Thursday, August 30, 2007

My Orson Scott Card Experience


As I mentioned the other day, Becky is hosting a challenge that officially begins in January 2008 called the Cardathon Challenge which focuses on books written by, introduced by, edited by, or reviewed by my favorite author, Orson Scott Card. As a part of this challenge, she made the suggestion that fans of Orson Scott Card share their stories of how they came to know and love this author, and I thought that it was such a neat idea! So here's my story.

My first "meeting" with Orson Scott Card was in 2001. I was taking a Science Fiction literature course while in college and my professor has assigned Ender's Game as one of the novels for the course. I had heard of Orson Scott Card and Ender's Game, but had never read anything of his and had no idea what to expect from this book. I was hooked from the first chapter of this book as I first met Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, a character that I would come to love, a character that will always be, in my opinion, one of the best characters ever written. I continued to read, literally blown away at Card's ability to write one of the best novel's I had ever read. I was fascinated by the depth of his characters. This book was about war, brutality, an alien species, the power of the human mind, the innocence and loss of innocence of children, yet it didn't have a strictly sci-fi feel...it was a human drama, it played with emotions, it was a beautiful story and a heartbreaking story. When I didn't think the book could get any better, it did. The last couple of chapters were my favorite and with this one book, Card was sealed as my favorite author.

I went on to read it's immediate sequel, Speaker for the Dead, which to this day remains my favorite book. I can't even put into words what Orson Scott Card has achieved with Speaker for the Dead. It's a book of many colors. It's certainly a sci-fi book, but it's also a book of philosophy, a book of religion, a book of politics, and it echoes some of the beautiful themes of ancient tragedies. Speaker for the Dead takes us into another world, in a different time, with a couple of different species. And we meet Ender at an older age when he is the Speaker for the Dead. The new world is settled by Portuguese colonists and is called Lusitania, and on this world we meet the Pequininos, or the "Piggies," quite possibly my favorite alien race ever written. Slowly, we the reader are allowed into the piggies' beautiful and strange culture and rituals as Card's masterpiece unfolds. The other two sequels, Xenocide and Children of the Mind are also wonderful books and rank high on my list of favorite books of Orson Scott Card's.

I have many favorite Card books and could go on and on, but I won't. Needless to say, he has written something for everyone. He's written sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy, fairy tales, horror, biblical fiction, historical fiction, plays, political fiction, etc. His bibliography is huge and one that I still haven't tackled completely after all these years, but I'm coming close ;) His series are wonderful. The three main series that he has written are his Ender series, the Homecoming Series (another favorite), and the Alvin Maker series which is absolutely amazing.

My favorite thing about Card and what sets him apart for me is his character development. He has the ability to write the most amazing characters I have ever read. I've written about this before and it's something that you can't truly appreciate until you've read one of his works. In nearly every review of his books, I see people mention this. I always feel so attached to his characters and it's so hard to let go when it's time to. I was very saddened when I reached the end of the Homecoming series, because I knew that was really the end. At least I know that with the Alvin Maker series, there's one more book, and in addition to War of Gifts, there are two more books in the works for the Ender series! One is called Shadows in Flight, and the other is Ender in Exile.

Since I've discovered Orson Scott Card, his website has become a daily visit of mine. The Hatrack community is amazing! The forums are great. People are extremely friendly over there, and I've had the pleasure of talking with Orson Scott Card himself 3 or 4 times as he actually posts occasionally on the forums. I was giddy as could be the first time I asked him a question on his forums and got a response! In fact the question was in regards to the future release of any type of new fantasy project and he responded that there was a new contemporary fantasy project in the works based on a magical world created in one of his earlier works that he was revisiting! So now that I'm looking back on that (that was in April of 2006), I'm thinking that may be the Mithermages series coming out in 2008!

As a last mention, this has become the most meaningful Card story for me. As you all know, our home was pretty much lost to Hurricane Katrina and we still haven't been able to rebuild. I've lived in a trailer, a hotel, a condo, a cruise ship, a duplex, and now we're finally renting a whole house :D Around last Christmas, Subterranean Press released their edition of Orson Scott Card's novel, Saints...which I will be reading as part of this challenge. It's a beautiful cover by the way. I asked for the book for Christmas and Orson Scott Card agreed to personalize all of the copies, as in "To Chris...Orson Scott Card." Our first Christmas after Katrina was spent in a trailer, our second was in a duplex...neither was home, so they were a little rough. I unwrapped my book (like a 10 year old boy getting a nintendo) and the book is signed "To Chris: Trying to find home -Orson Scott Card". I asked my mom if she told him to write that, and she said no...she just put my name on the order form. I'm sure it has something to do with the story which I haven't read, but I thought that it was the perfect coincidence and ray of light that I needed from this author that I've always felt so close to. So, Mr. Card...thanks for everything ;)

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