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Old 08-12-2004, 11:38 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 32
Orson Scott Card's Homecoming series = Book of Mormon?

I wasn't sure if this belonged in General Questions so i decided to just post it here.

I was telling a friend was reading "Memory of Earth" the first of the Homecoming series and he informs me that it's a sci fi version of the Book of Mormon.
Is this true? If so, how similar are the two pieces?
Old 08-13-2004, 06:43 AM
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Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 42,571
You can find a lot of similarities between Card's Alvin novels and the history of the Mormon Church. I don't think he's ever tried to hide it. And I don't think there's a direct correlation -- I don't think he's retelling the Book of Mormon in SF.

In his Saintspeak dictionary, he pokes fun at the series Battlestar Galactica, which also borrowed heavily from LDS history and the Book of Mormon (Glen A. Larsen, I think, is LDS). Card noted that the series made it tough for missionaries, who, expounding on the Book of Mormon, would be told by would-be convertees that "I'm sorry, but that reminds me of the silliest sort of science fiction."

Well, he's got himself to blame now.
"Mr. Chambers! Don't get on the ship! We translated the book, and it's a TENNIS MANUAL!"
Old 08-13-2004, 08:53 AM
Join Date: Oct 1999
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Card has also said that, when he started out, he used to write a lot of Mormon fiction, and then he made a conscious decision not to do that anymore, but just to do straight science fiction. However, since he did that, he says that everybody always tells him that his non-Mormon fiction is "more Mormon" than his religious works.

I think it's just that Card has a mindset and value system that's shaped by Mormonism, and so when he writes, he gives that mindset and those values to his characters, even if he doesn't always know he's doing it.
Old 08-13-2004, 09:38 AM
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I have to say, if it is indeed based on the BoM, then it must be a pretty strange book. I mean, the first two were okay but then it just gets gradually more and more wierd from that point onwards.
Old 08-13-2004, 11:25 AM
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Eh? I thought he'd specifically stated that it was based on BoM. Though I haven't read that, so I can't comment on the similarities.

I did read a few stories with Mormon characters, which I thought were very good; better than the effort to retell BoM imho.
Old 08-13-2004, 11:39 AM
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Being LDS myself and somewhat a fan of Card I can say that it is indeed quite close to the BoM in several aspects--At least in the first couple of books. I couldn't get into the series that much and dropped it.

The Alvin Maker series is...I would call it "inspired by" they life of the first LDS prophet Joseph Smith.

Card, like any writer, draws from personal experience to get material. As John Grissam supposedly said "of course I write about lawyers, I'm a lawyer...which makes me wonder about Stephen King."
Old 08-13-2004, 11:44 AM
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W/o being snarky, I think I can fairly say that Mormon theology is quite adaptable for Sci-Fi purposes. The Progressive Godhood teaching especially. Arthur C. Clarke in 2001 & CHILDHOOD'S END has explored that theme from a completely non-theistic perspective.
Old 08-13-2004, 11:59 AM
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Location: Denver, CO
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::mutter mutter, post didn't work, gotta retype...::

Well, to sum up my lost post (which--as all lost posts are--was brilliantly written and sublime in it's wit), I think the Homecoming series was based on the Book of Mormon the same way that the Chronicles of Narnia and Paradise Lost were based on the Bible: a retelling of core stories in a new or expanded setting.

Here's a letter on his official site where it's made clear that he did base his books on the BoM, and his arguments against people who claimed he plagiarized it.

{now to copy this post in case it gets lost in the ether again...}
Old 08-13-2004, 04:00 PM
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Posts: 1,191
I've only read part of the first Homecoming book, but it's definitely close enough that no Mormon could fail to see the connection. Some of the character names are a dead give away. (Nafai = Nephi)
Stay calm. Be brave. Wait for the signs.
Old 08-13-2004, 07:23 PM
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Northern CA
Posts: 9,155
It's a lot closer than Narnia and the Bible--more like Paradise Lost; it's the basic plot structure of the first part of the BoM, put into an elaborate SF society, with women, and lots of character analysis. The first volume is a 300-page expansion of the first 3 chapters of the BoM. Then he puts in a sort of inverted Christ-figure, but otherwise it keeps following the BoM's first chapters -- except for the animals on the new planet, of course, which I think he picked up from a line in Isaiah -- until the fifth volume, which goes through the book of Mosiah in the BoM at high speed. The fifth volume is pretty weird, IIRC.

Most of the names are so similar as to be blindingly obvious, as Helena said. At least one is the same.

OSC essentially used it as a way to play around with what might have happened within the BoM history that we don't know about. It's a skeletal plot in scripture, so he fools around with character interaction and ideas about details and so on--and as he said to DangerDad at a signing, he wanted to put women in the Book of Mormon (which barely mentions them).

All you have to do is read, oh, the first few chapters of the first book in the Book of Mormon, and you'll recognize it. It's a short read, if you want to check it out.
Old 08-14-2004, 06:25 AM
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The series basically follows the events in 1 Nephi, the first book of the Book of Mormon, pretty faithfully (in sci-fi fictionalized form, of course), and then some of 2 Nephi. That takes up the first four books of the Homecoming series. The fifth book then skips ahead to another well-known-to-Mormons segment of the Book of Mormon, the part involving the four sons of Mosiah, which takes place long after the events in 1 Nephi / 2 Nephi.

A friend of mine wrote a letter to Orson Scott Card asking if this was plagiarism, and got back a form letter explaining why it was not. I assume the letter he got back is the same as the page linked to above.

Hmm, looks like dangermom explained it in better detail than I did. I agree, the fifth book is pretty weird. But I still enjoyed the series, pretty much.
Old 08-14-2004, 10:31 AM
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Northern CA
Posts: 9,155
For anyone who cares, OSC's latest project is also expansion of scripture stories, only this time from Genesis. He's written novels about Sarah, Rebekah, and now Rachel & Leah. The next will be on all the wives of Jacob.

He also wrote one about Moses several years back, called Stone Tables.

They're all meant for a general audience and can be found at ordinary bookstores. Well, I think the Moses one is out of print.
Old 08-14-2004, 11:06 AM
Join Date: May 1999
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Originally Posted by chorpler
I agree, the fifth book is pretty weird. But I still enjoyed the series, pretty much.
Same here. I didn't know that Card was a Mormon until about a year ago. Not that it matters any. I'm still reading the Alvin books.

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