Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Card on fiction

In preparation for Orson Scott Card's 2008 novel Ender in Exile, I reread Ender's Game (1985). Ender's Game is a very good novel, which I'll discuss at a later date. Here, I want to focus on comments Card made in the Introduction:
  • In science fiction ... the whole point is that the ideas are fresh and startling and intriguing; you imitate the great ones, not by rewriting their stories, but rather by creating stories that are just as startling and new.
  • I knew it was a strong story because I cared about it and believed in it.
  • [I]n writing Ender's Game I deliberately avoided all the little literary games and gimmicks that make "fine" writing so impenetrable to the general audience. ...My goal was that the reader wouldn't have to be trained in literature or even in science fiction to receive the tale in its simplest, purest form. ...If everybody came to agree that stories should be told this clearly, the professors of literature would be out of a job, and the writers of obscure, encoded fiction would be, not honored, but pitied for their impenetrability.
  • Ender's Game disturbs some people because it challenges their assumptions about reality.
  • Why we read fiction, anyway? ...I think that most of you, anyway, read these stories that we know are not "true" because we're hungry for another kind of truth: They mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story. Fiction, because it is not about somebody who actually lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about ourself.
  • [R]eaders have placed themselves inside this story, not as spectators, but as participants... This is the essence of the transaction between storyteller and audience. The "true" story is not the one that exists in my mind.... The story in my mind is nothing but a hope; the text of the story is the tool I created in order to make that hope a reality. The story itself, the true story, is the one that the audience members create in their minds, guided and shaped by my text, but then transfomred, elucidated, expanded, edited, and clarified by their own experience, their own desires, their own hopes and fears.
  • The story is one that you and I will construct together in your memory. If the story means anything to you at all, then when you remember it afterward, think of it, not as something I created, but rather as something that we made together.

Wow. A lot of food for thought here.

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