Orson Scott Card (born August 24, 1951 in Richland, Washington) is an American Science Fiction author, best known for his 1985 novel Ender's Game and its spinoffs. Card is the only author to have won both a Hugo Award and Nebula Award in consecutive years; the books that achieved this are Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, respectively. He is also one of exactly eight people to have won more than two Hugos. After 28 years, Ender's Game was adapted into a film.
Card teaches creative writing at Southern Virginia University. He also runs an invitation-only annual "boot camp" for writers. He has dedicated large amounts of his time to assisting aspiring writers, and he is also a Browncoat. According to his blog, he is also a fan of animated films, as well as Avatar: The Last Airbender after being convinced to watch it by his daughter. More recently, Card wrote a newspaper article in which he opined that Cowboy Bebop was better than "all but a handful" of sci-fi films.
A practicing Mormon, he also dabbles in LDS fiction alongside his better-known sci-fi. He is in many ways a Mormon version of C. S. Lewis, writing novels that fictionalize and popularize The Book of Mormon (Homecoming Saga) and the life of Joseph Smith (The Tales of Alvin Maker).
While genuinely famous for his novels, Card's place in science-fiction since the 2010s can be traced in part to his right-wing politics, particularly his vocal opposition to same-sex marriage and relations. Although for the most part his politics are separate from his fiction, there are exceptions, most notably with the book Empire and his works that create fictional representations of his religion and its history.
EnderverseCard's most well-known series, mostly due to the first book Ender's Game. The series branches off from there:
- The first released, but furthest out time-wise, were Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide and Children of the Mind.
- The second released was Shadow series, beginning with Ender's Shadow, a retelling of Ender's Game from the point of view of his friend Bean. It was followed by Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, and Shadow of the Giant, and two other stories — Shadows in Flight follows Bean and a few of his children as they travel in space together, while Ender in Exile follows Ender as he travels with other colonists from Earth, and meets up with a few characters from the Shadow series.
- The Formic Wars series, co-written with Aaron Johnston, is a prequel series showing Earth's earlier encounters with the Formics. It consists of two trilogies — The First Formic War (Earth Unaware, Earth Afire and Earth Awakens) and The Second Formic War (The Swarm, The Hive, and the forthcoming as-of-2021 The Queens).
- An anthology, First Meetings, contains a pair of stories about Ender's parents, along with a third story depicting his first meeting with Jane (a major character in the Speaker trilogy) and the original short story edition of Ender's Game.
- A War of Gifts: An Ender Story is another midquel set during the events of Ender's Game.
- The Fleet School series, yet another P.O.V. Sequel, takes place after the end of the original novel, but focuses on space rather than on Earth. As of 2021, only its first novel — Children of the Fleet — has been released.
- The Last Shadow (formerly announced as Shadows Alive) has been announced for fall 2021, completing the story of the Speaker trilogy and the Shadow series, in which Ender's children meet Bean's children and come together to solve the problem of the descolada virus.
Homecoming SagaA fictionalized account of 1st and 2nd Nephi, and Alma from The Book Of Mormon. From a Mormon perspective the Homecoming Saga is semi-historical fiction set IN SPACE!.Dune universe. Originally composed of short stories and then later collected into a (more-or-less) coherent narrative. They center around Jason Worthing, The Empire's most famous space pilot — and its most dangerous one, primarily because he has "the Swipe." His Trickster Mentor, Abner Doon, sends him out to found a new colony while he quietly causes The Empire (and thus the known universe) to collapse back into the Dark Ages. Worthing's colony eventually develops into a telepathic powerhouse who consider themselves guardian angels of the human race, removing memories of suffering and pain with their out-of-control powers. Jason makes them cut it out, which is where the events of the first novel start.
The Tales of Alvin MakerA fantasy/Alternate History series set in an alternate America where folk magic works that, in part, retells the life of Joseph Smith as an American Jesus.
Orson Scott Card's Empire
A tie-in to the Shadow Complex video game. The series is a political what if? story where a secret conspiracy plots to plunge America into a second Civil War based on Red vs. Blue state politics.
Stone Tables, a fictionalized account of Moses, is often included with these books despite being written far earlier in his career (and of course not being about a woman- although Moses' wife makes a significant impact on the book).
- A Planet Called Treason: A group of people are banished to the planet Treason after attempting to create a meritocracy within The Republic. Being a metal-poor planet, the people of Treason have to barter with "Ambassadors", teleporters connected to The Republic, in an attempt to gain the precious iron with which they hope to build a starship with and escape their banishment.
- Scott Card also worked a brief writer's tenure at LucasArts, writing dialogue for some of their games, including The Dig and the swordfighting insults in The Secret of Monkey Island. (Technically, this makes him the Trope Namer for "You Fight Like a Cow".)
- He also helped write the story for the Xbox/PC game, Advent Rising.
- Ultimate Iron Man. Seriously. It's generally hated by fans, but not for its actual quality (which is decent) but rather because its Tony Stark barely resembles the other writer's Tony Stark.
- Also, it probably wasn't a good idea for a Mormon to try to write a sympathetic alchoholic character's backstory - Tony is warned by his father not to drink, has one sip of champagne at a party and is immediately intoxicated and addicted. At least it's explained by Technobabble.
- Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus: A future culture realizes that it's too late to save Earth's habitability because of the damage already done by industry and war. They use devices able to see the past in order to determine the exact moment in history where they could perhaps alter course and prevent eventual disaster. Notable in that they acknowledge that they only get one chance to send people back in time, because their present will instantly vanish once they change the timestream.
- Pastwatch is notable for being a total inversion of the Noble Savage trope; it speculates on Europe's conquering of the Americas actually being a good thing, since it prevents the rise of a powerful culture dedicated to human sacrifice.
- At least two more books are planned for the series, covering the Biblical Flood and The Garden of Eden, events alluded to in parts of the first book's backstory explaining why they made the changes they did.
- The Flood was covered in the short story "Atlantis", included in the most recent collection of Card's stories, Keeper of Dreams.
- Enchantment, a re-telling of "Sleeping Beauty" set in medieval Russia, on a backdrop of war, witchcraft, and Time Travel. (Not to be confused with the Disney film Enchanted.)
- Lost Boys, an entertaining yarn about a game developer trying to reestablish himself in the industry while his son and his friends are somehow able to play next-gen games on the computer despite the hardware being nowhere near up to supporting it. It turns out that the son, and all of his friends in the neighborhood, were murdered by a neighbor and now exist as ghosts.
- Card co-wrote the Dragon Age six-issue comic book miniseries with Aaron Johnston.
- Songmaster Pedophiles IN SPACE!
- The Mither Mages trilogy, which expands the world found in his short story "Stonefather". It has a magic system that's supposed to explain everything, including mythology and ghosts. Turns out they're from another planet called Westil, but they've all gotten stranded on Earth since Loki closed all of the Gates that let them get back and forth.
- Pathfinder, another first novel in a new series. It takes place on a world called Garden and follows a boy named Rigg who can see people's paths as he tries to find his mother after his father dies. There's also a side story about a first attempt at faster than light travel with strange side effects.
- Saints, An Author Tract about Mormonism set in Victorian England and America.
- Hamlet's Father, Card's reimagining of Hamlet. Infamously known as one of the more extreme examples of Scott Card's private beliefs seeping into his work.
- The currently ongoing Firefall manga, Affinity. It details the events leading up to the start of the titular game, as well as the origin of the Melding, and the Chosen.
- Maps in a Mirror, the complete collection of his short fiction.
- Hart's Hope
- Lovelock, about a genetically-enhanced capuchin monkey struggling to free himself from human masters aboard a Colony Ship.
- Laddertop, A manga-style comic written with his daughters. Like Ender's Game it centers around gifted children students, a futuristic space station, and mysterious advanced aliens.
- Extinct, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi series.
Works by Orson Scott Card with their own pages include:
- Dragon Age
- Ender's Game series
- Hart's Hope
- Homecoming Saga
- Maps in a Mirror
- Mither Mages Series
- Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus
- Pathfinder (2010)
- A Planet Called Treason
- The Tales of Alvin Maker
- Ultimate Iron Man
- The Worthing Saga
Other works by Orson Scott Card contain examples of:
The Women of Genesis
- Armor-Piercing Response: After being told about her Arranged Marriage to Lot, Qira complains that her father is selling her off like a slave. Her father retorts that she wouldn't be worth anything as a slave, since she hasn't worked a day in her life and has the expected lack of useful skills to show for it.
- Beyond Redemption: Sodom, Gomorrah, and their sister cities are all declared to be this when the Lord's messenger informs Abraham that the cites will be destroyed. To further drive the point home, when the messenger visits Lot to warn him to flee, almost every man in the city turns up at Lot's house, fully intent on breaking into the house, chasing down Lot's guests like hunted animals, and then raping and killing them for sport.
- Bible Times, obviously.
- Colony Drop: The storyís interpretation of how Sodom, Gomorrah, and three other wicked cities nearby are destroyed. Each city is hit by a meteor about two cubits (one meter) across, which is big enough to flatten them and a good chunk of the surrounding landscape.note
- Comet of Doom: At one point, Abraham notes the appearance of a new star in the sky. After consulting his ancestorsí records, he concludes that itís a star that disappears and returns at regular intervals, and this particular star brings with it fiery stones that rain down from heaven, causing terror and destruction where they land. Not long after, Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed by falling meteors.
- Deadpan Snarker: Sarai, on many occasions.
- Death by Materialism: The fate of Lot's wife in Sarah. In Card's version, the "killed because she looked back" was metaphorical and she actually died because she was trying to collect her belongings rather than flee the city with Lot and their daughters.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: This being Bible Times, this is inevitable. Women are expected to get married and have children, can't own or inherit their own property, and are expected to obey the will of their fathers, husbands, or sons (if they're widowed). Gender roles are also strictly defined; at one point, Sarah notes that Abraham's high-ranked guests would consider it an insult if his wife was present for their discussion — though Abraham himself would have no problem with it.
- Foil: Sarai to Qira. Both married nomadic herdsman, but while Sarai embraces and grows to love her new way of life, Qira forces her husband to give up the life he loves and live with her in a city, which leaves him lonely and miserable. Both enjoy positions of power in their households, but while Sarai is respected for her wisdom, kindness, and competence, Qira only gets her way because she's Lot's wife and she throws tantrums otherwise. And while Sarai enjoys a loving relationship with her husband, Qira doesn't really feel anything for Lot and is only willing to act affectionate when he panders to her every whim, which only puts more strain on their failing marriage.
- Implied Rape: All anyone will say about what happens to the men the patrols in Sodom chase down for sport is that the men "use them up" before murdering them. The man who comes to warn Lot against bringing visitors into the city mentions that his father and his father's friends "used" him in a similar manner when he was a child, until Lot put a stop to it. Given what Sodom and Gomorrah are best known for...
- It's All About Me:
- Qira can be best described as having the personality of a spoiled child: she believes everything should go her way, and if it doesnít, she makes everyone around her miserable until they give in and let her have what she wants. Sarai notes at one point that Qira isnít nearly as subtle about this as she clearly thinks she is, to the point where sheís the only one who canít see how abhorrent her behavior is.
- Sarai also has some shades of this at the beginning, particularly while grappling with the Law of Inverse Fertility, but eventually recognizes this as a flaw of hers and works to grow out of it.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: In addition to needing a son to fulfill Godís promise that Abramís descendants will become a great nation, Sarai loves children and dearly wants a child of her own. Yet she just canít seem to get pregnant. Meanwhile, Qira, who thinks children are a nuisance and can barely be bothered to do the bare minimum as a mother, has five daughters.
- Police Are Useless: Sodom and Gomorrah are patrolled by groups of leading citizens, set up by their kings to keep the peace. However, the patrols soon prove to be even worse than lawlessness; they abuse their authority to chase down men for sport, then ďuse them upĒ before murdering them in cold blood. When one of their own tries to repay Lot for saving him from similar treatment in his youth by warning Lot not to bring visitors into the city, they torture him to death and dump his body on Lotís doorstep.
- Royal Blood: Pharaoh's reason for wanting to produce an heir through Sarai.
- Royal Brat: Qira, Sarai's sister, is totally self-centered and incapable of seeing anyone else's point of view.
- Sacred Hospitality: Invoked many times. Abram uses it to prevent Pharaoh from killing him and taking his wife. Lot takes it to such an extreme that he is willing to go back on his vow not to let any more of his daughters marry men of Sodom rather than let them have their way with his guests.
- The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Lampshaded when scientist Carol Jeanne Cocciolone's marriage to her marriage-counselor husband falls apart due in part to the latter's adultery, mother issues verging on an Oedipus Complex, and latent homosexuality.Carol Jeanne: Who theraps the therapist?
- Colony Ship: Lovelock takes place aboard the Mayflower Ark, an enormous starship carrying the population of a small town to start a colony on a new planet. Despite the name, this is not The Ark, as there's no cataclysm on Earth; they seem to be doing it For Science! as much as any other reason.
- Generation Ship: The Mayflower Ark is a low-key example: time dilation means that it will arrive at its destination within the lifetime of (most of) its original inhabitants, but the voyage is still long enough that some births are expected en route.
- Restraining Bolt: Lovelock, the genetically enhanced capuchin, is conditioned to value the needs of his human companion above all else, and also to react to sexual stimuli with excruciating pain (to prevent any unauthorized breeding).
- Brown Note: The protagonist, Ansset, can manipulate people psychologically with his singing. At one time, he causes a sadistic man to disembowel himself by showing the sadist the depth of his own evil through a song.
- Bury Your Gays: Josif, who is bisexual, marries female Kyaren; they have a happy marriage except he warns her that he's attracted to the inhumanly gorgeous male protagonist, Ansset. She tells him that that's fine, she doesn't mind if he sleeps with Ansset; but he still continues to worry about it. Ansset and Josif do end up getting together. Unfortunately, treatments Ansset received as a boy soprano, to delay puberty, cause a weird chemical reaction, making sex intolerantly painful. Josif is hunted down and castrated as punishment for "raping" Ansset. Josif then dies. His wife remarries the next day and in the epilogue is said to be much happier in this more peaceful relationship.
- Depraved Bisexual: Josif is introduced as homosexual, enters a heterosexual relationship with the statement that he is '60% attracted to men, 38% attracted to women, and 2% attracted to sheep,' and ends his sexual career unable to control his urges toward a barely pubescent child, making him at least a homosexual hebephile. No meaningful counterexamples exist in the setting, in part because most of the book centers around pederasty.
- Artifact of Doom: The "treasure box" of the title, which contains a Sealed Evil in a Can capable of Demonic Possession among other things.
- Before My Time: Madeline uses this as an excuse for not understanding Quentin's 1980s pop culture references, although the references are still recent enough (the book was published in 1996) that it's surprising that a 20-something young woman wouldn't have heard of at least one.
- Genre Shift: Treasure Box turns out to be one of Card's "tales of dread", but you don't realize it's in that genre until well into the story, about the same time the main character does.
- Glamour: Madeline eventually admits to Quentin that she is the result of a witch using magic to create an illusion of his perfect girlfriend.
- Impossibly Delicious Food: The weird rich people eat food that appears to be the platonic ideal of food, the best food you could possibly imagine, every bite perfection. Turns out that's because you are imagining it.
- Lie Back and Think of England: Madeline has a minor freakout the first time Quentin attempts to use his tongue while kissing her, and up until their marriage displays very inconsistent responses to physical affection; Quentin wonders to himself if she had been a victim of some kind of trauma as a child. After they are married, Madeline appears to be enthusiastic when they have sex, but Quentin can tell that she's only pretending to enjoy it.
- Nouveau Riche: Quentin is a computer programmer who became wealthy during the dot-com boom of the 1990s.
- Really 17 Years Old: Madeline's other disturbing secret. The witch underneath the illusion of Madeline is a twelve-year-old child, and she has been bluffing her way through an adult romantic and sexual relationship with Quentin in order to use him to get her hands on the power of the "treasure box" in the book's title.
- Brain in a Jar: Wyrms features talking disembodied heads kept alive by some kind of leech.
- Razor Floss: The heroine keeps a strand of this in her hair for use as a weapon in case of an assassination attempt.
- Losing Your Head: The heads in jars, which are kept alive by bio-engineered alien worms, and are chemically conditioned to never lie. The king keeps them as advisors, and many of them openly hate him, and were his enemies in their former lives. They can't speak unless someone pumps the bellows that push air through their vocal cords.
- Author Usurpation: Ender's Game is the only one of Orson's books that became mainstream, and it overshadows his other books.
- Blasphemous Boast: In The Lost Boys, a young software engineer will tell anyone who listens that he makes more money than God.
- Extremely Lengthy Creation: He has a tendency to wander around before continuing a series.
- Children of the Mind came out in 1996, and despite fans wanting to know what happens next, Card wrote a ton of prequels.
- It took seven years to make the fifth book of the Ender's Shadow prequel series.
- He co-wrote Lovelock with Kathryn H. Kidd in 1994. It's supposed to be part one of The Mayflower Trilogy, and the second book still isn't out. Kidd has since died.
- The Crystal City, sixth book of the Alvin Maker series, came out in 2003. Book seven, Master Alvin, is still in the works.
- Magnum Opus Dissonance: Card feels his best work is his short story Unaccompanied Sonata. Similarly it's noted on Ender's Game page that it was meant to be a lead-up for Speaker for the Dead, though he's come to appreciate the first book just as much. However, he doesn't mind that it has become so much more popular than his later work.Card: Readers choose which books and stories they'll care about most and remember best, and if I am remembered only for a novel I wrote in 1984, and not for the better books I wrote after that, I'm not going to complain: Writers are lucky if readers care about and remember any of their works, and a writer is a fool if he criticizes his readers for liking the wrong book.
- Rape and Switch: Hamlet's Father has as part of its backstory Hamlet's father raping pretty much the entire male cast (except maybe Claudius and Polonious). It is implied this turns them all gay (Card denies it, but he's said in the past homosexuality is caused that way). This is why Hamlet's insane. Also, Horatio killed Hamlet's dad as revenge for the aforementioned orientation-destroying sodomy.