FOODFIC: Please Welcome Karl Fields, Author of Steths: Cognition
is set in a near-future version of America where a select few truly are
judge and jury, hearing cases and deciding on guilt or innocence, as
well as punishment.
Chambers is among a rare group of humans with a trait called
hypersensitive tympanic syndrome: the ability to hear heartbeats and,
more specifically, the emotions within them. All he wants to do is play
football, but his abilities as a Steth attract the attention of the
Faulkner Academy, a prestigious boarding school. That’s because, in
addition to being a school for regular students, Faulkner operates a
secret training facility, preparing young Steths for the day they will
sit in judgment of others.
students are treated like royalty. The dorms have more in common with a
five-star hotel, and the cafeteria features linens tablecloths and
servers. It’s heady stuff for a guy who comes from a neighborhood where
“the primary color is concrete,” and choosing the Faulkner
lifestyle should be a no-brainer. But Devin is conflicted, especially
when he hears innocence in a death row inmate’s heartbeat, a sentiment
no one around him shares.
decision Devin makes presents him with another dilemma instead of a
resolution until finally, whether the condemned man lives or dies
resides with him. At one point, Devin’s stepfather, Marcus, enters the
kitchen to find Devin helping himself to a frozen waffle and peanut
butter. Marcus points out that this has been “thinking food” for as long
as he’s known Devin.
giving up specifics (discussion of the Steth training program with
anyone not in the program is forbidden), Devin confides in Marcus, and
the two have a heart-to-heart over store-bought waffles. It's a far cry
from the gourmet fare served up at Faulkner and a key moment in the
story, as the stakes have grown incredibly and Devin's actions will have
of us have a “go-to” food when something has us stressed or sad or
anxious. By having this scene play out at the breakfast nook, I thought
helped make Devin relatable at a key moment. Also, I was trying to show
that despite everything that he’s experienced at the academy, he hasn’t
lost who he really is.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Karl!