Review of Maps In A Mirror: The Short Fiction Of Orson Scott Card

SFFaudio Review

Maps In A Mirror: The Short Fiction Of Orson Scott CardMaps In A Mirror: The Short Fiction Of Orson Scott Card
By Orson Scott Card; Read by Various
4 Cassettes – Approx. 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Dove Audio
Published: 1999
ISBN: 0787121770
Themes: / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Crime / Elephants / Music / Art Theory / Utopia / Dystopia / War / Death /

Four cassettes, six hours, eight stories of Orson Scott Card’s polished prose. Included in this collection are some truly crackerjack stories and a couple that aren’t so hot:

The Elephants Of Posnan appeared in English for the first time in this collection. Originally published in Poland for a Polish Science Fiction magazine it is the tale of a human global die-off caused by an infertility crisis. This is something we’ve seen before in Science Fiction to be sure, but the addition of an elephantine theme and a Polish setting makes this one totally unpredictable. Card reads this himself and gives it an interesting introduction too.

Unaccompanied Sonata is perhaps the most fantastic story here. Set in a bizzare dystopia in which the purity of music can only be assured by the ignorance of its makers. This is a world that could have been inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s theory of art – a world in which imitation ensures art to be a failure. I have no idea if OSC had that in mind when he wrote it but it certainly fits. Read with passion by Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

Freeway Games is the least SFFaudio related story in this set. It was first published in Novemeber 1979 in the Gallery magazine which at the time was competing with Playboy for quality short fiction. The original published title was “Hard Driver.” This is basically the story of perverted serial killer who while keeping his hands clean is actually as guilty as sin. It ranks in well alongside Lawrence Block’s late 1970s early 1980s slick magazine tales of demented psychos. Read to perfection by the incomparable Robert Forster.

Lost Boys is interesting in that the main character is someone named Orson Scott Card. My research indicates it is “semi-autobiographical” story, hopefully the fantastic elements are the “semi” part! Stefan Rudnicki, the producer of this audiobook read this tale with a heartfelt flush of sadness. This short story was later expanded into a full length novel which went on to great acclaim.

Quietus, was virtually opaque to me. The plot was something to do with our need to reconcile with death. I am given to understand it incorporates several Mormon themes. The style is surrealistic but even knowing this I couldn’t easily follow it let alone understand its thesis. First published in Omni’s August 1979 issue.

The Best Day was written under the pseudonym Dinah Kirkham. Card’s rumination of the elusive search for happiness. This story fled my brain as soon as it was finished. Read by William Windom.

Fat Farm is perhaps my favorite OSC short story. It isn’t the characters, I hate them. Instead it is the riveting plot that is the star here – this story deals with the philosophy of personal identity in the context of two science fictional technologies: 1. Cloning. 2. Memory uploading. If you can replace your imperfect body with a perfect one and keep on living what would give you pause? OSC’s Fat Farm will do the job. It also compares nicely to Robert J. Sawyer’s Shed Skin. Roddy McDowell’s reading is grumbly, growling and totalitarian. You’ll beleive he is all the characters in this one.

Ender’s Game. The original short story from 1977 shows the sparkling promise that would lead to the unquestionably great novel of the same name. This tale isn’t just an shorter version of the novel, there are a number of differences between the two texts. Reader Michael Gross does a fine job with it.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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