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Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works

  Science-fiction & fantasy literature: a critical list with discussions.

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Orson Scott Card

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Standard Disclaimer:

This is a brief discussion of Orson Scott Card and, of course, of some speculative-fiction books by Card.

This discussion and list does not necessarily include every book by Card: it includes only those books that I both know and like. Just as with the author list itself, omission of a particular item may mean I didn’t think highly enough of the omitted item, or it may simply mean that I have not yet sufficient familiarity with it. (In a very few cases, I have listed some books merely on the strength of my opinion of the author: all such books are clearly marked below, as throughout these lists, with a hash mark (#) before the title so you know what’s what.)

I don’t pretend that this discussion is a deep analysis. My intent is no more than to give you a rough idea of what kinds of tales Card tells, how those tales are usually told, and what makes them and Card worthy; in sum, to help you rank Orson Scott Card (and the works by Card listed here) on your personal literary “to do” list.

A Few Words About Orson Scott Card

Regrettably, I have not yet had an opportunity to write an essay on this author, but the “Other Resources” section below will lead you to some information about the “Notable Books” listed farther down this page.

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Other Orson Scott Card Resources

Orson Scott Card Resources on the Web

Card has his own web site, Hatrack River; he also publishes an ezine called The Intergalactic Medicine Show. (There is also an opinion column not related to speculative fiction, and so not included here.) Besides those, there is a fan wiki site.

Of individual pages, there are not so many that are not focussed on Card the person rather than Card the author (see the paragraph below); one of the more useful is Orson Scott Card at Henry Jenkins’s “Media and Imagination” site. And the ever-useful Encyclopedia of Science Fiction has its Card, Orson Scott page.

Card represents an archetype of the classic controversy over the extent to which one can separate the product from its creator. Many of Card’s books have achieved much popularity and critical acclaim, but Card himself has achieved much notoriety and acid hatred because of his very well-known and often expressed profound homophobia. To the best of my knowledge, no one expresses sympathy with or support of Card’s views, but not a few take the position that the author’s beliefs, if they do not control his works, are immaterial. There are no easy answers there; but it may be noted that Ender’s Game probably his best-known and best-selling book (of which a major movie was made), can be criticized on grounds other than Card’s homophobia (which does not seem to appear in the book), to wit that it accepts and even glorifies viloence and genocide.

So that you may see some of the material out there on the web on these matters, here is a short but representative list .

As I noted above, homophobia is not the only aspect of Card’s personal views that has aroused antipathy. It is my feeling that when a writer has very deeply held beliefs, and especially beliefs based on his or her religion, then it becomes impossible to separate the artist from the art. Consider whether the works of—to cite just a few almost at random—G. K. Chesterton, Gene Wolfe, R. A. Lafferty, J. R. R. Tolkien, or C. S. Lewis would have been possible absent such beliefs.

Card’s views have not affected my choice of books listed below; I just find his fantasy more literate and interesting than his science fiction.

For more—and there is a very, very great deal more—on Card, Google Is Your Friend.

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Orson Scott Card Resources in Print

I could find none.

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Notable Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books by Orson Scott Card **

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