Thursday, November 6, 2008

Living in the Enderverse

At what point do I call myself a junkie? A few years ago, probably 10 years ago, in fact, Keri's brother introduced me to Orson Scott Card. Actually he introduced me to Card's writing. I have met Card in person since, but that's another story. We were browsing titles in the SF/Fantasy section in Barnes & Noble and David pulled down Ender's Game. I think I'd heard of Card before, but I was, for whatever reason, wary of a Mormon writing SF. Not that I knew anything about SF beyond Edgar Rice Burrough's John Carter series (if you even call that SF), mind you. But I was in a snooty time of my life-- looking down on almost everybody from my perch in academe. Whatever.

Anyway, he shoves it into my hands and basically dares me to read it. If you have read Ender's Game you know that I devoured it in one night. Literally, I started reading it that night and kept on reading until 2 or 3AM (or whatever). 

Fast forward 10+ years. I'm teaching American Lit at the college here and I'm casting around for a novel to teach. In browsing my bookshelf and thinking about which genres we'd be covering in the anthology (and therefore where the gaps were) and which books I really enjoyed, I realized that Ender's Game would introduce students (some of them) to SF as a genre possibility and would be a fun read (for some of them, it turns out). We had some real fun teaching Ender's Game, and it made its reappearance in my Am Lit course a couple  more time.

Now, this term, in my Survey of World Mythology course, I'm teaching the third book of that series, Xenocide. As happened in the American Lit course, some students complained about reading it-- not knowing what to expect and being forced outside their comfort zones. It has, nevertheless, been a fun read and a great addition to the course. In fact, I've had very little to do in terms of them seeing how it fits in to the paradigm of the course (cultures in conflict and a Saussure/Barthes myth paradigm). 

Two new books with ties to the Enderverse make their appearance on the literary stage this year. OSC's Intergalactic Medicine Show contains 4 stories in the Enderverse is available now, and Card's novel Ender in Exile will be shipping in about a week. I had ordered the former on Monday, and it happened to arrive yesterday, when I was laid up in bed, so I read all four Ender stories. I'm afraid I won't be much good to anyone for a day or so after Ender in Exile arrives, so I'd better get caught up on grading now. 

In fact, I'd better end this post and get back to work. My point with all of this is simply that whether or not you want to criticize Card for capitalizing on the success of his Ender books, you cannot deny that there is a richness in the broad range of texts available for study. My workstudy student this term had read Ender's Game but none of the rest of the stories. When he saw First Meetings in the Enderverse on my shelf, he asked to borrow it. I thought he'd return it by the end of the semester or so (after all, he's a conscientious student and he has work to do). He brought it back the next day, having read the whole thing in one night.

Look what you've done to us, Mr. Card. Thank you, thank you very much.

1 comment:

Clint said...

I love Enders Game as evidenced by my blog post back in January. I started reading Ender's Shadow but didn't get all the way through it.