Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Spotlight - Orson Scott Card (Read with Discretion Author)

Orson Scott Card is an active, outspoken member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He's almost combative in his stance against gay marriage and often shares his testimony of the restored gospel with the world in general. However, the content of his books doesn't always portray the wholesome, family-friendly values that the LDS church espouses. In fact many of them contain graphic violence, sexuality (including rape, pedophilia, and homosexuality), as well as profanity.

Now, this blog isn't about trying to figure out why an author writes a certain way. Its purpose is to help parents make informed choices. With that in mind, I'll present a brief overview of the books I've read by Card, to give you an idea of which books are okay for your teens and which you might want to leave on the shelf. At least until the Story Surgeon App is ready. 

(Side note: My Project has been approved by Kickstarter and we'll launch the campaign on Thursday, Jan 16th. More on that later.)

Now for the list. I'll start with the tamer ones.

The only works I can think of that might be G rated are his books on writing. (Which are actually very good resources for those wanting to learn the craft.) Although there may be an occasional minor expletive. (Not that your preschoolers will be reading this one, anyway.)

Writing Resources - SURGEON GENERAL RATING - G

The PG category contains most of Card's religious work. The WOMEN OF GENESIS series does contain some tastefully done intimate scenes and they might be better classified in the PG-13 category, but because my mom read them and didn't object, I'm going to go with the lower rating.

Women of Genesis Series


Pathfinder was supposed to be Card's first crack at the YA genre. He does tone down the mature content (although he still manages to fit in his mandatory crotch reference), but besides that, it's indistinguishable from his adult works. (Unless you count characters acting more like children.) I actually really enjoyed the first in the series. The second was too full of pointless bickering and meandering plot for me to recommend.

Pathfinder Series


I was surprised to find that this spin off (or prequel) to the Ender books was actually cleaner than the original books. I loved Earth Unaware, but gave up on Earth Afire (which is nothing like the first.) In these, you only have to worry about some minor swearing and some mild violence.

The First Formic War Series


This fantasy series that was supposed to be loosely based on the life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, starts out tame enough, but by the end books, the violence and sexuality get pretty graphic. A promising story, that grows increasingly convoluted until even Card couldn't bring it all together for the conclusion. A sad way to finish a series. (Even without the rape references.)

Alvin Maker Series


Ender's Game was the first I read of Card's novels and I loved it. Just watch out for violence and sexual references. For specific content see the SSG review. The Shadow Spinoffs are hit and miss. Most are about the same level of content as the main series.

Ender's Game and Shadow Spinoff Series


Saints was a surprise for me. Although fiction, it portrays real events and people in a way that make the early leaders of the Mormon church seem like imperfect humans dedicated to a greater cause. I'd recommend it for older readers, however, since there is violence and the intimate scenes involving early church leaders, although tastefully done, may be jarring.




Now we come to the mature section. The following books are (R) rated. Treasure box had extreme violence. Songmaster and Hamlet have themes (and scenes) of homosexuality. Enchantment has disturbing violence and sexuality.

The Remainder of Card's Novels (that I've read)


So, in conclusion, Card is a powerful storyteller, (when he manages to form his plot into a cohesive whole) but doesn't have much of a filter. If anyone would like to add to, or correct anything in this post, please comment, or email me. In the mean time, proceed with caution. Especially where your kids are involved.

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