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Bookmarks: Short and sci-fi

23 February 2014 By Laura Antonucci, Columnist No Comments

Last semester I reviewed “Ender’s Game,” the first major book by Orson Scott Card. There have been a crap ton of other books by Card that all deserve reading, be it one of his many series or stand-alone novels, such as “Flux: Tales of Human Futures.” Originally published in 1990, “Flux” is seven short stories written by Card that all explore potential futures for Earth.

Since 1990, many previous elements of science fiction have been developed into science fact, yet Card’s short stories are all still unique. The science fiction settings of each story are classic, and while some technology used in some of these stories is familiar to us – as people who recognize an all knowing database that a million of people contribute to (as seen in the final short story “The Originist”) as the internet – some other stories are steeped in biology that is not well explained.

Each story is an exploration in a different vein of science fiction writing, yet they all are about what it means to be human. The opening story, “A Thousand Deaths” is in Card’s words, “a story about noncompliance.” More specifically, the breakability of the human spirit, and literally killing and resurrecting the same man a thousand times to convince someone to confess to something he does not feel was wrong. The stories that follow all explore other traits of the human condition: desire, guilt, nostalgia and the quest for truth.

If any of these stories feel familiar, you are not alone. When I was reading, I could immediately compare a few stories to other works of fiction. “A Thousand Deaths” reminded of the high-strung dystopian future as seen in “Atlas Shrugged,” “But We Try Not To Act Like It,” the third short story, describes the maniacal monitoring of an individual’s life much like in “1984, and the final story, “Origins” was written – with permission – in the world of Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” Series.

While Card can get rather preachy in his later works, his writing ability is phenomenal. Card is a devout Mormon, and I encourage anyone to do their own Wikipedia search on him. Religion aside, “Flux” is a reasonably quick read and great source to model fiction writing after.


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