Orson Scott Card Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

A prolific author in many forms, Orson Scott Card has written, in addition to his many short stories, more than a dozen novels, as well as plays, poetry, video and audiotape productions, nonfiction books, and essays on biography, history, Mormonism, the craft of writing, computing, science fiction and fantasy, and other topics. His most honored works are series of novels, especially a science-fiction series that consists of Ender’s Game (1985), Speaker for the Dead (1986), Xenocide (1991), Children of the Mind (1996), and Ender’s Shadow (1999), and a fantasy series, Tales of Alvin Maker, the first volumes of which are Seventh Son (1987), Red Prophet (1988), Prentice Alvin (1989), Alvin Journeyman (1995), and Heartfire (1998).


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Within the genres of fantasy and science fiction, Orson Scott Card achieved eminence early in his career. Before his fortieth birthday, he not only had joined the small group of science-fiction writers to receive both the Nebula and Hugo Awards—the most prestigious in the field—for the same work, Ender’s Game, but also had become one of only two writers to capture both awards two years in a row, when Speaker for the Dead won them in 1986. Card won the Hugo Award again in 1991 for his nonfiction work How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy (1990). Science fiction and fantasy tend to gain relatively little attention from the reviewers whose reviews appear in general-circulation media. Card, like Ursula K. Le Guin, is one of the few authors to attract a wider readership and receive the notice of critics outside the science-fiction and fantasy magazines and journals.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Collings, Michael R. In the Image of God: Theme, Characterization, and Landscape in the Fiction of Orson Scott Card. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990. Dealing mainly with Card’s major novels, Collings’s book is a good introduction to Card’s themes, interests, aims, and influences. There is considerable attention to ways in which Mormonism influences his work. Collings quotes and summarizes generously from Card’s interviews and essays. Includes bibliographies of Card’s works and of secondary writing about Card.

DeCandido, Grace Anne Andreassi, and Keith Decandido. Publishers Weekly 237 (November, 1990): 54-55. Discusses Maps in a Mirror: The Short Fiction of Orson Scott Card, noting that he writes stories that turn on issues of moral choice. Card discusses the importance of challenging readers in science fiction and contends that, at its best, the genre changes the world’s moral imperatives.

Hantke, Steffen. “Surgical Strikes and Prosthetic Warriors: The Soldier’s Body in Contemporary Science Fiction.” Science-Fiction Studies 25 (November, 1998): 495-509. Discusses how the technologically augmented body in the science fiction of Card and others raises issues about what it means to be male or female, or even human, since the use of prosthetics to heal or strengthen the body is accompanied by the dissolution of the body.

Heidkemp, Bernie. “Responses to the Alien Mother in Post-Maternal Cultures: C. J. Cherryl and Orson Scott Card.” Science-Fiction Studies 23 (November, 1996): 339-354. Discusses Card’s use of the Queen Mother archetype as a literary manifestation of the pre-Oedipal mother figure. Argues that in his work protagonists react as infants to this archetypal mother image in gendered ways.

Van Name, Mark L. “Writer of the Year: Orson Scott Card.” Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review Annual, edited by Robert A. Collins and Robert Latham. Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1988. This combination interview and review essay provides an introduction to Card’s career as well as helpful insights into his ideas about life and writing. The richest source of such information, however, remains Maps in a Mirror, which includes long and interesting introductions and afterwords for each group of stories.