A Sort-Of Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Magic & Mayhem Book Review: Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardTitle: Ender’s Game (Ender’s Saga, Book #1)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Genre(s): Science Fiction
How To Purchase: Kindle | Paperback (Amazon) | Kobo

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

I’m not going to review this book. You’d have to be living under a rock right now if you don’t know about it. The movie version released at the beginning of the month, and social media has been simmering for months with the “Will I or Won’t I See It?” debate. No, I’m not going to review it. Instead, I’m going to talk about why you’re merely catering to convenience if you decide not to see it because of Orson Scott Card’s homophobic remarks.

From the Huffington Post’s article Orson Scott Card Calls Backlash To Anti-Gay Views ‘Savage, Lying Deceptive Personal Attacks’:

Card’s anti-gay views date back to 1990, when he said that sodomy laws should be upheld in states to punish “unruly” gays, Salon noted. Since then, he has been outspoken against same-sex marriage, which he has said “marks the end of democracy in America.” To him, homosexuality is a “tragic genetic mixup.”

Yeah, that’s some pretty awful stuff right there, Mr. Card. I can definitely see why people, including myself, aren’t impressed with you. On the other hand, here’s the problem with the backlash, from the mouth of the big man himself: “[People are] certainly not [understanding]… Ender’s Game.”

Two reasons why I can’t stomach this debate.

First, Ender’s Game explores the assumptions we make and the prejudices we carry, even the ones we don’t realize we have. Haven’t read it? Haven’t seen it? Yep, it’s true. The story is about a war with some aliens we don’t understand. We pit our children against them–forcing these children to forego childhood for our own selfish reasons. In the end, we find out we misunderstood the way the aliens communicated with us because it was too different for us to fathom.

This message is sandwiched between some cool fight scenes within an epic alien-human war. It’s more cerebral than Transformers or Iron Man but still appeals to the same audience. It would seem to me that people who are the most offended by Mr. Card’s homophobic comments are the ones who would enjoy the story’s moral implications the most. And yes, I believe Mr. Card would benefit from re-reading and digesting his book before he opens his mouth again.

Second, and here’s what gets my panties in a twist: Why Orson Scott Card?

Can anyone tell me what J.K. Rowling believes about gays or abortion? How about E.L. James; what’s her stance on Obamacare? What does Stephanie Meyers think about immigration?

Maybe they’re all awesome, loving, inclusive people and that’s why they didn’t make the news. On the other hand, maybe they kept their mouths shut because they have a better publicist or they knew that their true opinions would hurt their pocketbook. That’s not precisely moral high ground.

And why stop with just authors? Can anyone tell me what the CEO of Sears feels about same sex marriage? What about the designer of that shirt you’re wearing? How about the CFO of Burger King or the guy that welded the handle to your Toyota or the woman who designed the seats in the train you rode in this morning?

Why Orson Scott Card?

I’ll tell you why: Because he made the news. Nobody wrote a piece that went viral on the inflammatory remarks that the CFO of Starbucks (theoretically) makes to his secretary every morning, so you’re not interested in that. Plus, if you started researching, maybe you’d find out that the McDonald’s CEO is a worthless cretin and you’d have to rethink that delicious, devoid-of-nutrition Egg McMuffin you indulge in once a week. And really, who cares what the designer of those jeans, sewn in a sweatshop somewhere in the third-world, thinks about social issues?

Is it not catering (Definition: “to provide or supply what amuses, is desired, or gives pleasure”) to convenience to refuse to see something because of an arms-reach knowledge of its creator’s sociopolitical opinion? If you feel that strongly, I’d suggest digging into the background of every creator of everything you read, watch, eat, or use.

Yet if we compare what you would be consuming if you went to see Ender’s Game–a story about challenging stereotypes and, dare I say it, bigotry–versus what you consumed when you read Fifty Shades of Grey–a thinly-veiled Stockholm Syndrome memoir–the obvious winner is Mr. Card’s creation.

Should we not be more interested, as a society, in the merit of what we’re ingesting rather than its creator?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be aware of famous people’s beliefs and proclivities. I’m just saying that we should weigh the merit of their work, not their bigoted opinions.

And stop eating fast food. It’s not good for you.

(Note: None of the CEO’s, CFO’s, or other aforementioned persons have any morally bankrupt proclivities as far as I’m aware.)

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