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Stonefather
Orson Scott Card
Subterranean Press, 112 pages

Orson Scott Card
Born in Richland, Washington, Orson Scott Card grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He lived in Brazil for two years as an unpaid Mormon Church missionary, and received degrees from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine, and five children.

In an unprecedented fashion, Card won the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel two years in a row for Ender's Game and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, in 1986 and 1987.

Orson Scott Card Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: A War of Gifts
SF Site Review: Space Boy
SF Site Review: Shadow of the Giant
SF Site Review: The Crystal City
SF Site Review: Wyrms
SF Site Review: Songmaster
SF Site Review: Ender's Shadow
SF Site Review: Ender's Shadow
SF Site Review: Enchantment
SF Site Review: Heartfire
SF Site Review: Homebody

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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Stonefather The despised youngest child from a large family, Runnel decides one day to leave his mountain country village. Allowing his feet to carry him, he soon finds himself in the strange lowland city of Mitherhome. Thus begins Stonefather, the introduction to a new series of books by Orson Scott Card.

As an introduction, the novella works reasonably well. Runnel moves from being a ninth, and unwanted child in his mountainous village to being a servant in one of Mitherhome's suburbs. While there, Runnel, and the reader, learn more about the world, both the things that bring it in line with other worlds, like money, and the things that set it apart, like its strange form of magic, including watermages and stonemages.

Runnel, whose name is a link to the watermages, finds himself working for Lord Brickel, a stonemage, through the efforts of Lark, a young servant he meets who takes pity on him. Lark not only acts as Runnel's tutor in the ways of the city, but also is the primary source of information about Card's world for the reader.

About half way through the story, Card stops the action to allow Lark to give Runnel a history lesson about the relations between the stonemages and the watermages of Mitherhome. Although important information, this lengthy monologue completely stops the action of the novella. Card is a good enough author that he should have been able to find a way to integrate his backstory better, rather than simply having Lark relate the world's history to back-country boy Runnel.

This exposition divides the novella into two distinct parts. In the first half of the book, Runnel is the fish out of water, learning about the world in which he lives, and never quite understanding everything. After Lark explains Mitherhome's history, he is able to come into his own, putting together the information he has received like pieces of a puzzle. It is at this point that Card's world really begins to come together for the reader (and Runnel).

Nevertheless, the ending felt tacked on, and unnecessary. As Stonefather appears to be related to a series of books Card plans to publish, it may be that the period of time between the end of this story proper and the tacked on bits will be filled in once the series begins, but even if that is the case, the ending of the story is unnecessary to the story, especially in a shorter work.

While Stonefather stands on its own, it is not entirely satisfactory, moving a little too quickly in the second half when more, and better paced, character growth is desired, and providing too much information in too short a span, giving a portion of the novella an info-dump feel. It does, however, serve to whet the reader's appetite for the novels in the series to see how Card intends to fill in the gaps and whether he will correct the novella's shortcomings.

Copyright © 2008 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a seven-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings. He is the publisher of ISFiC Press. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.


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