Monday, May 02, 2011

A Favorite Author: Orson Scott Card

Since so many of you were kind enough to give me your reading recommendations a bit ago, I thought I'd share one of mine.  

I'm not a real fantasy or science fiction buff. I've never read The Lord of the Rings trilogy (and isn't that kind of a rite of passage for fantasy buffs?), although I have started The Hobbit three or four times, and I think I even finished it once.  I can't say I really enjoyed it though.  Truth be told, if the cover of a book features a unicorn, a fairy-type creature, or anything mythological at all, I usually steer clear of it.

One exception to this is the Percy Jackson series, which I enjoyed, mostly.  I didn't love it enough to get past the middle of the second book, but still, it was okay.  (I'm going to see if I get more riveted through listening any more than I did through reading.)

In spite of my anti-fantasy prejudices, one of my favorite authors is Orson Scott Card, a winner of both the Hugo award and the Nebula award.  I don't really know how prestigious those awards are, or what they entail, but the words are thrown around on the dust jackets of nearly all OSC's works, and with names like "Hugo" and "Nebula", I figure they have to be pretty prestigious fantasy awards, don't you?

I first came into contract with OSC's works during my first year in grad school.  I was sitting outside my apartment complex, soaking in the spring weather, chatting with my neighbor Mark.  Mark was a darling 18-year old pre-missionary freshman, and since I was the ripe old age of 24 or so, I looked on him as something of a little pet, someone to watch over from a distance, indulge when possible, and (and this was important), feed.  We had an easy, if very casual (and completely platonic) friendship.

On this particular day, Mark was telling me about a fascinating book he'd just read all about a group of people who went back into time to meet Columbus and straighten out a few of the things that Columbus did wrong, thereby improving the world.  As Mark elaborated, I was fascinated, and I decided to give the book a try, in spite of the clear fantasy/sci-fi subject matter. 

I loved it.

That led me to read a few other OSC works, which I enjoyed quite a bit.  The one that sticks out most in my memory is Enchanted, a take on the Sleeping Beauty tale.  I didn't try out any of the books that were part of a series, feeling intimidated at the prospect of trying to figure out which was the first book in the group (something that I always struggle with, frankly), and so after I'd read a few more of the un-seried books, (particularly those that didn't have unicorns or centaurs or magical treasure boxes on the cover) I went on my way, not giving Orson Scott Card another thought for many years.

Then, probably three years ago, Eric got Enders Game on CD at our library.  He loved it, thought I would enjoy it, and long story short, within a year we had listened (either together on I-15 between Logan and Cedar or separately in our individual cars) to all books in the Ender Series, including the entire Shadow Series, which we enjoyed the very most.

Inside joke, but if you've read the books, it's a pretty funny one.  (I think so anyway)

I've not tried the Alvin Maker books, for some reason I have no interest in them whatsoever, and although I've read and enjoyed his historical fiction accounts of the lives of the biblical women (Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah), I don't consider them favorites or "must haves" in my personal library.

But those Ender books, and especially the books about my buddy Bean?  I could read those all day. 


Mom C said...

I'm listening to Ender's Shadow, which is about Bean. I need to drive to SL so I can get in some concentrated listening time. I have the whole Ender series on my Ipod but so far I only listen in the car. I liked Ender's Game although I find scifi disturbing. It's like it could be true, things just have to shift a little. And unfortunately, so much of what feels like science fiction to me is pretty commonplace to you of the younger generation.

Nate said...

Charlotte, I couldn't agree more. OSC has long been one of my favorites, along with both of my brothers, especially Jon. I like the Alvin Maker books (anyone familiar with early LDS church history will find them strangely familiar) and his Memory of Earth series (ditto on this one except with the BOM), but I would agree that his books from the "Enderverse" are his best work. I also like a couple of his blogs. He writes "Uncle Orson reviews everything" for his local paper in Greensboro, NC and then reposts it to his own website.
He also writes one for the Mormon times which is always very insightful.

Also, did you know he got his start as a musical theater major at BYU? He really wanted to create musicals and only kind accidentally became a scifi writer. You may also recognize his work in the old 80's dramatized audio version of the BOM, he wrote the script for it. He still dabbles in musical theater and often reviews music and such on his "Uncle Orson reviews Everything" blog.
Yup, I just revealed a whole new level of my own personal geekness.

deutschlehrer said...


One of my favorite OSC books is Homebody--which is a stand alone book with a different, non-unicorny take on fantasy. Magic street is a modern take on a Midsummer night's dream, and is pretty good too. Stay away from the Empire books--they are political and not his best work. Treason--one of his first novels--is also pretty good, but a little weird at first.

I am reading C.S. Lewis' Til we have faces right now and really liking it.

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