So I’m a “little late with the blogpost today, Blogboy,” according to some anonymous commenter on yesterday’s post. One would think that savoring the lyrics to “Cannibal Eyes” would take a true arts connoisseur a week or two, but since no true arts connoisseurs read this blog, I’m not surprised that many of you lack the appreciation for lyrical perfection. Especially where I internally rhyme “bug me” with “ugly,” or where I refer to eyes that salivate.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been savoring some great stuff, too – I’m rereading the Ender’s Game series, which remain Orson Scott Card’s best books by far. (Ten years ago, I’d have said that distinction belongs to the Tales of Alvin Maker series, but back then he’d only written the first three books, and now the storyline has run out of steam. I’m not all that anxious for the next installment. )
If you haven’t read Ender’s Game, read it. Right now. Seriously. Throw your laptop to the floor and go read it. It’s certainly the best science fiction novel I’ve ever read, and maybe one of the very best books of any genre. I will say nothing of the book’s plot as I don’t want to even hint at any spoilers, only to say it’s a perfectly realized story, beautifully told. And it’s butt-kicking exciting. It’ll make a great movie, too, if they can find child actors who can carry the load.
What I didn’t remember is that the three sequels – Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind – are great, too. It’s hard to say if they’re as good as Ender’s Game, because, as Card himself has noted on many, many occasions, they’re not exactly true sequels. The tone of the later books is radically different; they’re not “action packed,” and Ender, who is a preteen in the first book, is middle-aged in all the other ones. They take place 3,000 years after Ender’s Game, and they deal with thorny philosophical issues rather than interstellar war.
I like them, though. A lot.
A mutual friend of mine and Card’s had loaned me a copy of Xenocide several months before the book was actually published, so this is the first time I’m reading my own hardbound version which Card signed himself, in which he added the date – July of ’91 – and the question “Did you wash your hands?” That will make sense if you read the story, but it didn’t make sense to my daughter Cleta, who asked me why Orson Scott Card was demanding that his books only be handled by people with good hygiene.
What’s interesting this time around is rediscovering just how Mormon these books are, even though they take place in a Catholic colony. Card, as you may or may not know, is a practicing Mormon himself, and he served an LDS mission to Brazil. So almost all of his characters in this story speak Portuguese and have Portuguese names, which tends to be somewhat confusing for pathetic monoglots like myself.
What isn’t confusing, at least to me, is the LDS concept of intelligence, which is eternal and preexistent. Card incorporates the doctrine into the idea of “auias” and “philotes,” which exist Outside and are called Inside to inhabit physical bodies through mortality. He also slips up once and has Ender as a converted Catholic quoting Jesus as saying “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men,” which is a passage from the Doctrine and Covenants, not the New Testament. When he asks his wife where that passage comes from, she responds by saying “I don’t know. I’m not a scriptorian.”
For those of you who don’t realize this, “scriptorian” is a word entirely of Mormon invention. Other Christians might say “theologian” or “Bible scholar.” Mormons needed a word that was inclusive of all their standard works along with the Bible, so “scriptorian” came into being.
Just like a brand new auia pulled from the Outside.
Or this blog post, conjured up out of the ether, albeit too late for the anonymous guy who calls me Blogboy.
Or the most beautiful song ever written to be sung at weddings, funerals, and Bar Mitzvahs.
“They taste like cherry pies to Cannibal Eyes…”