Some of you who know me well know that I'm a huge fan of Orson Scott Card's writing. It all started when I read "Ender's Game" as a Freshman in High School, and I've gone on to read every word the man has ever put to paper - or at least I've made a very valiant effort!

If you haven't read "Ender's Game," please take my advice and READ it! It's from a less mature and less developed time in Card's writing career, but it's (to me) one of the most profound pieces of fiction ever written.

The book spawned Card's career (actually, the novella that BECAME the book spawned his career), and since it was published there have been several "sequels." The quote-marks are there because, frankly, some of the books aren't really sequels at all but are outstanding fiction in their own right. "Speaker for the Dead," which includes the character of Ender, was a stunning work that not only picked up where the first book left off but burned its own trail and rose to the status of "masterpiece" in its own right.

Other sequels, though, include the more recent line of books that began with "Ender's Shadow." This was the first of a "parallel series" that re-tells much of the story of "Ender's Game" from the perspective of a character named Bean. Bean had been a somewhat minor character in the original novel, but his expanded story elevates him to a point where even this faithful Ender fan has trouble deciding which character he loves best.

The most recent book in the "Shadow" series is "Shadow of the Giant," in which we once again follow along in the life of Bean and the other Battle School children who have returned to Earth after the war with an alien race known as the "Buggers" (a slang name, actually). Now Bean is nearing death as the genetic alteration that gave him his brilliance also causes his body to continue growing out of control. He and the other Battle School children, along with Ender's older brother and former nemesis Peter Wiggin, become irrevocably entrenched in warring nations, espionage, brutal politics and finally world peace.

None of this is a spoiler... these books are picking up the story of characters who were merely brushed over in "Ender's Game."

I'll say this first -- I genuinely loved this book. Just as I've genuinely loved ALL of the "Enderverse" books. Not all were as great as Ender's Game itself (not to mention Speaker... which makes it as a very close second to Ender's Game as Card's best work in my mind). But as Card continued to write and evolve the story it became evident that his maturity as a writer had increased, that his interests had become well-rounded, and that he seems to have a genuine love for history and world culture. And since I, as a reader, have matured in that time as well and my own interests have become well rounded, I can't help but feel a great deal of appreciation towards Orson Scott Card for treating his readers as intellectuals and thinkers. The alternative would be to feed us mental candy and tell us we were good boys and girls, thanks for continuing to shill out the greenbacks that keep my family in toothpaste.

As for the future... this book certainly leaves a wide gerth for a continuing story. In fact, it opens up the very distinct possibility of bringing the two parallel series together into one fascinating, mind-blowing, stroke-inducing book. I'm sure this was Card's idea from the start (or soon after). I seem to remember it being mentioned somewhere. But after reading "Shadow of the Giant," and having read "Children of the Mind," I'd be HORRIBLY disappointed if he did NOT bring these stories together in the future.

Card is an outstanding writer. I've never met him personally but I've gotten the impression from some of the interviews I've read that he has his hang-ups just like everyone else. But there's something unique about this man's thought process... something about the way he writes of genius and intelligence that makes me, as a reader, feel like I'm ONE of those geniuses. Something about Card's work makes me feel SMART as a reader. I'm not sure what other fans feel about him and his work, but I know that for me this is a very big part of why I come back time and time again. It's also a big part of why I can buy one of his 300 plus page books and read it in a few hours, even though other "favorites" of mine take weeks to read.

So here's an official Orson Scott Card Reader's List that you may want to enjoy:

THE "ENDERVERSE" -
Ender's Game
Speaker for the Dead
Xenocide
Children of the Mind
First Meetings (a collection of short stories)
Ender's Shadow
Shadow Puppets
Shadow of the Hegemon
Shadow of the Giant

OTHER OSC WORKS I HIGHLY RECOMMEND-
Songmaster
Wyrms
The Worthing Chronicles
Treason
The Alvin Maker Series


This is by no means a complete list. Card's work is prolific and he writes in every possible genre. His religious fiction is thought provoking and enlightening, it's just not among my "favorites." There are several short story collections out there that include his work, including his OWN... "Maps in a Mirror," which I DO highly recommend.

I hope you enjoy his stuff. If you've read anything by him and would like to comment about it, let me know. I'm a die-hard fan of his work and I wouldn't mind discussing it with anyone. Dissenting opinions are, of course, also welcome. Just don't expect me to be all fluffy and friendly if you're dragging down my boy Ender!


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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