Why Sometimes a Character Must Die

Death is waiting for everyone. Each one of us will some day experience dying, whether after aging, through sickness, or suddenly. There is an inescapable inevitability to death and many choose to live their lives ignoring the end as much as they can, as though it will somehow prolong life if they succeed. I recently […]

The Both-And Cake

I’ve begun to notice more and more a disturbing pattern in which ideas that don’t coincide are automatically assumed to be in direct opposition to each other. This leads to either/or thinking, often on topics that are far more complex and cannot be generalized into just two opposing camps. This is not new, but it’s […]

All English Teachers Should Write

I’ve been writing stories since middle school. They weren’t any good (and some of mine now still aren’t) but I was writing. I didn’t start caring about the craft of writing until I had stories of my own I needed to tell. My drive to master the mechanics, conventions, and forms of writing came when […]

Man of Steel

I have an uneasy relationship with superhero movies. As a lover of SF and fantasy, I appreciate the transcendent and speculative nature of the stories and characters. As someone that enjoys mindless action movies to unwind, the power and motion of the action-sequences are often mesmerizing. But as a teacher of literature, I’m also at […]

The Blight of the Morning Grump

It has come to my attention that there are people who behave abnormally and in a totally unacceptable manner when they awake in the mornings. As any rational and well-behaved human should know, the morning is for being chipper, awake, breakfasting, and socializing. Unfortunately, we are faced with a blight upon the earth—those that are […]

Are We Using the Same Language?

Complex storytelling and how the masters use language differently One of my favorite moments is opening a new novel and experiencing the confusion of reading the first chapter. It’s not a bad confusion in which I’m lost or unable to parse the language. No, it’s like being plunked into new surroundings and having to get […]

The (non-physical) Benefits of Running

I remember the dread that filled me on the way to school. Every year in middle school, these terrible physical tests in PE reared their heads and one of those fearsome monsters was the mile run. I never did well, hated every moment of it, and was embarrassed by my lack of athleticism. Frequently, it […]

Growing All The Time

After living in an oasis for three years, where even the greenery is often covered in sand and a dull yellowish color suffuses everything, the green of Penang was overwhelming when we first moved here. This jungle paradise is rich with plant-life, birds, insects, larger animals, streams, mountains and ocean. The greens and blues stood […]

Our Doubts are Traitors

“All novels are fantasies. Some are more honest about it.” Gene Wolfe The study room off the third floor lounge in our dorm was small, fluorescently lighted, and had a big table in it. In fact, it wasn’t even my floor; my room was one floor down. My friend Sean had laid claim to this […]