Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Empire by Orson Scott Card

At a certain science fiction convention earlier this year, I had the pleasure of, in the midst of a fascinating discussion, muse on the question of who would be a good guest of honor at a Worldcon that had yet to receive the honor.

Amid suggestions of "How about Jack Vance? Is he well enough?" and "Norman Spinrad?" and "Would Arthur C. Clarke do it again? I'd love to meet him," I tossed out a name:

Orson Scott Card.

Eyes rolled. Pronounced sighs were released. Someone went to refill their drink.

"Yeah, yeah, I know. He's something of a wacko these days," I said. "But Ender's Game! ENDER'S GAME!"

Then it was related to me that many regulars have avoided conventions where he was guest of honor, such as Boskone 2005, and would refuse to attend worldcon. It can't be that bad, I fumed. This guy wrote the last SF book that can be considered a classic of the genre. The science fiction book that introduced an entire generation to SF -- a modern day Heinlein.

Then I read this. And so should you.

But please don't waste your money on his latest novel. I'm here to save you the time and money.

Empire is vile. It is barely veiled hate speech; an attack on liberal America that enables Card to fulfill his masturbatory fantasy of painting all liberals as ignorant and evil, and then kill them. But this isn't John Ringo writing this filth, this is Orson Scott Card, and people will read what he writes. This isn't an inconsequential Baen Books novel that nobody but a core audience will give a damn about, though it's about as realistically feasible as the majority of the shite that is published by Baen.

He writes about many things of which he is woefully ignorant in this novel, but his worst affront in my mind is his complete lack of understanding of anything that accompanies military service, combat, and chain of command. He's not embarrassed by his ignorance, in fact he seems to revel in stereotypes and straw men arguments. The hero of the story is a soldier; a good, stolid, and brilliant soldier -- because he believes in God. When it is inferred that the good soldier does not suffer from combat induced trauma because of his relationship with the almighty and his living the 'Christian Way,' I was admittedly infuriated.

Card seems to make a habit out of speaking on topics he knows nothing about -- homosexuality, combat induced PTSD, logical thought. Stuff like that.

Empire is infuriating, sure, but it's even more depressing that some innocent minds may be corrupted by this nonsense. Most of all, it's embarrassing to the genre.

Ender's Game or no, this was it for me and Scott Card. And it's really too bad.


Collector's Notes:

Overprinted by TOR, this will be on bargain bin shelves in a few months, like that last 20 books from Card. Even at the reduced price, I recommend you stay the hell away. I'm just going to pretend that Card stopped writing after Speaker For The Dead, and strictly speaking as a collector, so should you.


I've been on something of a hiatus from the site. This is not permanent thing and has been caused by a number of things in my personal life.

I'm happy to say the site should return to a semblance of normalcy soon. In fact, I will be posting a review of Orson Scott Card's Empire later today.