"Your work is first, learning is first, winning is everything because without it there is nothing." -- Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card (born August 24, 1951) is an American author, critic, public speaker and conservative political activist. He writes in several genres, but is primarily known for his 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 both of American science fiction's top prizes in consecutive years. He is also known as a political commentator and as an advocate for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken.""As long as you keep getting born, it's alright to die some times.""But in the meantime I became accustomed to the writing life and it would be hard to change now - partly because of the salary cut if I went to my other love, teaching; and partly because I still have stories to tell, even though it isn't all that fun doing the work anymore.""Everything important in sci-fi showed up in the magazines first. It's the proving ground for new writers and new ideas.""God, our genes, our environment, or some stupid programmer keying in code at an ancient terminal - there's no way free will can ever exist if we as individuals are the result of some external cause.""I am especially grateful, however, to have known the fifties, before we began to poison our own civilization - or at least before the effects of the poison began to be felt.""I buy way too many books.""I don't believe that there are aliens. I believe there are really different people.""I fell into playwriting accidentally, took some classes in it, and also took creative writing classes, but I really didn't expect it to be a career because I didn't believe there was a way to make money as a playwright without being lucky and I didn't feel particularly lucky.""I have lived in the only decades I could have lived in, and hope to live through at least a few more.""I hope I am remembered by my children as a good father.""I listen to music constantly while writing.""I realized that everything important in sci-fi showed up in the magazines first. It's the proving ground for new writers and new ideas.""I say this as a Democrat, for whom the Republican domination of government threatens many values that I hold to be important to America's role as a light among nations. But there are no values that matter to me that will not be gravely endangered if we lose this war.""I wonder sometimes if the motivation for writers ought to be contempt, not admiration.""In all my study of history, I have never found a time or place I would rather have lived than now.""In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him.""It's the middle class that feels the luxury of being able to have causes.""Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books.""Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.""My college training was primarily in theatre, with an eye to becoming a director, actor, or producer.""My favourite all-time work of fiction: Lord of the Rings. My favourite all-time nonfiction book: Guns, Germs, and Steel. Ask me again next week, you'll get a different answer.""Of course, I also hear from critics who detest what I do, and while sometimes I feel rather proud of having made various the loathsome people or groups angry, at other times I wonder why I put up with such grief.""One mind can think only of its own questions; it rarely surprises itself.""The best thing about my job, though, is stopping at the end of the day and rejoining the human universe.""The education that prepared me was my general education classes, which I tried to avoid when I was a stupid undergraduate, but which gave me the foundation of general knowledge that makes a career as a writer possible.""The lies we live will always be confessed in the stories that we tell.""The most important training, though, is to experience life as a writer, questioning everything, inventing multiple explanations for everything. If you do that, all the other things will come; if you don't, there's no hope for you.""The priests say that God created our souls, and that just puts us under the control of another puppeteer. If God created our will, then he's responsible for every choice we make.""There is more good writing and good acting in any ten minutes of Twister than in, say, all of Citizen Kane.""There's a reason why every human society has fiction. It teaches us how to be 'good,' to behave in a way that is for the benefit of the whole community.""Ulysses, obviously. It was an elaborate prank, and our supposed intellectual elite continue to fall for it.""Unemployment is capitalism's way of getting you to plant a garden.""Working is hard and distracts from having fun.""Writing sessions can last an hour or sixteen hours, depending on how it's going.""You who speak languages, you are such liars."
Card is the son of Willard and Peggy Card. Card was born in Richland, Washington, and grew up in Santa Clara, California as well as Mesa, Arizona and Orem, Utah. He served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil and graduated from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah; he also spent a year in a Ph.D. program at the University of Notre Dame. Card lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, an environment that has played a significant role in Ender's Game and many of his other works.
Card began his writing career primarily as a poet, studying with Clinton F. Larson at Brigham Young University. During his studies as a theatre major, he began "doctoring" scripts, adapting fiction for readers theatre production, and finally writing his own one-act and full-length plays, several of which were produced by faculty directors at BYU. He also explored fiction writing, beginning with stories that eventually evolved into The Worthing Saga.
After returning to Provo, Utah from his LDS mission in Brazil, 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 mental hospital in Provo; his company's were the first plays ever produced there. Meanwhile, he took part-time employment as a proofreader at BYU Press, then made the jump to full time employment as a copy editor. In 1976, in the midst of a paid acting gig in the Church's musical celebrating America's Bicentennial, he secured employment as an assistant editor at the Church's official magazine, Ensign, and moved to Salt Lake City. 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.
He first wrote the short story "Ender's Game" while working at the BYU press, and submitted it to several publications. The idea for the later novel, of the same title came from the short story about a school where boys can fight in space. It was eventually purchased by Ben Bova at Analog Science Fiction and Fact and published in the August 1977 issue. Meanwhile, he started writing half-hour audioplays on the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 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.
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. He returned to full-time employment as the book editor for Compute! magazine in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1983. In October of that year, a new contract for the Alvin Maker "trilogy" (now up to 6 books) allowed him to return to freelancing.
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 2009) to win both of science fiction's top prizes in consecutive years. 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, the 2007 release of A War of Gifts, and the 2008 release of Ender in Exile, a book that takes place after Ender's Game and before Speaker for the Dead. Card has also announced his plan to write Shadows in Flight, a book that connects the "Shadow" series and "Speaker" series together. 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 has since moved on to other projects.) It was to be produced by Chartoff Productions, and Card was writing the screenplay himself.Other works include the alternate histories The Tales of Alvin Maker, The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, The Homecoming Saga, and Hidden Empire, a story about a near-future civil war in the United States, based on 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.
He has since branched out into other areas of fiction with novels such as Lost Boys, Treasure Box and Enchantment. Other works include the novelization of the James Cameron film The Abyss and the comic book Ultimate Iron Man for Marvel Comics' Ultimate Marvel Universe series. Outside the published fiction world, Card contributed dialog to at least three video games: Loom, The Secret of Monkey Island and The Dig in the early 1990s.
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).
In the fall of 2005, Card also launched Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show. He edited the first two issues, but found that the demands of teaching, writing, and directing plays for his local church theatre group made it impossible to respond to writers' submissions in a timely manner; former Card student and experienced freelance writer and editor Edmund Schubert took over as editor on June 1, 2006.
The dialog and screenplay (but not the story) for the Xbox video game Advent Rising was written by Card and Cameron Dayton.
Reviews and critiques
Card authors "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything," a weekly editorial for the Greensboro Rhinoceros Times, which features personal reviews of movies, books, restaurants in the greater Greensboro area, and a variety of other topics. The column also later appears on his website, Hatrack River.
Over the years Orson Scott Card has used at least seven pseudonyms.
The names Frederick Bliss and P.Q. Gump were used by Card when he was asked to write an overview of Mormon playwrights "Mormon Shakespears: 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".
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. Card also used the name Byron Walley in stories he published in Friend magazine, New Era magazine and in the anthology Dragons of Darkness. Stories by Byron Walley include: "Gert Fram", Ensign magazine, July 1977; "Bicicleta", Friend magazine, October 1977; "The Best Family Home Evening Ever", Friend magazine, January 1978; "Billy's Box", Friend magazine, February 1978; "I Think Mom and Dad Are Going Crazy, Jerry", New Era magazine, May 1979; and "Middle Woman", Dragons of Darkness, Ace Books, 1982.
The name Brian Green was also used by Card 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 Dinah Kirkham was used to write the short story "The Best Day", in 1984.
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.
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 2005, Card accepted a permanent appointment as "distinguished professor" at Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista, Virginia, a small liberal arts college run based on the principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Card has cited his frustration with dismal teaching methodology for creative writing in most universities as a reason for accepting this position, along with his desire to teach the techniques of effective fiction writing to writers whose values are more harmonious with his own. Card has worked closely with colleagues to develop new and effective ways to educate aspiring writers and has published two books on the subject. He was eager for the opportunity to apply these techniques in a university environment...his assorted workshops did not allow the follow-through he desired. After being affected by stories of his students' parents in some of their essays, he decided to stop teaching regularly at the university to spend time with his youngest child who still lives at home. This however, has been changed because he was returning back to school to teach the spring semester of 2009.
Literary Boot Camp
Since 2001, Card has run an annual, one-week intensive critique workshop for aspiring writers called "Literary Boot Camp." Participants are picked from applicants who submit a sample of their fiction writing. The week-long workshop is paired with a weekend lecture-style workshop open to all comers. Graduates have gone on to win major science fiction and fantasy contests (for instance, the now-defunct Phobos contest and the Writers of the Future contest), sell many stories to the SF and fantasy magazines such as Asimov's Science Fiction and Realms of Fantasy, sell books to major publishers (Judson Roberts' Strongbow Saga trilogy is one of many examples), etc.
Books on writing
Card has written two books on the subject of creative writing. The first of these books was Characters and Viewpoint published in 1988. The second was How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy published in 1990. Both of the books were published by Writer's Digest Books and remain in print. He was also a co-writer for How to Write a Million (though his contribution is actually a reprint of an earlier work).
Writers of the Future
Card also serves as a judge in the Writers of the Future contest. Writers of the Future is a science fiction and fantasy story contest for amateur writers originated by L. Ron Hubbard in the early 1980s and continues to be funded and organized by the Church of Scientology.
Card is active as a critic, political writer, and speaker. Shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks Card began to write a weekly column named variously "War Watch", "World Watch", or "Civilization Watch", depending upon the topic; since late 2008, publication of the column has become somewhat sporadic. The column is published in the Greensboro Rhinoceros Times and his Ornery American" website. Card is a vocal supporter of many aspects of George W. Bush's leadership style, the war on terror, aspects of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and aspects of the USA PATRIOT Act.
On November 6, 2006, one day before the 2006 midterm elections in the United States, Card wrote an opinion piece for RealClearPolitics, in which he (while being a Democrat) encouraged voters to support the Republicans:
In the 2008 presidential election, Card supported Republican nominee John McCain.
Environment and science
Although he supports government-funded research into alternative energy sources and the phasing out of fossil fuel use, Card has also frequently criticized precipitate action on global warming, and has voiced the suggestion that scientific evidence against global warming is suppressed because global warming has become an academic orthodoxy that discourages opposing evidence.His short story "Angles" also features scientists fearing to pursue research because it would run counter to scientific dogma. Similarly, he has voiced distrust of Darwinism as dogma in opposition to Intelligent Design (which he also distrusts, for entirely different reasons). While criticizing scientists for claiming that Darwinism explains "completely how evolution works," Card also said that "real science does not...and never can...prove or even support" Intelligent Design.
Card described homosexuality as an acquired characteristic linked to abuse or molestation in childhood. He has called same-sex marriage a "potentially devastating social experiment". He has argued that same-sex marriage is not necessary to ensure LGBT rights because: "Any homosexual man who can persuade a woman to take him as her husband can avail himself of all the rights of husbandhood under the law." He claims that "gay activism as a movement is no longer looking for civil rights, which by and large homosexuals already have." He also says he is against "changing the word 'marriage' to apply to something it's never applied to."
With regard to the acceptance of legal same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and California, Card writes that: "The first and greatest threat from court decisions in California and Massachusetts, giving legal recognition to 'gay marriage,' is that it marks the end of democracy in America. These judges are making new law without any democratic process; in fact, their decisions are striking down laws enacted by majority vote." In the same article he voiced strong condemnation of any government that recognized gay marriage stating, "Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down..."
Writing of the LDS Church's attitude towards homosexuals, he argues that because the church leaders and prophets teach against homosexual behavior, it is hypocritical for a practicing homosexual to claim to be a church member but still deny that their behavior is sinful.
Card's statements on homosexuality and civil rights for gay people have drawn charges of homophobia.,,,
Card does not consider his views homophobic, stating he does not advocate "harsh personal treatment of individuals who are unable to resist the temptation to have sexual relations with persons of the same sex,"
and that he views homosexuals as "human beings with as complex a combination of good and evil in them as I find within myself." However, he has written that "laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary 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 April 2009, Card became a member of the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that seeks to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage. He replaced Matthew S. Holland, one of the founding board members, who is also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the son of LDS apostle Jeffrey R. Holland.
Card and his wife Kristine have 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 Brontė and Emily Dickinson), Charles Benjamin (Charles Dickens), Zina Margaret (Margaret Mitchell) and Erin Louisa (Louisa May Alcott). Charles, who had cerebral palsy, died shortly after his 17th birthday and their daughter, Erin, died the day she was born. Currently Card and his wife live with their youngest living child, Zina, in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The life of their son Charles influenced some of Card's fiction, most notably the Homecoming series, Lost Boys and Folk of the Fringe. Their daughter, Emily, along with two other writers adapted Card's short stories "Clap Hands and Sing", "Lifeloop" and "A Sepulchre of Songs" for the stage in Posing as People.
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.
Card is an avid fan of the sci-fi television series Firefly and makes an appearance in the documentary Done the Impossible about Firefly fandom.