- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Orb Books; 1 edition (August 11, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312876637
- ISBN-13: 978-0312876630
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Folk of the Fringe Paperback – August 11, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Best known for his novels, multiple Hugo- and Nebula-winner Card has written only a handful of short stories, collected in the present volume. Set in a post-World War III America, they again demonstrate Card is a natural raconteur, capable of vividly fleshing out his original characters in a few strong strokes, without hitting a false note or lapsing into sentimentality. Like Walter M. Miller Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz , of which this book is reminiscent, the stories are set against a background of the efforts to rebuild civilization by people of a religious community--in this case, Mormons. But unlike Miller's, Card's scenario is a bit more optimistic and is marked by an ecological consciousness that has been born in the hard decades between the publication of the two books. This is one of the strongest SF story collections of the past few years. The five tales complement each other and collectively have the impact of a novel. One of the entries, "Pageant Wagon," is published here for the first time.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Card is a natural raconteur, capable of vividly fleshing out his original characters in a few strong strokes, without hitting a false note or lapsing into sentimentality. . . . This is one of the strongest SF story collections of the past few years.” ―Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
This is not one of my favorite Card novels, which is somewhat suprising. I love short stories and I love post-apocalyptic thrillers. You would think that I would greatly enjoy Folk of the Fringe. I enjoyed the book, don't get me wrong, I just did not enjoy it nearly as much as I should have. I found the characters interesting but not fully developed and the movement of time too rapid to really get to know the situation or characters enough to become attached and truly care.
Overall a good book. I would recommend reading this book but I am not sure about purchasing it. This book is out of print quite frequently and is probably not worth the money or effort to pay big bucks to get but might be worth while to buy as a used book store for a buck or two.
A decent Card book but not near his best.
Card's most compelling device is to tell the stories at least partially through the eyes of an outsider, usually a non-Mormon or, in two stories, through the eyes of someone so physically handicapped that he becomes in a very real sense an outsider. This approach allows clarity, distance, and Card's signature detached tenderness.
Although many will find this novel disturbing, it is a worth-while read and a powerful instrument to peer inside our assumptions.
For a non-Mormon to enjoy these stories you have to forgive some tendency toward elitism. Thinks like the idea that people living in the Lush Blue Ridge Mountains/Shenandoah Valley area would not be able to survive where people living in the arid west would (preposterous), or the notion that only Mormons would be able to maintain any semblance of order after such a huge calamity. Clearly there's some liberal application of rose colored glasses going on here.
You'd also have to accept that the pervasive religious slant of the stories is not some sort of nefarious agenda, but rather the faith of the author and his desire to write about something he obviously feels strongly about.
I am not threatened by the convictions of others, so I smile at the implausible parts and enjoy the rest... because Card is (as always) well worth the read.
I found his "Author's Note" to be a little intimidating, to find out that he and these stories have been critiqued by some of the best writers, so who am I to criticize his writing? Actually, I'll tell you: I'm someone that actually pays money for his books, that's who. Anyhow, let me run down the plots of each of the stories and give you my rating of them, in true U.S. Navy fashion, of Outstanding, Excellent, Good, Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory.
"West." The plot: In a post-nuclear exchange, a group of Mormons fleeing persecution travels from North Carolina to Utah; along the way, they meet up with a guide who helps them; the guide has his own emotional problems, which the Mormons help heal. The storyline reminds me of Stephan King's "The Stand," but the characters are pure Card. One of the most enduring themes of the Mormon culture is the idea of persecution, and Card feasts on this idea like a vulture on carrion. Along the way he creates a fairly believable 20th/21st century re-creation of the flight from Nauvoo and persecution of 160 years prior. Rating: Excellent.
"Salvage." The plot: in post-nuclear exchange Utah, the Mormon temple has become flooded; a non-Mormon dives to find supposed buried treasure hidden within, but instead only finds written prayers on metal that Mormons have dropped inside. I'm ambivalent about this story. On the one hand, it is heavy-handed in its juxtaposition of spiritual and physical treasure. On another level, it's very appealing to see a simple written expression of faith (what Brazilians call a "voto") from people who have suffered to keep that faith alive. Rating: Excellent.
"The Fringe." The plot: in post-nuclear exchange Utah, a teacher suffering from ALS discovers that the spiritual leader of his small town/commune is stealing vital foodstuffs; he reports this to the authorities and is almost killed as a result. I liked this story much more than probably anyone without a Mormon background. Mormons are in general very politically conservative, and were reliably anti-communist during the Cold War. Yet they also lived, for a couple of decades after fleeing to Utah, the "United Order," which was close to pure communism. Card tries to reconcile the past by setting it in the post-nuclear exchange future, an interesting plot device. The story itself is very entertaining and internally consistent. Rating: Excellent.
"Pageant Wagon." The plot: in post-nuclear exchange Utah, the state's seeming sole non-Mormon falls in with a dysfunctional family of itinerant pageant performers. Character development in the story was good, but I couldn't really relate to the underlying story of pageant performers. In his "Author's Note," Card admitted he was drawing on his own experience with itinerant pageant production back in the 70s, and it just is not something to which I can really relate. Sorry. Rating: Satisfactory.
"America." The plot: in the pre-nuclear exchange era, an American boy in Brazil falls into the company of an older Native American prophetess; years later, after the nuclear war, their son becomes the leader of an America that has been taken from the control of the white race ("Europeans") and returned to the Indians. The story is a really marvelous blend of religious allegory, magic realism and science fiction. An exposition of this story is found in Michael Colling's "Afterword" to the book that does justice to its different aspects. However, one thing that Mr. Colling does not point out is that Quetzalcoatl, the new American messiah, is himself a mestizo, and that redemption for the people of the Americas comes through neither one race or the other, but through both. As a "European" married to a Brazilian of indigenous descent, I find this aspect of the story to be particularly relevant and appealing. But maybe I'm just reading my own biases into the story. Read for yourself and decide. Rating: Outstanding.