How I Found My Favorite Author…

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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜€ 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 πŸ˜‰


19 Responses

  1. wow, great story Chris!

    There’s certainly nothing better than when characters “really come to life” for us! It’s surely all due to the writing ability of the author..and we can never thank them enough for giving them to us! It’s like making new friends that never leave us.

  2. Chris –

    That is a great story. And you’ve convinced me, once and for all, that I need to read Ender’s Game.


    The list keeps growing…

    Not that I’m complaining.


  3. Great post! The autographed copy of Saints…what a wonderful gift!

  4. Great post! I already knew I had to read Card, but now I will try and read him sooner rather than later. πŸ™‚

    You know, it is actually hard to believe that Hurricane Katrina was two years ago. It feels much more recent that that.

  5. ah, what a cool story! and very inspirational. you’ve nudged me that bit closer to card…!!

    like we’ve both said before, discovering these authors is such a wonderful experience!

  6. That is a great story, Chris. And you’re right, our stories are similar. Although, having the autographed Saints and the *giddy* experiences of having him respond to your questions in the forum definitely gives you the edge πŸ™‚

    I love Speaker For The Dead. I love the older Andrew as much as I love the young Ender. I love the philosophy/religion aspect of it all. And I love how Andrew is the one that heals that family.

  7. Deslily, You’re right..I’ve had many characters come to life for me throughout the years, but it’s been Card’s more than any…they’re definitely all like friends…well said

    CJ, Yay! Glad I convinced you to read Ender’s Game, but sorry I added to your list πŸ˜‰ I know the feeling all to well.

    Jenclair, It was the best gift that I can imagine…I pick it up all the time and look at it even though I haven’t read it. I love Subterranean’s books as it is..they’re all so beautiful…this one’s just that much more special!

    Kailana, I hope you do get to him soon. Katrina does seem like it was just yesterday, yet at the same time it seems like it was ages ago. Things have been moving so sluggish down here as far a progress and moving forward goes…it’s a bummer.

    JP, It sure is! I’m glad to have nudged you a bit more πŸ˜‰ A little bit more and I should get you to Ender’s Game!

  8. Becky, You should hop onto the forums! You’d love them. OSC hasn’t posted on them in awhile, but when he does, he’s quite frequent on them. And he talks to pretty much everyone! I have a few signed books by him! I’ve never had the chance to meet him, but every time Hatrack offers a signed book, I scoop it up πŸ˜‰ Speaker for the Dead is wonderful…It’s hard to choose a favorite Andrew/Ender…like you said, I love them both, but I just loved the story of Speaker for the Dead. I was amazed that someone actually had the ability to write something so incredible!

  9. Great post, Chris. I really have to read Ender Game and Speaker of the Dead. The word “pequeninos” made me smile.

    That’s so cool that he replies to people’s questions in his forums! He sounds like a really friendly guy.

  10. What a great story, Chris…I just can’t quite imagine how incredible that must have felt!

    You’re going to get me reading him yet. Still not sure about the challenge, but I will definitely be giving Ender’s Game a try. And who knows what that will lead to, huh?

  11. Nymeth, Duh! I totally forgot that you are in Portugal! Does the word “Pequeninos” really mean Piggies? The piggies are so cool, I loved those little guys. I hope you do read Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead! They would be great for Carl’s Sci-fi challenge in January!

    Debi, It was an incredible feeling πŸ˜‰ Still is! Glad to see you’ll be giving Ender’s Game a try! From my experiences, most people who read that one become addicted πŸ™‚

  12. Oh, yeah, no kidding about the character development. Even though I didn’t like Speaker for the Dead as much as Ender’s Game, I still have to admit that the man’s writing is impressive.

    So cool about the book!!!!

    I was really surprised that it’s already been two years since Katrina – I don’t know why. But, I agree with what you said to Kailana; it seems like it was yesterday, but it seems like ages ago. Really, so true. Everything has been long since fixed, here, but there’s still so much of Katrina that’s with us. We have plenty of residents who decided to settle, rather than return to NO. And, there’s still so much to be done – particularly on The Coast. It’s really shocking how many people are still in limbo.

  13. Chris, Ender’s Game got me hooked on Card. I really loved Speaker for the Dead, but was not as pleased with Xenocide and Children of the Mind. Though the Ender’s Shadow and books following Bean have been good reads too. I do like Card’s characterizations. He can write compelling ones.

    I had the opportunity to visit NOLA for the first time this past March. A friend lives there, and we did the tourist stuff while we were in town. We didn’t see much of anything on the drive to LA, since it was at night, but on the drive home through LA and MS we saw parts of the damage left a year and a half later.

  14. Bookfool, I think Ender’s Game is one of those universal classics…Speaker for the Dead, I’ll admit is more a matter of taste. I’ve heard some that love it, some not so much.

    Honestly, I think if I would’ve traveled to your neck of the woods after Katrina, I might have settled there too! From your pictures it looks so peaceful out there. We had originally evacuated to my cousin’s house in Alexandria out in the country and I loved it out there…it was nice to be away from the big city. But then again, I’m a city boy at heart…I don’t know if I could ever leave for good πŸ˜‰

    Ageekgirl, I’ve heard many people who weren’t pleased with Xenocide and Children of the Mind…I loved those books, but I can see how they may not appeal to others. Speaker, Xenocide, and CotM are just such a classic trilogy to me…I love the philosophical touch to them and really enjoyed the characters in those books. I’d love to read more stories on Lusitania.

    The Shadow books are great and a totally different change of pace! It amazes me how he branched Ender’s Game into two totally different series!

    Glad you got to come to NOLA πŸ™‚ Hope it was a good experience for you! The tourist thing can be fun, but can be a little cliche…I hope you got to see some of the cool little lesser known places down here too. There really is so much character to this town!

  15. Carl runs a sci-fi challenge in January?? Oh-oh…. I am in SOOO much trouble. Hehehehe….

    Love your post, Chris. πŸ˜‰

  16. Chris, “pequeninos” literally translates as “little ones”, except the actual word is “pequenos”. “Pequeninos” has a slightly different connotation – it’s a little more frail, a little more tender. It’s a good word.

    I have a friend who read this book and she told me Card uses a lot of Portuguese words in it. That will be interesting for me, I’m sure.

  17. Thank CDNreader…he “unofficially announced” that he was going to do a sci-fi challenge in the comments section of my review of The Stainless Steel Rat. No official release of that info yet, but we’re counting on it πŸ˜‰

    Nymeth, How cool! “Little Ones”..I love that. It’s perfect. Yeah, I remember the book having a good bit of Portuguese…the planet is settled by Portuguese colonists, so I’ll be really interested in hearing your take on it!

  18. Love your reviews and posts, Chris, and I hope seeing Meghan was a good thing for you both today…
    Thanks, also, for the review of Lois Lowry’s The Giver. I think I’ll have to add that to my November reading list, given the number of pages I’m facing with Carl’s RIP challenge!

  19. Thanks Rus! Me and Megan had a great time πŸ™‚ I’m feeling the same way when it comes to non-RIP reading…everything else has been pushed to the side until November!

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