Talk City Chat
<CCCouGar> Welcome to SciFiLit's continuing celebration of Science Fiction
and Fantasy!! Talk City continues to bring you the best in literary figures to
converse with you, to challenge you, to entertain you!! Our guest tonight has
managed to find time in his busiest of months to drop by and visit us once again.
He's off next week on a tour to promote his newest book, "Ender's Shadow." His
new novel retells the story of Ender Wiggins from the perspective of Bean, his
diminutive aide. Reviewer John Clute says: "'Ender's Shadow' is great fun. And
a dreadful warning from the twin within..." Meanwhile, he's been slowly putting
the pieces in place for the production of "Ender's Game" for the big screen,
having written the screenplay himself . . .
Ladies and Gentlemen . . .
Give a warm Talk City welcome to . . .
Orson Scott Card!
<CCClaudia> *claps* (politely)
<CCCouGar> (clap clap clap)
<DeMiTCC> Woo hoo, Mr. Card!!!
<Prince-Jeremy> Hi, Scott!!
<CCClaudia> Thank you for joining us today, Scott!
<CCClaudia> In "Ender's Shadow" the events in "Ender's Game" are told from
Bean's viewpoint. What was the deciding factor in creating this 'alternate' novel?
<OrsonCard> It began as a purely commercial project. We were going to have
other writers write novels about Ender's Battle School companions. But I found
that it wasn't working out the way we hoped for the other writer (i.e., money was
too low for the caliber of writer we wanted). And besides, I wanted to write about
Bean myself! That's how it started. Then it became quite an intriguing literary
problem. How do you tell essentially the same story without making it the same
story? I think I solved it...but the jury is still out <grin>
<CCClaudia> Did you find it difficult to write "Ender's Shadow"?
<OrsonCard> I find it difficult to write a story that pleases me, period. "Shadow"
was no harder than most, and easier than some. The hard thing was avoiding
contradictions. I don't have the first book memorized the way some of my readers
<CCClaudia> What did you think of John Clute's review of "Ender's Shadow"?
<OrsonCard> Clute, like many reviewers, suffers from the need to spend most of
his review proving that he's smarter than the writer. But in between that effort,
you can see that he says the book is entertaining. I count that as a positive, given
the intellectual pretensions of the source <grin>. The only thing that makes me
crazy is that he says you have to have read "Ender's Game" in order to enjoy
"Shadow." NOT TRUE. Everything needed is provided within "Shadow," which
is completely self-contained. But Clute makes some interesting observations and
he's an interesting guy. And since he doesn't make any personal attacks, he's
within the realm of civil discourse.
<Alicia-G> I read somewhere that you were an early entrance student in college.
Did that have a big effect on how you approach things? I know that all the early
entrance students I have met find it easy to identify with your writing.
<OrsonCard> I didn't really enter "early" in the sense that I did have a high school
diploma. I went to a private university lab school for my junior year. It was an
individual progress school, so I finished two years in one and graduated a year
early. I fit in just fine at college -- much better than high school. Less
social pressure toward conformity -- even at a Mormon university! <grin> You
have to understand, though, that I have an innate arrogance that makes me assume
that I'm ready for anything -- including college, when I was sixteen. And I did
<missyfromdayton> "Stone Tables" was an excellent book. Will you do more like
<OrsonCard> Actually, the book I'm working on right now is a biblical historical
novel like "Stone Tables." It's called "Sarah" and it's about the wife of Abraham.
I'm having a lot of fun with these because so little is known about Biblical-era
cultures -- especially Genesis -- that I can invent almost as freely as I do in sci-fi
<AgeOfLegends> What book of yours would you suggest to someone who hasn't
read your stuff?
<OrsonCard> "Ender's Game," unless the person absolutely refuses to try sci-fi.
In that case, I give them "Enchantment" or "Homebody." Mostly people who fear
sci-fi are looking for something that has its roots in contemporary culture.
"Enchantment" and "Homebody" fill the bill.
<Peter_the_Hegemon> I know you have talked to Jake Lloyd as Ender for the
"Ender's Game" movie. Have you talked to any other actors? What about
<OrsonCard> We are talking to directors now. We're looking at the level of
director called 'filmmaker' -- the ones who can get a movie made by simply
agreeing to do it. The trouble is that "Ender's Game" is perceived as a sci-fi
project -- blue screen, all action, empty. But the SCRIPT is a character-based
movie and cries out for a director who can work with actors. I'd love to see
somebody like P J Hogan, who did "My Best Friend's Wedding," or Ang Lee,
who did "Remains of the Day." Of course, persuading them even to LOOK at
sci-fi is hard because they have a hard time believing a sci-fi project can be
character based. But we'll do our best. Getting the director first (before casting,
before studio funding) helps us keep control. If you get the money BEFORE the
director, then the money people decide who the director will be.
<CCCouGar> How about reminding them of the sci-fi-based crossover hit
<OrsonCard> The main problem with reminding them of "Charly" or even of
"E.T." is that the memory of Hollywood is about two years. All they can think of
right now is "Matrix" and "Fantum Mennis." Since "Ender's Game" is not
remotely like either one there's not much help there.
<ondinespirit> I read that you are changing Anderson to a woman? And you
mentioned Rosie O'Donnell. Would you talk about that more?
<OrsonCard> Actually, my first choice for the now-female (and greatly changed)
character of Anderson would be Janeane Garafolo. The characters of Graff and
Anderson were, functionally, placeholders in the book. That is, they were there to
get exposition across and express some (predictable) attitudes -- lubricants to
keep things moving. It's the kids who star in the book, and the kids who drive the
movie (in this script!) So, while I'd love to have some wonderful actors in the
Graff and Anderson roles, they aren't "star" parts.
<CCCouGar> Janeane might appreciate a serious role for a contrast to her
<OrsonCard> Janeane Garafolo is one of the best actor working. For Graff, I'd
love to have Andre Braugher. But only when the director comes aboard will
casting decisions be made.
<CCClaudia> When do you think the filming of "Ender's Game" will finally get
<OrsonCard> Money must be in place first and we are hoping to get the right
director signed first. But once both the money and the director are locked in, a
schedule can be set. Complicating things is my hope that "Ender's Shadow" will
sell so well that it will hit the New York Times list. If it does we can make a
plausible case for filming "Game" and "Shadow" at the same time with the same
casts. (most important: with the same cast at the same AGES). That would be a
huge investment and a huge risk, especially with no real stars. But who knows?
Anyway, the chance of this being ready before summer of 2001 is slim.
<ondinespirit> What were the revisions you made in "Ender's Game" with mass
<OrsonCard> There was a new edition of "Ender's Game" about five or six years
ago, in which I made small changes. That's when the intro was added. The NEW
edition (these past few months) has no changes in the text of "Ender's Game. But
it does add the first couple of chapters of "Ender's Shadow" at the end. Plus, of
course, the rebate ad.
<CCClaudia> How many other novels in the "Ender" series do you intend to
<OrsonCard> Right now, my only plan is to write "Shadow of the Hegemon"
(finishing Bean's story), and then the novel about Petra. After that, I might be
able to open it to other writers. Or I might keep doing an "Ender's Companions"
novel every few years.
<ondinespirit> In the script the the original "formic" war it seemed that Mazer's
battle win was almost accidental. Does it clarify any later? The book made it
seem more planned a little more.
<OrsonCard> The nature of Mazer's victory is crucial, and it gets explained about
halfway through the film script. Then there's a clincher about Ender's strategy
that isn't in the book. It drove me crazy that once I thought of it. I couldn't go
back and put it into the book, because it is so RIGHT. So in a couple of ways, the
movie is BETTER than the book <wince>. There will be surprises for those who
know the book -- but all good ones, I think.
<CCCouGar> Back to "Ender's Game: The Movie" for a moment. Is Jake Lloyd a
sure thing yet for Ender? Or is that still in the 'talks' stage?
<OrsonCard> Jake Lloyd wants to play Ender, and I want him to play Ender. But
if it takes five years to get it made, he'll be too old. So nothing can be locked
down until director and money are in place. Jake is a young actor who is every bit
as good as Roddy McDowell was in his "How Green Was My Valley" heyday.
"Ender's Game" would give Jake a chance to show it. Sadly, "Fantum Mennis"
made every actor in the film look wooden because both script and direction were
so awful. So I get incredible amounts of email from people demanding that I NOT
use Jake. Foolish! They have no idea what this kid can do. And now everybody
wants me to use the kid from "The Sixth Sense." Sure, he's all sensitive and
everything, but Ender has to be believable as a kid that other kids would follow
into battle! Pity is cheap. Leadership is HARD. Jake can do it all.
<CCClaudia> You have mentioned the difficulties of filming "Ender's Game," as
well as "Ender's Shadow." What are your expectations for either in film?
<OrsonCard> If the right director does them, they'll be watershed sci-fi films,
because they have more than just action and effects and cool ideas. Just as
"Ender's Game" has long been a sci-fi novel for people who didn't think they
liked sci-fi, I hope "Ender's Game" will be a sci-fi movie for people who think
they hate sci-fi movies. <Grin> But that's a lot of money to sink into a film with
no stars. Still, I've only been really working on this for three years. In
Hollywood, that's a blink of an eye. I can't even claim to have suffered yet.
<Alicia-G688> How would you respond to the refrain we hear so often -- that
sci-fi and fantasy aren't "real" literature?
<OrsonCard> That's only said by people who want to have "literature" mean only
books that you can't read without a decoder ring. Decoder rings are only available
from people who believed everything their English teachers taught them in
<OrsonCard> In fact, though, every community has its stories, and when they're
distributed in writing, we call it literature. And the science fiction literary
community is far more open-minded and intellectually reachable than the li-fi
community, which won't take you seriously unless you "experiment" in exactly
the same ways as writers were "experimenting" 90 years ago. In short, they're
locked in concrete -- and we're alive. Sure, most sci-fi is bad. But most li-fi is
bad, too. And our best is as good as their best and sometimes better. But it works
on different principles. Since they get to decide the rules (for university classes)
they can set up the game so we lose before we start. I can set up perfectly valid
rules, though, that make most of THEIR stuff lose . . . I just can't get any
universities to adopt them <Grin>.
<ondinespirit> Do you have a visual conception of the battle station, scenes,
clothiner, how to do the battle room, etc? Or is that something that is left up to a
director? Or do you even know that much yet?
<OrsonCard> OK, here's the sad truth: I don't think visually. I have very poor
visual memory and even worse visual imagination. So, in fact, what I manipulate
in my stories is people -- I know who is present and who is not -- and causation.
Why people do what they do. But visuals? Sure, I have some images, but they
rarely matter. I'm always happy to see better visual ideas from artists. For
instance, the cover of "Memory of Earth" is much more lush than anything I
actually imagined. But sometimes the cover art is awful. With the film I'm
hoping the director and art director will come up with things that will just blow me
away. Only if it interferes with the story will I complain. And because writers are
less important than lint they will pay no attention to me anyway <grin>.
<CCClaudia> Do you think you may ever write "The Hive Queen" and "The
Hegemon" as 'companion' novels?
<OrsonCard> Let's see. I state in "Ender's Game" and "Speaker for the Dead"
that "The Hive Queen" and "The Hegemon" are books that can change your life
and sway world opinion. And now you think I could WRITE such a book? Ha!
No thanks. I'm much better off TELLING you how brilliant these books are than
I would ever be writing them.
<OrsonCard> It's like "Songmaster" -- I don't actually have to compose the
music he sings that makes a man tear his own guts out with his bare hands <grin>.
<CCClaudia> Which aspect do you like best concerning your tours? Which
aspect do you like least?
<OrsonCard> On tours, the nice thing is meeting my readers. People who care
about my stories tend to be nice people <grin>. We have cheerful, patient signing
lines of civilized people that make friends with each other and I enjoy being the
occasion of our getting together. What I hate is flying, hoteling, and being stuck
in cars with chatty escorts (fortunately, most of them know that most writers are
introverts and are NOT chatty; but the chatty ones are hellish!). Worst of all is
being away from my family for a whole month. My five-year-old is starting
school, and I won't be there. Bummer, eh? The nice thing is my publisher is
bending over backward to make things comfortable. For instance, they've found
me hotels with good gyms -- very important to me, since I've lost 95 lbs. in the
past year and don't want to lose ground on the tour. Anyway, it's only a month.
And as I said, the readers are nice people. I just wish I believed that signing tours
actually help sell fiction. When Charlton Heston does a tour he's a real celebrity
-- people buy his book JUST so they can get his signature. But the only people
who want an AUTHOR'S signature are people who would have bought the book
<ondinespirit> You are often ranked for the "Ender's Game" series with Frank
Herbert and the "Dune" series. Do you read any sci-fi authors? And what do you
think "Dune" as a book (or any other sci-fi books) regarding society morals and
tendencies? And do you have nightmares about how "Dune" the movie came out
of "Dune" the book? Even Herbert thought it was a good representation, but a lot
of readers don't.
<OrsonCard> The "Dune" movie is one of the worst movies ever made from a
good book. It was the all-climax, intrusive-director version. Someday I hope a
good movie will be made out of it. As for "Dune" on society's morals -- well,
where I disagree, I get to write my own books <grin>. I see no need to go
head-to-head with writers I admire -- I simply tell my own stories and that's
answer enough. I applaud for the writers I admire, and I ignore the ones I don't.
That's really the cruelest thing you can do to an author, anyway -- treat his work
as if it were invisible. If you write a killer review of a book you hate, then
somebody who read it will be standing in the bookstore, see the book that is the
target of your wrath, and think, "I read something about that." They pick it up,
they buy it, they read it. So much for your negative review <grin>.
<shawksie> Do you think that you will write a continuation to "Children of the
Mind" about what happens afterwards to the various species/civilizations? (I could
hardly put that series down, by the way -- and am so curious about 'what happens
<OrsonCard> A continuation of "Children of the Mind"? In a word, no. I already
resolved all the issues I care about! I know there are questions left, but that's life.
If I wrote another volume, it would only raise MORE questions. Nothing is ever
CCCouGar says it's time for tonight's "get to know the REAL author" question:
"Ender's Game: The Movie" is open...it's premiere night...you go for dinner. Is it
Italian, Mexican, meat and potatoes, steak, or another cuisine?
<OrsonCard> Ah, it isn't the cuisine that matters, it's the restaurant. So, if I'm in
L.A., then chances are very good I'll be with a group of family and friends that
haunts restaurants with me and we'll end up at Cafe Del Rey in Marina Del Rey,
or if we're nearer to La Cienega, we'll go to Campanile. Or...ah, sweet
imagination! -- the restaurant Lucque. But if we're in Greensboro, then it's
Mark's on Westover or Southern Lights or -- bliss complete! -- Leblon, the best
Brazilian restaurant in the U.S. If I'm in DC for the premiere, it's L'Auberge
Chez Francois, or if we're feeling casual, P.F. Chang or Rio Grande. You get the
idea. (If it's New York, Gotham Bar and Grill!)
CCCouGar tells Scott remember: you're supposed to be LOSING weight LOL
<OrsonCard> Hey, my weight loss was achieved WITHOUT DIETING. All
exercise and getting outdoors. I've had ice cream almost every day through the
whole thing. And no wimpy low-fat ice creams, either. Dulce de Leche from
Haagen Dazs. Triple Caramel Chunk from Ben & Jerry's. Baskin-Robbins
<CCClaudia> Oh, my goodness!
<CCClaudia> I'll wrap it up with two more questions, Mr. Card... (hehee- I love
Cafe Del Rey)
<CCClaudia> Phase 4 of your online Trivia Contest is underway (those knowing
the body of Scott's works, get to his website by Aug 24 to play and win an
autographed copy of "Ender's Shadow"!). How impressive were the questions
you received from the fans?
<OrsonCard> The questions we got blew me away. These people know things
about my books that I never knew. Indeed, some of the answers we had to look up
-- and it was hard.
<CCClaudia> I haven't negotiated interspecies treaties with my cats yet, so I
guess I am safe to say I haven't read TOO much Orson Scott Card. (See a VERY
funny list at Scott's homepage.) Are there any themes that you have in mind that
you haven't explored yet, but you like to write a book or series about?
<OrsonCard> No themes in mind -- because I never have themes in mind. Ideas
just kind of come up. No, what I have are STORIES in mind, and I let the themes
take care of themselves. Whenever I DO have a theme in mind (rarely), I end up
subverting it till it goes away. I just can't follow a plan to save my life <grin>.
<ondinespirit> Do you check out the discussion boards at your website?
<OrsonCard> I have employees who call things to my attention. When I'm at the
computer, I either write or play CivII <Grin>.
<CCCouGar> CCCouGar sees the hourglass is running out....Scott, is there
anything you would like to relate to our Cityzenry here that we may have not
<OrsonCard> Heck, I only want to talk about what interests YOU folks. I already
indulged myself with my recitation of favorite restaurants.
<CCCouGar> Thanks, Scott, for a fascinating hour !! Ladies and gentlemen,
Orson Scott Card !!!
(clap clap clap)
<ondinespirit> Well, it was a pleasure. If you make it to Boise, Idaho, try the
Acapulco restaurant's tacos carbon -- very nice with some stuffed jalepenos, my
<Alicia-G688> Thank you, Mr. Card!
<CCCouGar> Want to know more about our guest? Check out his great website:
http://www.hatrack.com -- All things Card, including pics of our guest, his
"Shadow Tour" schedule, and much much more! Check out these great books by
"Ender's Shadow" -- Did you think Ender was the only one feeling trapped in his
own mind? Check out Bean's perspective of 'the game'!
"Ender's Game" -- Scott's award-winning first novel about the nature of war and
of little boys, gone awry! Special paperback edition now available at a bargain
"Magic Mirror" -- A fairy tale in picture-book format, illustrated by Nathan
Pinnock, it shows that it is never too late to dream the good dream.
<OrsonCard> Hey, CCCouGar, what a great tag line on "Magic Mirror!"
<CCCouGar> If you would like to provide feedback for this chat, please go to:
The feedback will help us to provide you with the best chat experience online, and
provide valuable editorial for OnNow -- Talk City's guide to live events on the
To see transcripts of our chats, plus the SF&F Authors Series schedule of
upcoming chats, peruse the SciFiLit Library at
This event has been brought to you by the Talk City Network and Talk City, Inc.
Copyright 1999, All Rights Reserved.