Literary Judge, Jury, and Executioner

From superhero comics to children shows like Danny Phantom, America’s science-fiction and entertainment industries have thrived on the idea of giving humans (or humanoids at least) supernatural powers for decades. This trope has enticed people for generations, probably because it gives its audience a chance to momentarily escape from their troubles or simply from the normality of reality. By becoming engrossed in a world that uses humans as its subjects/heroes, the audience has the opportunity to envision the fictional setting as an alternate universe in which (maybe in another life) they themselves could have had a chance to live in. Continue reading “Literary Judge, Jury, and Executioner”

Canning Food and Botulism

On Wednesday, October 3rd, I attended a Food Safety Talk podcast recording at the recommendation of Dr. McCoy. While I was there, the speakers answered a question about how long imperishable food can last and when we should be worried about it. This reminded me of Chapter 9 in N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season where Alabaster gets poisoned by badly canned food and I was curious as to how accurate Jemisin’s description of faulty canning practices could be. Turns out, she likely did some research.
Continue reading “Canning Food and Botulism”

My Friend Sent Me a Snapchat of His 9th Grade Earth Science Reference Table

Over the weekend, my friend was apparently going through his old room at his parent’s house and he found his old 9th grade Earth Science reference table and decided to snapchat me a picture of it. He was in amazement that either he or his parents would keep such a thing as everyone knows that 9th grade is one to never be spoken of again, once it has passed. I lamented to him that I really could have actually used some of the reference table for this class I’m taking this semester. He then questioned how an English class would “ever need to know sciencey things, especially geological science things.” And I told him about our class. He then offered to send me more pictures of select pages from the reference table, but at that point, I had already gotten my own copy from The Internet (see link below for your own copy too!) Continue reading “My Friend Sent Me a Snapchat of His 9th Grade Earth Science Reference Table”

In his blog post called Separating Good Art form Problematic Artists Denis poses the question. “Should we as a society be able to look past terrible acts when the people who committed them have also created wonderful things?”  This is a question I’ve been contemplating for a few years now and I’ve gone back and forth, been on both sides of the argument. But now I have finally made up my mind on the position I am taking. Continue reading “”

Fulcrum. Torus. Crucible. What the actual rust?

Throughout Jemisin’s Broken Earth series we learn how imperial orogenes learn to harness their orogenetic abilities at the Fulcrum. Damaya, amongst other orogene children, learn how to control their torus while practicing their art of orogeny in the Crucible. Although all of this sounds run of the mill, I wanted to look into what each of these terms meant, both in a literal and symbolic sense.


The definition of a fulcrum is as follows: a pivot point around which a lever turns, or something that plays a central role in or is in the center of a situation or activity. An example given by is “A pivot point around which a lever turns is an example of a fulcrum.” This got me thinking about the purpose that the Fulcrum serves in the novels. It is mentioned that there are three fulcrum’s on the Stillness: one at either pole and one within the city of Yumenes. While Orogene children are outside of the Fulcrum they are considered lethal and deserving of death by the general population. We read time and time again of the stories of young orogene children being murdered for their gift. Damaya is one of the “lucky” ones that got reported to the authorities of orogenes, known as Guardians, and taken to the Fulcrum in Yumenes. When the children get to the Fulcrum and receive their training, this is a pivotal point in their existence, as observed by the greater population. By donning their all-black uniforms, the public views them as a source of help, not harm (although they generally do not treat the orogenes any better).

Continue reading “Fulcrum. Torus. Crucible. What the actual rust?”

Midterm Paper Reflection: Reversing Personal Tendencies and Defying Conventions

Writing the midterm paper went from being a frustrating process to an extremely rewarding one for me. I originally struggled to put words on paper, as I have a tendency towards perfectionism, where I feel like I must have completely figured out an argument before I write a paper. I was not sure what geologic source to use for my paper, but I thought I had developed two “main ideas” for it that I wanted to write about. When I met with Dr. McCoy to see if I was going in the right direction, I became even more frustrated because she kept telling me there were no “right” and “wrong” answers, but that I had to have more of a focus for my paper on the geologic source and make sure my writing was not purely based on the text of The Fifth Season. She asked what in the book was “most interesting” to me, to which I responded I was interested by the node maintainers. I said I wanted to write about them but did not know what geologic source to use as the basis of my writing. Dr. McCoy suggested I use the seismic networks we looked at in class one day, but I kept wondering how I could possibly use websites with information about earthquakes and tsunamis, in a paper in which I must analyze a book. Dr. McCoy challenged me to abandon my perfectionist tendencies and write to discover something, not to prove a previously held idea I had. I realized that because of my inclinations to only write something when I had it completely figured out, I had been unable to start the paper because I could not figure out how exactly I wanted to use the geologic source. I was not going to let this stop me anymore, and I sat down to write the introduction of my paper without a final point that I wanted to make in the paper. This made it easier for me to discover how I wanted to use the geologic sources, and I focused on the NEIC (National Earthquake Information Center) and GSN (Global Seismographic Center). Continue reading “Midterm Paper Reflection: Reversing Personal Tendencies and Defying Conventions”

El Niño and La Niña: Our Closest Analogue for Seasons?

Seasons are one of the primary forces which shape Stillness society–lore is centered on surviving them, geomests in the universities debate the history and classification of them, and the worth of individuals is measured by their utility in the event of them. The books in the Broken Earth trilogy each have a whole appendix dedicated to the Seasons in the back. When Antimony shares with Nassun the prospect of catching the moon and “bringing it back into stable orbit and magical alignment” (Obelisk Gate 172), Essun has a difficult time processing the implications: Continue reading “El Niño and La Niña: Our Closest Analogue for Seasons?”

Standardized Revisionism in Practice

Education is something I am very passionate about as someone who has considered being a teacher and student taught in America’s inner city public schools. While reading about Damaya’s training in the Fulcrum, I couldn’t help but think if standardized testing and my own experiences with school.

The clearest similarity between the education system and the fulcrum is standardized testing. Continue reading “Standardized Revisionism in Practice”