Orson Scott Card
Card at Life, the Universe, & Everything in 2008
|Born||August 24, 1951|
|Occupation||Author, critic, playwright / script writer, poet, public speaker, essayist, professor of writing and literature|
|Residence||Greensboro, North Carolina|
|Alma mater||Brigham Young University (B.A.)|
University of Utah (M.A.)
|Notable works||Ender's Game series,|
The Tales of Alvin Maker
|Spouse||Kristine Allen Card|
Orson Scott Card (born August 24, 1951) is an American novelist, critic, public speaker, essayist, and columnist. He writes in several genres but is known best for science fiction. His novel Ender's Game (1985) and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead (1986), both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win the two top American prizes in science fiction literature in consecutive years. A feature film adaptation of Ender's Game, which Card co-produced, was released in 2013. Card is also the author of the Locus Fantasy Award-winning series The Tales of Alvin Maker (1987-2003).
Card is also a professor of English at Southern Virginia University, has written two books on creative writing, hosts writing boot camps and workshops, and serves as a judge in the Writers of the Future contest. A great-great-grandson of Brigham Young, he is a practicing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In addition to producing a large body of fiction, he has also offered political, religious, and social commentary in his columns and other writing. This commentary, especially his long-term stance on the legalization of homosexual activity, has provoked criticism from the public and his colleagues, and in 2013, provoked a boycott of the film Ender's Game.
Orson Scott Card was born on August 24, 1951 in Richland, Washington:165, the son of Willard Richards Card and Peggy Jane (née Park), the third of six children and the older brother of composer and arranger Arlen Card. Willard Card was a World War II veteran who owned a sign-painting company. When the family could no longer depend on the business to survive, Willard Card returned to school to finish his education in order to become a college professor.:xv Card came from a long line of Mormon pioneer heritage. One of Card's great-great-grandfathers, Brigham Young, was the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) who led the Mormon pioneers west to Salt Lake City where they would eventually settle.:13 All of Card's ancestors three to five generations previous were members of the LDS Church. Charles Ora Card, who founded the first Mormon settlement in Canada, was Card's great-grandfather from his paternal line who married Brigham Young's daughter Zina. Their daughter Zina married Hugh B. Brown who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency of the LDS Church.:13
When Card was one month old, the family moved to San Mateo, California so Willard Card could begin a sign painting business. However, when Card was three years old, they moved to Salt Lake City, Utah so his father could finish his bachelor's degree. The family moved to Santa Clara, California when Card was six; they would stay there for seven years while his father completed his master's degree and was a professor at San Jose State College.:xv In school, Card was in classes for "gifted" students; however, he was more interested in studying music where he first played clarinet and then switched to the French horn.:xv He busied himself with reading, especially historical novels such as those by Elswyth Thane and Mark Twain.:xv At the library, Card read books above his age level even sneaking to the adult section where he read Call Me Joe and Tunesmith by Lloyd Biggle Jr. the latter of which he credits as having a tremendous effect on his life.:xv Card also read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in his youth.:xv
Card wrote his first story at age ten about an intelligent child who was beaten so badly by bullies that he became brain-damaged and mentally challenged. He submitted the story to two different magazines, but the story was not picked up. However, Card based Ender's confrontation with Stilson in Ender's Game on this story.:xvi
In 1964, Card and his family moved to Mesa, Arizona where he participated in mock debates in junior high school where he played the part of Lyndon B. Johnson though he personally favored Barry Goldwater.:xvi In 1967, the family moved to Orem, Utah where his father worked at Brigham Young University (BYU). Card attended BYU's laboratory school where he took both high school and early college-level classes.:xvi At first Card intended to major in anthropology, but he became increasingly more interested in theatre. He began scriptwriting in school writing ten original plays and rewriting plays authored by other students.:xvi One of his plays was in the science fiction genre; however, all of the other plays revolved around Mormon history or scriptures.:xvi Card related that scriptwriting helped development him as a writer, because it was easy to tell whether the audience was interested in his story by their body language.:xvi Card began his writing career primarily as a poet, studying with Clinton F. Larson at BYU. During his studies as a theater major, he began "doctoring" scripts, adapting fiction for readers theater production, and finally writing his own one-act and full-length plays, several of which were produced by faculty directors at BYU.:36-37 He also explored fiction writing, beginning with stories that eventually evolved into The Worthing Saga.:xxi,166
Card left as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Brazil in 1971 at the age of twenty before he completed his bachelor's degree at BYU.:xvii Influences from Portuguese and Brazilian Catholiscim are evident in his Shadow novels and his Speaker novels.:xvii While on his mission, he wrote the play Stone Tables.:xvii He returned from his mission in 1973 and graduated from Brigham Young University (BYU) in 1975 receiving a bachelor's degree with distinction in theater.:xvii
Card started the Utah Valley Repertory Theatre Company, which for two summers produced plays at "the Castle", a Depression-era outdoor amphitheater behind the state psychiatric hospital in Provo.:38-42 Meanwhile, he took part-time employment as a proofreader at BYU Press, then made the jump to full-time employment as a copy editor.:41-43 In 1976 he secured employment as an assistant editor at the Ensign, and moved to Salt Lake City.:43 It was while working at Ensign that Card published his first piece of fiction. His short story "Gert Fram" appeared in the July 1977 fine arts issue of that magazine under the pseudonym Byron Walley.:157 Over the years Orson Scott Card has used at least seven pseudonyms. The name Byron Walley was used by Card on his first published piece of fiction "Gert Fram" which appeared in the July 1977 fine arts issue of Ensign magazine. According to Card he used this name because he had a non-fiction article, "Family Art", a poem, "Looking West", and a short play, "The Rag Mission", appearing in the same issue. He also used this penname in various other publications for LDS magazines such as Friend and New Era as well as the short story "Middle Woman" in Dragons of Darkness.
He used the names Frederick Bliss and P.Q. Gump when he was asked to write an overview of Mormon playwrights "Mormon Shakespeares: A Study of Contemporary Mormon Theatre" for Spring 1976 issue of Sunstone magazine. According to Card he used these pseudonyms because the article included a brief reference to himself and his play "Stone Tables". For part of the 1970s Card worked as an associate editor of the Ensign, an official magazine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
He used the name Brian Green in the July 1977 fine arts issue of Ensign magazine. He used this name for his short play "The Rag Mission" because he had three other pieces appearing in the same issue. The name Noam D. Pellume was used by Card for his short story "Damn Fine Novel" which appeared in the October 1989 issue of The Green Pages.
While working at BYU Press, he sent his short story The Tinker to Analog Science Fiction and Fact in order to make money to repay his debts; however it was rejected. Instead, he wrote the short story "Ender's Game". It was purchased by Ben Bova at and published in the August 1977 issue of Analog.:42-43 Meanwhile, he started writing half-hour audioplays on LDS Church history, the New Testament, and other subjects for Living Scriptures in Ogden, Utah. On the basis of that continuing contract, some freelance editing work, and a novel contract for Hot Sleep and A Planet Called Treason, he left Ensign and began supporting his family as a freelancer.:xix:122
He completed his master's degree in English at the University of Utah in 1981 and began a doctoral program at the University of Notre Dame, but the recession of the early 1980s caused the flow of new book contracts to temporarily dry up.:58-60 He returned to full-time employment as the book editor for Compute! magazine in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1983.:60-61 In October of that year, a new contract for the Alvin Maker "trilogy" (now up to six books) allowed him to return to freelancing.:62-63
Ender's Game and its sequel Speaker for the Dead were both awarded the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award, making Card the only author (as of 2019 ) to win both of science fiction's top prizes in consecutive years.Ender's Game inaugurated the science fiction Ender Saga, and Ender's Shadow (1999), the so-called parallel novel featuring another boy in the Battle School. According to the citation, the two boys' "experiences echo those of teens, beginning as children navigating in an adult world and growing into a state of greater awareness of themselves, their communities and the larger universe."Card continued the series with Xenocide, Children of the Mind, Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, First Meetings in the Enderverse, Shadow of the Giant, A War of Gifts, and Ender in Exile, a book that takes place after Ender's Game and before Speaker for the Dead.:195-200 Card has also announced his plan to write Shadows Alive, a book that connects the "Shadow" series and "Speaker" series together.Shadows in Flight serves as a bridge towards this final book. He also co-wrote the formic war novels: Earth Unaware, Earth Afire, Earth Awakens, The Swarm and The Hive as prequels to the Ender novels, with one more novel set to release called The Queens, which will result in two prequel formic war trilogies. These trilogies relay, among other things, the history of Mazer Rackham.Children of the Fleet is the first novel in a new sequel series, called Fleet School. He also authored the novelization of the James Cameron film The Abyss.:xxi,33
Other works include the alternative histories The Tales of Alvin Maker, Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, The Homecoming Saga, and Empire, a story about a near-future civil war in the United States, which was the basis for the Xbox Live Arcade video game Shadow Complex. He collaborated with Star Wars artist Doug Chiang on Robota and with Kathryn H. Kidd on Lovelock. Card suffered a mild stroke on January 1, 2011, and was briefly hospitalized. He reported expecting to make a full recovery despite impairment of his left hand.
Besides science fiction, Card has branched out into other areas of fiction. In Lost Boys Card tells a horror story using a semi-autobiographical background.:125-127Treasure Box is also a horror novel and Enchantment is a fantasy novel based on the Russian version of Sleeping Beauty.:127-135 Other works include the comic book Ultimate Iron Man for Marvel Comics' Ultimate Marvel Universe series.:84
In 1983 Card published the novel Saints, a historical fiction based on the experiences of a woman coming into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints during the early portion of its movement. It continues through her eyes into subsequent events up until the granting of Statehood to Utah.:97-99 The name Dinah Kirkham was used to write the short story "The Best Day", in 1983. Card wrote the novel Zanna's Gift (2004) under the pen name Scott Richards, saying, "I was trying to establish a separate identity in the marketplace, but for various reasons the marketing strategy didn't work as we'd hoped."
In 2000, Card published the first novel in The Women of Genesis series. This series explores the lives of the principal women mentioned in the first book of the Bible and includes Sarah (2000), Rebekah (2002), and Rachel and Leah (2004).:79-94
In the fall of 2005, Card launched Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show. In 2005, Card accepted a permanent appointment as "distinguished professor" at Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista, Virginia, a small liberal arts college run according to the principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Card has taught multiple courses in English and creative writing. Card serves as a judge in Writers of the Future, a science fiction and fantasy story contest for amateur writers. It originated in the early 1980s by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer and the founder of the Church of Scientology, and continues to be funded and organized by Author Services Inc., an entity that manages Hubbard's literary work.
In 2008, Card's novella Hamlet's Father, a retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet, was published in the anthology The Ghost Quartet (Tor Books). The work re-interpreted the characters' personalities and motivations. Card lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, a place that has played a significant role in Ender's Game and many of his other works.:5-8,126-132
Card has written two books on the subject of creative writing - Characters and Viewpoint, published in 1988, and How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, published in 1990. Card also offered advice about writing in an interview in Leading Edge #23 in 1991.
Orson Scott Card has cited several authors having having influence on his fiction including Heinlein, Austen, Mitchell, Asimov, Richter, and Bradbury. Card has described his favorite authors as Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare.
Since 2001, Card's commentary includes the political columns "War Watch", "World Watch", or "Civilization Watch" and the column "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything", all published at the Greensboro Rhinoceros Times. The last-named column features personal reviews of film and a variety of other topics. The column also later appears on his website, Hatrack River.
Describing himself as a political liberal and moral conservative, Card's ideals concerning society--as well as foundational themes within his fiction--are described as communitarian. In 2000, Card said, "Most of the program of both the left and the right is so unbelievably stupid it's hard to wish to identify myself with either. But on economic matters, I'm a committed communitarian. I regard the Soviet Union as simply state monopoly capitalism. It was run the way the United States would be if Microsoft owned everything. Real communism has never been tried! I would like to see government controls expanded, laws that allow capitalism to not reward the most rapacious, exploitative behavior. I believe government has a strong role to protect us from capitalism."
A vocal supporter of the U.S.'s War on Terror, according to Salon, Card is close to neoconservative concerning foreign policy issues. Card became a member of the U.S. Democratic Party in 1976 and decided he was a Moynihan Democrat. As of at least 2011 he continued to call himself a democrat. Card supported Republican presidential candidates John McCain in 2008 and Newt Gingrich saying "To my own disgust I find myself right now leaning toward Newt Gingrich, a man who, as a human being, in my opinion does not measure up to either Romney or Obama."
In an August 2013 essay, presented as an "experiment" in fiction-writing called "The Game of Unlikely Events", Card described an alternative future in which President Barack Obama ruled as a "Hitler- or Stalin-style dictator" with his own national police force of young unemployed men; Obama and his wife Michelle would have amended the U.S. Constitution to allow presidents to remain in power for life, as in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Hitler's Germany. Card's essay drew extensive criticism, especially for allusions to Obama's race with its reference to "urban gangs".
Card has publicly declared his support of laws against homosexual activity and same-sex marriage. This has led critics to organize to a boycott of the film version of Ender's Game – a development which itself received criticism. Owing to political developments, by the early 2010s Card believed the question of U.S. legalization of same-sex marriage moot.
In a 1990 essay he wrote that "laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced", but to "send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society". In the same essay, Card clarified his position, writing:
The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not shake the confidence of the community in polity's ability to provide rules for safe, dependable marriage and family relationships.
In May 2013 Card further wrote that since the US Supreme Court had ruled those laws unconstitutional in 2003, he has "no interest in criminalizing homosexual acts". Responding to public criticism of the 1990 essay, Card noted:
Oddly enough, even as I am attacked by some as a homophobe, I am attacked by others as being too supportive of homosexuality, simply because I cannot see individual homosexuals, in or out of my books, as anything other than human beings with as complex a combination of good and evil in them as I find within myself. In my own view, I am walking a middle way, which condemns the sin but loves the sinner.
In a 2008 opinion piece in the Deseret News he wrote that "no matter how close the bonds of affection and friendship might be within same-sex couples, there is no act of court or Congress that can make these relationships the same as the coupling between a man and a woman." In 2009 he joined the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that campaigns against same-sex marriage, but later resigned from the board in mid-2013. Card has stated that there is no need to legalize same-sex marriage.
Card has also expressed his opinion that paraphilia and homosexuality are linked. In 2004, he claimed that it is a "myth that homosexuals are 'born that way'", noting that "if there is a genetic component to homosexuality, an entire range of environmental influences are also involved." He continued, saying that "the dark secret of homosexual society" was how often people "entered into that world through disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse".
In Card's 2008 novella Hamlet's Father, which re-imagines the backstory of Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Card was accused of directly trying to link the king's pedophilia with homosexuality. The novella prompted public outcry and its publishers were inundated with complaints. Trade journal Publishers Weekly criticized Card's work, stating that the main purpose of it was to attempt to link homosexuality to pedophilia. Card responded to the claim: "...[T]here is no link whatsoever between homosexuality and pedophilia in this book. Hamlet's father, in the book, is a pedophile, period. I don't show him being even slightly attracted to adults of either sex. It is the reviewer, not me, who has asserted this link, which I would not and did not make."
In 2013, Card was selected as a guest author for DC Comics's new Adventures of Superman comic book series, but controversy over Card's views on homosexuality led illustrator Chris Sprouse to leave the project and DC Comics to put Card's story on hold indefinitely. A few months later an LGBT group, Geeks OUT!, proposed a boycott of the movie adaptation of Ender's Game calling Card's view "anti-gay", causing the movie studio Lionsgate to publicly distance itself from Card's opinions.
In July 2013, one week after the U.S. Supreme Court issued rulings in two cases that were widely interpreted as favoring recognition of same-sex marriages, Card wrote in Entertainment Weekly that the same-sex marriage issue is moot, due to the Supreme Court's decision on DOMA. He further stated, "now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute".
Card's membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) has been an important facet of his life from early on.:12-15,95 He is a great-great-grandson of Brigham Young, the church's second president, and all of Card's ancestors for at least three generations have been members of the LDS Church. His ancestors include several other figures notable in the LDS Church, including the Cardston colony founder Charles Ora Card.:13 As such, his faith has been a source of inspiration and influence for both his writing and his personal views.:iv Since 2008 Card has written a column of Latter-day Saint devotional and cultural commentary for the Mormon Times.
Card and his wife, Kristine, have had five children, each named after one or more authors he and his wife admire. Their children's names are Michael Geoffrey (Geoffrey Chaucer), Emily Janice (Emily Brontë and Emily Dickinson), Charles Benjamin (Charles Dickens), Zina Margaret (Margaret Mitchell) and Erin Louisa (Louisa May Alcott).:58 Charles, who had cerebral palsy, died shortly after his 17th birthday and their daughter Erin died the day she was born. Card and his wife live with their youngest child, Zina, in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Card created a website, Strong Verse that publishes poetry from authors living and dead with the aim of showcasing works that present a clear message in clear language. The following motto appears on the website's header: "Good poetry is meant to be understood, not decoded." He has also served on the boards of a number of organizations, including public television station UNC-TV (2013–present) and the National Organization for Marriage (2009-2013).
The ALA Margaret A. Edwards Award recognizes one writer and a particular body of work for "significant and lasting contributions to young adult literature". Card won the ALA Margaret Edwards Award in 2008 for his contribution in writing for teens, selected by a panel of YA librarians. "What have I done that made some wonderfully deluded people think that I should get the [award] for lifetime achievement in writing young adult fiction?" he asked in his address, and asserted that "There is no such thing as children's literature." Furthermore:
I have not worked with YA editors; my work has never been marketed that way until Tor put a YA cover and a new ISBN on Ender's Game--fifteen years after the book first came out, and long after it had become popular with young readers. Ender's Game was written with no concessions to young readers. My protagonists were children, but the book was definitely not aimed at kids. I was perfectly aware that the rule of thumb for children's literature is that the protagonist must be a couple of years older than the target audience. You want ten-year-old readers, you have a twelve-year-old hero. At the beginning of the book, Ender is six. Who, exactly is the target audience?
He has also won numerous awards for single works.
Outside the world of published fiction, Card contributed dialog to at least three video games: Loom (however according to Card, for Loom, he contributed only feedback rather than dialogue), The Secret of Monkey Island and The Dig in the early 1990s. The dialog and screenplay (but not the story) for the Xbox video game Advent Rising was written by Card and Cameron Dayton.
Card is an avid fan of the science fiction television series Firefly and makes an appearance in the documentary Done the Impossible about Firefly fandom. In 2008, he appeared in the short film The Delivery, which starred his daughter, Emily. He plays an author reading an audiobook in this film, which won First Place in Fantasy at Dragon*Con Film Festival. He wrote an original story, "The Emperor of the Air", specifically for the short film by Gabrielle de Cuir and Stefan Rudnicki. He was the scriptwriter for several animiations for Living Scriptures.
In 2008 Card announced that Ender's Game would be made into a movie, but that he did not have a director lined up (Wolfgang Petersen had previously been scheduled to direct the movie, but subsequently left the project). It was to be produced by Chartoff Productions, and Card was writing the screenplay himself. The film was made several years later, and released in 2013, with Asa Butterfield in the title role and Gavin Hood directing. Card served as the co-producer for the film and while he is credited as a writer, his scripts were not used in the film and rather served as concept templates for the screenplay. In 2017, he wrote, produced, and co-created a television series Extinct for BYU TV which ran for one season before it was cancelled.