Thursday, June 23, 2011

Orson Scott Card: The Call of Earth

Orson Scott Card is one of the premier authors working in modern science fiction, largely thanks to the classic Ender's Game. He is less well known for his advocacy for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints -- that is, Mormonism. This advocacy is especially on display in the Homecoming Saga, which is a relatively direct re-imagining of the Book of Mormon in a futuristic science-fiction setting.

The first volume in the series, The Memory of Earth, set up the setting and the primary storyline. The family of Volemak the Wetchik has been called by the Oversoul out of Basilica, but now they must wait on the outskirts of town for the rest of their party. Basilica itself is convulsing in internecine political conflicts, as the faction led by Rashgallivak threatens to overthrow the matriarchal City Council. Another storyline, from a different hemisphere of planet Harmony, concerns Vozmushalnoy Vozmoshno (called Moozh), a general of Gorayni who hates the Oversoul and seeks to conquer Basilica.

Over the course of the novel, the Oversoul's party gradually comes together. The sisters Sevet and Kokor get into a squabble over their unfaithful husbands. On the happier end of the spectrum, Nafai and the waterseer Luet fall in love and marry in a brief ceremony, alongside Elemak, Eiadh, Mebbekew and Dol. Her sister Hushidh realizes that the Oversoul has called her to marry Nafai's brother Issib, though her fate takes a brief detour via a forced marragie to Moozh.

The characterization and interactions are par excellence, as may be expected from Orson Scott Card. This is especially the case in the scenes involving Moozh, who maneuvers himself into a position of authority over Basilica underneath the nose of his own leader, the Imperator. However, this book contains surprisingly little movement in the main overarching storyline. Many of the characters receive recurring dreams of "angels" and "diggers," which set the scene for the conclusion of the series and introduce the Keeper of Earth as an actor distinct from the Oversoul. Yet for a series adapting Mormon 'Scriptures,' this particular novel contains precious few parallels to the Book of Mormon.

On the whole, this novel is an impressive instance of Orson Scott Card's skills as a world-builder. Though it fails to advance the overarching story any further than bringing the necessary characters together for the rest of the series, this book remains a highly enjoyable self-standing work as well as an installment in the Homecoming series.

To purchase, check out
The Call of Earth

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