Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Believe In Magic

When first hearing the premise of this book, I expected more fantasy if that even makes sense.  Stereotypically, I expected magical battles and wands and mystical creatures.  Orson Scott Card, I concluded by the end, uses just the right amount of magic and mystics to make them seem believable.  I quickly found myself reading this story not as fantasy but as realistic fiction.  Card uses magic not as a replacement for religion but rather a complimentary belief system and a compliment to the lives of this community.  Card emphasizes truth in all forms.  Reverend Thrower, though a proclaimed holy man, refuses to accept their to be a devil in his own chapel yet insists on the devil inside a ten year old boy.  Whether LDS or not, the pure and humble intentions of a ten year old boy are recognizably more true and holy than the preachings of Reverend Thrower.

Michael R. Collings states that "In much science fiction, for example, references to gods, angels, or other supernatural beings are intended to be metaphorical...since to do otherwise would violate a basic convention of science fiction itself" (67).  However, Collins explains that "Card inverts the process, using incidents, characters, and other elements of history to symbolize the divine...his story touches on the essence of America, not as it was historically, but as it means emotionally and psychologically" (67).  By doing so, Scott increases this magical believability.  Though the reader may understand that many events were not historical or plausible, Card plays into the emotional aspects of events and settings making the events seem realistic even if the reader, like myself, cannot explain how.  Historical facts are not the only way to portray an event and when an author is able to portray a setting emotionally whilst including mystics and making it believable.  proves a difficult task yet Card is able to do so

Card extends his believability beyond magical aspects.  As a final note, another aspect of Card's believability is his discretion in regards to the LDS elements.  As a Latter-Day Saint, I definitely saw correspondences between certain characters and certain events.  By using these shadowing, Card provides a new perspective for Latter-Day saints and perhaps a new forms and perspectives on truth for non Latter-Day saints.  By using a medium (magic and mystics) that is foreign to most, Card can place elements of truth that will appeal and touch a wide range of people and belief systems.

Collings, Michael R. In the Image of God: Theme, Characterization, and Landscape in the Fiction of Orson Scott Card. New York: Greenwood, 1990. Print.


  1. I also thought it was fascinating that Card was able to create the essence of America while so drastically changing the historical events surrounding our nation's birth. For me it also created a mre realistic or accessible form of fantasy that LDS or no, was quite charming.

  2. I am curious, how do you think the story would have changed had Card included more magic like you expected? Would the believability increase or decrease?

  3. I also expected more fantasy after reading some of Card's other novels. Do you think that our familiarity with the story of Joseph Smith made it so this novel seemed more like realistic fiction?

  4. I agree that he used the right amount of magic and realism. I like that some of the characters themselves were skeptics of magic. I think that gives more credit to the magic and helps us connect better to all the characters.