Orson Scott Card is an avid, talented and famous author of novels, plays, and scripts of various genres. Although he is most well known for his science fiction work, the Ender series, Card is a very innovative and modern writer who also publishes work on the internet. The topics of his writing consist of today’s top problems, and he tackles them head on, even when the topic is controversial. On top of writing, he is also involved politically and religiously in a variety of organizations, while also being a critic, teacher and public speaker. His family and religious life are contributing to his successful prize winning work, making him one of the best American science fiction writers of all time.
Card is a middle-aged 57 years of age and was born on August 24, 1951. He was born in bucolic Richland, Washington and is currently living in Greensboro, North Carolina with his wife, Kristine, who is the loving mother of his five children. Card’s children are an important and germane part of his life, as one of his daughters and he was even in a short film together. Each of his children’s names was inspired by a great author or scholar. His first child, Michael Geoffrey, was born in 1978, was named after Geoffrey Chaucer. Card’s other children – Emily Janice, Charles Benjamin, Zina Margaret, and Erin Louisa were named after, Emily Bronte and Emily Dickinson, Charles Dickens, Margaret Mitchell, and Louisa Mae Alcott, respectively. Unfortunately, Orson and Kristine’s third child, Charles Benjamin, was afflicted with cerebral palsy and died soon after his seventeenth birthday. Their fifth child, Erin Louisa, died the day she was born. Even with these sad situations, it seems that the Card coterie has a hard time leaving Greensboro as they refer to it as their “home base”. Currently, Scott and Kristine’s son Micheal Geoffrey is married to Heather Heavener Card and they live in nearby Seattle, where he is a game designer for Amaze Entertainment. Emily is an actress, poet, singer, and audio producer in Los Angeles. Their youngest, Zina, is living at home, attending school, and playing video games and chess (“About Orson Scott Card”). With so many children involved in Orson Scott Card’s life it is no wonder that children are the center of his books and work.
Most, if not all of Card’s stories, novels, and plays, have a child as the main character. As with any story with children in its center, a major theme is loss of innocence. “It is not merely about the loss of innocence, as so many stories are with children at their center. It is about innocence systematically deceived and purposefully destroyed in the fanatical pursuit of a misguided higher ideal” (Wagner, “Ender’s Game / Orson Scott Card”). In Ender’s Game, the main character is a mere six years old. He is plucked from his Earthly home to attend Battle School and prepares to fight off an alien race called the Buggers. In battle school, Ender
and hundreds of other children and adolescents are subjected to grueling training that takes the form of war games, played both in computer simulation (video games, essentially) and in real time combat practice in an enormous zero-G chamber called the Battle Room. Ender is a natural. He excels immediately, and becomes commander of his own platoon ridiculously early.
Wagner, “Enders Game / Orson Scott Card”
With so much pressure on Ender and the other students, they are losing their childhood – much like Card’s two children who died at a young age. “We aren’t just ordinary children, are we? None of us. Don’t you sometimes wish we were?” (Card, Ender’s Game, 240) Card is saying that adults need to let children be kids – be happy and have fun – and stop putting the world on their shoulders.
Another factor that influences his life and writing is his faith. Card is a member of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) and has openly written about his church and his stance on political and religious views and agendas. He strongly opposes homosexuality and has received much criticism about it which has greatly affected how people view his work. Card’s outrage against homosexuality is sparked by the hypocrisies and sacrilege on the issue within the LDS church. However, Card believes that “Within the Church, the young person who experiments with homosexual behavior should be counseled with, not excommunicated” (Card, The Hypocrites of Homosexuality). He also believes that this is more than just a religious issue but a global issue that should be accosted with immediately. Orson Scott Card has also made it quite clear that he has never and will never “advocate, encourage, or even allow harsh personal treatment of individuals who are unable to resist the temptation to have sexual relations with persons of the same sex” (The Hypocrites of Homosexuality, Orson Scott Card). Even though Card’s opinions differ from others, he is not afraid to be the American he is and voice his opinion while also not being myopic. He also does not want others to view his children differently because of his religious and political perspective, which he made quite clear in First Meetings through the character of Theresa (Ender’s Mother).
Although Orson Scott Card does not summarily point directly to his religion or his views in his earlier books, there is some evidence of his religious leanings. He wrote the majority of his books in the 80’s which was when “people [were] searching for ways to re-establish traditions in their homes and lives” (“Ender’s Game (Historical Context)”). This reconstruction of home life is evident in Ender’s Game and First Meetings when the Wiggin family breaks a population law to be able to have a third child, Ender. “They are secretly proud of having a third, but are still ashamed of not being able to follow their beliefs more openly.” (“Ender’s Game (Themes)”) The main characters in Card’s book tend to be rebellious by following their heart and not blindly following others such as the government.
Another aspect of religion that can be found in Ender’s Game is a blurry line between good and evil. Ender’s mordant brother, Peter, is the depraved, antagonist and the evil brother. Ender is the distraught hero, but he sometimes finds himself wondering if he is the better killer than his brother, and thus more evil than he. Ender is not perfect and his human weakness, original sin, is evident. The difference between Peter and Ender is that Peter enjoys the death, violence and power he has while Ender wants to get away from it all. At the end of Ender’s Game, Ender embarks on a new life away from the disarrayed Earth and travels through space with his sister, Valentine.
Card’s religion and views are more apparent in his ‘newer’ books, like the Shadow series (a sequel to the Ender’s series) and First Meetings (pre-face or introduction to the Ender series). In Ender’s Shadow, a conversation is held which says, “‘Do you know why Satan is so angry all the time? Because whenever he works a particularly clever bit of mischief, God uses it to serve his own righteous purposes. So God uses wicked people as his tools.’ ‘God gives us the freedom to do great evil if we choose. Then he uses his own freedom to create goodness out of the evil, for that is what he chooses.'” (Card, Ender’s Shadow, 236) The above quote represents major religious view points and topics. It addresses our free will and humanity’s ability to choose things for themselves. It also shows that there is a God who is good, and Satan who is evil. Fortunately, God always overcomes the evil for He always prevails. In First Meetings a major theme is conflict between religious ideas – mainly the population laws.
Card’s well written work, which has been inspired by his family and faith, has won him numerous awards. His most current award, which was awarded to him in 2008, was the YALSA Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Contribution to Young Adult Literature for Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow. Other major awards consist of the Nebula and Hugo awards, which are both very prestigious. These prominent awards evince the fact that Orson Scott Card is the best American science fiction writer of all time. No one else in the world has won this many awards and has been honored in such a fashion as Orson Scott Card. America should be proud to have such a prestigious author writing for our entertainment.
Orson Scott Card’s prize winning work and actions have made him one of the best American science fiction writers of all time. He is a family man, and although his religious views are controversial, they do not negatively affect his excellent writing style or work. He has a free, American spirit and ideals that inspire millions. Card’s most famous book, Ender’s Game, will be part of history and will be in fan’s hearts for a while – especially with a future comic book release and a possible movie deal. Orson Scott card is a true American hero because he speaks his mind, and an excellent science fiction writer – the best of all time.
“About Orson Scott Card.” Hatrack River – The Official Web Site of Orson Scott Card. 30 Mar. 2009 <http://www.hatrack.com/osc/about.shtml>.
Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Game. New York: Tor Science Fiction, 1994.
Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Shadow. New York: Tor Books, 2000.
Card, Orson Scott. First Meetings in Ender’s Universe. Tor Teen, 2004.
Card, Orson Scott. “The Hypocrites of Homosexuality.” Sunstone. Nauvoo. 1990. Latter-day Saints. 30 Mar. 2009 <http://www.nauvoo.com/library/card-hypocrites.html>.
“Ender’s Game (Historical Context).” Answers.com – Online Dictionary, Encyclopedia and much more. 30 Mar. 2009 <http://www.answers.com/topic/ender-s-game-novel-4>.
“Ender’s Game (Themes).” Answers.com – Online Dictionary, Encyclopedia and much more. 30 Mar. 2009 <http://www.answers.com/topic/ender-s-game-novel-2>.
Minkowitz, Donna. “My favorite author, my worst interview.” Salon.com – Breaking news, opinion, politics, entertainment, sports and culture. 3 Feb. 2000. 30 Mar. 2009 <http://archive.salon.com/books/feature/2000/02/03/card/>.
“The Parallels between Ender’s Game/Shadow and Religion.” Suite101.com: Online Magazine and Writers’ Network. 30 May 2003. 30 Mar. 2009 <http://www.suite101.com/discussion.cfm/fantasy_and_sf/92470>.
Wagner, Thomas M. “Ender’s Game / Orson Scott Card.” SF REVIEWS.NET | SF and Fantasy Book Reviews. 2003. 30 Mar. 2009 <http://www.sfreviews.net/endersgame.html>.
Special thanks to @falkencreative for peer editing.
This was a homework assignment. Highlighted words are vocabulary words.