Orson Scott Card,
with Scott Brick, Aaron
Johnston & Emily Janice Card,
Posing as People
(Subterranean Press, 2005)

Those of you familiar with the works of Orson Scott Card would probably agree that he is one of the better science fiction writers out there. You might be familiar with his more popular novels -- the Ender's Game series, The Worthing Saga, The Seventh Son series, to name a few. You may not know that he has written many short stories over the last several decades (many compiled in Maps in a Mirror). In Posing as People, three Card short stories are transformed from page to stage as three playwrights morph these tales to life.

Scott Brick, a freelance writer and actor, selected "Clap Hand & Sing." An old, bitter man responsible for the creation of a type of time travel wants to go back to his first love. He never had the chance to appreciate her body, so to speak. In this form of time travel, you reach back to the mind of an individual and essentially take over her body. When you depart, the original owner of the body simply has a lapse in memory. There are rules that you cannot do anything to alter the past since that will alter the future. This old man, powerful as he is, has the power to bend the rules to his liking. What impact will this have on the life of this woman he loved at a young age?

Aaron Johnston, another actor, adapted "Lifeloop" from story to play. Lifeloop is essentially reality television. The actors are hooked up with recorders and their lives are recorded for weeks at a time with hardly any breaks. The audience has suspected that these "real" people are actors, but hasn't known the truth for sure. Unknown to the audience, the actors never reveal that they know they are being recorded. "Lifeloop" deals with an episode in the "life" of the world's most famous Lifeloop star. When an old flame returns and gasp tells her to rip off the recorder and forget the loop so they can run away and live their lives together, she is unsure whether this is a nasty twist in their unscripted loop or if he is being sincere.

Card's daughter, Emily Janice Card, is the third playwright in the book and has selected "A Sepulcher of Songs" as her choice. Take a young teenage girl who has no arms and legs. She lost them in an accident that killed her parents when she was a child. She now resides in an assisted-living facility and has maintained her imaginary friends far longer than others. Her therapist has noted that a new character has joined the group. An alien has reached out to the girl and promises her a life of freedom aboard her spaceship. This story is one of love and the boundaries of reality. When one spends a lot of time in their mind, who is to say what is real and what is not?

With each tale, you will have a chance to go over each story four times if you so choose. In written format, each story is first presented as a play. You have the stage directions and character lines laid out for you. The second half of the book contains the original short stories themselves. It is interesting to see how the playwrights either included what is background information in the short stories as dialogue in the plays or dropped it altogether as not integral to the story. In all three cases, the playwrights did an admirable job transcribing their chosen work. Posing as People also comes with four CDs so you can hear the plays that were recorded from stage and hear readings of the original short stories as well.

Posing as People will appeal to those who love all things Orson Scott Card and those who enjoy science fiction as much as they do the theatre. Rarely do you see sci-fi theatre. What I enjoyed most is how all three stories have held up. I read at least two of them years ago. All three were originally published in the late '70s or early '80s. Unlike much science fiction, which grows stale as science progresses, these stories are still viable decades after they were written. I especially think "Lifeloop" was written before its time. With reality television so popular today, one might have thought Card wrote this within the past couple of years!

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 20 August 2005

Buy it from Amazon.com.