Best known for his science fiction novels Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow, Orson Scott Card has written in many other forms and genres. Beginning with dozens of plays and musical comedies produced in the 1960s and 70s, Card's first published fiction appeared in 1977 -- the short story "Gert Fram" in the July issue of The Ensign, and the novelet version of "Ender's Game" in the August issue of Analog.
While Card's early science fiction stories and novels were earning attention (Card won the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer from the World Science Fiction Convention in 197 , he supported his family primarily by writing scripts for audiotapes produced by Living Scriptures of Ogden, Utah.
Later, in the mid-1980s, he wrote the screenplays for animated children's videos from the New Testament and Book of Mormon, while the novel version of Ender's Game and its sequel Speaker for the Dead were winning the Hugo and Nebula awards.
Card's writing ranges from traditional sci-fi (The Memory of Earth; Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus) to biblical novels (Stone Tables; Rachel & Leah), from contemporary fantasies (Magic Street; Enchantment; Lost Boys) to books on writing (Characters and Viewpoint; How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy). His "Tales of Alvin Maker" series (beginning with Seventh Son) reinvented medieval fantasy in an American frontier setting.
Meanwhile, Card's commentaries on subjects from literature and film to restaurants and consumer products appear weekly in his column "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything" (published by the Rhinoceros Times in Greensboro, NC, and then online), while his writings on culture, politics, and world affairs, online at "The Ornery American" (www.ornery.org), are a part of the new blog journalism.
Card's first collection of poetry, An Open Book, appeared in 2004, and that same year, in Los Angeles, he directed a production of Posing As People, three one-acts adapted by other writers from short stories by Card.
Card's first venture in writing illustrated novels is the comic series Ultimate Iron Man for Marvel; he will also be scripting the comic book prequels to Advent Rising, a videogame he helped write.
Card offers writing workshops from time to time, and recently committed himself to a longterm relationship with Southern Virginia University, where he teaches writing and literature. His "Hatrack River" website (www.hatrack.com) also offers free writing workshops, for both adults and younger writers.
Growing Up in the West
Born in Richland, Washington, in 1951, he was named "Orson" for his grandfather, Orson Rega Card, who was a son of Charles Ora Card, the founder of the Mormon colony in Cardston, Canada, and Zina Young Card, a daughter of Brigham Young. Orson Rega's childhood was spent in a pioneer household with American Indians as frequent visitors, and the family credits Blackfoot neighbors with saving his life as a baby.
Even though Card is only two generations removed from Mormon pioneers, his own growing-up years were more like those depicted in Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine.
Card's parents, Willard and Peggy Card, first moved to San Mateo, California, when Scott was an infant. Then, when a back injury forced them to abandon Willard's sign company, the family moved to Salt Lake City while he completed his bachelor's degree. Then they returned to the bay area of California, buying a house in the little town of Santa Clara.
It was long before the word silicon meant anything more than another name on the periodic table of elements: To young Scott, living in Santa Clara meant attending Millikin Elementary, then wandering through orchards and exploring dry creek beds with his friends, or hopping on his bicycle and riding down to the Santa Clara library, where he devoured all the books in the children's section and then sneaked into the adult section to discover the then-new genre of science fiction.
But Card was always eclectic in his reading. At eight years of age, he read The Prince and the Pauper, which first attracted him to English history. (He soon got over the disappointment of learning that Tom Canty did not exist.)
Other historical novels -- YA novels about the Civil War and French and Indian War by Joseph Altsheler, the Williamsburg novels by Elswyth Thane, and Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind -- drew Card into American history, and when his parents gave him Bruce Catton's brilliant three-volume The Army of the Potomac for his tenth birthday, he had his first experience of the reality (rather than the romance) of war at every level.
At about the same age, his older sister was required to read William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in high school, and passed the book down to Scott. The account of the political and diplomatic maneuvering and of the war itself was fascinating; but the story of the holocaust was devastating.
Alongside fiction and history, Card also read scripture -- the Book of Mormon and the Bible -- and collections of sermons by Mormon prophets. He was also fascinated by histories of medicine and by books about the exploits of archaeologists. So when he advises young writers that their best education is to try, through reading, to "learn everything about everything," he is only counseling them to embark on an endless quest that he began in childhood and continues to this day.
Meanwhile, Card inherited a love of performing from his mother. Card was a boy soprano with enough of an ear to make up harmonies as he joined in family singalongs; he grew up in a house filled with music ranging from Lawrence Welk to Scheherezade, from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to church hymns.
Above all, though, was the music of Broadway -- Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, George and Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein, Lerner & Loewe, and many others. In the Card family, Broadway was always only just next door, and because in those days the Mormon Church also greatly encouraged the production of plays, he was surrounded by the flurry of rehearsals and performances.
When Willard Card took a position at Arizona State University in 1964, the family moved to Mesa, Arizona, just in time for the 1964 presidential election. This was where Scott was first initiated into political activism. When the organizers of a mock political debate in the junior high school turned up not one student who admitted to being for Lyndon Johnson (Mesa was one of the most conservative towns in a pro-Goldwater state), Card volunteered and did his best to present LBJ's case to the student body. It was Card's first experience with the notion that it might be possible to be a Democrat....
Card had played French horn and tuba in California, and marched in school bands in Arizona playing E-flat alto horn and sousaphone (at different times).
When a family friend, Owen Peterson, then a new Spanish teacher at Scott's junior high, bought a set of the Great Books, he had no children of his own and so chose Scott to enter the scholarship competition that the Great Books then offered. Scott plunged in and had his first acquaintance with Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Plutarch, and many other writers of the ancient world. He eventually won a thousand-dollar scholarship; the money was quickly gone, but the reading was a lasting gift.
The Utah Years
At age 16, Card moved with his family to Orem, Utah, so his father could take a position at Brigham Young University. After a year at Brigham Young High School, a private academy associated with the university, Card graduated from high school at the end of his junior year. He won a Presidential Scholarship to BYU which he entered as an archaeology major.
He soon realized that he was spending all his time in the theatre department, however, and changed his major. It was as a theatre student that he first began to school himself to be a writer. "It's the best training in the world for a writer, to have a live audience." Not to mention the actors: "If an incorrect reading of a line is possible, the actor will invariably find it." Even now, Card says that he doesn't so much write his novels as improvise them in front of an invisible audience. "I'm constantly shaping the story so the audience will know why they should care about what's going on."
Like many young artists in love with their art, Card resented all the hours that the university required him to "waste" on general education requirements; as a novelist, however, he found that those were the most useful parts of his college education.
Only a few credit hours shy of graduation, Card left for Brazil on a two-year mission for the LDS Church. Serving in the cities of the state of S
One notion involves a scenario quite literally torn from the pages of a science fiction novel, in which a virtual training system becomes the actual means of waging war. Ender's Game, a cult classic by Orson Scott Card, tells the story of a group of young soldiers battling aliens in a video game. In the end, they emerge to find that their victory has saved humankind, and that it was not a game. "Ender's Game has had a lot of influence on our thinking," said Michael Macedonia, director of the Army's simulation technology center in Orlando, Fla., which plans to build a virtual Afghanistan that could host hundreds of thousands of networked computers. "The intent is to build a simulation that allows people to play in that world for months or years, participate in different types of roles and see consequences of their decisions."
[NY Times: Technology, April 3, 2003, "More Than Just a Game, but How Close to Reality? By Amy Harmon]
Orson Scott Card is unfortunately one of those authors whose nonfiction has soiled my ability to enjoy his fiction. His very vocal homophobia has made it impossible for me to stomach his works, though I do think he's a talented writer. "Euminiedes in the Fourth Floor Lavatory" is a terrific classic horror story. Many of my customers have stopped buying his books as well since his essay on his site about gay marriage.
Here's one of his essays that carries an unfortunate homophobic tone - again, particularly disappointing since I've met him in person and he was perfectly pleasant in person. www.ornery.org/essays/war...-15-1.html
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Re: Who is Orson Scott Card?
I also am not going to bother to read the whole thing, way too long of an article and way way way too much right wing propaganda. Also it has incorrect information, it is a FACT that states have laws that prohibit homosexuals from marrying, so Card bases his first heading on incorrect information. Also, while it is not the courts place to make the law, it IS the courts job to ensure the constitutional rights of all Americans are upheld. I will still read Card, but this article clearly demonstrates that just because someone is a great writter about morality doesn't mean they are an authority on it.
I have not read his non fiction, either. I am surprised to hear about his homophobic ideas because there is a character in his Homeworld series that is gay. He didn't come across as close-minded about it at all. The character had to keep it in the closet, due to social pressures and fear of violence. The character ends up marrying a woman friend, due to unrelated circumstances. They had sex for the sole purpose of making a baby, and the scene was well done, I thought. It was incredibly uncomfortable for both of them due to their sexual orientations. Card seemed compassionate about the subject matter. Sure, he wasn't preaching gay marriage, but there was certainly nothing offensive. I have not come across any other gay issues in any of the other fiction I have read from him.
I won't be reading his non-fiction concerning gay marriage, because I simply do not care what people think about it. It is such a no-brainer to me... it has nothing to do with anyone, other than the couple involved. People should just keep their noses out of other people's business, unless they are hurting someone. My philosophy is simple: love is love, no matter what shapes, sizes, colors, or genders are involved. (sorry, this is probably not the proper place for that)
"Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody is watching." -- Keller Williams
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Re: Who is Orson Scott Card?
Quote:I won't be reading his non-fiction concerning gay marriage, because I simply do not care what people think about it. It is such a no-brainer to me... it has nothing to do with anyone, other than the couple involved. People should just keep their noses out of other people's business, unless they are hurting someone. My philosophy is simple: love is love, no matter what shapes, sizes, colors, or genders are involved. (sorry, this is probably not the proper place for that)
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Re: Who is Orson Scott Card?
I too was a bit surprised that the author of a series which tries REALLy hard to get us to realize that personhood could come in a variety of very strange and different forms somehow has a problem with gay people.
Reading his fiction, i would never have pegged him for it.
_________________ In the absence of God, I found Man. -Guillermo Del Torro
Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.
Have you tried that? Looking for answers? Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?
Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?
Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?
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Re: Who is Orson Scott Card?
Ender's Game is a worthwhile read regardless of the author's personal convictions. I think you have to be careful going down that track. I've heard some people say that they won't read China Mieville because of his political beliefs. Fact is, we don't know the personal convictions of many of our favorite authors and someone can be a good thinker and, yet, still hold some personal conviction that we find repulsive. It doesn't mean we should dismiss all of that author's work. That said, I'll have to admit I've been trying to dump one of my rare books by author Vincent O'Sullivan after finding out that he was a pedophile.
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