Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hey Orson Scott Card fans! Not disillusioned yet?

Every once in a while, I can't help rubbernecking the hideous wreckage that is Orson Scott Card's personality. Card wrote some sci-fi books that I greatly enjoyed (Ender's Game and Pastwatch being my favorites, along with some great dialogue for adventure games). Even though Card is a devout Mormon, some of his work even contains highly believable and empathetic atheist characters. The messages are generally interesting and Ender's Game, while being primarily about a war to wipe out an entire species, still manages to put forth the notion that war should be an absolute last resort, and aggression should only be initiated when there is no way to defend yourself through communication.

Besides that, Jeff Dee once loaned me an audio tape of Card imitating a preacher in the very funny and poignant presentation, "Secular Humanist Revival." He praised the value of secularism in American culture, and warned against takeover by rampant fundamentalism.

But either I totally misunderstood his philosophy through his fiction and public speaking, or at some point in his life he just made a palpable shift from being lovable and entertaining "Uncle Orson" to being a batshit crazy theocrat who spouts right wing talking points. Card now does a column called "War Watch" in which he regularly jabbers about how people oppose the war because they hate America, Democrats are worse appeasers than Neville Chamberlain, etc.

A few days ago, somebody drew my attention to some recent comments that he made, reminding everyone that atheism is one of the most terrifying threats to American culture today. Responding to some Christian author who asked whether Mormons are "true Christians," he replied:

We Mormons don’t agree with you on many vital points of doctrine. But I hope we all agree with each other about this: In a time when a vigorous atheist movement is trying to exclude religious people from participating in American public life unless they promise never to mention or think about their religion while in office, why are we arguing with each other?

Oh noes! Teh angry athiests r going 2 pwnz0r teh xian nation! Mwa ha ha ha, all ur churches r belong 2 us!

This, of course, led me to check out Card's personal site to see what other mischief he's getting into lately. I discovered he's decided to go back in time and retroactively defile his own beloved series with his newfound hilarious paranoia. Check it out.

Coming This Fall: A War of Gifts

Orson Scott Card offers a Christmas gift to his millions of fans with this short novel set during Ender's first years at the Battle School where it is forbidden to celebrate religious holidays.

The children come from many nations, many religions; while they are being trained for war, religious conflict between them is not on the curriculum. But Dink Meeker, one of the older students, doesn't see it that way. He thinks that giving gifts isn't exactly a religious observation, and on Sinterklaas Day he tucks a present into another student's shoe.

This small act of rebellion sets off a battle royal between the students and the staff, but some surprising alliances form when Ender comes up against a new student, Zeck Morgan. The War over Santa Claus will force everyone to make a choice.

Yes, Merry Christmas, Ender fans. In a time when hostile bug-eyed aliens threaten to wipe out humanity for good, the biggest battle will be... The War over Santa Claus.

Honestly, it's almost like Present Orson, the hack neocon blogger, read some material by Past Orson, the talented science fiction author, and decided to write some extremely bad fan fiction that imitated his hero while completely missing the point.

Hey, that would make a good sci-fi story. You could incorporate a time machine and one of those flashy memory erasers from Men In Black. Somebody should write that. Can anybody go dig up Past Orson and see if he's doing anything?


  1. I have to be the first one to comment. That's brilliant honey. You know I was laughing my ass off when I read it because you were sitting right next to me. Truly funny writing dear. I wish I had a fraction of your talent.

  2. Card's last novel, Empire, was a total neocon masturbation fantasy. He jumped the shark long ago and amazingly still hasn't come down.

  3. I'm waiting for the "nah, I'm just kidding." Come on.... please...?

    You're not? You're not kidding! BLECH!!

    I loved Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow. Thought they were brilliant.

  4. I started reading "Enders Something" - had an interesting idea about marriage being tied to 5 year contracts and a big super computer ruling the planet, lost interest so never finished it. So guess I won't be disappointed then.

  5. Anonymous3:38 PM

    I just read A War of Gifts (I stumbled over here from Google while searching around for what the hell happened to a writer I used to like). The book is exactly what the blurb makes you think it is, with some pro-war propaganda thrown in for good measure.

  6. I just stumbled across your site this morning, and I have to agree emphatically. Like martin wagner said about Empire, I was totally shocked while reading it. It was a book I was looking forward to enormously, and just ended up disappointing me. That's the sort of crap I'd expect to see from Ann Coulter's first foray into fiction.

  7. arensb8:24 AM

    either I totally misunderstood his philosophy through his fiction and public speaking, or at some point in his life he just made a palpable shift from being lovable and entertaining "Uncle Orson" to being a batshit crazy theocrat who spouts right wing talking points.

    I believe it's the latter: as I understand it, at some point the Mormons approached him and told him that he was being too "worldly" or friendly to atheists, liberals, and other undesirables (or something like that). Having to choose between his church and his earlier worldview, he opted for the former.

    I have some comments here, with links to others' flamage.

  8. Let's see - hate the sin, love the sinner? Poor brother Orson has passed from our good graces into the batshit crazy; same thing happened to Cat Stevens. But we can still love the good stuff he did early, even if he'd probably repudiate it now.

    Anyroad: Go read Speaker for the Dead, the first sequel to Ender's Game, and perhaps his best ever. Still a thoughtful person with his head in a sweet place.

    Just finished Empire. Just. Plain. Weird. Hard to believe it came out of the same head. But not the same - you can't step in the same river twice - but I can't help but wonder just what happened to this guy to push him so far away from where he was.

    But perhaps we just benefited from his "rebellious youth" phase. Began as a Mormon, experimented with freedom of thought, then gave it up and returned to his roots.

    How sad.

  9. What is the evidence that he is a neoconservative, as opposed to someone who has been conservative all his life?