Author of the Month
Orson Scott Card & Stephenie Meyer
[December 2008]
Chosen by reviewer Donna Satterlee Ross , MyShelf.Com


Orson Scott Card
Photo credit: Bob Henderson
Henderson Photography Inc.
Stephanie Meyer  
 

"Personal affection is a luxury you can have only after all your enemies are eliminated. Until then, everyone you love is a hostage, sapping your courage and corrupting your judgment." (Orson Scott Card, Empire, 2006)


For those readers of this column who are not science fiction fans, perhaps your only exposure to the name Orson Scott Card is the thought provoking quote above that appears on page 365 of Stephenie Meyer's young adult blockbuster Breaking Dawn Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. If the sudden popularity and renewed interest in all things mentioned in the Twilight series (including silver Volvos, Debussy and Wuthering Heights) is any indication of what is to come, Orson Scott Card is poised to become the next big thing among the teen set. When asked about her influences, Meyer listed Card as one of her top 3 favorite authors, right up there with Jane Austen and William Shakespeare ("Interview: Twilight author Stephenie Meyer," A Motley Vision, 10:26:2005), high praise from an author whose works have skyrocketed to fame having sold over 8 million copies in 3 short years.

However, the connection between these two notable authors does not end with mere admiration:

  • Both authors attended Brigham Young University (BYU) and are active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon)
  • Both authors have books that are currently in production as movies: Twilight for Meyer and Ender's Game for Card
  • Both authors have phenomenal online followings
  • Both use the practice of creating concurrent, distinct novels from the perspective of different characters in the same story: Twilight / Midnight Sun (see partial rough draft at StephenieMeyer.com) and the Ender's Game / Ender's Shadow series by Card

Enders Game by Orson Scott Card At BYU, Meyer received a bachelor's degree in English and Card graduated from the Theatre program. Readers often wonder if the use of Mormon themes in their books is purposeful or accidental. Meyer remarked, "Mormon themes do come through in Twilight. Free agency—I see that in the Cullens. The vampires made the choice to be something more—that's my belief, the importance of free will to being human (Linda M. Castellitto, "Dreams of High School Vampires Inspire a Toothsome Debut," BookPage) Card states, " The place where a writer's beliefs show up most powerfully—and most influentially—are not in the religious opinions of the characters, but in the way the world of the story functions—what works and what doesn't, why things happen, what purposes are noble and which are vile, etc...When I have found such patterns in my work, it is only after the fact. I make no effort to plan the "meaning" of my work in any way. I tell a story that I care about and believe in, hoping that there will be readers who feel the same. But I have no program (Orson Scott Card; OSC Answers Questions, 2:18:2004, HatRack.com)

Becoming a writer happens in different ways for different people. While most fans are familiar with the origin of the Twilight series (a dream), Card's bibliography states "it was as a theatre student that he first began to school himself to be a writer. Its the best training in the world for a writer, to have a live audience. Even now Card says 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. (Orson Scott Card; Who is Orson Scott Card? HatRack.com) Similarly, Meyer says, "When I read a book, I usually cast it in my head as I go. So long before I knew I was writing a novel, I was already casting my characters (Interview; 10:26:2005)

Another measure of the popularity of these two authors is observing their online devotion to their fans in virtual communities. Card's own website HatRack.com houses a forum where users can create their own persona based on the setting of the Alvin Maker series. Card himself takes an active role in the community and incorporated some of the characters created there into the later books in the series. On her website StephenieMeyer.com, Meyer attempts to keep track of the hundreds of fansites with the list growing each day.

While Meyer is relatively new to publishing success, Card, a Hugo and Nebula award winner, has consistently Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card. produced excellent science fiction, fantasy and biblical novels for over 30 years. The year 2008 seems to have been particularly prolific not only in sheer volume but also in scope with the addition of Ender in Exile (Tor, November 2008. There will be a forthcoming review of this science fiction novel, which is a direct sequel to Ender's Game at Myshelf.com.), Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show Anthology, ed. Orson Scott Card and Edmund R. Schubert (Tor, August 2008. Click here to read my review on Myshelf.com.) and Keeper of Dreams (OSC short fiction collection, Tor, April 2008) to his collection.

However, it is the re-release of the novella Zanna's Gift: A Life in Christmases (Tor, November 2004) Mass-market paperback (Forge, November 2008) which Zanna's Gift by Orson Scott Card I'd like to draw your attention to at this time. In Zanna's Gift, Card uses his uncanny ability to help us "see" through the eyes of different characters to capture what it means to lose someone dear to us. He echoes the opening statement above in this book as the main character describes the effect our children have on us. "They hold us hostage...We make these children and we love them so much and the world holds them for ransom and any time it wants to, it gives us the note and demands that we pay." Through his believable cast of characters, Card gives readers a chance to see how perspectives on life, death, love and family changes as we grown and gain experience.

Zanna's Gift is unforgettable (as are a majority of the works by Card and Meyer) and a personal copy is on my Christmas list for each of my friends and family this year. As for me, I'm hoping a boxed set by one of my two favorite authors will make an appearance under my tree this year!

 


Bibliography

 

Both authors provide complete current bibliographies of their works on their websites:

Orson Scott Card

Stephenie Meyer

 

 


2008's Honorary List

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