Critic’s Corner: Eugene England on OSC’s Pastwatch

I’m pleased to announce the launching of Critic’s Corner here at AMV. As with our other Friday/Weekend features — Short Story Friday, , and Weekend (Re)Visitor — I’m hoping that my co-bloggers and AMV’s readers will help me with the effort, which was inspired by the responses to a previous post on works of literary criticism found in Dialogue’s archives.

For the launch, I’ve decided to highlight Eugene England’s response to Orson Scott Card’s novel Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher ColumbusAmazon ) because it captures well, I think, a specific, fascinating moment in both of these great men of Mormon letters’ careers.

Title: Pastwatch: The Redemption of Orson Scott Card

Author: Eugene England

Publication Info: Mormon Literature Database; text of a paper presented at Life, the Universe, & Everything XV: An Annual Symposium on the Impact of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Provo, Utah, February 28, 1997

Submitted by: Wm Morris

Why?: Wm says, “What fascinates me about this paper is that it represents an attempt by England to convince himself that OSC is back in his corner (so-to-speak). It is as much about the socio-cultural politics of Mormonism as it is about the novel Pastwatch.”


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12 thoughts on “Critic’s Corner: Eugene England on OSC’s Pastwatch”

  1. .

    I’ve been meaning to read Pastwatch “next” for years. Now, that constant delay means I can’t play. There’s a metaphor in here somewhere…..

  2. You are welcome. It’s a fascinating piece of Mormon literary criticism and one of the first that I ever read. Many thanks to Gideon Burton and Marny Parkin for making it available online.

  3. Ditto to Theric’s comment. There was a time when I had read pretty much all of OSC’s sf&f, but I’ve fallen behind the times…

    I have to say, it makes me proud of our little sf&f symposium at BYU where this was apparently originally delivered. I hadn’t remembered that. For a student-run event, it’s done remarkably well over the years.

  4. Pastwatch is second generation OSC — and one of the titles most worth reading from the ’90s. We’ve been on third-gen since 2000/2001 or so. To be honest, I haven’t read any of the third-gen stuff.

  5. William,

    What makes you divide Scott’s work into first-gen, second-gen, third-gen? What’s the dividing-line, for you? And what are the critical characteristics that make a difference? I know that for me, the Alvin Maker books, Ships of Earth series, and Folk of the Fringe stories marked an interesting departure from earlier work as all dealing more directly with Mormon material (compared to earlier sf&f). Would that all be first-gen stuff in your terms?

  6. Most of that is second-gen stuff. The third-gen stuff is where OSC settles on the full-on transparent style, becomes preoccupied with psychology and law and gets all political. I’d probably date its beginning to Ender’s Shadow.

    The first-gen is up until Treason or so. These aren’t hard and fast categories for me, but Wyrms, Worthing, Ender’s Game and Hart’s Hope seem to me to be different from Pastwatch, the early-middle Alvin novels, Children of the Mind, etc. Which are all different from the Shadow books, the later Alvin books, etc.

  7. Is there somewhere that you’ve elaborated on this (or where someone else has done so, if you’ve borrowed this from elsewhere)? It would make an interesting critical argument.

    Of course Treason is an unusual case, since it’s a rework of an earlier book. And what about all the Worthing Chronicle stuff? There’s a lot of politics there, though possibly handled in a different way from what you’re describing in his Phase 3 stuff…

  8. The notion just occurred to me this morning so, no, no elaboration out there.

    I was taking Treason to be indicative of that whole Worthing trajectory. And, yes, I’d say the politics there is different.

  9. Pastwatch and Enchantment are my favorites of the stuff I’ve read.

    William, we have been considering having OSC out for LTUE’s thirtieth year in 2012. Want to come out then and give a paper? 🙂

  10. Thanks for the invite, Marny, but I’m afraid LTUE and AML and the Whitney Awards have firmly settled in to a perpetual “maybe next year” mode.

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