appearing at Powell's in Beaverton, 8725 SW Cascade, Saturday, 3 pm, free
Ender's Game. Published in 1985, Orson Scott Card's futuristic tale of a child military genius sent to battle school to train for war against aliens remains one of the most influential and widely read works of science fiction. The multi-talented Card, however, has something for everyone, including a string of contemporary horror novels, and a hugely popular historical fantasy series about Alvin Maker, a mystical studmuffin with the power to, well, make cool stuff. I caught up with Card on his tour for the sixth Alvin book, Crystal City. Luckily, I interviewed him on the phone, and so avoided humiliation via groveling at his feet.
How was revisiting Alvin Maker this time around?
It's always fun because I get to change American history to clarify what I think it means. I've allowed myself to get into some digressions along the way, with a couple of books that didn't move the plot towards the inevitable conclusion. This one is back on track and leading up to the very final volume, Master Alvin.
Enough small talk. Does sci-fi get the respect it deserves from the literary community?
It gets the respect that will help it--meaning none. Respect from the literary community means they've found a way to co-opt you and make it so your literature can only be understood if it's explained to you by a professor, and that's the last thing science fiction needs. Science fiction is between the author and the community of readers. It's always nice to have respect. It'd be cool to be getting the prizes. But not if the price we would have to pay would be to write stuff that was as unreadable and self-important as, say, Jonathan Franzen's Corrections, which is an embarrassing book, and it won the National Book Award.
Do you feel this way about a lot of so-called "literary" fiction?
Literary fiction is like every other genre--it's written to please the audience it's written for. The readers of literary fiction are entitled to have their literature like everybody else; they're just not entitled to claim it's the only literature and all the other stuff is trash. That's just elitist silliness. JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS