instantly when Nikola does not get up in time. With nothing keeping his will to live anymore, Nikola kills the terrorists in a rage and steals Ampersand. Cora finds them again later, with Nikola using the "medicine" again and planning to die with Ampersand. She convinces Ampersand not to go through with the ritualistic suicide by promising he could experiment on her to try and learn high language. Nikola does not consent and tries to kill Ampersand anyways, before he kills himself. Cora is able to save Ampersand before she accidentally stops her own heart. She wakes back up to Ampersand saying Nikola was okay, but in an induced coma. They then decide they want to leave the planet together.

Ellis's Commentary and Transformer References

The author, Lindsay Ellis, had actually been in fandom for nearly two decades by the time she published professionally. Her main two fandoms were Phantom of the Opera and Transformers, with the later seeming to have more influence on Axiom's end. For example, in a 2018 video on Monster Romance she joked that her upcoming novel was "Starscream fanfiction." In her Q&A, she says there was a "hidden Starscream" in the novel, but it wasn't Ampersand.[1] The "hidden Starscream" ended up not being a character, but rather two, who were named after the Decepticon but share no attributes with him (the characters Stelo and Krias's names mean Star and Shout/Scream, respectively). There are other Transformers references in the book, such as "the whole plate" and the trope of life bonding, which is also a Transformers fanfic trope called Spark Merging. In book 2, Truth of the Divine, the similarities to spark merging are expanded when Cora and Ampersand are able to feel one another's emotions through the bond, which is also a common aspect of spark merging. Whether the use of life bonding was inspired by the general trope (as the trope is not completely limited to Transformers fanon) or whether it was a direct reference to the Transformers fanon is unclear.

Ellis is aware of Axiom's End fanfiction. She has said she is aware of an Omegaverse fanfic up on AO3 (referencing "Garlic Knots & Nesting, the only A/B/O Axion's End fanfic as of May 2021). However, she stated she had not read it as she is not allowed to.[2]She said she is supportive of fanworks, but doesn't wish to comment on any one work so as not to make fans feel one interpretation is more accurate than another. However, she did comment that the fanart depicting Obelus as darker than Ampersand was incorrect, as all amygdalines are the same color, meaning she has had to look at Axiom's End fanart on either Tumblr or Twitter.[1] In book 2 it was revealed amygdalines could be black, but only through extreme sickness and means related to addiction, so Ellis's comment may have been meant to avoid spoilers.

Fandom

Most of the Axiom's End fandom is located on Tumblr, though it is relatively small and as of May 2021 seems to only contain a few frequent fandom members. Its presence on Twitter is not much bigger. This would make it a microfandom despite being a best selling novel by a popular member of fandom who runs a well known YouTube channel. The teratophilia community is a part of the Axiom's End fandom, with posts on Tumblr by teratophilia bloggers expressing excitement for Truth of the Divine's release date, due to Ellis stating it was "the one where they fuck." When it came out that this may have been a joke and they did not have sex in book 2 some fans expressed disappointment.

The most common depictions in visual fanworks are interpretations of Ampersand and his species, with some details varying across artists. Parts of amygdaline bodies that vary across artists are usually the crest, the number of toes, the general body shape (raptor-like vs. human-like) and whether or not amygdaline bodies are segmented or smooth. A few fan depictions color Similars, such as Obelus, as black, but Ellis has stated she is aware of this fan interpretation and it was incorrect. Some artists do depict Cora, but it's rare for artists to depict other supporting characters such as Cora's family or the agents of the CIA.

As of May 2021 there are only 8 fanfics for Axiom's end, at least two of them NSFW. Most works are short, with the longest being about 5,000 words, titled Dichotomy of the Obsession. Dichotomy of the Obsession is one of the two NSFW fanfics, and is set after the end of the first book, detailing how Ampersand might come to understand and engage in human sexuality despite being a non-sexual alien. It includes some fan interprtation of ways Ampersand might be able to shapeshift his fingers.[3]

The main ship of Axiom's End is Cora/Ampersand. There are two ship names for them, the first being Cor&, and the second being Corampersand, a very minimal portmanteau. Sometimes, particularly on AO3, Ampersand's name is abbreviated to &, so instead of fanfics saying Cora Sabino/Ampersand they will say Cora & & or Cora/&. Because the fandom is so small the ship name may be subject to change, were Axiom's End to gain more notoriety. As of book 2, some fans began shipping polyamorous relationships, being that amygdalines practiced nonmonogamy. With the introduction of new characters new, complex shipping occurred. With the complex nature of the canon relationships, "polycule" may be more accurate than just polyamory for how the fandom (and the canon) interacts with shipping.[4] For example, in canon Cora dates Kaveh and is bonded to Ampersand, but Ampersand does not date or bond to Kaveh; Ampersand is bonded to Nikola (Enola), Obelus, and Cora, but Nikola is not bonded to Cora nor Obelus. While the fandom ships canon ships such as these, they also ship non-canon ships like Kaveh/Nikola, Kaveh/Cora/Ampersand, and Kaveh/Cora/Ampersand/Nikola.[5] Obelus is usually not included in shipping, and the late character Cefo is not either.

Fanart

Visual

Fanfiction

Meta

References

  1. ^ a b c Axiom's End Q&A, Dec 18, 2020 (Accessed 5/28/2021)
  2. ^ Garlic Knots & Nesting, Archive of Our Own. Jul 2020 (Accessed 5/28/2021)
  3. ^ Dichotomy of the Obsession, Archive of Our Own. Sept 12, 2020 (Accessed 5/29/2021)
  4. ^ Getting the polycule adjusted to a new girlfriend’s scent. Tumblr, Oct 19, 2021 (Accessed 10/23/2021)
  5. ^ ship: ampersand/cora/obelus/enola. Tumblr, Oct 12, 2021 (Accessed 10/23/2021)