Enchantment

( 131 )

Overview

The moment young Ivan stumbled upon a clearing in the dense Carpathian forest, his life was forever changed. Atop a pedestal encircled by fallen leaves, the beautiful princess Katerina lay as still as death—while a malevolent presence stirred in the hidden depths below.

Now, years later, Ivan is compelled to return. He finds the clearing just as he left it. This time he does not run . . .

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Overview

The moment young Ivan stumbled upon a clearing in the dense Carpathian forest, his life was forever changed. Atop a pedestal encircled by fallen leaves, the beautiful princess Katerina lay as still as death—while a malevolent presence stirred in the hidden depths below.

Now, years later, Ivan is compelled to return. He finds the clearing just as he left it. This time he does not run . . .

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Best known for his Ender Quartet and the Tales of Alvin Maker series, Orson Scott Card has produced some of the most popular books in the science fiction/fantasy field over the last decade or so. Remarkably, with Enchantment, Card has carved out new territory for himself as he capably takes his narrative voice and love of research to new heights of charm and satisfaction. Card's particular fusion of magic — usually incorporating folklore, witchcraft, and American history — now breaks new ground with the addition of Judeo-Christian history and Russian fairy tales. He creates a detailed account of Russia's early religious struggle and skillfully carries out this greatly appealing tale of, well, enchantment.

At the age of ten, Ivan Smetski discovers that his once-liberal Jewish parents, who are now attempting to flee Russia, are also embracing their religious heritage. The thought of circumcision, though, sends Ivan running into the woods every day, where he soon finds a sleeping woman on a pedestal encircled by a ring of leaves. Ivan senses that beneath the leaf-strewn meadow rustles a dark power, and he races away in fear for his life. The speed with which he runs foreshadows the fact that he'll eventually become a star athlete. Before long, his parents secure a flight to America and relocate to upstate New York, where Ivan's father, Piotr, is able to pursue his study of ancient Slavic languages and teach at a local college. Eventually, Ivan follows in his father's footsteps and undertakes graduate studies in the same field. His research on the origins of theRussianfairy tale — from which all others may have come — eventually allows him the opportunity to return to Russia. Once there, Ivan finds himself drawn back to his childhood home and decides to find out once and for all if the meadow with the sleeping woman was real or only a dream.

Of course, the beauty is all too real, as is the beast that guards her. Ivan discovers that a moat surrounds the lovely woman, and a furious supernatural bear heaves rocks with enough force to crush skulls, even from a great distance. Eventually, Ivan outwits the beast and awakens the beautiful Princess Katerina, only to discover that once he's crossed the invisible bridge to the pedestal, he's thrust back more than 1,000 years into Russia's history. In order to save Katerina's homeland from the evil witch Baba Yaga, the two must agree to marry. As Ivan struggles to grasp the ancient codes of decorum, he's forced to convert to Christianity and is alternately considered to be a knight, fool, scholar, demon, and possibly the land's next king. Baba Yaga and her husband, the god Bear, set forth schemes to have the Russian people drive Ivan off. If that fails, they will kill him themselves.

While Ivan is lost in time, his mother, Esther, who is something of a mystic, does what she can to draw him back to the present world. Card puts Ivan's mother to brilliant use in a subtle, quiet characterization that works as the perfect modern counterpoint to the long-dead past. Esther's role is both wondrous and understated, and even her brief appearances at the end of several chapters add another layer of profundity to the overall magical quality of the narrative.

In creating Enchantment, Card has done his homework. He gives us an incredibly authentic and thought-provoking tale that spans 1,000 years, yet he also allows the reader the comfort of his familiar dry wit and allusions to current events. Card fuses Judeo-Christian historical references, Russian history, folklore, and myth into so fine a blend that we're never totally sure when one discipline ends and another begins.

Enchantment works on several levels, which is no easy feat even for a writer of Card's caliber. The author is to be commended for all the elements he manages to thread into his story: It's a critical examination of the origins of the fairy tale, a scholarly inquiry into the advancement of an entire religion, as well as an engaging tale of a quest for knowledge, love, and spiritual enlightenment. Card offers us a novel set in an age when religious conversion and the beliefs of old-world worship met in a head-on confrontation, and Ivan's mixed background makes him the perfect medium through which to study the outcome of these issues. Part A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, part ancient fable, and part modern love story, Enchantment is a fulfilling addition to Card's canon of powerful and beloved fantasy-folklore-adventure novels.

—Tom Piccirilli

Tom Piccirilli is the author of the critically acclaimed supernatural novel Pentacle, as well as the dark suspense mysteries Shards and The Dead Past. His short fiction has appeared in many anthologies, including The Conspiracy Files. His two latest, an exciting mystery called Sorrow's Crown and a horror novel called Hexes, have just been released.

From the Publisher
"Orson Scott Card is a master storyteller . . . Enchantment is the ultimate proof."
—ANNE MCCAFFREY

"[A] MASTERPIECE OF THE FANTASTIC . . . THIS IS A NOVEL TO SAVOR . . . DELICIOUS."
—Rocky Mountain News

"Mixing magic and modernity, the acclaimed Orson Scott Card has woven threads of history, religion, and myth together into a convincing, time-hopping tale that is part love story, part adventure."
—Amazon.com

"CARD IS A POWERFUL STORYTELLER."
—Los Angeles Times

Houston Post
Orson Scot card makes a strong case for being the best writer science fiction has to offer.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Intertwining the story of Sleeping Beauty with Russian mythology, Card (Homebody, etc.) creates an appealing though not potent fairy tale. Ten-year-old Ivan is terrified by, yet drawn to, a beautiful woman frozen in time in the middle of the primordial forest of Russia. More than a decade later, he returns and uses his prowess as a track-and-field star and a promise of marriage to rescue this princess. Echoes of Narnia sound (including some slightly preachy undertones) as Ivan is drawn back into the princess's time. He finds that he has no skills useful in the ninth century, and yet must find a way to defeat the witch Baba Yaga, who has harnessed the power of a god to take over Princess Katerina's kingdom. Ivan brings his betrothed into the modern world to keep her from Yaga's clutches and the pair learn to understand not only each other, but each other's powers and weapons. By the time they return to the fairy-tale world, they are armed with modern-day knowledge and aided by Ivan's relatives, who turn out to be minor Russian deities and witches. In an apparent desire to make his tale believable, Card leaches it of some of its magic, offering up the extraordinary as matter of fact, and his characters lack some of the depth that usually makes his writing so rewarding. His new look at a classic tale is clever, however, adding attractive whimsical twists and cultural confluences to a familiar story.
KLIATT
Ivan is an academic with an almost single-minded passion: ancient Russian folklore. His parents emigrated from the Ukraine when he was a boy, looking for a place more tolerant of their Judaism. Now an adult, Ivan returns to the Ukraine to do research for his thesis, but instead finds himself part of the very folklore he has been studying. Almost accidentally, he breaks an enchantment that holds a princess hostage and travels to an ancient, mythical past, where everything he thought he knew about himself and the history he has been studying is changed. This story cleverly weaves the past and present, folklore and technology, into one marvelous story peopled with giants, kings, princesses, warriors, and witches. Although the legends used in the story may not be immediately familiar to the contemporary American reader, Card makes them accessible through Ivan's discovery of their roots in historical reality. Equally interesting is the description of the characters from the past that travel to our present (picture Baba Yaga hijacking a 727). Readers who enjoy fantasy and romance will especially like the story, but it should appeal to anyone who likes a good read. Highly recommended. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, Ballantine/Del Rey, 419p, 18cm, 99-91097, $6.99. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Adrienne Ehlert-Bashista; Media Spec., Chatham Cty., NC, September 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 5)
Library Journal
YA-Card uses Grimm's "Sleeping Beauty" as the loom upon which he weaves his magical time-travel tale. Using the fabric of traditional fairy-tale elements and Russian folklore, myth, and history, he sets the stage for his drama set in the present and 1000 years in the past. Ten-year-old Ivan stumbles upon Sleeping Beauty deep in the Russian forests near his uncle's farm, only to flee in terror at some dimly perceived menace. Now an American graduate student studying folklore and ancient Slavic languages, he is drawn back to Russia to research his thesis and to seek out his uncle's farm. Back in the woods, he defeats Sleeping Beauty's evil guardian through athletic prowess and intellect. He awakens her with a kiss, only to find that he now has to promise to marry her in order to help her save her kingdom from the witch Baba Yaga. The youthful protagonists, the elements of fantasy and romance, and Card's imaginative, humorous storytelling make this a winner for young adults.-John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Card's new fantasy (Heartfire, 1998, etc.) reworks an Old Russian variant of the Sleeping Beauty tale. In the Carpathian forest, the boy Ivan Smetski stumbled upon a leaf-filled pit where an eerie malevolent presence deterred him from reaching a pedestal upon which lay a beautiful sleeping girl. Years later, Ivan, now an upstate New York scholar of Slavic languages and folklore, returns to Russia to research ancient manuscripts. Inevitably, he returns to the pit to find a huge, slavering bear guarding the sleeper. This time, he puts out the bear's eye with a rock, leaps to the pedestal, and wakens the girl with a kiss. Princess Katerina conducts him across an invisible bridge, where, astonishingly, it's 890 a.d., and the horrid megalomaniac witch Baba Yaga threatens Katerina's homeland. Ivan struggles to adjust: not only does Katerina despise him because he lacks the muscles necessary for plowing or battle, but because he's Jewish and has to convert to Christianity before they can marry (which they must do to avert Baba Yaga's curse). Worse, the evil witch goads Katerina's folk into plotting and treachery, so the couple — their marriage solemnized but unconsummated — flee back to 1992, a world as bewildering to Katerina as is hers to Ivan. But Baba Yaga soon follows, so Ivan's good-witch mother Esther helps Katerina fend off the witch's magical sorties, while Ivan learns how to make gunpowder, a secret he can carry back with him to 890. Finally, the pair realize they love each other, consummate the marriage, and return across the bridge. Baba Yaga also returns (she hijacks a 747), and the stage is set for a desperate showdown involving contending armies, loyalties,magic, and wits. Richly detailed and engagingly peopled: a fascinating remake, if sometimes dreadfully long-winded.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345416889
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/29/2000
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 379,279
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card is the first writer to be awarded both the Hugo and the Nebula for science fiction novels in two consecutive years. He is thus far the recipient of four Hugo Awards, two Nebula Awards, one World Fantasy Award, and four Locus Awards, among others. Also, a dozen of his plays have been produced in regional theater, his novel Saints has been an underground hit for several years, and he has written hundreds of audio plays and a dozen scripts for animated video plays for the family market. He is the author of two books on writing: Character and Viewpoint and How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. Card has conducted writing courses at several universities and a number of renowned workshops. In addition, Card is a partner in Fresco Pictures, a movie production company. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his family.

Biography

Any discussion of Orson Scott Card's work must necessarily begin with religion. A devout Mormon, Card believes in imparting moral lessons through his fiction, a stance that sometimes creates controversy on both sides of the fence. Some Mormons have objected to the violence in his books as being antithetical to the Mormon message, while his conservative political activism has gotten him into hot water with liberal readers.

Whether you agree with his personal views or not, Card's fiction can be enjoyed on many different levels. And with the amount of work he's produced, there is something to fit the tastes of readers of all ages and stripes. Averaging two novels a year since 1979, Card has also managed to find the time to write hundreds of audio plays and short stories, several stage plays, a television series concept, and a screenplay of his classic novel Ender's Game. In addition to his science fiction and fantasy novels, he has also written contemporary fiction, religious, and nonfiction works.

Card's novel that has arguably had the biggest impact is 1985's Hugo and Nebula award-winner Ender's Game. Ender's Game introduced readers to Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, a young genius faced with the task of saving the Earth. Ender's Game is that rare work of fiction that strikes a chord with adults and young adult readers alike. The sequel, Speaker for the Dead, also won the Hugo and Nebula awards, making Card the only author in history to win both prestigious science-fiction awards two years in a row.

In 2000, Card returned to Ender's world with a "parallel" novel called Ender's Shadow. Ender's Shadow retells the events of Ender's Game from the perspective of Julian "Bean" Delphinki, Ender's second-in-command. As Sam to Ender's Frodo, Bean is doomed to be remembered as an also-ran next to the legendary protagonist of the earlier novel. In many ways, Bean is a more complex and intriguing character than the preternaturally brilliant Ender, and his alternate take on the events of Ender's Game provide an intriguing counterpoint to fans of the original series.

In addition to moral issues, a strong sense of family pervades Card's work. Card is a devoted family man and father to five (!) children. In the age of dysfunctional family literature, Card bristles at the suggestion that a positive home life is uninteresting. "How do you keep ‘good parents' from being boring?" he once said. "Well, in truth, the real problem is, how do you keep bad parents from being boring? I've seen the same bad parents in so many books and movies that I'm tired of them."

Critical appreciation for Card's work often points to the intriguing plotlines and deft characterizations that are on display in Card's most accomplished novels. Card developed the ability to write believable characters and page-turning plots as a college theater student. To this day, when he writes, Card always thinks of the audience first. "It's the best training in the world for a writer, to have a live audience," he says. "I'm constantly shaping the story so the audience will know why they should care about what's going on."

Card brought Bean back in 2005 for the fourth and final novel in the Shadow series: Shadow of the Giant. The novel presented some difficulty for the writer. Characters who were relatively unimportant when the series began had moved to the forefront, and as a result, Card knew that the ending he had originally envisioned would not be enough to satisfy the series' fans.

Although the Ender and Shadow series deal with politics, Card likes to keep his personal political opinions out of his fiction. He tries to present the governments of futuristic Earth as realistically as possible without drawing direct analogies to our current political climate. This distance that Card maintains between the real world and his fictional worlds helps give his novels a lasting and universal appeal.

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    1. Hometown:
      Greensboro, North Carolina
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 24, 1951
    2. Place of Birth:
      Richland, Washington
    1. Education:
      B.A. in theater, Brigham Young University, 1975; M.A. in English, University of Utah, 1981
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

"I'm ten years old, my whole life you've called me Vanya. My name is on the school records, on government papers as Ivan Petrovich Smetski. Now you tell me I'm really Itzak Shlomo. What am I, a Jewish secret agent?"

Vanya's father listened silently, his face as smooth, weathered, and blank as parchment. Vanya's mother, who was merely hovering near the conversation rather than taking part in it, seemed to be having a little trouble keeping herself from smiling. In amusement? If so, at what? At Vanya? At her husband's sudden discovery of their intense commitment to Judaism?

Whatever the cause of her almost-smile, Vanya did not want to be ridiculous. Even at the age of ten, dignity was important to him. He calmed himself, spoke in more measured tones. "We eat pork," he pointed out. "Rak. Caviar."

"I think Jews can eat caviar," offered his mother helpfully.

"I hear them whispering, calling me zhid, they say they only want to race with Russians, I can't even run with them," said Vanya. "I've always been the fastest runner, the best hurdler, and yesterday they wouldn't even let me keep time. And it's my stopwatch!"

"Mine, actually," said Father. "The principal won't let me sit in class with the other children because I'm not a Russian or a Ukrainian, I'm a disloyal foreigner, a Jew. So why don't I know how to speak Hebrew? You change everything else, why not that?"

Father looked up toward the ceiling.

"What is that look, Father? Prayer? All these years, whenever I talk too much, you look at the ceiling—were you talking to God then?"

Father turned his gaze to Vanya. His eyes were heavy—scholar's eyes, baggy and soft from always peering through lenses at a thousand hectares of printed words. "I have listened to you," he said. "Ten years old, a boy who thinks he's so brilliant, he rails on and on, showing no respect for his father, no trust. I do it all for your sake."

"And for God's," offered Mother. Was she being ironic? Vanya had never been able to guess about Mother.

"For you I do this," said Father. "You think I did it for me? My work is here in Russia, the old manuscripts. What I need from other countries is sent to me because of the respect I've earned. I make a good living."

"Made," said Mother.

For the first time it occurred to Vanya that if he was cut out of school classes, Father's punishment might be even more dire. "You lost your place at the university?"

Father shrugged. "My students will still come to me."

"If they can find you," said Mother. Still that strange smile.

"They'll find me! Or not!" cried Father. "We'll eat or not! But we will get Vanya—Itzak—out of this country so he grows up in a place where this mouth of his, this disrespect for everyone that doesn't measure up to his lofty standards, where they will call it creativity or cleverness or rock and roll!"

"Rock and roll is music," said Vanya.

"Prokofiev is music, Stravinski is music, Tchaikovski and Borodin and Rimski-Korsakov and even Rachmaninov, they are music. Rock and roll is smart boys with no respect, you are rock and roll. All the trouble you get into at school, you will never get into university with this attitude. Why are you the only child in Russia who doesn't learn to bow his head to power?"

Father had asked this question at least a dozen times before, and this time as always, Vanya knew that his father was saying it more in pride than in consternation. Father liked the fact that Vanya spoke his mind. He encouraged it. So how did this become the reason for the family to declare itself Jewish and apply for a visa to Israel? "You make a decision without asking me, and it's my fault?"

"I have to get you out of here, let you grow up in a free land," said Father.

"Israel is a land of war and terrorism," said Vanya. "They'll make me a soldier and I'll have to shoot down Palestinians and burn their houses."

"None of that propaganda is true," said Father. "And besides, it won't matter. I can promise you that you will never be a soldier of Israel."

Vanya was scornful for a moment, until it dawned on him why Father was so certain he wouldn't be drafted into the Israeli military. "Once you get out of Russia, you aren't going to Israel at all."

Father sighed. "What you don't know, you can't tell."

There was a knock at the door. Mother went to answer.

"Maybe here in Russia you aren't in class for a while," said Father. "And this nonsense of running, you'll never be world champion, that's for Africans. But your mind will be quick long after your legs slow down, and there are countries where you will be valued."

"Which other countries?" asked Vanya.

Mother was letting somebody into the apartment.

"Maybe Germany. Maybe England. Canada, maybe."

"America," whispered Vanya.

"How do I know? It depends where there's a university that wants an aging scholar of ancient Slavic literature."

America. The enemy. The rival. The land of jeans and rock and roll, of crime and capitalism, of poverty and oppression. Of hope and freedom. All kinds of stories about America, from rumor, from the government press. It was 1975 and the Vietnam War had ended only a few years ago—America had bloody hands. But through all the propaganda, the rivalry, the envy, one message was constant: America was the most important country on earth. And that's where Father wanted him to grow up. That's why Mother's Jewish relatives were suddenly the only ones who counted, they and Father's grandmother on his mother's side. To get them to America.

For a moment, Vanya almost understood.

Then Mother came back into the room. "He's here."

"Who's here?" asked Vanya. Father and Mother looked at him blankly.

"He's called a mohel," said Mother finally. Then they explained what this old Jewish man was going to do to Vanya's penis.

Ten seconds later, Vanya was down the stairs, out on the street, running for his life, running in despair. He was not going to let a man take hold of his member and cut bits of it off just so he could get on a plane and fly to the land of cowboys. By the time he came home, the mohel was gone, and his parents said nothing about his abrupt departure. He took no false hope from this. In Vanya's family, silence had never meant surrender, only tactical retreat.

Even without the mohel, though, Vanya continued to take solace in running. Isolated at school, resentful at home, cut off from romping with his friends, he took to the streets again and again, day after day, running, dodging, leaving behind him ever-grumpier mutters and shouts of Slow down! Watch your step! Show some respect! Crazy boy! To Vanya that was part of the music of the city.

Running was the way he dreamed. Having never been in control of his own life, his idea of freedom was simply to break free. He dreamed of being at the mercy of the wind, carried aloft and blown here and there, a life of true randomness instead of always being part of someone else's purpose. Father's earnest, inconvenient plans for him. Mother's ironic vision of life as one prank after another, in the midst of which you did what was needed. What I need, Mother, is to kite myself up in the air and cut the string and fly untethered. What I need, Father, when you're setting out the pieces for your living chess game, is to be left in the box.

Forget me!

But running couldn't save him from anyone's plans, in the end. Nor did it bring him freedom, for his parents, as always, took his little idiosyncrasies in stride. In fact they made it part of their story; he overheard them telling some of their new Jewish friends that they had to be patient with Itzak, he was between realities, having had the old one stolen from him and not yet ready to enter the new one. How did they think of these glib little encapsulations of his life?

Only when Father underwent the male ritual of obedience himself did Vanya realize that this Jewish business was not just something they were doing to their son. Father tried to go about his ordinary work but could not; though he said nothing, his pain and embarrassment at showing it made him almost silent.

Mother, ever supportive, said nothing even to refer to what the mohel had done to her husband, but Vanya thought he detected a slight smirk on her face when Father asked her to fetch him something that ordinarily he would get up and find for himself. He wondered briefly if this meant that Mother thought the whole enterprise of believing in God was amusing, but as Father's wound healed and life returned to what passed for normal these days, Vanya began to suspect that, despite her irony, it was Mother who was a believer.

Perhaps she had been a believer all along, despite slathering the tangy, bacony lard on her bread like any other Russian. Father's discovery of his Jewishness was part of an overall strategy; Mother simply knew who ran the universe. Father was forcing himself to act like a believer. Mother showed not a doubt that God really existed. She just wasn't on speaking terms with him. "Six million Jews died from the Fascists," she said to Father. "Your one voice, praying, is going to fill all that silence? When a child dies, do you comfort the parents by bringing them a puppy to take care of?"

Mother apparently believed not only in the idea of God, but also that he was the very same God who chose the Jews back when it was just Abraham carting his barren wife around with him, pretending she was his sister whenever some powerful man lusted after her.

That was a favorite story for Vanya, as Father insisted that they study Torah together, going over to the apartment of a rabbi and hearing him read the Hebrew and translate. As they walked home, they would talk about what they'd heard. "These guys are religious?" Vanya kept asking. "Judah sleeps with a prostitute on the road, only it turns out to be his daughter-in-law so it's all right with God?"

The story of the circumcision of Shechem was Vanya's turning point. Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, gets raped by the prince of Shechem. The prince wants to marry her and Jacob agrees that this would make everything all right, only Dinah's twelve brothers are more interested in repairing the family's wounded honor than in getting their sister married to a rich man with a throne in his future. So they tell the prince that he and all the men of his city have to be circumcised, and when the men are all lying there holding their handles and saying Ow, ow, ow, the sons of Jacob draw their swords and slaughter them all. At the end of that story, Vanya said to his father, "Maybe I'll let the mohel do it to me."

Father looked at him in utter consternation. "That story makes you want to be circumcised?"

Vanya shrugged.

"Is there any hope that you can explain to me why this makes sense?" "I'm thinking about it, that's all," said Vanya. He would have explained it, if he could. Before the story he refused even to think about it; after the story, it became conceivable to him, and, once he could conceive of it, it soon became inevitable.

Later, running, he thought maybe he understood why that story changed his mind. Circumcision was a foolish, barbaric thing to do. But having the story of Shechem in Torah showed that God himself knew this. It's barbaric, God seemed to be saying, and it hurts like hell, but I want you to do it. Make yourself weak, so somebody could come in and kill you and you'd just say, Thank you, I don't want to live anyway because somebody cut off part of my privates.

He couldn't explain this to his father. He just knew that as long as God recognized that it was a ludicrous thing to do, he could do it.

So for a few days Vanya didn't run. And it turned out that by the time the circumcision healed so he could run again, they took the city out from under him. The American Congress had antagonized the Russian government by tying most-favored-nation status to Russia's upping the number of Jews getting visas, and in reply the Russians cut the emigration of Jews down to nothing and started harassing them more. To Vanya's family, this had very practical consequences. They lost their apartment.

For Father, it meant no more consultations with students, no more visits with his former colleagues at the university. It meant the shame of being utterly dependent on others for food and clothing for his family, for there was no job he could get.

Mother took it all in stride. "So we make bricks without straw," she said. All his life Vanya remembered her making enigmatic comments like that. Only now he was reading Exodus and he got the reference and realized: Mother really is a Jew! She's been talking to us as if we were all Jews my whole life, only I didn't get it. And for the first time Vanya wondered if maybe this whole thing might not be her plan, only she was so good at it that she had gotten Father to think of it himself, for his own very logical, unreligious reasons. Don't become a practicing Jew because God commands it, become one so you can get your son a good life in America. Could she possibly be that sneaky?

For a week, they camped in the homes of several Jews who had no room for them. It couldn't last for long, this life, partly because the crowding was so uncomfortable, and partly because it was so obvious that, compared to these lifelong followers of the Law, Vanya and his parents were dilettantes at Judaism. Father and Vanya hacked at Hebrew, struggled to keep up with the prayers, and looked blankly a hundred times a day when words and phrases were said that meant nothing to them.

Mother seemed untroubled by such problems, since she had lived for a couple of years with her mother's parents, who kept all the holidays, the two kitchens, the prayers, the differentiation of women and men. Yet Vanya saw that she, too, seemed more amused than involved in the life of these homes, and the women of these households seemed even more wary of her than the men were of Father.

Finally it wasn't a Jew at all, but a second cousin (grandson of Father's grandfather's brother, as they painstakingly explained to Vanya), who took them in for the potentially long wait for an exit visa. Cousin Marek had a dairy farm in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, in a region that had been part of Poland between the wars, and so escaped Stalin's savage collectivization of the freehold farmers of Ukraine. Because this hill country was remote, strategically unimportant, and thinly populated, Communism here was mostly window dressing. Technically Cousin Marek's dairy herd was merely a portion of the herd belonging to the farflung dairy collective; in actual practice, they were his cows, to be bred and cared for as he wished. A good portion of the milk and cheese they produced didn't quite make its way into the state-run dairy system. Instead, it was bartered here and there for goods and services, and now and then for hard Western currency. Cousin Marek had the room, the independent attitude, and enough surplus to take in a few hapless cousins who had decided to become Jews in order to get to the West.

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First Chapter

1
Leaves

"I'm ten years old, my whole life you've called me Vanya. My name is on the school records, on government papers as Ivan Petrovich Smetski. Now you tell me I'm really Itzak Shlomo. What am I, a Jewish secret agent?"

Vanya's father listened silently, his face as smooth, weathered, and blank as parchment. Vanya's mother, who was merely hovering near the conversation rather than taking part in it, seemed to be having a little trouble keeping herself from smiling. In amusement? If so, at what? At Vanya? At her husband's sudden discovery of their intense commitment to Judaism?

Whatever the cause of her almost-smile, Vanya did not want to be ridiculous. Even at the age of ten, dignity was important to him. He calmed himself, spoke in more measured tones. "We eat pork," he pointed out. "Rak. Caviar."

"I think Jews can eat caviar," offered his mother helpfully.

"I hear them whispering, calling me zhid, they say they only want to race with Russians, I can't even run with them," said Vanya. "I've always been the fastest runner, the best hurdler, and yesterday they wouldn't even let me keep time. And it's my stopwatch!"

"Mine, actually," said Father.

"The principal won't let me sit in class with the other children because I'm not a Russian or a Ukrainian, I'm a disloyal foreigner, a Jew. So why don't I know how to speak Hebrew? You change everything else, why not that?"

Father looked up toward the ceiling.

"What is that look, Father? Prayer? All these years, whenever I talk too much, you look at the ceiling -- were you talking to God then?"

Father turned his gaze to Vanya. His eyes were heavy -- scholar's eyes, baggy and soft from always peering through lenses at a thousand hectares of printed words. "I have listened to you," he said. "Ten years old, a boy who thinks he's so brilliant, he rails on and on, showing no respect for his father, no trust. I do it all for your sake."

"And for God's," offered Mother. Was she being ironic? Vanya had never been able to guess about Mother.

"For you I do this," said Father. "You think I did it for me? My work is here in Russia, the old manuscripts. What I need from other countries is sent to me because of the respect I've earned. I make a good living."

"Made," said Mother.

For the first time it occurred to Vanya that if he was cut out of school classes, Father's punishment might be even more dire. "You lost your place at the university?"

Father shrugged. "My students will still come to me."

"If they can find you," said Mother. Still that strange smile.

"They'll find me! Or not!" cried Father. "We'll eat or not! But we will get Vanya -- Itzak -- out of this country so he grows up in a place where this mouth of his, this disrespect for everyone that doesn't measure up to his lofty standards, where they will call it creativity or cleverness or rock and roll!"

"Rock and roll is music," said Vanya.

"Prokofiev is music, Stravinski is music, Tchaikovski and Borodin and Rimski-Korsakov and even Rachmaninov, they are music. Rock and roll is smart boys with no respect, you are rock and roll. All the trouble you get into at school, you will never get into university with this attitude. Why are you the only child in Russia who doesn't learn to bow his head to power?"

Father had asked this question at least a dozen times before, and this time as always, Vanya knew that his father was saying it more in pride than in consternation. Father liked the fact that Vanya spoke his mind. He encouraged it. So how did this become the reason for the family to declare itself Jewish and apply for a visa to Israel? "You make a decision without asking me, and it's my fault?"

"I have to get you out of here, let you grow up in a free land," said Father.

"Israel is a land of war and terrorism," said Vanya. "They'll make me a soldier and I'll have to shoot down Palestinians and burn their houses."

"None of that propaganda is true," said Father. "And besides, it won't matter. I can promise you that you will never be a soldier of Israel."

Vanya was scornful for a moment, until it dawned on him why Father was so certain he wouldn't be drafted into the Israeli military. "Once you get out of Russia, you aren't going to Israel at all."

Father sighed. "What you don't know, you can't tell."

There was a knock at the door. Mother went to answer.

"Maybe here in Russia you aren't in class for a while," said Father. "And this nonsense of running, you'll never be world champion, that's for Africans. But your mind will be quick long after your legs slow down, and there are countries where you will be valued."

"Which other countries?" asked Vanya.

Mother was letting somebody into the apartment.

"Maybe Germany. Maybe England. Canada, maybe."

"America," whispered Vanya.

"How do I know? It depends where there's a university that wants an aging scholar of ancient Slavic literature."

America. The enemy. The rival. The land of jeans and rock and roll, of crime and capitalism, of poverty and oppression. Of hope and freedom. All kinds of stories about America, from rumor, from the government press. It was 1975 and the Vietnam War had ended only a few years ago -- America had bloody hands. But through all the propaganda, the rivalry, the envy, one message was constant: America was the most important country on earth. And that's where Father wanted him to grow up. That's why Mother's Jewish relatives were suddenly the only ones who counted, they and Father's grandmother on his mother's side. To get them to America.

For a moment, Vanya almost understood.

Then Mother came back into the room. "He's here."

"Who's here?" asked Vanya.

Father and Mother looked at him blankly.

"He's called a moyle," said Mother finally. Then they explained what this old Jewish man was going to do to Vanya's penis.

Ten seconds later, Vanya was down the stairs, out on the street, running for his life, running in despair. He was not going to let a man take hold of his member and cut bits of it off just so he could get on a plane and fly to the land of cowboys. By the time he came home, the moyle was gone, and his parents said nothing about his abrupt departure. He took no false hope from this. In Vanya's family, silence had never meant surrender, only tactical retreat.

Even without the moyle, though, Vanya continued to take solace in running. Isolated at school, resentful at home, cut off from romping with his friends, he took to the streets again and again, day after day, running, dodging, leaving behind him ever-grumpier mutters and shouts of Slow down! Watch your step! Show some respect! Crazy boy! To Vanya that was part of the music of the city.

Running was the way he dreamed. Having never been in control of his own life, his idea of freedom was simply to break free. He dreamed of being at the mercy of the wind, carried aloft and blown here and there, a life of true randomness instead of always being part of someone else's purpose. Father's earnest, inconvenient plans for him. Mother's ironic vision of life as one prank after another, in the midst of which you did what was needed. What I need, Mother, is to kite myself up in the air and cut the string and fly untethered. What I need, Father, when you're setting out the pieces for your living chess game, is to be left in the box.

Forget me!

But running couldn't save him from anyone's plans, in the end. Nor did it bring him freedom, for his parents, as always, took his little idiosyncrasies in stride. In fact they made it part of their story; he overheard them telling some of their new Jewish friends that they had to be patient with Itzak, he was between realities, having had the old one stolen from him and not yet ready to enter the new one. How did they think of these glib little encapsulations of his life?

Only when Father underwent the male ritual of obedience himself did Vanya realize that this Jewish business was not just something they were doing to their son. Father tried to go about his ordinary work but could not; though he said nothing, his pain and embarrassment at showing it made him almost silent.

Mother, ever supportive, said nothing even to refer to what the moyle had done to her husband, but Vanya thought he detected a slight smirk on her face when Father asked her to fetch him something that ordinarily he would get up and find for himself. He wondered briefly if this meant that Mother thought the whole enterprise of believing in God was amusing, but as Father's wound healed and life returned to what passed for normal these days, Vanya began to suspect that, despite her irony, it was Mother who was a believer.

Perhaps she had been a believer all along, despite slathering the tangy, bacony lard on her bread like any other Russian. Father's discovery of his Jewishness was part of an overall strategy; Mother simply knew who ran the universe. Father was forcing himself to act like a believer. Mother showed not a doubt that God really existed. She just wasn't on speaking terms with him. "Six million Jews died from the Fascists," she said to Father. "Your one voice, praying, is going to fill all that silence? When a child dies, do you comfort the parents by bringing them a puppy to take care of?"

Mother apparently believed not only in the idea of God, but also that he was the very same God who chose the Jews back when it was just Abraham carting his barren wife around with him, pretending she was his sister whenever some powerful man lusted after her.

That was a favorite story for Vanya, as Father insisted that they study Torah together, going over to the apartment of a rabbi and hearing him read the Hebrew and translate. As they walked home, they would talk about what they'd heard. "These guys are religious?" Vanya kept asking. "Judah sleeps with a prostitute on the road, only it turns out to be his daughter-in-law so it's all right with God?"

The story of the circumcision of Shechem was Vanya's turning point. Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, gets raped by the prince of Shechem. The prince wants to marry her and Jacob agrees that this would make everything all right, only Dinah's twelve brothers are more interested in repairing the family's wounded honor than in getting their sister married to a rich man with a throne in his future. So they tell the prince that he and all the men of his city have to be circumcised, and when the men are all lying there holding their handles and saying Ow, ow, ow, the sons of Jacob draw their swords and slaughter them all. At the end of that story, Vanya said to his father, "Maybe I'll let the moyle do it to me."

Father looked at him in utter consternation. "That story makes you want to be circumcised?"

Vanya shrugged.

"Is there any hope that you can explain to me why this makes sense?"

"I'm thinking about it, that's all," said Vanya. He would have explained it, if he could. Before the story he refused even to think about it; after the story, it became conceivable to him, and, once he could conceive of it, it soon became inevitable.

Later, running, he thought maybe he understood why that story changed his mind. Circumcision was a foolish, barbaric thing to do. But having the story of Shechem in Torah showed that God himself knew this. It's barbaric, God seemed to be saying, and it hurts like hell, but I want you to do it. Make yourself weak, so somebody could come in and kill you and you'd just say, Thank you, I don't want to live anyway because somebody cut off part of my privates.

He couldn't explain this to his father. He just knew that as long as God recognized that it was a ludicrous thing to do, he could do it.

So for a few days Vanya didn't run. And it turned out that by the time the circumcision healed so he could run again, they took the city out from under him. The American Congress had antagonized the Russian government by tying most-favored-nation status to Russia's upping the number of Jews getting visas, and in reply the Russians cut the emigration of Jews down to nothing and started harassing them more. To Vanya's family, this had very practical consequences. They lost their apartment.

For Father, it meant no more consultations with students, no more visits with his former colleagues at the university. It meant the shame of being utterly dependent on others for food and clothing for his family, for there was no job he could get.

Mother took it all in stride. "So we make bricks without straw," she said. All his life Vanya remembered her making enigmatic comments like that. Only now he was reading Exodus and he got the reference and realized: Mother really is a Jew! She's been talking to us as if we were all Jews my whole life, only I didn't get it. And for the first time Vanya wondered if maybe this whole thing might not be her plan, only she was so good at it that she had gotten Father to think of it himself, for his own very logical, unreligious reasons. Don't become a practicing Jew because God commands it, become one so you can get your son a good life in America. Could she possibly be that sneaky?

For a week, they camped in the homes of several Jews who had no room for them. It couldn't last for long, this life, partly because the crowding was so uncomfortable, and partly because it was so obvious that, compared to these lifelong followers of the Law, Vanya and his parents were dilettantes at Judaism. Father and Vanya hacked at Hebrew, struggled to keep up with the prayers, and looked blankly a hundred times a day when words and phrases were said that meant nothing to them.

Mother seemed untroubled by such problems, since she had lived for a couple of years with her mother's parents, who kept all the holidays, the two kitchens, the prayers, the differentiation of women and men. Yet Vanya saw that she, too, seemed more amused than involved in the life of these homes, and the women of these households seemed even more wary of her than the men were of Father.

Finally it wasn't a Jew at all, but a second cousin (grandson of Father's grandfather's brother, as they painstakingly explained to Vanya), who took them in for the potentially long wait for an exit visa. Cousin Marek had a dairy farm in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, in a region that had been part of Poland between the wars, and so escaped Stalin's savage collectivization of the freehold farmers of Ukraine. Because this hill country was remote, strategically unimportant, and thinly populated, Communism here was mostly window dressing. Technically Cousin Marek's dairy herd was merely a portion of the herd belonging to the farflung dairy collective; in actual practice, they were his cows, to be bred and cared for as he wished. A good portion of the milk and cheese they produced didn't quite make its way into the state-run dairy system. Instead, it was bartered here and there for goods and services, and now and then for hard Western currency. Cousin Marek had the room, the independent attitude, and enough surplus to take in a few hapless cousins who had decided to become Jews in order to get to the West.

"The country life will be good for you, Vanya," said Father, though the sour expression on his face suggested that he had not yet thought of a way that the country life would be good for him. What Cousin Marek did not have was a university within three hours' travel. If Father was to lecture, he'd have to find a subject matter interesting to cows.

As for Vanya, though, Father was right. The country life was good for him. The chores were hard, for though Cousin Marek was a pleasant man, he nevertheless expected that everyone on the farm would work every day, and give full measure. But Vanya got used to labor quickly enough, not to mention the country food, the whole milk, the coarser, crustier, more floury bread they made in this part of Ukraine. The farm was good; but what he came to love lay beyond the farm. For in this backwater, some remnant of the old forests of Europe still survived.

"This is the rodina, the original homeland," Father told him. "Where the old Slavs hid while the Goths passed through, and the Huns. And then they were gone and we fanned out into the plain and left these hills to the wolves and bears." Our land. Father still thought like a Russian, not like a Jew.

What did Vanya care, at his age, about the original Russia? All he knew was that the country roads went on forever without traffic, and with grass growing where the wheels didn't make their ruts; and the trees grew large and ancient in the steep-sided hollows of the hills where no one had bothered to cut them down; and birdsong didn't have to fight to be heard above honking cars and roaring engines. Someone had spilled a milkpail of stars across the sky, and at night when there was no moon it was so dark you could bump into walls just trying to find the door of the house. It wasn't really wild country, but to Vanya, a city boy, an apartment dweller, it was a place of magic and dreams, like the paintings of Shishkin; Vanya half-expected to see bear cubs in the trees.

This was the place where all the fairy tales of his childhood must have taken place -- the land of Prince Ivan, the grey wolf, the firebird; of Koshchei the Deathless, of Mikola Mozhaiski, of Baba Yaga the witch. And, because he came here about the same time as his first reading of Torah, he also pictured the wanderings of Abraham and Jacob and the children of Israel in this green place. He knew it was absurd -- Palestine was hot and dry, the Sinai was stone and sand. But couldn't he picture the sons of Jacob coming back from herding sheep in these hills, to show their father the torn and bloody many-colored coat? Wasn't it from these hills that Abraham charged forth to do battle for the cities of the plain?

He couldn't fly here, either, but he could run until he was so exhausted and lightheaded that it felt as if he had flown. And then he grew bolder, and left the roads and tracks, searching for the most ancient and lost parts of the forest. Hours he'd be gone, exploring, until Mother grew worried. "You fall down a slope, you break your leg, nobody knows where you are, you die out there alone, is that your plan?" But Father and Mother must have discussed it together and decided to trust in his good sense and perhaps in the watchfulness of God, for they continued to allow him his freedom. Maybe they were simply counting on the visa to come and get him back to some American city where they could hide in their apartment from the gangsters' bullets and the rioting Africans that they always heard about.

If the visa had come one day earlier, Vanya wouldn't have found the clearing, the lake of leaves.

He came upon it in the midst of a forest so old that there was little underbrush -- the canopy of leaves overhead was so dense that it was perpetually dusk at ground level, and nothing but a few hardy grasses and vines could thrive. So it felt as if you could see forever between the tree trunks, until finally enough trunks blocked the way or it grew dark and murky enough that you could no longer see beyond. The ground was carpeted with leaves so thick that it made the forest floor almost like a trampoline. Vanya began loping along just to enjoy the bouncy feel of the ground. Like walking on the moon, if the Americans really had landed there. Leap, bounce, leap, bounce. Of course, on the moon there were no tree limbs, and when Vanya banged his head into one, it knocked him down and left him feeling weak and dizzy.

This is what Mother warned me about. I'll get a concussion, I'll fall down in convulsions, and my body won't be found until a dog drags some part of me onto somebody's farm. Probably the circumcised part of me, and they'll have to call in a moyle to identify it. Definitely the boy Itzak Shlomo -- on your records as Ivan Petrovich Smetski. A good runner, but apparently not bright enough to look out for trees. Sorry, but he was too stupid to go on living. That's just the way natural selection works. And Father would shake his head and say, He should have been in Israel, where there are no trees.

After a while, though, his head cleared, and he went back to bounding through the forest. Now, though, he looked up, scouting for low limbs, and that's how he realized he had found a clearing -- not because of the bright sunlight that made the place a sudden island of day in the midst of the forest twilight, but because suddenly there were no more branches.

He stopped short at the edge of the clearing and looked around. Shouldn't it be a meadow here, where the sun could shine? Tall grass and wildflowers, that's what it should be. But instead it was just like the forest floor, dead leaves thickly carpeting the undulating surface of the clearing. Nothing alive there.

What could be so poisonous in the ground here that neither trees nor grass could grow here? It had to be something artificial, because the clearing was so perfectly round.

A slight breeze stirred a few of the leaves in the clearing. A few blew away from the rise in the center of the clearing, and now it looked to Vanya as if it was not a rock or some machine, for the shape under the leaves undulated like the lines of a human body. And there, where the head should be, was that a human face just visible?

Another leaf drifted away. It had to be a face. A woman asleep. Had she gathered leaves around her, to cover her? Or was she injured, lying here so long that the leaves had gathered. Was she dead? Was the skin stretched taut across the cheekbones like a mummy? From this distance, he could not see. And a part of him did not want to see, wanted instead to run away and hide, because if she was dead then for the first time his dreams of tragedy would come true, and he did not want them to be true, he realized now. He did not want to clear the leaves away and find a dead woman who had merely been running through the woods and hit her head on a limb and managed to stagger into the midst of this clearing, hoping that she could signal some passing airplane, only she fell unconscious and died and...

He wanted to run away, but he also wanted to see her, to touch her; if she was dead, then to see death, to touch it.

He raised his foot to take a step into the clearing.

Though his movement was ordinary, the leaves swirled away from his foot as if he had stirred a whirlwind, and to his shock he realized that this clearing was not like the forest floor at all. For the leaves swirled deeper and deeper, clearing away from his feet to reveal that he was standing at the edge of a precipice.

This was no clearing, this was a deep basin, a round pit cut deeply into the earth. How deep it was, he couldn't guess, for the leaves still swirled away, deeper, deeper, and the wind that had arisen from the movement of his leg carried them up and away, twisting into the sky like a pillar of smoke.

If that was a woman lying there, then she must be lying on a pedestal arising from the center of this deep hollow. Women who bumped their heads into tree limbs did not climb down a precipice like this and climb up a tower in the middle. Something else was going on here, something darker. She must have been murdered.

He looked at her again, but now many of the leaves that had blown up from Vanya's feet were coming to rest, and he couldn't quite see her face. No, there it was, or where it should have been. But no face now, just leaves.

I imagined it, he thought. It was that leaf -- I thought it was a nose. There's no woman there. Just a strange rock formation. And a pit in the middle of the forest that had filled with leaves. Maybe it was the crater from an old meteor strike. That would make sense.

As he stood there, imagining the impact of a stone from space, something moved on the far side of the clearing. Or rather, it moved under the far side of the clearing, for he saw only that the leaves began to churn in one particular place, and then the churning moved around the circle, heading toward him.

A creature that lived in this hollow, under the leaves like a sea serpent under the waves. A terrestrial octopus that will come near me and throw a tentacle up onto the shore and drag me down under the leaves and eat me, casting only my indigestible head up onto the center pedestal, where it would eventually lure some other wanderer to step off into the pit to be devoured in his turn.

The churning under the leaves came closer. In the battle between Vanya's curiosity and his morbid imagination, the imagination finally won. He turned and ran, no longer bounding over the forest floor, but trying to dig in and put on speed. Of course this meant that his feet kept losing purchase as leaves slipped under them, and he fell several times until he was covered with leafmold and dirt, with bits of old leaves in his hair.

Where was the road? Was the creature from the pit following him through the forest? He was lost, it would turn to night and the monster would find him by his smell and devour him slowly, from the feet up...

There was the road. Not that far, really. Or he had run faster and longer than he thought. On the familiar road, with the afternoon sun still shining on him, he felt safer. He jogged along, then walked the last bit to Cousin Marek's farm.

Vanya never got a chance to tell about his adventure. Mother took one look at him and ordered him to bathe immediately, they'd been searching high and low for him, there was almost no time at all to get ready, where had he been? The visas had come through suddenly, the flight would leave in two days, they had to drive tonight to get to the train station so they could get to Kiev in time to catch the airplane to Austria.

Eventually, when they had time to relax a little, sitting on the plane as it flew to Vienna, Vanya didn't bother to tell them about his childish scare in the woods. What would it matter? He'd never see those woods again. Once you left Russia there was no going back. Even if you had left a mystery behind you in the ancient forest. It would just have to live on in his memory, a question never to be answered. Or, more likely, the memory of a childish scare that he had worked himself into because he always imagined such dramatic things.

By the time the plane landed in Vienna and the reporters flashed their lightbulbs and pointed TV cameras at them and the officials inspected their visas and various people descended on them to insist that his parents go to Israel as they promised or to inform them that they had the right to do whatever they wanted, now that they were in the free world -- by this point, Vanya had persuaded himself that there was never a human face in the clearing, the pit was not as deep as he imagined, and the churning of the leaves had been the wind or perhaps a rabbit burrowing its way through. No peril. No murder. No mystery. Nothing to wonder about.

No reason for it to keep cropping up in his dreams, haunting his childhood and adolescence. But dreams don't come from reason. And even as he told himself that nothing had happened in the woods that day, he knew that something had happened, and now he would never know what the clearing was, or what might have happened had he stayed.

Copyright © 1999 by Orson Scott Card. All Rights Reserved.

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Interviews & Essays

On Tuesday, April 20th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Orson Scott Card to discuss ENCHANTMENT.


Moderator: Good evening, Orson Scott Card, and welcome to the barnesandnoble.com Auditorium. We're excited to have you back with us this evening -- enchanted, you might say. How are you this evening?

Orson Scott Card: I'm doing great, though a bit tired from driving to San Diego from L.A. and back again last night for a signing at Mysterious Galaxy. Getting to bed at 2am and then flying to another city the next day isn't as fun as it was when I was younger! But I'll stop griping and get to answering the questions.


Kevin from Illinois: Where will the book ENDER'S SHADOW leave off?

Orson Scott Card: ENDER'S SHADOW is a parallel novel to ENDER'S GAME. It begins about where ENDER'S GAME begins and ends after the last battle. It does not go on to include the things that happen while and after Ender gets to his colony planet. The sequel to ENDER'S SHADOW, SHADOW OF THE HEGEMON (working title), will deal with Bean's relationship with Peter Wiggin as Peter uses him as his commander in the wars that are part of his effort to unify the world under one government.


Lauren Caddo from Michigan City, IN: How did you begin your writing career? What educational background do you have? How do you deal with self-discipline in writing?

Orson Scott Card: You're cheating, Lauren. Those are three questions. Writing was something people in my family did. I didn't think of it as a possible career until, as a theater student at BYU in Provo, Utah, I began to write reader's theater scripts and do play doctoring on second-rate professional scripts we were producing. I found that writing was easy, and people clapped more for my writing than for anything else I did. From there, I began to think of myself as a writer more than anything else. My educational background is: B.A. in theater from BYU, M.A. in English from the University of Utah. But the truth is, my real education consists of everything I've read since I was a kid. For instance, I've taken not a single history class at the college level -- but history and biography are my main reading material, and I daresay that I could go head-to-head against most history professors outside their area of specialty. I've come to believe in general education over the years. That's the most valuable part of my education. And while I loved many of my literature classes, in many ways they harmed my writing (but only temporarily, I hope ). Self-discipline? If my family were reading this right now, they'd laugh. I have none. I start working seriously when the checks start bouncing. Money: The great motivator of lazy people who nevertheless have a sense of responsibility.


Cy Harper from Hatrack: How many pages do you usually type a day?

Orson Scott Card: Most days, I type none at all. Days when I work, I write anywhere from 3 or 4 (if I'm uncertain of whether it's working) to 50.


Moderator: If the Y2K bug wreaks its havoc, what three books would you like to read by the light of your power generator?

Orson Scott Card: Books I'd feel happy to reread...hmmmm.... I should be a pious Mormon and mention the Scriptures, but I've read those so often I could probably recite long passages from memory. I'd definitely want a complete works of Shakespeare. I've read most of the plays several times and all of them at least once, and he is still my most valued teacher. A one-volume LORD OF THE RINGS would be nice. (Notice that I'm going for bulk.) And the OXFORD ANTHOLOGY OF ENGLISH POETRY would round it out, though perhaps a good one-volume anthology of American and English poets from Geoffrey Chaucer on would be better, because poor as American poetry has been for much of the time, there was Robert Frost, there was Walt Whitman, there was Emily Dickinson, and even, for old time's sake, e. e. cummings. (If the Ezra Pound pages got torn out, I wouldn't throw out the book as spoiled.)


Cheryl Telford from Orillia, ON, Canada: Hello, I love your works and have read almost all your books, except for your short stories, but that is because they are not my first choice of literature. I have a question about LOVELOCK. Although it's not my favorite book of yours (ENDER'S GAME is), I was wondering when you and Kathryn were going to continue the series?

Orson Scott Card: We are seven chapters into RASPUTIN, and it's completely my fault that we haven't gone beyond that point. I had to drop it this past summer to do the revisions on ENCHANTMENT, and then I rushed to do ENDER'S SHADOW, and then I've been working on two other deadline projects that couldn't wait. Since RASPUTIN's deadline was five years ago, it's not as if there's a rush anymore.... But Kathy and I will finish it. (RASPUTIN is the enhanced cat that is assigned to assassinate Lovelock.)


Pamela Morgan from Atlanta, GA: What made you decide to do a book tour for this book?

Orson Scott Card: I hate book tours -- it's not like real travel, where you actually get to see new places and sample the local culture. The actual signings are fun. But the getting-to-and-from time feels so wasted. And, being an introvert, I get weary to the soul after being "on" for hour after hour, day after day. The hardest thing is being with the escorts. Gotta have 'em in cities I don't know well, but they tend to be flaming extroverts, and when I'm doing my silent-introvert thing, they think I must be mad or unhappy and try even harder to "cheer me up." There's no polite way I've found (yet) to tell extroverted strangers to back off and let me have my own thoughts and steel myself for chatting with strangers. And yet...I really like the people who read my books and care about them. Which isn't surprising, really -- people who enjoy living in a world I create are, of course, people who in some ways at least share my values and concerns. So of course we get along! The nicest people in the world can be found in my signing lines. Why did I agree to a tour this time? So that Del Rey would see that I was willing to do whatever it takes to get people behind ENCHANTMENT. I've never written a better book, and if this one can't reach outside the SF/fantasy genre and find a mainstream audience, I'll never write one that does. I've also agreed to do a tour for ENDER'S SHADOW -- yes, two in one year, after vowing never to do another! But ENDER'S SHADOW needs a big publicity push to get the idea across that it's not Book Five in the series -- it's a parallel novel to ENDER'S GAME, and anyone who loved EG but didn't get as thrilled by the talking heads in Speaker et al. will enjoy ENDER'S SHADOW because it's the true sequel to ENDER'S GAME, in that it is the same kind of novel. By doing a tour, I let TOR know that I'm serious about this book, too. Not that I'm kidding about any of the others.


Pat from Babylon, NY: The bn.com review pairs your latest with Mark Twain's A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT. What do you think?

Orson Scott Card: We both put contemporary Americans into a medieval culture. I love being compared to Twain. He's not just a favorite writer but also a role model, in that he wrote popular fiction that was recognized as being great literature as well -- which is the dream of all of us who write in the genres. But my research was better.


Pamela Morgan from Atlanta, GA: Since you are my favorite author, I'm wondering who's your favorite author?

Orson Scott Card: I have lots of favorites. In the mystery field, I'm always scanning for the latest Sue Grafton, Robert Parker, Walter Mosley, James Lee Burke, Sharon McCrumb, Robert Crais, Ed McBain, Lawrence Block, or Margaret Maron. And I'm still waiting for April Smith's second novel, darn her! In SF and fantasy, my favorites are probably Dave Wolverton, Lisa Goldstein, Bruce Fergusson, and Octavia Butler. And of course the SF greats -- early Heinlein, all of Asimov, Bradbury, Le Guin, Ellison, Blish, Gene Wolfe, and many others. (Susan Palwick still holds the record for the tightest, most perfect story ever). And in fantasy, I can't leave out greats like Tolkien, Tanith Lee, Lewis (NARNIA and TILL WE HAVE FACES, not PERELANDRA.... And in ac-lit fiction (i.e., "li-fi") I love Richard Russo and Anne Tyler. They are the truest tale tellers in a long time. And I loved the Hornblower series even before the brilliant miniseries on A&E. And i'm leaving out a lot of others.... If I could scan my bookshelves I'd have a list three times this long, like that new historical Arthurian series out of England -- Whyte? My memory is so bad. And off-the-wall choices like Thornton W. Burgess and Arnold Lobel and Robert Lawson and many others who have meant a lot to me over the years. And I haven't even touched on the poets and playwrights! Like Albee and James Goldman and of course Miller, O'Neill, and Williams. And Tom Stoppard! Such wit! And Jones and Schmidt, for musicals. and on and on. It's a lifelong love affair with literature.


Peg Kiker from Fayette, MO: Hello, Mr. Card -- I've got to ask where you got your inspiration for the "piggies"?

Orson Scott Card: It began with the idea of an alien society that needed war in order to reproduce, and went on from there. I made them look like piggies precisely so that humans would find them cute and vaguely disgusting, and the use of the term "animalizes" them so that humans don't have to take them seriously as equals. Rather the way indigenous peoples have often been diminished by those who would colonize their worlds.


Cheryl Telford from Orillia, ON, Can: Hello, again. Will you be continuing any of your other series? For example, Pastwatch.

Orson Scott Card: There are two Pastwatch novels slated: one that tells the real story of Noah and the flood, and one that does the oldest sci-fi cliche of all: Adam and Eve. Wish me luck!


David from Kansas City: Do you have any idea when the movie version of ENDER'S GAME will be made and released? I know you probably hear that a lot, but I was just curious when the auditions might take place.

Orson Scott Card: Films aren't scheduled until the money is in place, and the money is never in place until a studio signs on with the package of script, director, and star(s). Because we have a child actor of extraordinary talent and intelligence who is interested (but has not signed on), I am free to write a script that isn't child-proofed. I'm on page 42, and it's got the emotional wallop of the book, this time at last. Once we have a finished script, the actor and his family and advisers will make their decision; if he says yes and signs on, then we're in a strong position to go to a studio without having to get an "auteur" director whose first act would be to fire me and hire his pet writer(s) to turn ENDER'S GAME into a remake of "The Last Starfighter" or "S-Troop." Wish me luck on that, too. Still and all, I have great hopes that ENDER'S GAME will be put together and filmed in time for release in the summer of 2000. I even have a tiny dream of having both ENDER'S GAME and ENDER'S SHADOW filmed at the same time, with the same cast. And then released in successive summers. But...only in my dreams. And because you're going to ask, that brilliant young actor that I'm hoping will play Ender is Jake Lloyd, who plays young Anakin Skywalker in the upcoming movie due in May. Not since Roddy McDowell have we had a child actor so capable of carrying the emotional weight of a powerful film on his shoulders.


Lauren from Michigan City, IN: How do ideas come to you? Do you sit and try or let yourself go and then an idea pops in? I've recently quit a nine-to-five job because the creative part in me has to get out or I'll burst. I'm trying to learn what makes writers tick...even though we're all different.

Orson Scott Card: Ideas are cheap and easy. I do demonstrations with audiences where we come up with many ideas with astonishing ease. It's recognizing when an idea really means something to you and then figuring out how to shape it into a well-structured story that's hard. But in the end, I think the ideas that work best for me come from asking causal questions: Why does this happen? Or what would would result if this happened? In fact, causality being at the root of all storytelling, I suspect that all storytelling comes down to inventing answers to "why" questions.


Tom from Ft. Wayne, IN: I love your work. Your historical/fantasy novels like ALVIN MAKER and REDEMPTION are great, and your technical work in THE ABYSS. Then again there is the light fantasy and science fiction work, not to mention your "spooky" HOMECOMING. Wow. What's next, a mystery thriller in the spirit of, say, Dick Francis?

Orson Scott Card: Alas, I've never read Dick Francis -- the whole horsing scene bores me too much to bother, I'm afraid -- but leaving aside that specific question, let me say that I'm glad to know that you value the fact that I try never to write the same book twice. (Though with ENDER'S SHADOW I've come about as close as I ever care to to violating that rule!) I read all kinds of stories and care about all kinds of stories, and write all kinds as well. It's not my fault that the bookstores put them all in the SF section. Most stores put SAINTS there, for instance (if they stock it at all). And ENCHANTMENT is a contemporary romantic fantasy -- no way should it be put in the sci-fi section. But it will be, because that's where bookstore people figure that folks will go to find my books. But I want my books to be found by people who weren't looking for them! Oh well...can't control everything, now, can I?


David from Utah: Can you give us an idea of what your upcoming book called SARAH is going to be about?

Orson Scott Card: SARAH is a novel from the point of view of the wife of Abraham. A serious historical novel, but in a period of history so rife with speculation that I have almost as much free rein as when I'm writing fantasy. I've found the period where Abraham's story fits, culturally, and it's not the one where he's usually put. Rather the way I find that Moses' story fits best with Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III -- far better than with Rameses.


Casey McCammon from Logan, UT: I assume you enjoy classical and operatic styles of music (considering the "Stone Tables" soundtrack and your theater productions) but what other types of music do you enjoy? A favorite band or singer?

Orson Scott Card: I'm far more into musical comedy and Tin Pan Alley music than any other, and I'm deeply into lyrics that mean something. My heroes are guys like Gershwin, Cole Porter, Burton Lane, Lerner and Lowe, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Rodgers and Hart, Jerome Kern, Jones and Schmidt, Mel Torme, etc. And to hear Michael Feinstein or Rebecca Luker or Judy Kuhn sing those songs is an endless wonder to me -- how they find the soul of the song. My absolute favorites, though, tend to be female singer-songwriters. Joni Mitchell has been part of my children's lives because there has never been a year they haven't had to listen to one of her great albums. Of course Janis Ian and Carole King are part of my pantheon. And today, my absolute favorite singer-songwriters are Beth Nielson Chapman and Shirley Eikhard. Eikhard's "Going Home" is brilliant, a rich voice and a powerful poetic and musical creator. And Beth Nielson Chapman is to music what Anne Tyler is to fiction -- she goes straight for the heart and breaks it and makes you love her for it. But I also love Brazilian "MPB" music (Maria Bethania! Milton Nascimento! Chico Buarque! Caetano Veloso! and Djavan!) and I'm getting more and more into salsa and other Latin and Caribbean music.


Elise from New York City: Hi, Orson Scott Card. It's amazing what they can do with science fiction these days in film. Have you seen "The Matrix"? What did you think of it? Would you ever like to cast Keanu Reeves for a role in a movie based on one of your books?

Orson Scott Card: Haven't seen "The Matrix." I usually avoid mystical martial arts movies the way I avoid other I-have-found-the-truth-and-so-I'm-better-than-you stories. But I hear so much good about it that I'll probably break down and see it -- and then I'll probably hate it as much as I hated "Contact" (or whatever that Sagan-based movie was called). As for Keanu Reeves, I think he's one of the finest actors working today. I am astonished at the number of people who speak of him with contempt. The actor I saw in "Parenthood" and "A Walk in the Clouds" has the gift of making his characters real and likeable without ever letting us see him act. (Sort of the opposite of Meryl Streep, most of the time -- though I actually liked her performance in "One True Thing," perhaps because she shared the screen with William Hurt, the only actor who can outsmug her.) Anyway, don't badmouth Keanu Reeves around me! I think he is always better than his material -- though, sadly, so often his material is so bad that being better isn't enough to make the movies he's in be good!


David from U.S.: I enjoy your books. Mr. Card. Does your Mormon background play a large role in your plots and character development?

Orson Scott Card: In a few cases, I have dealt with specifically Mormon themes. In FOLK OF THE FRINGE, I used a future Mormon culture for some sci-fi character stories. In the Homecoming books, I did a science fiction retelling of the story line of the first part of the Book of Mormon. And with ALVIN MAKER, one of the plot sources is the life of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. But what I never do (and never plan to do) is write a novel for the general public that requires readers to decide whether they believe in Mormonism or not. What's the point of that? I served two years as a missionary, and even now, if you want me to talk to you about Mormonism, I will. But I don't use my fiction to proselytize -- they have different purposes and work in different ways. Yet in another sense, because I am a believing Mormon who has explored the philosophy of it, the metaphysics, the theology, the moral implications, etc., there is simply no way for me to tell any story that is not profoundly involved with ideas I derive from my religion. On the other hand, there is not one of my stories that is so "doctrinally correct" that you can't find at least a few dozen Mormons who think I'm evil. That's because my stories come from me, and so they aren't going to reflect the beliefs of any other Mormon, not exactly. Of course, I think I'm right and they're wrong. My answer to those who are uncomfortable with my belief system is: Great! Glad I could help you sharpen your awareness of your own beliefs! Now don't argue with me, just write your own stories!


Jim from New York: Do you have an online life (i.e., email)? And if so, what is your email address? I think some of us would like to keep in touch with you aside from pen and paper and a 33-cent stamp.

Orson Scott Card: My email address is OrsonCard@aol.com. I answer my own mail -- when I can. When I can't, I forward it to my assistant, KBellamy@aol.com, and we don't pretend that it's me answering. So if you get mail from my address, it was written by me. At the same time, I don't have a lot of time for online life, and if I ever get flooded with frivolous mail, I'll have to switch to a private address that doesn't get published. So far, though, people have been very considerate and usually write to me only about things that are not already dealt with on my web sites (www.hatrack.com, www.nauvoo.com, and www.frescopix.com).


Moderator: Thank you so much for joining us tonight, Orson Scott Card. It's truly been a pleasure chatting with you this evening -- you are a fantastic guest! Before you go, do you have any closing comments for your online audience?

Orson Scott Card: I've enjoyed the questions and the format -- the most coherent public interview software I've seen, and an audience that asks perceptive and interesting questions. As to closing comments, just this: It's sometimes hard for me to feel that my work has much value, when I live in a country that declines to impeach this unspeakable president and when we are getting mired ever deeper in a war that has no hope of any good outcome for us and which we had to shred international law in order to enter. What does a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story matter in the face of people being slaughtered and our national public character being slimed while our press and other national institutions do nothing? And yet, since storytelling is all I can do, I have to pretend that it makes some kind of difference. And as I go around signing books while other Americans are getting in planes to do bombing runs, I sincerely hope that I'm not fiddling while Rome burns.... And on that cheery note, goodnight!


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 131 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2006

    The Best Book EVER

    OMG-I love this book. I picked it up by chance, and I literally spent the weekend walking around my house with my nose in this book. It is my FAVORITE book ever, and if anyone has a sane mind, they will read it!!! i was enraptured with it, and everything about it was amazing

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2013

    I love this book! It has been a favorite of mine for the past de

    I love this book! It has been a favorite of mine for the past decade now. I grew up with the Russian fairytale so I love this spin on the story

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2013

    Excellent read

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is the story of Sleeping Beauty reimagined, complete with action, romance, and plenty of character development. Great book; looking forward to another by OSC.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2012

    Very interesting

    I have read a great deal of Orson Scott Card's work and this is right up there with his best. It should be said that I enjoyed the character of Baba Yaga more than the protagonist. If she had been Ivan's matchmaker, there wouldn't be so much indecision in the newlyweds. Nothing says "Be nice to each other!" like the threat of debilitating curses and mauling by a bear-god.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2012

    Card's most disappointing work. This one seemed almost juvenile

    Card's most disappointing work. This one seemed almost juvenile in its presentation. I haven't disliked one Card book thus far, but I only finished this one because I paid for it...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    Still great after all these years!

    I found this book in my school library many years ago and fell in love with it. I am glad to see it here! OSC expresses so many viewpoints from many different characters, and it just works so well. I can't reccomend the book enough. Buy it!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2012

    Loved it

    Loved Ivans (the hero) character. I couldnt stand the princess and a few others. However I loved the emotional impact from Ivans character. This book obviously took much research which flow well in the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2009

    This was a rather original story line, wonderfully done, but a surprise none the less.

    a fun new story line

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 10, 2009

    Enchanted by Enchantment

    Orson Scott Card has written yet another masterpiece; one you just can't put down until the very end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2007

    Ironically, a fresh fairy tale!

    Orson Scott Card is on his own level when it comes to creativity. The whole idea of parallel worlds was amazing, and the story was entertaining, suspenseful, and somewhat hilarious (think bear running in circles)! I didn't put the thing down till I had read it all!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2002

    Incredible

    'Incredible' is the only word to describe Enchantment. I am a 14 year old and have read Enchantment five times. I can't get enough of it. Every page is pure genius. Card takes you into a different world full of mystery and fantasy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    A different telling of sleeping beauty

    I loved this book. I thought it was a really good twist of a tale I thought I knew everything about. I loved how it combined old magic amd new magic,old tales and present day, it was just spectacular.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2013

    Living room

    Woooh!~Ree

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2013

    I absolutely love love love this book! I have read this book man

    I absolutely love love love this book!
    I have read this book many times and enjoy it each time.

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  • Posted March 20, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Very good.

    O.S.C. does write books that are not in the Ender series. This may come as a suprise to some, but I assure you that his fantasy is very entertaining. This one is a twist on the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Prince Charming is a Russian-American Jew, which the author manages to pull off. So obviously there is a great amount of character development and even the side characters have a strong development. The setting is interesting to say the least and you might even learn some history, if you pay attention. If you like twisted up fairy tales made for adults, you will like this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2012

    One of my favorite books!

    Time travel and fairy tales- two of my favorite themes both in one book! Not only does Orson Scott Card describe everything vividly, the story makes sense and everything comes together neatly in a wonderful, un-Grimm fairytale ending. It's also thought provoking- as well as to-be-expected time travel difficulties (what if by writing something or bringing something back, Ivan changes the future?) this book also deals with the creation and distortion of legends. Amazing must read!

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  • Posted September 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Throughly Entertaining

    Just as in the fairy tales, Ivan has discovered his purpose in life. While in the Ukraine visiting his uncle and working on his graduate dissertation, he comes upon a sleeping princess, whom he kisses and awakes.

    That much of the story is familiar, but Orson Scott Card's take on the Sleeping Beauty tale is skewed into an enchanting tale that will leave the reader full of wonder and hope. There are witches, both good and evil. A talking bear. A princess who has no use for a modern man who doesn't even know how to handle a sword. Spells and charms abound, but are there enough spells in the world to make such dissimilar individuals fall in love and live happily ever afterwards?

    Orson Scott Card is well known for his science fiction. He has won both the Hugo and the Nebula Prizes in consecutive years for Ender's Game and Speaker For The Dead, the only author to receive this honor. Card has written multiple books, most of them best sellers. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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  • Posted February 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    DISAPPOINTING

    I limped through 2/3 of this book, then just gave up. The writing style is simplistic, and the story and characters are shallow. I'd say this was intended for a 10 or 12 year old, except for the raw language and the constant talk about sex. I recommend you skip this one.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    Can someine help me i really need help with understanding my nook

    Help mee and i didnt realy read this book i realy need help bad!!!!!!!help plzzzi

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2011

    Wonderful book!

    I was enchanted once again with Orson Scott Card's book. I loved the Alvin Maker series 20 years ago, but couldn't enjoy the Ender series. They seemed to use the last 20% of the book rearranging characters, even raising them from dead for the next book in the series. But when I ran across this book available on Nook I'm glad I bought it. It shows a knowledge of history and languages and fairy tales and human nature and how to write a tale.
    Great Book!

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