Tag Archives: Ender’s Game
Most internet controversies irritate me on the basis that they are extremely transparent. In a world where content needs to be generated constantly to serve a never sated appetite for stories, a lot of people get whipped into a frenzy just for the sake of having something to write about. I try not to be like that. If there isn’t something I’m genuinely grumbly about, I’ll write about things I like. Or a movie I just saw. Or, the ball I’ve made out of my belly button lint. This week though, the big controversy that arose in the comic book community hit close to home.
It was announced some time ago that there will be an online only Superman series, and the writer of the first story is Mr. Orson Scott Card. He happens to be my favorite writer. Although, I guess more accurately he’s the writer of my favorite novel. I think I’ve mentioned it on here before – Ender’s Game. It’s the first book in a series, and I’ve read every book in it at least twice. It’s fantastic! I’ve read a few of his other novels and comic books, and they’re fine. Just not as good as the Ender stuff.
The controversy is that he has some pretty strong views about homosexuality and gay marriage in particular. To put it simply, he’s against them. While that is true, his feelings on the matter are pretty complex and are very well articulated here. I don’t agree with his opinion on this matter. In fact, I had to stop reading about his personal views years ago as I found them so off putting that it was affecting how I read his work.
Now, I try to keep in mind that there is a world of difference between the artist and the art. Just because you disagree with a person’s views doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate their work. Where this becomes problematic is when your monetary appreciation of the work directly contributes to a cause that you disagree with. For instance, until I started reading about this controversy I didn’t know that Mr. Card was on the board of a group called The National Organization for Marriage. This is a group that tries to prevent the legalization of gay marriage, civil unions and gay adoption. It does so through expensive lobbying and advertisements. I don’t know for a fact that he gives any money to this group, but he is on the board so I think it’s a safe assumption. So, in short, by paying for his work you are giving him more money to give to this group.
I’m having a particularly hard time of this as I just bought the two most recent books in the series, and I was planning on being first in line when the Ender’s Game movie is released later this year. I’m extremely conflicted about how to proceed in this regard. Can I in good conscience buy any more of his work? On the one hand, I don’t think anyone should be boycotted for personal views. On the other hand, his views are very public and he’s using money that we as an audience give him to try and make a huge impact on the lives of millions of people.
What makes this whole thing kind of ironic is that Mr. Card is a proud member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. His religion is the main reason he feels the way he does about homosexuality and the perceived dangers of marriage equality. But, in the past Mormons had their own marginalized take on marriage. In fact, some sects of Mormonism still practice it today (please refer to the TLC program Sister Wives.) These details of Mormonism still taint many people’s impressions of the religion. Maybe that’s the true root of these feelings. “If we can’t marry all the women we want, gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry whoever they want!”
The other thing about Mr. Card’s views that really bugs me is that, at least as it’s articulated in the essay above, it’s self-defeating. He writes, “…those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.” He was writing this in reference to Mormons who are gay. But, in American society it is increasingly becoming the case that homosexuality is both permitted and acceptable, yet Mr. Card is trying to block them from a step towards equality.
The long and the short of it is this: If he has a problem with gay people being Mormon, I have no real problem with that perspective. That’s up to him and his religion to determine. But, when it comes to people having equal rights in a secular society, he should keep out of it.
Graham Becksted won’t get married until everyone can. So everyone better be able to get married by July 7, 2013. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 74th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
To start this column I’m going to give you a bit of a disclaimer. There’s new Mass Effect 3 multiplayer content out today and I really want to play it. So, this one might be a little short.
Speaking of short, children. You don’t get much shorter than them. And, to complete my ham-fisted segue, the main characters of my all-time favorite novel are children! The novel is the Hugo and Nebula award winning Ender’s Game. It’s one of the few novels that I’ve read twice, and the only one I’ve read three times. I like it so much that I read it aloud for Co-UberFriend-in-chief Shaggy Shan since he is borderline illiterate.
(Just kidding. He just doesn’t read novels unless he can record the spectacle with silly voices for a rabid group of listeners.)
The novel is written by Mr. Orson Scott Card and started it’s shelf-life as a short story of the same name that was first published in 1977. Card expanded it into novel size and released it in 1985. It’s the story of a genius boy in the not too distant future being selected to join an elite school for soldiers in preparation for an impending alien invasion. It features a really rich world and some very cool sci-fi ideas.
One of the most iconic ideas in the book is the battleroom – a zero gravity battle simulator. The children at the school are divided into teams and pitted against each other. It’s not hand to hand or anything. Their guns fire light that freezes the armor of whoever it hits. It takes the best of the Hunger Games and mixes it with the fascinating sci-fi world of Battlestar Galactica. How can you not be interested in that?
Hollywood has finally taken notice and there’s a feature film in development. I have some mixed feelings about the whole thing. Card is involved, which is a plus. They’ve cast the kid who played Hugo in Hugo as Ender, as well as Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, and Abigail Breslin – all definite plusses. The director (Gavin Hood), arguably the most important part of any film, is more of a mixed bag. He won an Oscar for directing the South African movie Tsotsi. But he also directed the disappointing X-Men Origins: Wolverine. A lot of the movie is going to rest on the acting ability of a group of children – definitely a cause for concern.
The thing is, if they do manage to pull it off the source material provides a solid base for a franchise. Card has written ten follow up novels, and eleven short stories. So far. It has a ton of potential and I really hope they pull it off.
I can’t recommend the books highly enough. Don’t let the fact that it’s about children scare you off. It’s definitely not meant for the Young Adult section. There’s no love triangle, or teen angst. It’s the kind of book that you’ll take different things from depending on your age. At least, that’s been my experience reading it. So, give it a read and let me know what you think. If you are like Shaggy, I can send you my recordings of it. Or you can get it in comic book form, which you will probably enjoy a lot more.
Graham Becksted has taken this column to brand new territory with this one. Book readin’. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 66th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.