Thursday, June 19, 2008

French Acacia Release Date and Acacia Recommended by... Orson Scott Card - in French?

I've just learned that the release date for the French version of Acacia will be October 16th. I'm really looking forward to that. One can never know how a book is going to do at home or abroad, but so far my French publisher has expressed much enthusiasm for the book. As I understand it, Acacia is the fall book on the list, the one that'll be getting the biggest push. Love that. Here's hoping it works. I'd love to be big in France...

Getting that news put me in "killing a few hours in the French Fantasy blogosphere Mode". Over at, I came across a search that turned up an interview with Orson Scott Card. I promptly began scanning, and what do you know? I'm in there! Here's the question and the relevant part of the answer:

Avez-vous des livres à recommander à nos lecteurs, en fantasy ou autre ?

Card : Je ne sais pas exactement ce qui a été traduit, mais il y a de très bons nouveaux romans : The Name of the Wind de Patrick Rothfuss, Acacia de David Anthony Durham, et Mistborn et Elantris de Brandon Sanderson.

Ah! Translation, translation... Babel Fish to the rescue...

Do you have books to recommend to our readers, in fantasy or other?

Card: I do not know exactly what was translated, but there are very good new novels:
The Name off the Wind of Patrick Rothfuss, Acacia of David Anthony Durham, and Mistborn and Elantris of Brandon Sanderson.

So, yes, that's a "recommendation". What do you folks think of that? I'll admit to being pleased that such an amazingly popular author (one whose work I have enjoyed) chose to mention my work, but I can't go too far with that positive response before I start to ruminate on the other side of Mr. Card: all that political stuff.

There are some significant and fundamental things that I disagree with him 100% on. There are occasional moments when he thoroughly surprises me by coming to conclusions that I do agree with. And a lot of the time when reading his essays I'm a bit knotted up by his labyrinthine logic - which I'm sure he doesn't feel is labyrinthine at all.

For a basic introduction this article in School Library Journal isn't bad. If you don't know what his politics are you could check out his posts on World Watch - The Ornery American. He is very public in his views (even on Star Wars), and a Google search about his politics provides both his own words and plenty of responses to them. (Check out this essay by John Kessel, for example.) Oh, and the folks at just sent me a link the the entire OSC interview in English.

But what should any of that mean to me in reference to his recommending my work? They asked him for fantasy recommendations; he mentioned me. Any thing wrong with that?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, good for Mr. Card! I read two of his books before I heard rumors that his politics would probably make me go "hmm." It's to his credit that I remember enjoying them without too many reservations. Obviously his taste in novels is pretty righteous. Mistborn and Elantris were both great fun (and I have problems with Sanderson's politics, too, BTW). I haven't read the Rothfuss yet but expect to buy it before the summer's over. I've heard nothing but good about it.
It'll be hard to match Acacia, though.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Corby Kennard said...

I believe we have had a brief discussion about this sort of thing before. I, too, condemn Mr. Card's politics. However, it is not his POV that I have an issue with, it is how publicly he tries to use it as a wedge to force opinion. That said, there really are not many better scifi/fantasy authors around to laud your work to the public, so there is that. You've also been touted by John Scalzi, so with those recommendations, you should be rolling in the dough for a while. ;)

BTW - I started Acacia! I'm 40 or so pages in and I'm really enjoying it. Just got to the king on mist and that was a very telling chapter. Your descriptions are fantastic and the story is moving along at a nice clip. This is going to be a pleasure to read. (I'm no Orson Scott Card, I know, but if the rest of the book is as good as this, which I'm sure it is, I'll be recommending it to all my friends.)

8:06 PM  
Blogger Ed Robertson said...

Wow, that John Kessel essay is outstanding.

Acacia's worldview is clearly at odds with a lot of Card's politics--and to draw from Kessel, way more moral, in the John Gardner sense, in establishing that worldview than Ender's Game.

To people hearing about it for the first time, that recommendation might carry some baggage, but I'd think anyone who reads Acacia would understand Card was recommending it as a work of fantasy rather than something that's in line with his political opinions.

9:05 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Let me know what you think of "the Rothfuss" when you do get a chance to read it.


Rolling in dough? Methinks you may be overly optimistic in regards to the power of even high-powered endorsements. Thanks for the positive energy, though. We do have quite a bit of flour in the pantry. And we've got the pool out back now... Together they could make a good bit of dough to roll in. Not quite what you had in mind, I'm sure, but...

Glad the book is doing all right for you. If you're on board at the beginning I think there's a good chance you'll find the rest of it satisfying.


The Kessel piece is quite interesting. I know it's possible to over-analyze things. And I know it's possible to end up connecting the dots in a manner that produces the picture you want to see of a certain book or author - Kessel points out some folks that have done that. I think his analysis is quite thought-provoking, though. He builds to a pretty strong conclusion, one in which he's troubled by the Ender books at the same as he understands how powerful they would have been to a younger version of himself. Interesting.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Mark Lavallee said...


I've never read any of Card's stuff, so I can't comment on his politics, only to say most people have them. I've never found any to be wrong as much as conflicting, and normally only conflicting with my own. ;)

However, congratulations on the recommendation. If you're like me, then you've never read OSC, but you do know that he is kind of a big deal, and a recommendation from him is a really awesome thing, so great job!

Of the books I've read this year (and last), there are two that stick out in my mind the most: The Name of the Wind and Acacia. Why?

Because here are two books that are great in very similar yet very different ways - Pat's offering is a fun, Epic fantasy that breaks away from the fantasy mold; the language itself is absolutely superb and the adventure is fun and makes your want more. Acacia does the exact same things as good or better - excellent use of language, wonderful prose, great adventure. I was upset to finish both books simply because "there wasn't more".

Acacia also brings some other things to the table - it tackles, subtly at times, a myriad of social issues that we ourselves experience on a day to day basis, and I imagine that lengthy and very good debates could spring forth just from its politics along. One of the things I loved about Acacia was how you never really knew who to hate; there was not arch villain character who was just evil because "we said so", which is typical of so many other fantasy novels.

Does that make Acacia better than The Name of the Wind? Hardly. The two are not comparable, it would be like trying to say that chocolate shakes are better than strawberry. I'll leave it like this: Both books are equal parts greatness, which you prefer changes depending on the day, much like the shake analogy. Sometimes you feel like a lot of beard, sometimes less. ;)

I'll leave you with a quote that I can't remember who said:

"My politics have always run along the blade of a sword; in my day piracy was honest work."

Acacia has a wonderful supply of both.


3:18 PM  
Blogger Meghan said...

Congratulations on the recommendation! That's awesome. It looks like you'll be dominating the world with your writing in no time!

5:32 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Thanks for the kindness, although...

"Sometimes you feel like a lot of beard, sometimes less..."

I find vaguely scary... ;)

You know, I actually have read Orson Scott Card. I read the first three Ender books. Obviously, I wouldn't have read three if I wasn't enjoying them. But I can enjoy them at something like face value while also being interested in the criticism others are digging up. I think the Card story and his place in sci-fi literature is going to be developing for a long time to come.

Meghan, despite my appearance of gentility and moderation, world domination is actually what I'm after. Shhh, don't tell anyone, though.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Ed Robertson said...

I used to outright love Card, myself, and I still think Treason is a great book.

But I am a believer in Gardner's notion of moral fiction--of setting ideas and beliefs against counterexamples, making those counters as honest and fully-developed as possible, and seeing what comes out of that conflict--and I think that Kessel essay did a great job showing how we're manipulated into identifying with Ender and his worldview rather than being being led there through a fair process.

The other cool thing about that essay is it's taking Card's work just as seriously as literary fiction. That's always nice to see.

7:22 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

That's interesting. Raises this reality: if writers of science fiction and fantasy want to be taken seriously by critics and academics... they also have to be ready to face what that can mean. Part of criticism can be to dig deep and find meaning that's not overtly stated. For that matter, criticism can even find meanings and messages that the author him/herself didn't intend - or wasn't aware of intending. Of course, I'm talking about scholarly criticism here, which is entirely different than what book reviews are about.

You're right, though, Kessel takes Card and his works seriously. I too appreciate that, and I appreciate Card for giving us works complex enough to facilitate such examination.

1:15 PM  

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