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In my first post on the subject of the calendar in the Avatar world I discussed the element-animal combination cycle of years, and in my second post I talked about the conflict this created with canon evidence.

Three alternatives: brute force, a clumsy swap-out, and full-on cheating )

I have a whole bunch of Python scripts I used to run these simulations, but decided copying them to DW/LJ would be too much hassle given how the formatting screws with the indentations. If you're interested in the code, drop me a line and I'll happily share. As of now I've nattered on way too long about something that like 0.1% of fans (if that) are interested in, so I'll stop and move on to more interesting things like fanfic and Azula ranting.
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I discussed in my last post how the Avatar world probably uses a combination of elemental and animal years to have a cyclical system, much like the traditional Chinese sexagenary cycle. In that post I also argued that the fan theory of the elemental years standing for Avatar eras is unworkable, due to the difficulty of coding historical events (like Avatar birth and death years) into a mathematical and astronomical calendar,.and due to the notation of the years in writing.

My theory has problems, though. Here's why. )

The easiest way to get around this difficulty is to say that "Cultivated Commanding Dragon year" is a mistake. The creative team was on a schedule, after all, while fans have years and years to analyze this stuff, assuming a show that is not quickly forgotten and/or fans with enough time on their hands.

Still, I'd like to eschew the easy way out in this particular case because there is something else I don't like about the system I've assumed. I like it a lot better than the Avatar epoch-animal year system hypothesized by the Avatar Wiki, for all the reasons I've stated in my previous post on the subject. However, I don't like that the years cycle back in only 48 years. In a 48-year cycle, living until your birth year comes around again can't be anything very rare, nor does it denote as much wisdom and experience as a 60-year cycle. The cultured commanding dragon year business is just an additional reason to seek an alternative.

Therefore my next post on the subject (yes, I'm writing three posts about the calendar of a fictional world. Go me!) I'll talk about ways to fix the calendar system.
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In Chapter 17 of Shadow of the Dragon King, as well as the side story A Night's Work, I used the era name Ji Lian for the Era of Avatar Aang. I got the idea from the Avatar Wiki page on the History of the World of Avatar, which claims that the mechanical calendar in Wan Shi Tong's library shows the Avatar Cycle. According to the wiki (and the ATLA Annotations Tumblr), the current era of Avatar Aang is Yang Wu/Ri Wu (氜武) and the previous era of Roku was Zhuo Guang (焯光), while the next era of Avatar Korra will be Chun Tai (淳泰). The first letter of each era name uses the radical corresponding to the "home" element of each Avatar.

I totally disagree with that theory, and here's why. )

Conclusion: While the letters on the third ring of Wan Shi Tong's calendar probably stand for years rather than eras, I still liked the idea of era names for the different Avatars and came up with Ji Lian (刏連, severed continuity) for Avatar Aang. "Ji" has the air radical qi (气) so it fits the Air Nomad Avatar, while "severed continuity" symbolizes the disturbed continuities that characterize the reign of this Avatar: The genocide of the Air Nomads, the long absence of the Avatar, and the century of war that wrought irreversible changes on the world.
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Part I: A Genocide in Four Easy Steps and As Many or More Decades

So I've been blowing my top over fun things like fictional genocide, and the Air Nomads were on my mind a lot. Together with arguments that Sozin might not necessarily have hated the Air Nomads, plus the evidence from the show, I've started speculating that the destruction of the Air Nomads wasn't industrial-strength massacres like the German Third Reich perpetuated. Maybe the process was more akin to the reduction of the American native peoples, a combination of very real atrocity and oppression with population issues, social and economic change, and loss of culture. It even culminated with little Airbenders growing up in Air Nomad Reservation Air Temple Island.

Why are your words so big, Grandma? The better to crush you with, dear. )


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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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