Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Antimatter Spork » Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:01 pm UTC

See, I don't remember much about later books in the Ender or Shadow series (mostly because I only read them once).
Spoiler:
I do remember Bean's issues with having kids, and that part never really bothered me. I had completely forgotten about the Anton thing. Does Card write any homosexual characters who don't end up in heterosexual marriages? I ask because that seems to be his "solution" to homosexuality (IIRC from his articles, this is his way of claiming to be gay-friendly: "I will acknowledge your right to exist so long as you tell no one and never have a homosexual relationship") so I wouldn't be surprised if his work champions it.
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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Okita » Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:30 pm UTC

Having only read stuff involving Ender or Bean, I don't really know.

Spoiler:
Another thing to point out with Anton is that while it's generally assumed that he's gay because he states that he has no desire for a woman... the other possibility is that he doesn't have any sexual desire at all. He doesn't seem to have any homosexual relationships (which really doesn't fit his point anyway because it's about having your own biological kids which he can't do since apparently OSC didn't want to have that sort of tech. available). I tend to think of Anton as this guy who really never cared about sex and thus buried himself in his work. His work was taken away and then he found he was completely disconnected from his friends (who were all related through his work) and from the human race. If he was homosexual, couldn't he have had a relationship with someone that transcended work? You could argue that OSC is arguing that you can't if you're gay but somehow I think having no sexual desire fits better into the whole grand scheme of being a part of humanity and having children.
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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:32 pm UTC

But, see...
Spoiler:
if a guy isn't just ALL about the poon, he's gay. At least, this is what I've gathered from film, television, other books, and decades of social interaction.

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Zohar » Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:34 pm UTC

I started reading sci-fi with Orson Scott Card. Specifically, the Homecoming series. I loved him, until I started reading other sci-fi. Then I realized that he's not particularly original or interesting. He's not bad, of course, but not as awesome as I figured. He writes relationships and political settings rather well. I think that of his books, my favorite is Pastwatch. He's certainly a good author to start sci-fi with, I think.
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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby ameretrifle » Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:58 am UTC

Okita wrote:I'm a bit curious as to how many have read OSC's political articles on the internet.
I don't think I've read anything by him, just heard about what he's said, and heard about the issues people have with him. And I read the Shadow series before I heard about all the political issues, IIRC. As I was reading it, I was all, "What... the hell is that?" Then, a couple years later when I finally heard about the LDS/anti-gay/what have you issues, it did seem to make sense of a few otherwise inexplicable things.

Again, the point is that you can't be a part of the human race unless you add to it through children.
Yes, exactly. I find that sentiment incredibly disturbing. Plus, it's not raising a child that is so important; as I recall, that poor woman Anton marries already has a child. Card couches that argument in genetics. It gets turned into some creepy biological imperative. It's not important that you raise a child with good values who will do good things for the species, it's important that you have a child who carries your genes and will remember you and your mannerisms after you're dead. It's couched as selfishness, and biology, which just makes no sense. The whole damn conversation is surreal on half a dozen philosophical levels; the gay issues are just one of them.

I find your summary of the conversation and the issues involved excellent and comprehensive, Okita. I still don't understand it at all.

I am invested enough in this argument that I might grab a copy of the books in question at the library tomorrow just to confirm some of these things.
Spoiler:
I recall reading back after the confusion that conversation brought on in me and discovering something that convinced me that Anton was not asexual (which was what had first occured to me), but gay. I do not remember at all what that was. It's a creepy, disturbed sentiment either way. What if you're infertile? You can't be as meaningful to the human race? What about orphans? Raising "other people's mistakes" (as I heard someone deem foster kids in a debate) doesn't make as much difference or mean as much as having children of your own? Helping children who are grown or already here doesn't mean as much as creating them? FUCK. THAT. SHIT. I hear that bullshit too goddamn much and I will not stand for it, here or anywhere.
Gah... I repeat, the whole conversation was the most surreal thing I've ever read. If it were at least consistent with Card's views, maybe it wouldn't have been so jarring. But it was just the most convoluted, creepy, inconsistent, inane apologia I've ever seen in anything that had an editor. I still can't even get my head around what he was even trying to say. My brain just stalls. This must be what it's like to run Vista.

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Clumpy » Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:45 pm UTC

ameretrifle wrote:
Again, the point is that you can't be a part of the human race unless you add to it through children.
Yes, exactly. I find that sentiment incredibly disturbing. Plus, it's not raising a child that is so important; as I recall, that poor woman Anton marries already has a child.


Well, Ender never has any children but feels that he helped raise Novinha's. Then again Ender isn't constrained by the fallibility of most of the human race :).

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Okita » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:47 pm UTC

Spoiler:
I think I miswrote. I state that it's "desire to have children" but really it's part of being part of the human race through its progeny. Anton is trying to get Bean to have kids with Petra which has sketchy biological issues that are long and complicated and delve into a lot of curious questions and variables given Bean's particular condition, short life, and genes.

But Anton overall isn't saying "YOU ALL SHOULD START HAVING BABIES NAOW!"

Actually it's here where you start seeing the anti-gay marriage bit if only for a moment. Anyway...

Anton wrote: “It’s hardwired into all of us. Not just sexual desire—that can be twisted any which way, and it often is. And not just a desire to have children, because many people never get that, and yet they can still he woven into the fabric. No, it’s a deep hunger to find a person from that strange, terrifyingly other sex and make a life together Even old people beyond mating, even people who know they can’t have children, there’s still a hunger for this. For actual marriage, two unlike creatures becoming, as best they can, one.”


And to continue with how he has a wife:

Anton wrote:"With small children who have no father I have a pension now—a generous one—and with my help these children will have a home. My proclivities have not changed, but she is still young enough, and perhaps we will find a way for her to bear a child that is truly my own. But if not, then I will adopt her children into my heart. I will rejoin the web. My loose thread will he woven in, knotted to the human race. I will not die alone."


So you see, he's all about being a part of the human race by influencing the young/ raising them in some way or sort. OSC implies that ideally you should do it through marrying a woman and having a biological kid but what I personally take from that part is that as a human, to be a part of the human race, is to add to it through supporting one's children (regardless of whether they are your own). Although I personally also would like to have grandchildren someday. Anyway, you can read anti-gay marriage into this through the fact that OSC writes Anton saying that the deep hunger is with regards to finding someone of the other sex. And if you read it that way, it's bad. I rather take it as Anton just generalizing, especially since Bean is not gay. Or something.

It also makes me wonder... I have read feminists who say that it doesn't matter if the author did not intend his or her misogynist writing, a book can still be really bad. I wonder if the reverse is true. Can you interpret a position from an author's book that is different from the author's original political policy? Blech, it's too meta for me.
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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby ameretrifle » Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:55 am UTC

Okita: That actually helps a lot. Thank you! There's no way I can endorse that argument, but at least I now have a better idea of what that argument is. The whole thing still struck me as odd, philosophically dodgy, and strangely contrived, though. That's one of the reasons it's so easy to interpret it as a political thing... it seems the best explanation for an otherwise inexplicable scene. When something throws you out of the narrative, that's when you start wondering about an author's agenda. Without moments like that, agendas can usually just go ignored. Whether or not that's a good thing is another question...

It also makes me wonder... I have read feminists who say that it doesn't matter if the author did not intend his or her misogynist writing, a book can still be really bad. I wonder if the reverse is true. Can you interpret a position from an author's book that is different from the author's original political policy? Blech, it's too meta for me.
I'd put at least a good 60% of Freudian analysis in that category, myself... But I'd say it's almost certain. Distinguishing between what was unmeant and what was unconscious, though... that's a can of worms for you.

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Clumpy » Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:18 pm UTC

ameretrifle wrote:
It also makes me wonder... I have read feminists who say that it doesn't matter if the author did not intend his or her misogynist writing, a book can still be really bad. I wonder if the reverse is true. Can you interpret a position from an author's book that is different from the author's original political policy? Blech, it's too meta for me.
I'd put at least a good 60% of Freudian analysis in that category, myself... But I'd say it's almost certain. Distinguishing between what was unmeant and what was unconscious, though... that's a can of worms for you.


Honestly, it's that age-old question of authorial intent. If the writer intended the song to be about her spiraling battle with drug use, is somebody who sees it as a tender love song justified in their interpretation? I think so. Art and meaning is more with the one who experiences it than the creator.

That said, I think it's important to recognize that it's okay to criticize people for inserting their own conscious or unconscious biases into their work. Still, the writer's many unstated "morals" might not always be something that we can accept or even tolerate, but art or a good story doesn't require agreement. (I mean, how else could anybody read Battlefield Earth?)

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Antimatter Spork » Sat Jan 17, 2009 3:34 am UTC

Clumpy wrote:That said, I think it's important to recognize that it's okay to criticize people for inserting their own conscious or unconscious biases into their work. Still, the writer's many unstated "morals" might not always be something that we can accept or even tolerate, but art or a good story doesn't require agreement.

Basically, this.

Also, about the creepy "biological imperative" things, Science Fiction is ALL ABOUT the creepy biological imperative things. It's one of the genre's lovable quirks (along with all the crazy)
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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby TobiasBerenson » Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:07 am UTC

yes, dear *insert deity here* read it. Enders game is my favorite, always will be. than its speaker. and xenocide was not bad. just not as great. shadow of the hegemon was good, if you enjoy spy type stuff (thats how it feels.)

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Insomnist » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:45 am UTC

Sorry for resurrecting a two-month-old topic, but I noticed that the conversation invariably got stuck in the Ender's Saga rut. If I can be so bold I'd like to extrapolate on that, since I think it's Ender's Game that completely wrecked Card's ability to write non-senilistic fiction.

The only reason I say this is because I've spend the last few weeks getting my hands on pre-1990 stuff Card has written. Besides already having read Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, and Xenocide (while also having read enough of Empire and Ender in Exile to know I hate them infinitely) I've gotten my hands on Wyrms, Hart's Hope, and Songmaster. I was FLOORED. Everyone's point of view is different, but to me these are excellent, unique and incredible novels. And when you line them up chronologically you get something like this:

1979: Songmaster.
1983: Hart's Hope.
1985: Ender's Game.
1986: Speaker for the Dead.
1987: Wyrms.
1991: Xenocide.

The first three are almost overflowing with exuberance in how imaginative Card could get with his fiction. Songmaster and Wyrms have a twinge of Dune to them I think, but only slightly. Hart's Hope was just astonishing at times, and I double-checked the cover once just because I didn't think Card could have written it. But for me, it's all backwards. The older his books are, the more I like them. And after Wyrms practically all he's written in the past 20 years has been the Ender's Saga, which I never felt obligated to torture myself and read.

I know that's an over-exaggeration since he has written other things during that time, but still. In the beginning I can't help but be impressed by what he could put on paper, but then Ender's Game happened, he became nationally acclaimed, and pretty much anything he wrote after Xenocide makes me so frustrated that my head starts to hurt. :roll: In comparison with Hart's Hope, Wyrms, and Songmaster, even Ender's Game feels a bit senile.

I guess this is all leading up to a question. Are you familiar with any other lesser-known books by Card that are worth reading? I think up to 1985 was his best period, through 1990 was tolerable, and after that I'd rather not touch it with a 20ft pole. I'm thinking of picking up Treason next; I've looked into Tales of Alvin the Maker but that series hasn't really sparked my interest at all. I'd especially be interested to know if any of the Ender's Saga books do stand out as being rather good, because I haven't been overly impressed by what I've seen of them.

PS: I haven't quite finished Songmaster yet. I got to Ferret's Benediction tonight; can't really express it but I had to put it down for awhile. My hands were actually shaking for a bit afterwards (although I'll admit I tend to get overly involved in a story; but I'm almost to the point of reverence with Card's older books anyway. It might just be me but I love them).

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby eekmeep » Sun Apr 12, 2009 4:53 pm UTC

I really enjoyed the Ender series & the Shadow series.

My favorite Card book, though, is probably Enchantment. And I very much enjoyed Pastwatch & the Alvin Series.

Wasn't a fan of Homecoming -- to sci-fi for my taste. I never saw Card as really sci-fi (based purely on the books I've read and enjoyed by him). His stories seem far more character-driven and morality driven than space and technology etc. Maybe he isn't an anomaly ~ maybe I just haven't read enough good sci-fi.

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Julien » Sun Apr 12, 2009 8:22 pm UTC

I will tell you why you should read OS Card : I basically dislike science-fiction a lot, and still I really loved all the Card books I've read. Which includes every Alvin book published yet. If I loved it, you will love it for sure !
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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby The_Big_Aristotle » Mon Apr 13, 2009 12:27 am UTC

mosc wrote:I think Ender's Game is somewhere between mediocre crap and the most influential book you'll ever read mattering mostly on your age. For young readers, it speaks to their feelings of invincibility and superiority. For those old enough to have learned their failings and the limits to their understanding, it can come off rather pretentious. Basically if you think you know more than the average guy twice your age, you will like the book. If you know better, you might not.

Card as a writer is not very talented IMHO. I think he is highly regarded because the works stimulate the reader's imagination. The joy is outside the book so to speak. I don't like this kind of writing, I prefer interesting characters with flaws and perspectives different from my own.
I think this sums it up. I grokked the book as a kid, but as I get older I no longer recommend it and find OSC's agenda tiring. And I am mormon.

I think his work after Ender's Game is something like the matrix and its sequels -- OSC misunderstands what made the original awesome. He thinks it was because of his witty dialogue and moral philosophy He was wrong. What makes Ender's Game so good is it captures on some level what its like to be a gifted child, isolated because of his gifts yet wanting to be accepted, plus the idea of a world that's both cool and more than it appears. All right in line with the matrix, and I view the nonsense about smart kids controlling the world by trolling internet forums as directly equivalent to the jumping orgy scene. Its best to act like it never happened, and read Ender's Game and nothing else.

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Clumpy » Mon Apr 13, 2009 7:38 am UTC

Spoiler:
The_Big_Aristotle wrote:
mosc wrote:I think Ender's Game is somewhere between mediocre crap and the most influential book you'll ever read mattering mostly on your age. For young readers, it speaks to their feelings of invincibility and superiority. For those old enough to have learned their failings and the limits to their understanding, it can come off rather pretentious. Basically if you think you know more than the average guy twice your age, you will like the book. If you know better, you might not.

Card as a writer is not very talented IMHO. I think he is highly regarded because the works stimulate the reader's imagination. The joy is outside the book so to speak. I don't like this kind of writing, I prefer interesting characters with flaws and perspectives different from my own.
I think this sums it up. I grokked the book as a kid, but as I get older I no longer recommend it and find OSC's agenda tiring. And I am mormon.

I think his work after Ender's Game is something like the matrix and its sequels -- OSC misunderstands what made the original awesome. He thinks it was because of his witty dialogue and moral philosophy He was wrong. What makes Ender's Game so good is it captures on some level what its like to be a gifted child, isolated because of his gifts yet wanting to be accepted, plus the idea of a world that's both cool and more than it appears. All right in line with the matrix, and I view the nonsense about smart kids controlling the world by trolling internet forums as directly equivalent to the jumping orgy scene. Its best to act like it never happened, and read Ender's Game and nothing else.


. . . Unless the appeal of the stories changes as the reader matures and wants something other than a book written to stroke their mistaken ego. I used to like Ender's Game because I thought I was the only smart kid in middle school, and because I was pretty sure I was infallible. Now I enjoy the connection between the kids in the school and the varying ways people deal with it. Rather than merely rehash the same stuff in subsequent books Speaker For the Dead was about family and community, Xenocide was about the fallibility of personal beliefs and Children of the Mind was about heady stuff, so much so the book couldn't really contain it. But I love that arc of stories more than the "genius kid" stuff in Ender's Game and the parallax Shadow series. The Han Qing-jao stuff in Xenocide alone is more interesting to me than the entirety of Ender's Game.

Card does a good job with community, family and interactions. Lots Boys is pretty incredible in its realism and attention to detail. He's a good storyteller but doesn't appreciate the ability of stories to deal with the darker aspects of human nature which keeps them from becoming "classics" in any meaningful sense. But that doesn't mean that they're shallow.

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Chuff » Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:14 am UTC

Clumpy wrote:Card is almost paralyzingly story-based: anybody looking for something that can be analyzed in-depth in terms of literary criticism had best move on. Card includes neat stuff in his books but they're never the most important party of the story (read: not "hard" sci-fi). Card values intercharacter relationships and family stories above pretty much anything else, but he rarely writes anything overly-sentimental. At any rate he's definitely not pretentious, and if you confine your reading to the Ender series, Lost Boys (just incredible) and maybe a couple of his goofy thrillers you'll avoid seeing him as an obnoxious curmudgeon, which he can be at times (stay the heck away from his website in other words).

For an LDS author it's actually quite noteworthy for him to have sympathetic gay characters in his books, which he does, especially in the Earthbound series (whose general storyline is ironically pretty much cribbed from the Book of Mormon).

I couldn't even finish Lost Boys because of the stuff about pedophilia. Am I missing out?
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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Clumpy » Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:16 am UTC

Chuff wrote:
Clumpy wrote:Card is almost paralyzingly story-based: anybody looking for something that can be analyzed in-depth in terms of literary criticism had best move on. Card includes neat stuff in his books but they're never the most important party of the story (read: not "hard" sci-fi). Card values intercharacter relationships and family stories above pretty much anything else, but he rarely writes anything overly-sentimental. At any rate he's definitely not pretentious, and if you confine your reading to the Ender series, Lost Boys (just incredible) and maybe a couple of his goofy thrillers you'll avoid seeing him as an obnoxious curmudgeon, which he can be at times (stay the heck away from his website in other words).

For an LDS author it's actually quite noteworthy for him to have sympathetic gay characters in his books, which he does, especially in the Earthbound series (whose general storyline is ironically pretty much cribbed from the Book of Mormon).

I couldn't even finish Lost Boys because of the stuff about pedophilia. Am I missing out?


Well, there's sort of an air of doom about the book that not everybody might be cool with. I don't know how much of the book is Mormon-specific (it really goes into reconciling something like cultural Mormonism with the culture of the American South), but I think it's easily his best book. It's really quite mature for him, and is one of his few books with flawed characters and unsettling elements. The thriller elements tie it together but the worries of a typical family are really the point.

But. . . yeah, if the pedophilia stuff creeps you out it might not be your type of thriller :).

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Chuff » Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:26 am UTC

Clumpy wrote:
Chuff wrote:
Clumpy wrote:Card is almost paralyzingly story-based: anybody looking for something that can be analyzed in-depth in terms of literary criticism had best move on. Card includes neat stuff in his books but they're never the most important party of the story (read: not "hard" sci-fi). Card values intercharacter relationships and family stories above pretty much anything else, but he rarely writes anything overly-sentimental. At any rate he's definitely not pretentious, and if you confine your reading to the Ender series, Lost Boys (just incredible) and maybe a couple of his goofy thrillers you'll avoid seeing him as an obnoxious curmudgeon, which he can be at times (stay the heck away from his website in other words).

For an LDS author it's actually quite noteworthy for him to have sympathetic gay characters in his books, which he does, especially in the Earthbound series (whose general storyline is ironically pretty much cribbed from the Book of Mormon).

I couldn't even finish Lost Boys because of the stuff about pedophilia. Am I missing out?


Well, there's sort of an air of doom about the book that not everybody might be cool with. I don't know how much of the book is Mormon-specific (it really goes into reconciling something like cultural Mormonism with the culture of the American South), but I think it's easily his best book. It's really quite mature for him, and is one of his few books with flawed characters and unsettling elements. The thriller elements tie it together but the worries of a typical family are really the point.

But. . . yeah, if the pedophilia stuff creeps you out it might not be your type of thriller :).
K, sounds like I made the right decision. Pedophiles are probably my greatest fear.
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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Spacemilk » Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:07 pm UTC

I'm a little surprised no one has mentioned this yet (that I saw) . . . but Maps in a Mirror anyone? OSC's short stories can be hit or miss, but some of them are truly beautiful. His creepy, scary stories manage to be more of an emotionally-involved creepy than what I get from the ITT: Creepy thread on the General forums. (also I'm a complete wuss, so if you're looking for keep-you-up-at-night creepy this isn't the stuff) I'm right in the middle of re-reading MiaM after reading it 4-5 years ago or something like that, but I remember enjoying a good chunk of the stories. I recommend it.

As far as Ender's Game/Ender's Shadow: They are great books. I didn't so much enjoy the sequels but maybe that's a personal thing. The whole Ender = Hitler thing from the 1st page . . . um no. I haven't read the "real" essay yet, but I read the diary one and can't say that I agree at all. The only parallel is that Hitler and Ender both committed genocide (or xenocide I suppose in the case of Ender). I felt like Ender's Game was about forgiveness, and also about the isolation a really smart kid experiences, but also about how formative kids are, and how badly adults can fuck them up with their expectations. It was destroying Ender to be playing what he thought was a game, and remember

Spoiler:
in the end the only reason he won was because he was tired of it, and did something as extreme as possible to ensure that he'd lose, get kicked out, and they'd stop manipulating him for their own ends. Ender truly was just a weapon used by the adults, like OSC says. The problem was that he thought he was self-destructing when he blew up the world, and in reality by doing the most wrong thing he could imagine so they'd hate him and kick him out, he did exactly what they wanted.


It was as much about forgiveness as it was the perversion and manipulation of innocence.
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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby wyngrn » Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:46 pm UTC

I'm glad someone mentioned Maps In A Mirror. I love short stories and these little parables are excellent. I recommended my wife read thema nd she accused me of getting her to read creepy stuff without warning her.
I read Ender Game and enjoyed it immensely but found that almost anything else, except Maps, was impossible for me to get on with. I just felt that I couldn't be bothered. It did nothing for me; there aren't many books I haven't finished once started.

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Jorpho » Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:25 am UTC

I was just musing: isn't it odd how most of the covers of OSC's books seem to have practically nothing to do with their actual content? I suppose a lot of science fiction books are like that, though. (I do recall one edition of Ender's Game that had some thoroughly creepy-looking kids on the cover - I can't imagine that edition sold well.)

Speaking of which, isn't the graphic novel out now?

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby thedufer » Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:20 am UTC

I first read Ender's Game when I was 12. It was quite eye-opening then. I've read it over and over since then (30 times as of a month ago). Its lost some of its impact, but is still the strongest story I've ever read. The rest of the series isn't quite as good, but I still enjoy it immensely every couple of years. The Shadow series likewise.

As for other OSC, I've read almost everything except his religious writings (watch out for book titles of religious names - Sarah, etc.). I've found most of it fascinating, and all of it at least rather interesting. Most of all, read Maps in a Mirror. Its not all sci-fi, but its all excellent. He actually has something new to write about in each story, and is really good at dropping you into a plot and catching you up without explicit description of what's going on crap. I have his new collection of short stories, but haven't read them yet (re-reading the Enderverse first).

tl;dr version: Absolutely, you should.

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby mister k » Fri Apr 17, 2009 11:14 am UTC

Gah, the later shadow books. I recently re-read them, and while they're occasionally good, they've got a lot of irritating attitudes. Anton is not the only one with the rant about biological imperatives- Peter's mother (who I hated throughout the story) continually tells the battle school children to get married because thats the only possible way of happiness. Great works are meaningless when compared to coupling... bah. Also noticeable is Card's habit of banter, where the characters chat in an obnoxious, pseudo-intellectual fashion, making extremely weak jokes. The most frustrating bit of these sections is that they often completely fail to establish character, because the voices are almost utterly interchangeable. Empire suffers from this too.

I will say that people are somewhat unfair to Empire. It's not a smart book, and it's ideas about revolution are critically flawed, but it didn't feel like too much propoganda. The story is TOLD from the perspective of right wing characters, so it's not that surprising that they believe what they do. Its a clumsy story, but like all of Card's work, it's actually quite readable.
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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby icenine » Sat Apr 18, 2009 5:56 pm UTC

mister k wrote:Also noticeable is Card's habit of banter, where the characters chat in an obnoxious, pseudo-intellectual fashion, making extremely weak jokes. The most frustrating bit of these sections is that they often completely fail to establish character, because the voices are almost utterly interchangeable.

Do you mean in the exchanges at the start of each chapter? I thought those were quite identifiable, because they had email addresses and everything. When I was younger, it was interesting to work the more anonymous ones out :D

Ender's Game was very powerful when I was young, but it's just a normal story to me now, besides being quotable on occasion :( I guess I've moved on.

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Jorpho » Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:57 pm UTC

icenine wrote:
mister k wrote:Also noticeable is Card's habit of banter, where the characters chat in an obnoxious, pseudo-intellectual fashion, making extremely weak jokes. The most frustrating bit of these sections is that they often completely fail to establish character, because the voices are almost utterly interchangeable.

Do you mean in the exchanges at the start of each chapter? I thought those were quite identifiable, because they had email addresses and everything. When I was younger, it was interesting to work the more anonymous ones out :D
I know what he means - once or twice the characters even explicitly say "We're bantering!" It's as if when Card was outlining the chapters, he scrawled in the margins, "insert vaguely humanizing banter here".

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby The_Big_Aristotle » Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:03 pm UTC

icenine wrote:
mister k wrote:Also noticeable is Card's habit of banter, where the characters chat in an obnoxious, pseudo-intellectual fashion, making extremely weak jokes. The most frustrating bit of these sections is that they often completely fail to establish character, because the voices are almost utterly interchangeable.

Do you mean in the exchanges at the start of each chapter? I thought those were quite identifiable, because they had email addresses and everything. When I was younger, it was interesting to work the more anonymous ones out :D
I think he means later books. I forget the name of his most recent one (ender in exile?) but it has several stretched out dialogues like k describes extolling the value of breeding.

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby PAstrychef » Fri Apr 24, 2009 3:18 pm UTC

Well, I loved Songmasterr and Hart's Hope. And the early short stories are often fascinating. I just stopped reading the newer stuff, because it was just fill-in for a story arc that I already knew. And the "magical" thrillers bore me to tears. The Earthbound series started off ok-it was nice to see the flip of the constrained harem idea, but I couldn't be bothered to care about the people by the end of the third book.
It must be hard to be famous for one story-you get expected to write it over and over again, and maybe you even get tired of it, but if you write anything else your publisher looks at you funny. And your audience always wants more of that story and gets all upset when you go somewhere else. You would have to be a much better writer than Card is to really get away with it.
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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby Vertana » Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:17 pm UTC

Without reading most of this thread... absolutely. You should read the Ender's Series in order, so you may appreciate the plot thoroughly. "Xenocide" is an absolutely stunning book.

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby phineasQ » Mon May 04, 2009 1:12 pm UTC

I got here because I just read 'Empire' and I was hoping to break the story on how thought provoking it was. Lucky for me, I remembered to check the copyright page and therefore bothered to look for a related thread first before launching into a dated fanboy rant. But enough (directly) about me.

To answer the OP, it's probably a really good idea to get into Orson Scott Card's work, and certainly not a good idea to let yourself get as into it as a growing cult of devotees seem to have done. The stories, characters, and plot progressions are fun and help to make the sci-fi feel more personal. Most of the sci-fi books I've abandoned over the years lost me because the author got so caught up in the neat speculative science they wanted to do they forgot to convince the reader anyone else would be particularly interested in it. I like that Card's books often provoke me to wonder what People would do, and what would happen to People, if the technology changed. My best criticism of what I've encountered of his work leads me to suspect him as a social philosopher with a lot to imply about how people would best live their lives, and a talent for implying it with plain language in fiction that attacks its own premises often enough for one to feel bad for it. The "attack weakly to defend strongly" strategy isn't as pronounced as in stuff by other authors with agendas, coming off more like "propose meekly, attack weakly, then defend slightly less weakly, so long as it doesn't trip up the plot."

Something I've just noticed in retrospect that I want to point out to fellow devotees. One of the most recurring philosophical points I've seen being driven through in Card books is conveniently dubbed in Xenocide as 'necessarianism'. There are a lot of heroes in these stories revered for a mentality akin to 'turn the other cheek until you're truly pissed, then by all means flip out'. Even the necessarians in Xenocide weren't criticized for this poor anger management technique, they were criticized for misinterpreting the rules of a philosophy that is left unchallenged and assumed as accurate in many of Card's many worldscapes.

Finally, about Empire, though now I've just about run out of ranting steam. I'm glad to see this criticism of political polarization, and from a popular soapbox, too. I also like that I can use the story to set up one of my favorite quips: moderation in all things, especially moderation. I'd like to point people at a book I was handed a long time ago that made some similar points about democracy failing when people refused to discuss ideas with anyone who didn't already agree with them, without the speculative fiction guise. I think the guy's name was Christopher Lash, and the book was "The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy"
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Bad yet comprehensible grammar is nothing compared to disingenuous speech - my most least favoritest thing.

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Re: Should I get into Orson Scott Card?

Postby mister k » Tue May 19, 2009 11:34 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
icenine wrote:
mister k wrote:Also noticeable is Card's habit of banter, where the characters chat in an obnoxious, pseudo-intellectual fashion, making extremely weak jokes. The most frustrating bit of these sections is that they often completely fail to establish character, because the voices are almost utterly interchangeable.

Do you mean in the exchanges at the start of each chapter? I thought those were quite identifiable, because they had email addresses and everything. When I was younger, it was interesting to work the more anonymous ones out :D
I know what he means - once or twice the characters even explicitly say "We're bantering!" It's as if when Card was outlining the chapters, he scrawled in the margins, "insert vaguely humanizing banter here".


Yeah, this: it's not really present in the earlier ones, but by Ender's Shadow and onwards it's just excruciating.
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