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Rebecca Watson poisons everything again

That’s the message from this ex-fan of Ender's Game. Her analysis was spot on and wrecked his ability to enjoy Orson Scott Card’s books — which is a good thing. We should learn to read critically.

I can sympathize, though. When I first read Ender’s Game, I’m ashamed to admit that I got sucked in, too — it’s a wonderfully highly polished Mary Sue, which leads a strong character with whom you identify through a series of moral dilemmas in which, in every case, he makes the simplistic, evil choice, with plenty of post hoc rationalizations about why he had to do it. I didn’t realize it until I was half-way through the second book, and it sunk in…”wait a minute…he committed genocide and now I’m reading a long story in which he wallows in self-pity?”

I also learned something new. There are 15 books in the Ender’s Game series. Jeez, the man is milking it.

Comments

  1. Jacob Schmidt says

    To be fair, The Dresden Files is planned for something like 23 books, with the 15th comming out at the end of this year.

  2. gussnarp says

    I am reminded of how I felt about halfway through the Sword of Truth series. Which is Ayn Rand for adults, written by an eight year old.

  3. imnotandrei says

    Obligatory linkage for the discussion ;)

    http://www4.ncsu.edu/~tenshi/Killer_000.htm

    John Kessel’s brilliant deconstruction, “Creating the Innocent Killer.” I was troubled by Ender’s Game for many years, until I read that, and went “Ah, got it.”

    Ever since then, Card has managed to impress me at times with the artlessness of his fail, but not its basic nature.

  4. jedibear says

    I don’t know. I found Ender’s Game to be an accessible examination of the phenomenon of genocide.

    A failure to communicate leads to a campaign of extermination stopped only when a species realizes its mistake. In response, the threatened civilization turns children into weapons and goes far further than it needs to out of simple fear.

    Of course, your mileage may vary.

    All Rebecca really offered is that it hasn’t aged well and that Card’s authorial voice doesn’t speak to her.

    Which is fair enough.

  5. k_machine says

    The whole genocide-justification trope is pretty common in sci-fi. Independence Day, Battlefield Earth (the book), Starship Troopers etc. Our enemies always happen to be skittering monsters that can’t be negotiated with and we kill every last one of them. The “accidental Hitler” grip that’s in Ender’s Game is also in Battlefield Earth, where not one but two alien races are wiped out without the hero really meaning to. Science fiction is a pretty repulsive genre sometimes. Even Star Trek TOS has an episode where Kirk tells the Enterprise to stand by with order 23 (or something), which is the annihilation of the planet’s surface by the ship.

  6. says

    I read Ender’s Game when I was in junior high, and liked it then. Then I re-read it a few years ago, and did not like it – because by then I actually realized the moral bankruptcy of most of the characters.
    _
    @Jacob Schmidt @1: Not sure how that’s a relevant comparison here?

  7. Max says

    Wait, what? Did people think this book was a pro-war book? People thought this was a thrilling, exciting scifi adventure story? I thought it was pretty clear that it was an anti-war book showing how it completely ruins people, leads them to make immoral choices and to justify horrific acts, etc. I’m not sure you’re supposed to LIKE the main character. Ender doesn’t even seem to like himself much by the end.

    I can’t speak for the later novels or even Card’s intentions in writing the book. But this apparently new “skeptical” interpretation was how I viewed the book all along.

    Of course, I read it for the first time as an adult. Had I read it for the first time as a child and then reread it as an adult, I might’ve gone through this same process. I had that experience with the Narnia books.

  8. doublereed says

    I reread Ender’s Game, and I enjoyed it. Though the story changed because I realized more how psychotically manipulative the teachers really were. The trailer for the movie kind of hit it home for me, when it says something about a “New Kind of Soldier,” and then it shows Ender. Which implies that the new kind of soldier is… child soldiers??? What the fuck?

    I don’t remember the racial or homophobic things in there that Rebecca mentions. However, I do remember some of things he says about the Jews that raised alarm bells.

  9. gussnarp says

    @Pteryxx – Damn it, I’m trying to boycott Cracked! Is it OK to read it if it’s not a list?

  10. says

    Reading through John Kessel’s essay, but never having read any Card, I wonder if he himself was abused or bullied as a kid. The way Kessel describes it, sounds an awful lot like the revenge fantasies I had as a kid. I’m not going to read any Card, I don’t think it would be very healthy for me.

  11. cubist says

    sez pz: “…in every case, [Ender] makes the simplistic, evil choice, with plenty of post hoc rationalizations about why he had to do it.”
    OSC is a devout Mormon. As such, he is an adherent of a variant-Xtian belief system, a belief system which demands that its adherents accept the proposition that an Absolutely Good entity is perfectly capable of fucking over people in all ways, great and small, up to and including (wait for it…) genocide. So OSC writes a novel in which a child commits genocide? [nods] Makes sense; same shit, different packaging.

  12. David Wilford says

    I’ve read Card and while I think he’s a good writer (or at least, he used to be good) there’s a sadistic air pervading his work that repels me.

  13. raven says

    Card, I wonder if he himself was abused or bullied as a kid.

    He was raised in an abusive, mind control cult. Called the Mormons.

    He might be writing out his revenge fantasies.

    But revenge on who? The Mormons get laughed at a lot and were persecuted in the past. And have taken their revenge in the past and present in various ways. During their secession war (which they lost), they slaughtered 120 gentile civilians at Mountain Meadows, simply because they could.

  14. David Wilford says

    “But revenge on who?”

    In the case of Card’s non-fiction rants, it’s those snobbish, know-it-all, effete elites. Your strawman mileage may vary.

  15. says

    @David Wilford #14 – “I’ve read Card and while I think he’s a good writer (or at least, he used to be good) there’s a sadistic air pervading his work that repels me.”

    Card comes up with great ideas, but he’s always sucked at expressing those ideas. He explores interesting concepts in the Ender series, and there was a lot of good potential with his alternate US history in the Tales of Alvin Maker. Unfortunately, he’s barely competent even for a hack writer.

  16. Holms says

    @Jacob Schmidt @1: Not sure how that’s a relevant comparison here?

    Did you miss the fianl line of the OP?

  17. anuran says

    Norman Spinrad’s book Science Fiction in the Real World did a marvelous job of getting to the heart of Ender’s Game and tearing it out with obsidian knives to throw on the Altar of Good Writing.

  18. anuran says

    #14, #17 – Card has always been a better editor than a short story writer, a better short story writer than a novelist and better at fiction than screed. Sad to say, he abandoned everything except the novels and the screed as his literary skills decayed into a mess of religious politics

  19. says

    I have to join Max @ #9 in being baffled that people think Ender was supposed to be admired as an heroic character and that the book was meant to be loved as a glorious, Audie Murphy romanticizing of war. Ender is molded into who he is by the forces that control and lie to him, and the ending’s impact is in his realization that he’s been used and deceived into eradicating a “threat” that never really was one. Kind of like the way Americans were lied into rationalizing the invasion of Iraq, to take out a neutered, tin-pot dictator for a crime he had nothing to do with.

    What’s so appalling about the person Orson Scott Card has since become is that today, he’d be entirely on the political side of his own book’s villains.

    (In any event, yes, the later books do get pretty dire.)

  20. unclefrogy says

    I read Ender’s Game when I was an adult after I had read about the child soldiers in africa and understood the story in that light. I read the second one also which had some interesting stuff not least of which was Ender’s new name as “The Genocide”
    it was a dark story about twisting and manipulating children to do things that they would not by nature ever do.
    not a surprise that OSC is like he is and I doubt he even realizes that he may even share much with Ender
    I’ll bet they do not emphasize the dark side of the character in the movie. He is really rather like Jason Bourne without the redeeming qualities
    uncle frogy

  21. David Wilford says

    I also think that Ender isn’t intended to be admired as a hero. For all of Card’s discussion about the film taking so long to come to fruition because the SFX weren’t good enough yet to pull off some of the novel’s scenes, the bigger problem as I see it is how a big-budget film featuring an anti-hero could do well at the box office. Ender Wiggin ain’t Luke Skywalker, and M

  22. drxym says

    I liked Ender’s Game for its premise, interesting end and some prescient commentary on social networking and gaming. But the writing was pretty bad and the Ender was basically a sociopath. I also think it would have worked better as a standalone book rather than milked forever by a never ending series. The author’s real life views hardly stand his works in a good light either.

  23. says

    Card lost me on the second book too. Here we have a guy who is supposed to be trying to atone for genocide, and what does he do? Why, he bosses people around and walks through life sure that he is right and everyone who doesn’t agree with him is wrong. At the end he makes choices which might lead to further genocide and imposes them on everyone else. I wonder whether Card realizes that he wrote a villain.

  24. says

    I thought it was pretty clear that it was an anti-war book…

    Obviously it wasn’t that clear, if so many readers couldn’t get that message. The only thing that’s clear here is that Card is such a crappy writer that he can’t get his basic message across clearly. I mean, how much talent does it take to create an anti-war message that huge numbers of people don’t interpret as pro-war? I never heard anyone saying “Nineteen Eighty-Four” seemed like a pro-Stalinist novel.

  25. David Wilford says

    I don’t think Ender’s Game is either pro or anti-war, it’s an apologia for Ender and his war.

  26. says

    So once again, a feminazi destroys the reputation of a man who hasn’t been charged with any crime. OSC just wanted to invite her for coffee!

  27. gussnarp says

    I haven’t read any of them, so I speak out of utter ignorance, but maybe it’s when people read the books after the first one that they find that it doesn’t seem anti war.

    Also, maybe knowing his politics tends to erase the possibility that it’s anti war from people’s minds.

    And maybe it’s not anti-war, but rather sad about how awful war is, and how awful it must be, but it’s awfully necessary to do it?

  28. Ingdigo Jump says

    Martin/Max

    Right here we’ve had a resident genocidal prowar cheerleader express love for Ender series (despite being oddly poor on recall of certain key plot points) because of the validation of the Us/Them and “Doing what had to be done to survive” world view.

    I think people are projecting their world view onto it much like liberal fans see Batman as the Dark but compasionate knight of humanism where conservative fans see him as the champion of tough on crime manlily white knuckle justice to the whining “mentally ill” and “misunderstood” freaks and deviants

  29. frog says

    Raging Bee:

    I never heard anyone saying “Nineteen Eighty-Four” seemed like a pro-Stalinist novel.

    –>Quite true, but that doesn’t stop some people from apparently adopting it as a political playbook.

    Obviously it wasn’t that clear, if so many readers couldn’t get that message. The only thing that’s clear here is that Card is such a crappy writer that he can’t get his basic message across clearly.

    –>While I haven’t read the novel in question, and I’m sure it’s quite appalling in many ways, most novelists I know would be upset by these statements. Readers bring their 50%. Different people will interpret things in radically different ways–and the author is not to blame for this, since the author has no control over what previous experience the reader has before s/he reads a particular book.

    “Getting the basic message across clearly” is in many ways the worst thing a novelist can do. We call that polemic, and it’s usually much better served by a well-crafted nonfiction work.

    As I said, I haven’t read the book. It may well be shit. Card is certainly a pretty shitty human being these days. But I’m not going to call someone a shitty writer just because different people read his work in different ways.

    Ender’s Game may or may not have depths and levels. But certainly many readers do, and they will interpret all books through their own filters, seeing some things more prominently than others. If everything were that obvious, and people’s interpretations uniform, we wouldn’t have Literature classes.

  30. whheydt says

    If people want book about an accidental war caused by lack of communication 9not to mention militaristic trigger happy types), try Joe Haldeman’s _The Forever War_. At least in that one, the problem *is* resolved short of genocide…either theirs OR ours.

    I tend to think of _Forever War_ and the Viet Nam generations answer to the WW2 generations _Starship Troopers_.

  31. doublereed says

    He’s not “The Genocide.” He’s “The Xenocide.”

    Yea, I’m not exactly sure where people get the pro-war part of it (or the anti-war part of it). The original book I found to be much more about the manipulation of children. I didn’t even think it was about moral dilemmas, because a lot of times Ender is manipulated into everything he does. The later books are more about the morality and stuff.

    But saying that the book isn’t clear about being pro-war or anti-war is really weird to me. There’s almost no discussion about war in the books. It’s just not what it’s about.

  32. MadHatter says

    I also saw it as the manipulation of children, and society as a whole, and far less about war. It seemed clear to me that the adults knew there was no war. However, I was fairly young the first time I read it. The second time was around the time I recall learning about child soldiers so it still fit that interpretation for me. I never liked the subsequent books though. I think I forced myself to get through two of them, I don’t really recall now.

    I read through it again recently out of curiosity and the obvious tokenism jumped out at me. I missed that when I was younger.

  33. David Inman says

    I also admit to being confused by people who read Ender’s Game as a story about the heroic Ender. There are annoying Mary-Sue elements of “ooh such a gifted child no one understands him” present throughout, and I agree that the clunky writing and occasional LDS-ness and grosser bits of conservatism and misogyny bring it down.

    But Ender is both victim and villain. Humanity is portrayed as paranoid, unwilling to understand others, and happy to commit genocide and manipulate their offspring. Ender is a product of this – even his BIRTH was part of the hierarchy’s goal to manipulate intelligent children and wipe out an extraterrestrial race. The main themes of the book seem to be manipulation (the military manipulating Ender; Ender’s brighter older brother manipulating the internet in a successful-but-also-ultimately-botched attempt to rule the world) and miscommunication (the buggers didn’t understand humanity, but figure it out and stop; and humanity in return doesn’t understand the buggers and commits genocide). Throughout the book, Ender becomes more and more vicious, more mean and bullying as a response to his environment, culminating at the end in realizing that he just committed genocide. And he ends with hating what he did and most everyone around him.

    It’s been a while since I’ve read the book, and I never read the follow-up books. I’m not trying to say that the book should be read uncritically or that it doesn’t have substantial flaws. And it isn’t a masterpiece. But I do contest the idea that the whole thing, beginning to end, is a conservative dream-piece and contains no redeeming values. I think this is mostly a popular reaction to his stridently anti-gay politics – and some of the grosser things you can find in his books – and while it’s fair and reasonable to criticize that, I don’t think that means that everything he’s done is tainted and useless.

  34. says

    I don’t know…Something about the way the “buggers” themselves just kind of rolled over and said “Oh shit, our bad, yeah, just kill us all” makes me doubt any anti-war interpretations.

    Ender isn’t an unreliable narrator. Ender is a hero of the book…and he’s a murderer. He kills a boy, not in self-defense, but strategically and dispassionately, and the book lauds him for it.

  35. eigenperson says

    Ender is villainous, but I think if you’re a child, you probably wouldn’t read it that way, because the author is so clearly on board with Ender.

    If Card intended to have a villain protagonist, then good for him! It worked. But I don’t believe he intended it to be that way.

  36. David Inman says

    “He kills a boy, not in self-defense, but strategically and dispassionately, and the book lauds him for it.”

    Ah fair point, I’d forgotten about the six-year-old murderer. However, thinking back on it I thought it was evidence of Ender’s psychopathy, like his older brother. The book goes to great pains to say that Ender doesn’t want to be this way, but it was clear that he was just as much a murderer as a want-to-be-innocent preadolescent, and he kept letting out his inner killer when he thought it was appropriate. “It’s not okay for me to be a sociopathic killer… unless you really push me.” That’s the thinking of a conflicted, unreliable and unstable narrator. It’s a warning, not an aspiration.

    “If Card intended to have a villain protagonist, then good for him! It worked. But I don’t believe he intended it to be that way.”

    That may well be correct. Especially, thinking on it, the lengths gone through to justify Ender’s actions. And that it’s aimed toward children, saying “You is good, you is smart, you is important.” This essay makes a good case for that reading of OSC’s intentions.

  37. says

    I’m not sure. I interpreted his struggles as more of a twisted version of a Hero’s Journey.

    But I read this when I was sixteen, suffering from regular hazing at school, and I was finding myself sickened by the way I was empathizing with Ender. I may have to read the book again.

  38. says

    I liked the original novella, back whenever that was published. I used to re-read it for the free fall mock-combat scenes. I read a bit more of Card’s stuff occasionally over the next few years; I think his novelisation of The Abyss was one that I particularly enjoyed. And then I picked up Speaker for the Dead, not realising that it was a sequel to anything until after I’d finished it, and I enjoyed that, thinking that it had done a good job of starting the story in media res while I was reading it, not making the implied backstory too complicated or too intrusive. In fact, I’ve got a feeling that it wasn’t until I picked it up for a re-read that I realised it was a sequel to an expanded-to-book-length version of that novella.

    So I picked up the first novel and read it, and found the expanded sections to be nearly incomprehensible padding, turning the original, somewhat spare plot into a sprawling mess. I remember that I found Ender’s sister a particularly disappointing new character. I don’t recall exactly why now, but I think it was because I expected her to do something and instead she just lets Peter do whatever he wants without a convincing reason to be so passive.

    I guess I didn’t find the expansion off-putting enough, because I went and bought Xenocide when that came out, and found it to be a mess. I had a vague idea that there was a fourth book, but eleven more after that? I can’t begin to comprehend how much suckitude there must be in those eleven books if he even only managed to stay at the same level as Xenocide.

    I must see if I can find that novella again some day, and see how much the Suck Fairy has taken out of it.

  39. gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet says

    Ender’s Game started life as a short story and probably should have stayed that way.
    The whole BIG ENDING thing almost seems like a secondary idea when you read his reasons for writing it – just casually chuck in a genocide:

    It began as a question when I was 16 years old: What kind of war games would prepare soldiers for three-dimensional warfare in space?
    The result was the idea of the null-gravity battleroom, with the flashers that froze the soldiers’ clothing and the grids and “stars” that made for variety and forced strategic growth.

    - Orson Scott Card; Afterward, On Origins; from Unaccompanied Sonata and Other Short Stories.
     

    This collection also has Eumenides in the Fourth Floor Lavatory – a nasty piece of writing if ever there was.
    I am going to reread it for the first time in 20 years but I remember enough about it to say: please be careful – this story needs a serious trigger warning

  40. gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet says

    @ David Inman
    Thanks for that link, it reinforces many of the suspicions I have had about Card’s writing.
    I have had one too many ‘good Christian souls’ ask me if I believe in a ‘ just war’…
    No, no I don’t.
    Might go back and reread Wyrms and Hart’s Hope and see if I am revolted…

  41. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    I read Ender’s Game during my deconversion from fundamentalist xtianity. I read a story about a child being consistently lied to by authority figures and becoming a monster because of it. All while realizing that everything I had been taught was staggeringly untrue, and discovering my religiously inspired misogyny, racism, and homophobia. I’m fairly sure I came away with a different message then anyone who thought it was a pro-war book.

    Its been very disappointing to me to find out that those horrific traits that this book helped me see in myself are things that the author apparently revels in. Maybe I would have figured that out sooner if I had actually read any of the other books in the series.

  42. microraptor says

    I read Ender’s Game and its original two sequels way back in Jr High.

    I didn’t find them particularly impressive pieces of fiction then, but read a few other OSC titles.

    I stopped when I read a short-story collection that featured a “consensual” scene with a pre-teen girl. At that point, I decided that OSC was seriously fucked in the head and I wasn’t going to touch his writing again with a 10 foot pole and a hazmat suit.

  43. machintelligence says

    I have to agree. Ender’s Game was a good novella, a so so novel and an awful series.I gave up three books into it. (Short version 1977, novel 1985.)

  44. Ermine says

    Gregory @#17;

    This is where the fun comes in.. Alvin Maker, huh? That was the series that finally turned me completely off of OSC. ‘The Chronicles of Alvin Maker’ are nothing more than the story of Joseph Smith’s young life turned into a fantasy story. Joseph lost an older brother whose name was Alvin. Even the last names are closely-related – a Smith IS a Maker, and once all the other similarities are noticed, the naming becomes too obvious to ignore or pass over as coincidence.

    There’s a story in ‘Alvin Maker’, where Alvin has an infection in his leg and has to have the infected bone sawn away without anesthetics or antiseptics, during which Alvin refuses alcohol to dull the pain. That’s one of the more obvious stories straight out of the life of Joseph Smith – It’s even mentioned on Wikipedia! Many of the other details were obviously lifted straight from story of Joseph Smith’s early life. It’s been many years since I read the books, almost as many years since I’ve had anything to do with the LDS church, but I’ve never seen OSC ADMIT where he got that story, and so I couldn’t look at that series as anything but outright plagiarism of someone else’s story ever since.

    And then OSC did it AGAIN shortly afterward, with his SF version of The Book Of Mormon in “Songs of a Distant Earth”! (I didn’t read that one at all – I’d already read the original, and entirely too much of it was precisely “chloroform in print”. I wasn’t about to read a plagiarized version of the whole thing again!

    That was before learning about OSC’s odious bigotry, or coming across the “innocent killer” explanation. It’s really too bad. I LOVED ‘Songbird’ and ‘A Planet Called Treason’ and others, but his later books and my picture of the person behind them got worse and worse the more he put out. Ugh!

  45. mugwump says

    I read some of the books. I didn’t think they were that great. Like most (science) fiction.

  46. says

    @Ermine @49:
    _
    Thanks for the explanation of the Maker series. I didn’t read much of it.
    _
    But one thing: did Card actually write a piece called “Songs of a Distant Earth” ? Because I haven’t heard of it and Google isn’t finding it. Arthur C. Clarke had a novel called “The Songs of Distant Earth” – but that is something completely different.

  47. Ingdigo Jump says

    I stopped when I read a short-story collection that featured a “consensual” scene with a pre-teen girl. At that point, I decided that OSC was seriously fucked in the head and I wasn’t going to touch his writing again with a 10 foot pole and a hazmat suit.

    never read Peirs Anthony

  48. says

    Ermine @49
    He also wrote a straight up novelization of the founding of the mormon church, without hiding it at all; I hadn’t gotten to Alvin maker yet when I picked that one up, and then put it down after about a chapter, and I don’t think I’ve actually read anything of his since then.

    Count me as a person who read Ender’s Game, even as a young ‘un, as a meditation on the horror and futility of war, and the paranoid evil of the old men who shape children into synthetic sociopaths to keep their own hands ‘clean’ when they institute a Final Solution to a war that ended generations ago. These days I realize that that may not be what the author meant, but it’s still hard for me to see any other take away.

  49. Snoof says

    I read some of the books. I didn’t think they were that great. Like most (science) fiction.

    Well, yeah. Sturgeon’s Law and all.

    What annoys me about Orson Scott Card is that he’s been “that SF writer who wrote an OK novel and then started espousing really nasty political and social opinions” longer than he was “that SF writer who wrote an OK novel”.

    To borrow some SF fandom terminology, he’s spent more time under the influence of the Brain Eater than not.

  50. Ermine says

    @#51, michaelbusch ;

    Whoops, my bad! The first book was “The Memory of Earth”, and I guess he called the series “The Homecoming”. I did say it had been many years, sorry!

  51. Holms says

    27 Raging Bee
    Obviously it wasn’t that clear, if so many readers couldn’t get that message. The only thing that’s clear here is that Card is such a crappy writer that he can’t get his basic message across clearly. I mean, how much talent does it take to create an anti-war message that huge numbers of people don’t interpret as pro-war? I never heard anyone saying “Nineteen Eighty-Four” seemed like a pro-Stalinist novel.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that maybe literary interpretation is highly subjective. Categorical statements of the intent of the author are problematic; the only person that can really speak to that that is the actual author.

  52. Amphiox says

    What’s so appalling about the person Orson Scott Card has since become is that today, he’d be entirely on the political side of his own book’s villains.

    One thing to remember about the sequels to Ender’s Game: they were not initially envisioned as sequels. Card was developing the idea of Speaker for the Dead as an entirely separate novel when, near the end, he got the idea of making the protagonist of that novel to be an adult, grown-up Ender. (According to his statements later, it was actually a fan who suggested that idea to him, or something like that).

    In order to make that work, he had to re-write the novella Ender’s Game into a full novel, and tack on the ending that would “bring” Ender into the world of Speaker for the Dead. That includes all the messing with relativistic starship travel so Ender could “jump” several thousand years into the future.

    The tone of the Speaker Trilogy (comprising Speaker, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind) reads to me as very anti-war and relatively liberal. The anti-war tone bleeds backwards into the novel of Ender’s Game, because, again, it was artificially rewritten solely to serve as the “introduction” to the Speaker series.

    The gap between the writing of the original Ender’s Game novella and the full novel that lead into the Speaker series was several years.

    And then, after another gap of many years, Card goes back to the well and adds the Shadow series as another set of parallel sequels to Ender’s Game. And the tone of that series does a complete 180. All of a sudden it is pro-war. The villains of the prior series are suddenly turned into heroes. Ender’s actions are no longer condemned (implicit and explicit in the narrative of the Speaker trilogy) but celebrated. (There’s also a definite vibe of milking the franchise for the $$ in the Shadow series, as well, as the quality of the writing goes steeply down hill as it progresses. And Card’s most recent forays back into his Ender’s Game universe with his new series about the original Formic War just adds to that vibe.)

    Either Card did the perspective flip deliberately, or else he changed as a person and writer some time in between.

  53. microraptor says

    never read Peirs Anthony

    Believe me, I’m well aware of how fucked up his writing is. (It’s pretty bad when you’ve got an author who’s signature series involves numerous stories of 30+ year old guys going after 16 year old girls and it’s notable for being one of the least fucked up things that he’s done.)

  54. DLC says

    I’m not a fan of Card, and while I read the first three Ender stories, and thought them well-constructed and polished, I did not really think much of the story as a story. Ender is perfect and evil and should have killed himself in disgrace. But, he didn’t, and so we have had to endure 12 further Ender novels. I haz sad now.

  55. birgerjohansson says

    In defence of O S Card, his later trilogy (which I think includes the titles “Speaker For The Dead” and “Xenocide”) is reasonably good.
    And he comes to the conclusion that it is the human race that is closest to the definition of “varelse”, intelligent but belligerent entities, aka monsters.

  56. says

    I read the first few books of the Alvin Maker series completely ignorant of where Card got the idea, thinking it an original fantasy, and I enjoyed the world-building. I guess the world-building would still stand (unless Joseph Smith’s life was a lot weirder than I’ve been led to believe) if I returned to it, but I became aware of Card’s homophobic editorial sometime after the fourth or fifth book, and I felt disinclined to finish the series.

  57. Jacob Schmidt says

    @Jacob Schmidt @1: Not sure how that’s a relevant comparison here?

    I found the last bit of criticism was a bit ridiculous since one of my favourite book series* is planned for far more books, and that’s not including side books and novellas. How long the series is has nothing to do with how good the series is, though it can be difficult to pull of a long running story.

    *As much as I like it, the bits of heteronormativity are irksome.

  58. says

    Jacob: But how bad it is, is relevant to the length of the series. In that the initial badness tends to be multiplied by the number of books, and the more books in the series, the more likely that some poor soul will suffer accidental exposure.

  59. says

    Not to mention the incredulity inherent in PZ’s last line, which seems to be the whole point to me: ‘If the first books are this bad, how in Heck’s name does he keep it up (down?) for fifteen books?’ it might be paraphrased.

  60. gussnarp says

    So since we’re into talking about other novelists who write some pretty awful trigger warning worthy stuff, does anyone have any thoughts on Game of Thrones in that respect? I’m only now about halfway into the first book, and I find myself occasionally thinking that Martin seems to enjoy writing decidedly fucked up scenes just a bit too much…

  61. jeffret says

    NelC @ 63

    There was a lot of belief in folk and religious magic in Joseph Smith’s time. Joseph Smith and his family were right in the middle of it. Joseph spent time in jail for treasure-hunting (also known as “money-digging”, “glass-looking”, etc.). Some of these things are part of the historical record. Others were rumors and may have been people trying to impugn Joseph, though clearly not created from whole cloth.

    OSC took this background and essentially said, “What if all of this folk magic really worked? What if it were real?” and then created a world that mixed in folk magic ideas from frontier America with Joseph’s life story. That’s the fantasy world that he created. It can be interesting to consider what such a world would be like. Card starts with some interesting ideas but quickly devolves into banality.

    There is also a connection with bomber / murderer Mark Hofmann from the early 80′s. In 1984 Hofmann sold a document to the Mormon Church known as the Salamander Letter which described a white salamander that guarded the golden plates. In 1985 Hofmann turned to bombing / murders to distract from his forgery scams (including the Salamander Letter).

    OSC published the first Alvin Maker book in 1987.

    Students of Mormon history turn to D. Michael Quinn’s Early Mormonism and the Magic World View as the most comprehensive, accurate, scholarly source, also published in 1987.

  62. embraceyourinnercrone says

    gussnarp @67

    Ah yes George R.R. Martin , I’ve read all of the Game of Thrones series so far, as I really appreciate some of the characters and some of the storytelling and world building and I want to see where everyone ends up. But about the fucked up scenes and the fact that he seems to like to linger on them too long, to use a phrase(or two) from the books”

    ” Oh my sweet summer child, you know nothing!”

    Translation: If you think its bad now hold onto your hat!

    I need to go back and read the prequel short stories…(adds to impossible list of things I want to read if I ever get time…)

    I never read Ender’s Game and reading some of OSC’s recent screens kinda put me off wanting to.

    Agreed on the Piers Anthony comments

  63. microraptor says

    So since we’re into talking about other novelists who write some pretty awful trigger warning worthy stuff, does anyone have any thoughts on Game of Thrones in that respect? I’m only now about halfway into the first book, and I find myself occasionally thinking that Martin seems to enjoy writing decidedly fucked up scenes just a bit too much…

    Never got into Game of Thrones (I dislike reading books that require me to use back support devices in order to carry them safely) but yeah, he’s got a habit of doing that in a lot of the stuff he writes, so I’d say that he probably gets a little more into it than is healthy. The one good thing I can say about it, though, is that he at least seems to write that kind of seriously fucked up stuff as a way of showing the reader just how much that world sucks and why you wouldn’t want to live there, rather than presenting it in a “this is totally awesome! Fuck yeah!” way that you get with OSC’s, Piers Anthony’s, or John Ringo’s fucked up shit.

  64. dannysichel says

    @43 – it’s not just “Eumenides in the Fourth Floor Lavatory” that needs a trigger warning.

    Almost everything Card has ever written is either about Mormonism or child abuse.