Orson Scott Card
| Great and terrible|
|On our shelf:|
Orson Scott Card is an American science fiction author of great renown. His first major novel, Ender's Game, won both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1986. He is also way more conservative than many readers would think based on his fiction.
- 1 Political views
- 2 Notable works of fiction
- 3 References
Card is a conservative
Republican DINO Democrat and a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and its influence repeatedly shows up in his writing as complex religious metaphors and bizarre alien sex scenes.
He wrote an editorial column called World Watch for the conservative newspaper Rhinoceros Times before it went bankrupt. His essays are also published on his website The Ornery American.
The War on Terror
Card is an ardent supporter of the War on Terror, and published many essays on his website in support of the war. He also believes that Bush did not lie to U.S. citizens about the presence of WMDs in Iraq. In making that assertion, he references a Senate report that said such claims were made on the basis of informants, despite the evidence by that time that such claims were exaggerated lies taken from an informant whose handlers reported that he was lying and that they could not confirm anything he said. He thinks that torture is reasonable if it saves lives, justifying the means by the ends in a way that sidesteps the issue of whether it works or not. He also believes that President Bush never abused the authority given to him by the USAPATRIOT Act:
“”All the abuses of the Patriot Act that Bush was accused of, but never actually did, will be the standard operating procedure of Obama's personal army, the NaPo.
Don't worry. As soon as a Republican becomes president, all those atrocities will suddenly become necessary again to keep the United States and its ally
Eastasia Eurasia safe from the scourge that is Eurasia Eastasia.
Showing that Card's science fiction is more realistic than his attempts at nonfiction, Card buys into the manufactroversy over the 2012 Benghazi attack. He believes that the White House knew all about it and had forces within range to help the embassy, but ordered U.S. forces to not aid them.
“”For all anyone knows, the supposed Intelligent Designers might be an alien species of immortal, ungodlike beings.
“”Just because the Darwinian model seems to be inadequate at the molecular level does not imply in any way that the only other explanation is purposive causation.
“”Real science does not—and never can—prove or even support [Intelligent Design].
Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s, Orson Scott Card was known to give a speech called the Secular Humanist Revival Meeting, staunchly in favor of secular humanism. His stance may have changed in the wake of 9/11, though.
If the fact that the plot of Ender's Game involves the annihilation of an insectoid race called the Buggers didn't tip you off, Card really, really doesn't like gay people. In fact, he's out of the closet about it, having voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage in a 2004 essay, "Homosexual 'Marriage' and Civilization," which is over five thousand words long and features this slice of batshit:
“”Now, there is a myth that homosexuals are "born that way," and we are pounded with this idea so thoroughly that many people think that somebody, somewhere, must have proved it.
In fact what evidence there is suggests that if there is a genetic component to homosexuality, an entire range of environmental influences are also involved. While there is no scientific research whatsoever that indicates that there is no such thing as a borderline child who could go either way.
Those who claim that there is "no danger" and that homosexuals are born, not made, are simply stating their faith.The dark secret of homosexual society -- the one that dares not speak its name -- is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally.
In 2008, Card wrote another essay on same-sex marriage for the Mormon Times, in which he suggested that, if gays and lesbians were to be granted the right to marry in the United States, it would be justification for Americans to rise up and overthrow their government:
“”Because when government is the enemy of marriage, then the people who are actually creating successful marriages have no choice but to change governments, by whatever means is made possible or necessary.
Now, after reading that sentence, you're probably thinking, "He can't possibly be advocating armed insurrection over gay marriage!" Think again:
“”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. Biological imperatives trump laws. American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.
But it isn't just same-sex marriage he wants to see illegal. He wants sodomy laws kept on the books. Because, according to an essay he wrote in 1990, treating gay people as second-class citizens will force them back into the closet, where we can all pretend they don't exist:
“” This applies also to the polity, the citizens at large. Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society. The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity's ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.
Ironically, criminalizing "homosexual behavior" to encourage "discretion" is a recipe for AIDS, not "safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships."
In 2013, Card's involvement in writing a new story for Superman comic books led to artist Chris Sprouse quitting the project due to Card's homophobia.
Card was also a member of the board of directors for the National Organization for Marriage political action committee from 2009 to 2013, leaving just a few months before the film version of Ender's Game was to be released. A few weeks prior to his stepping down, he released a statement saying the film had nothing to do with gay marriage and asking for tolerance of anti-gay marriage advocates like himself, despite having shown none, in response to a call to boycott the film by gay rights activists.
Card was one of the many right-wing writers to undergo meltdown in the wake of Barack Obama's re-election as President in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election. In a November 8 column on his blog, he congratulated the "newspeople at CBS, CNN, ABC, NBC" and "journalists at the New York Times, the Washington Post, at newspapers all over America" on their win before launching into the standard wingnut version of events about the terrorist attack in Benghazi; falling afoul of Godwin's Law by invoking the spirit of Joseph Goebbels; defending Kenneth Starr; calling for Obama's impeachment; alleging that Iran will nuke Israel; and generally running the gamut of wingnuttery.
In May 2013, Card asserted in a Rhinoceros Times
screed essay that Obama was a dictator who would eventually make his wife his chosen successor and also create a private political army staffed by inner-city gang members.
Notable works of fiction
Political leanings aside, Card is a highly popular writer and his stuff is well worth reading. It sometimes shocks his readers that he can write characters whose opinions differ so radically from his own without them being strawmen or at least cardboard cutouts.
Ender's Game describes a young boy who is chosen by a new age government to go to a military academy in outer space to train to fight aliens. It contains many compelling subplots including a virtual reality fantasy game and pwnage of internet forums by his slightly older siblings that can actually influence world politics. Amazingly, the book was written in 1985 before the World Wide Web or World of Warcraft! Unlike the rest of the series, which is bogged down by religious allegory that rivals Neon Genesis Evangelion and plodding accounts of OCD, Ender's Game is a thrilling read that at least one 9th grader has breezed through in an afternoon. Ender even beats up a smarmy Spanish kid!
That said, while the book is extremely popular, a few people strongly dislike the book - not the least for the great lengths Card goes to in order to arrange circumstances just right to allow Ender to basically commit genocide without knowingly doing so. However, the Buggers, so named for their similarity with ants, are able to leave a last surviving queen where Ender will find it. In Card's sequel to Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, Ender gains empathy for the Bugger race by writing their story under the pseudonym "Speaker for the Dead." The human race, guilt-struck by their genocide of the Buggers, ironically regard "The Speaker" as a humanist hero and Ender as a villain similar to Hitler. The story launches a humanist group with "speakers" who reveal key intents and experiences defining a person's life that accurately portrays the dead. While serving in the role of a humanist "speaker," Ender seeks to reestablish the Bugger race while negotiating peace between humans and another intelligent race that deeply misunderstand each other.
It might be telling of Card's views on homosexuality that the evil alien race in the book is known as "the Buggers", leading to lines such as "We can't let the Buggers win" and "I'm going to kill as many Buggers as I can!" (This was toned down in later books of the series, which usually refer to the aliens as "Formics", and entirely absent from the film, which uses "Formics" almost exclusively, though one character does say "bug.") Because of his known attitudes, there were many calls from pro-gay groups to boycott the movie release in 2013, despite the fact that Card would not be making any money off the film. The movie received mixed reviews from critics, and as of January 2014 had only barely made back its $110 million budget, though there is a debate on the effectiveness of the aforementioned boycott.
Since the purpose of the Buggers' destruction demonstrates how lack of understanding and ability to communicate between very different intelligent beings leads to genocide, remorse, and re-establishment, it is unlikely (per Occam's razor) that Card had any intent of singling out any group, including homosexuals, but was advancing a general point about the human condition. Card could learn a lot by reading his own books and applying the lessons he taught to his own political activism. We'd all be relieved of one less pain in our lives, but there you are.
Alvin Maker is a series of novels set in an alternative American past where special people have magical powers. The series might be a little racist in that white people, black people, and Native Americans have different types of supernatural abilities, but to be fair, the series paints a scathing portrait of plantation life in the American South and the oppression of Indians; so on the whole, it ends up being a feel-good 'everybody is different but we all have something to offer' type story.
Homecoming is a series of five novels that together make a science fiction version of the Book of Mormon set forty million years in the future. The plot is essentially the same as the religious text it is copied from, and most of the characters have essentially the same names with a slightly different spelling ('Nephi' becomes 'Nafai' and so on). One of the main themes of the series is that unrestricted free will is inherently bad - the book's God-parallel, the 'Oversoul', is an artificial intelligence that manipulates peoples' minds and suppresses dangerous or subversive thoughts and technological innovations that would upset the status quo (gunpowder, horse wagons, combustion engines and flight are given as examples, because it is supposed that they make the possible damage wrought by war greater); while most authors would depict this as a dystopian nightmare, Card treats it as an unambiguously good thing.
Card's rampant homophobia is somewhat toned down here: Homecoming does include a minor homosexual character who is portrayed positively... but his homosexuality is only mentioned in the context of disregarding it and having a contextually-standard heterosexual family.
The Secret of Monkey Island
A very famous (and by today's standards, short) video game series. One of the most well known parts is sword-fighting with razor-sharp wit, written by Orson Scott Card. "You fight like a dairy farmer!" "How approriate. You fight like a cow."
This 2006 novel is a tie-in work for the video game Shadow Complex. It revolves around a second American Civil War breaking out when an armed group attacks the White House in an attempt to kill the President and bring down the government. What at first seems to be a right-wing coup turns out in reality to be a group of extreme leftists funded by a billionaire very similar to George Soros advocating for a "Progressive Restoration." Implausibly, their demands get official backing from the legislatures of blue states. The terrorists are defeated, but a centrist politician instrumental to defeating them uses it to get himself elected President with support from both parties, essentially making himself dictator (imitating Julius Caesar was his ambition, and he believes the US should enter its "Empire" phase fully, thus the title). In the epilogue, Card goes into the novel's message, that political extremism is bad and if unchecked can lead to violence, even in the US. Fair enough, but it's somewhat undermined by the fact that the only extremists seen in the text are leftists, implausibly able to muster a private army of huge war robots without anyone finding out beforehand. Indeed, the only left-wing character in the book who isn't a villain doesn't really show any of her views, only informing us she holds them. On the other hand, she expresses conservative ones. Thus the message is undermined.
In 2008, Card published this novella, a controversial retelling of Hamlet. In it, Hamlet's late father is a pedophile, Hamlet himself is deeply religious with no doubts about an afterlife (as his character in the play holds), and it transpires that his father was not killed by his brother Claudius as in the play, but by Horatio for molesting him as a boy. Laertes, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were also his victims. At the close of the play, Hamlet is portrayed as going to hell for killing Claudius and will presumably dwell there with his father forever. Contentious though these changes were, many critics went further, claiming that those characters who had been victims of child sexual abuse were also portrayed as gay, in keeping with Card's own view that the one causes the other. Card has denied it of course.
- Even if this had turned out to be true, he fails to understand a problem that the Founding Fathers did. Even if your guy never abuses the power you give to his office, he won't always be there, and then what happens?
- Skip Ender's Game boycott site
- Democracy Did Not Fail, Civilization Watch, November 8, 2012
- Orson Scott Card: More Ridiculous Than You Thought, Pharyngula
- Orson Scott Card Worries About Obama Turning "Urban Gangs" Into His Personal Police Force, David Weigel, Slate
- "Creating the Innocent Killer". John Kessel. 2004. http://www4.ncsu.edu/~tenshi/Killer_000.htm Accessed 8-15-2010.
- Although it was reasonable to assume that his book sales would benefit from the film release.