Orson Scott Card discusses his new book, Mormonism and a lot more

I encourage everybody to listen to this interview with Orson Scott Card, the LDS author of “Ender’s Game” and many other books.  He has written a sequel to “Ender’s Game” called “Ender in Exile.”

OSC never ceases to surprise me. He is a Democrat, a self-described “communitarian” who favors the Iraq war, opposes SSM and opposes Mitt Romney. He also says something very profound: African-Americans and women can aspire to be the president of the United States, but a Mormon cannot because of the smears of Mike Huckabee and his ilk. Interesting stuff.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

27 thoughts on “Orson Scott Card discusses his new book, Mormonism and a lot more

  1. I’m hoping for the best with this new book, but most of what he’s put out in the past ten years is pretty mediocre. The “War of Gifts” novella he put out last year is one of the most poorly written pieces of literature I’ve ever read. It’s a shame, some of his early stuff is still some of my favorite sci-fi.

    And how many people thought it was possible for an African American to become president ten years ago? Give it some time, I doubt smears against a Mormon running for President would be any worse than what Obama, Clinton or Palin had to put up with.

  2. Throughout Romney’s candidacy there were a number of comments posted claiming that it would be easier for a Mormon to win as a Democrat than a Republican. After Proposition 8 I’m curious if anyone still feels that way. I imagine Orrin Hatch is feeling a whole lot more comfortable than Harry Reid right now.

    On a related note, does anyone know if an organized “Fight the Blacklist” has been started to direct people to support businesses that are being boycotted because one of their employee’s cousin’s roommate’s half-brother’s uncle contributed to Proposition 8? I think that would be very useful at this point.

  3. I really liked the second Ender’s Shadow series he’s put out recently.
    Other than Ender’s Game stuff and Seventh Son stuff, most of his books are a disappointment. Also, don’t be deceived.
    He calls himself a Democrat, but he’s not.
    He’s been a huge supporter of Bush, the war in Iraq, etc. etc.

  4. I’m not sure you could call Card a Democrat or a Republican (though of course he’s free to call himself whatever he wants). He seems to disagree with both parties on major issues.

    Aluwid, there aren’t enough Prop 8 topic to ask that question in?

  5. jjohnsen,

    I would have asked it in the post about the artistic director being forced out of his job for supporting proposition 8 but those comments were closed. This post is kindof related…right? If I squint really hard…

  6. And Tim, I think you can support the war and still be a Democrat, just like I know Republicans that are against the Iraq war.

  7. I’ve really enjoyed most of OSC’s writings, but some of my favorites were written years ago, for example Treason, Hart’s Hope, and Saints.

    I also ate up the Ender’s Shadow series.

    Keep squinting, Aluwid!

  8. And how many people thought it was possible for an African American to become president ten years ago?

    General consensus was that in ’96 had Colin Powell wanted to run against Clinton he would probably have won the GOP nomination and the Presidency. (I say probably since on social issues Powell was liberal and would run afoul of the Christian social right)

  9. I am surprised more people don’t talk about “Saints.” Not only was it an excellent novel in terms of the characters and situations it portrays, but it shows the hows and whys of polygamy — and turns Joseph Smith into a real live human being — better than any book I’ve ever read. I LOVE that book.

    I believe “Ender’s Game” is still used today in some military academies. It really is an extraordinary book.

    People also forget OSC’s work on novels regarding Old Testament figures and his work on the “Living Scriptures” series. He really has a very broad body of work.

  10. Saints really was a great book. I am pretty disappointed at how the last two Ender books ended up and how the last few Bean books ended up (after the excellent first two in both cases) I also thought the choice of a change in style in the Alvin series was disappointing and made what was great with the first two books into something much more humdrum. (Although I did like the third, just nowhere near as much as the rest)

    As much as I like Ender’s Game I think the short story is superior. The two threads in Ender’s Game don’t quite wrap up nicely leading to a slightly disjointed pace. (Something Card himself acknowledged) It is a classic of Science Fiction and honestly most “great” science fiction has pretty serious flaws as well.

  11. Tim — He’s a Democrat. He’s just not a cookie-cutter Democrat. There’s more to a party than litmus-test responses to highly emotional issues.

    Check out “A Storyteller in Zion” and you’ll find some ideas that will help you understand that he’s not your routine anything. What I find amazing is that he insists repeatedly that he is an “ultra-Orthodox” Mormon. And he’s quite sincere in believing that, although it’s just about as unlikely as his being a Democrat — many ultra-Orthodox Mormons are very, very uncomfortable with things he has to say.

    His approach is quite his own, and tends to be thought provoking if you’re willing to get past the places where he disagrees with you. He’s got reasons for what he has to say that are worth considering.

  12. For knowing OSC’s world better I’d second Blain above in recommending A Storyteller in Zion. He has some interesting things to say and he says them well. Another, less well known book is Folk of The Fringe, which is an interesting book.

    You don’t have to agree with everything he says – we have a lot of things we can and do have different ideas about – but many of his ideas are worth considering.

  13. I agree that OSC isn’t across-the-board Republican.
    However, consider his approach to the following:
    The war in Iraq (he supports it).
    His support of Bush.
    His support of McCain.
    His support of “Intelligent Design” (as opposed to Theistic Evolution).
    His denial of global warming.
    His support of traditional marriage.
    Now, I firmly believe that one can hold a couple of those positions and still consider themselves Democrat. But to hold all those and consider oneself a Democrat? I just don’t think that works.
    I realize that he may be a Democrat in other respects. Unfortunately, he rarely writes about those other respects in his opinion pieces.
    By the way, I appreciate the book recommendations.

  14. People also forget OSC’s work on novels regarding Old Testament figures and his work on the “Living Scriptures” series. He really has a very broad body of work.

    This is all crap, but I have to agree with you on Saints, it’s fantastic. As is the collection of post-apocalyptic short stories, the name is slipping my mind.

  15. But to hold all those and consider oneself a Democrat? I just don’t think that works.

    Is that all being a Democrat means? You didn’t mention anything about economic policies. Are economics irrelevant now?

    I met OSC once, when I was in college. He gave a talk at my (Baptist) school about religious freedom. It was a good talk, everyone enjoyed it. I’ve only read a handful of his books, nothing in the last 10 years or so. But he’s an interesting character, that’s for sure.

  16. Tim –
    let’s reverse that.

    Consider OSC’s approach to the following:
    His support of Gun Control
    His support of Affirmative Action
    He isn’t a fan of free markets
    He supports welfare and other government subsides for the poor
    He supports progressive taxation

    Now, can one support all of these and be a Republican? Sure. Just as easily as one can support the things you list and be a Democrat.

    Really, Tim. Get out of your narrow, partisan mindset and realize that people don’t have to toe the line on everything. Card calls himself a Democrat, so let him be one.

  17. OSC also leans to the left on immigration issues.

    Favorite OSC books: First three Ender books (Children of the Mind is a huge letdown).
    Pastwatch, Enchantment, Worthing Chronicles, Lost Boys, Folk of The Fringe, first three Alvin Maker books, The Homecoming series, Women of the Old Testament series.

    The later Alvin Maker books and the Bean/Shadow books have been okay, good reads, but not very memorable.
    Also okay: Wyrms, Songmaster, Treason.

    Avoid: Treasure Box, Magic Street, Homebody, Empire.

  18. That’s it Dave, Folk of the Fringe was excellent. Just the description of how the church changed was fascinating.

  19. I realize he leans to the left in some places.
    But if you’ve read his recent opinion pieces at his website, you’ll see a trend.
    Bush. McCain. Obama. War. Global warming.
    If you want to find a lot of other stuff, you’ve got to dig a lot deeper.
    He can call himself whatever he wants. And I’m not saying he’s a Republican. But if it’s been twenty years since you voted for a Democrat presidential nominee, and you voted for the Republican nominee at every election in the past twenty years, maybe you should stop calling yourself a Democrat.

  20. “Really, Tim. Get out of your narrow, partisan mindset and realize that people don’t have to toe the line on everything. Card calls himself a Democrat, so let him be one.”
    I don’t have a partisan mindset. I certainly don’t toe the line on everything (or even nearly everything). Whether my mindset is narrow or not is for others to say (preferably for those who actually know me).
    Calling someone something doesn’t make it so. Card has the right to call himself a Democrat, but leaning left on economics doesn’t automatically make you a Democrat, any more than leaning right on abortion makes you a Republican.

  21. He leans left on social welfare issues. Even Democrats are typically now days center-right on economics. It seems he leans neo-con on foreign policy and right on social (nee moral) issues. On everything else he seems your typical Democrat and there are a fair number of Democrats who think like him.

  22. “Get out of your narrow, partisan mindset and realize that people don’t have to toe the line on everything. Card calls himself a Democrat, so let him be one.”

    This is a strange statement, in light of the fact that “Democrat” is a partisan category. Party labels seem to be preciely the things one should be partisan about. Of course there’s no necessary ideological content to it at all. That party (like many others) can contain ideological opposites–e.g. Northern socialists and Southern white supremacists. But some sliver, some glimmer of group loyalty seems to be required, especially for a public, well-known Democratic-identifying pundit. The conservative Republicans I’ve read on blogs who love OSC’s politics all seem to understand this, at least when it comes to *their* party, or to the Church, but not in the case of a pundit who has very publicly called his fellow Democrats unpatriotic, and plenty of other things, for all sorts of reasons from foreign policy to gay marriage to the economy.

    Now think, Republicans, if the situation were all reversed and a prominent “Republican” pundit had said the reverse of those things, and yet continued to insist on his Republican credentials. You’d probably find that kind of self-indulgent and strange. Even someone as self-indulgent and narcissistic as Andrew Sullivan–the closest analogue I can think of on the other side–doesn’t try to play these games. People can call themselves whatever they want, but that doesn’t mean it’s very meaningful.

  23. A good chunk of why he identifies himself as a Democrat is the (huge) problems he had with Utah Republicans. Probably a prominent one or few. He doesn’t want to associate himself with some of their positions, particularly having to do with treatment of the poor, illegal immigration, etc.

    There are no grounds for throwing someone out of the party they choose, no matter how much they don’t seem to fit. The Democratic Party has been a loose coalition of interest groups for some time now that come together to vote their shared interests when they collide properly.

    I tend to think that those on the right who want to trumpet Scott as “a Democrat himself” are oversimplifying the situation, and those who say “he’s really a Republican” are as well. Enjoy the cognitive dissonance. It won’t hurt for very long.

    As to the books, I must recommend Maps in a Mirror. I’ve always loved his short fiction, and he hardly writes any anymore. I love Middle Woman and The Porcelain Salamander, and Unaccompanied Sonata always makes me cry, as does Songmaster. I also found Pastwatch to be quite interesting. And, even though he reworked it, A Planet Called Treason was my first book of his, and I still like it.

    I didn’t know he was Mormon until the second counselor in our bishopric (the local Institute director no less) read one of the pieces, now in A Storyteller in Zion, out of Sunstone over the pulpit in Sacrament Meeting.

    So I’m slow.

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