Ender’s End?

Science Fiction as a genre, by and large, has never tugged at my interest or imagination with any regularity. But even I know ENDER’S GAME. It’s one of those books I keep meaning to read, because hundreds of thousands of people simply cannot be wrong. (I mean of course they can, but if they are, I’ll get to feel smug about it for a little while. And if not, I’ll get a to enjoy a great read. Everybody plays, everybody wins.)

Orson Scott Card, the author of the ENDER’S GAME and its series, has been sent up in op/eds, blogs and in newspapers everywhere recently for his anti-gay sentiments in general, and, in specific, over his call to literal revolution in an article in The Mormon Times on the issue of same-sex marriage. While I happen to disagree strongly with his rant, however articulate it may be, I haven’t felt inspired to refute his position, point by point, primarily because it’s been done so well elsewhere. All my nodding has rattled loose my prose, leaving it to bounce off the pillars and posts of my indignation and fall in an incoherent tangle on the floor of my brain.

But today, I ran across this blast by Cracked.com blogger, Michael Swaim, and it sparked a question: will the sum of Orson Scott Card’s considerable literary efforts be relegated, as time passes, to a tainted curiosity, like a term paper by Ted Bundy or a grocery list of David Duke’s. And if it does, is this a shame or is it justice?

Card’s zealous question goes as so:

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

and is answered by Swaim in his post, ripe with hilarious signature Cracked profanity. But as it often is with the accomplished and clever cusser, the point is there, delivered on a bed of sauteed expletives and garnished with the occasional F-bomb.

… you will be classed with all those others who stood in the way of expanding rights and humanity: the Ku Klux Klan, Apartheid, the anonymous boardroom of fat men arguing about which secretary has the best ass. And if there’s any justice, even though I’ve no doubt you could fire off a response to this post that would be perfectly eloquent and arresting (in fact, you totally should…my hits would go through the roof), your work will be read only as a curiosity, a way to peek into the mind of a caveman. Or else by lovers of great fiction, who will have to read them, set them down, shrug, and say “well, that was super good, even if the guy was a Neanderthal Nazi.”

Personally, I’m torn. I want works of literature to stand on their own merit. If a bubble-headed celebrity whose cinematic work I hate writes a book and it’s good, I shall call it good. (Not that it’s happened, so far as I can recall at the moment.) I’d also like to be brave and denounce immorality, when I see it and as I see it, and root out its influences. In this case, I would like to take the high road, but I’m not certain which one that is.

Weigh in and stay tuned.

5 Responses to “Ender’s End?”

  1. Sarah H. Says:

    That Cracked editorial is hysterical and 100% true. As a domestically-partnered-lesbian planning to one day soon make enough babies to field a basketball team, who is also a big sci-fi-nerd Ender-Wiggin-and-Bean-Delphiki-loving zealot, I am majorly conflicted over this issue! On one hand, if I refused to read every author who disagreed with my political views, I wouldn’t have much to read. In fact, I’d just have to write my own books for me, and hope I don’t inadvertently give offense to myself!
    On the other hand, Card is so hateful and the hate is directed at me! He’s never even met me! It feels like a total betrayal of a reader’s trust of her author.
    Back to the first hand, I love all 8 books in the Ender and Ender’s shadow seriesES, and there are two more sequels coming out, this year and next. I am nearly dying to find out what happens to Petra and Bean–should I read the books or not? I don’t have a good answer to that question.

  2. William Haskins Says:

    great article, jamie. i guess it remains to be seen if his legacy can sustain the damage he’s doing to his own reputation.

    some writers have been able to do so (t.s. eliot’s noxious, if sometimes subtle, anti-semitism leaps to mind *), but we now live in an age where public opinion proliferates and solidifies at an alarming rate.

    again, interesting piece.

    -william

    * http://www.uwm.edu/~gjay/Julius.html

  3. Michael Says:

    I read Ender’s Game a long, long time ago and remember enjoying it but did not consider it to be the major work of SF that it has become.

    Never knew anything else about Card or this controversy with him until reading this today, but he is a creep and I no longer have any interest in reading anything else he writes.

    Furthermore, if the long awaited movie version of Ender’s Game ever gets off the ground, I hope Uwe Boll is assigned to direct.

    On a final note, based on the photo of Card featured on the Wikipedia page about him, I would say that there is a high probability that he is actually gay. Combined with his vicious prosecution of homosexuality and gay marriage, it seems almost certain.

  4. Seb Says:

    I think we have too long a history of giving butt-headedness a free pass on account of genius (or celebrity or parentage or flawless skin and good bone structure or whatever).

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