"I don't have time for Laertes. He must know I didn't mean to kill his father," Hamlet said.
September 8, 2011 4:30 AM   Subscribe

Orson Scott Card adapts Hamlet into poorly written anti-gay screed. Welcome to Hamlet's Father. Gone are Shakespeare's language and philosophy, replaced with Card's trademark homophobia. Spoiler alert: Old King Hamlet was gay, and he molested everybody and turned them gay too!
posted by Faint of Butt (367 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jesus H. Christ, not again. Please let him go away.
posted by New England Cultist at 4:36 AM on September 8, 2011 [31 favorites]


Well that sounds like $35 well spent.
posted by Naberius at 4:36 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't remember the last time I wanted to punch someone in the dick this hard.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:39 AM on September 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


I was totally going to post this when I got home because it is hilarious. Alas for it being Wednesday, when I have to work late...
posted by Scattercat at 4:43 AM on September 8, 2011


This would be one iota less stupid if the Raintaxi guy didn't link to Amazon and Powells at the bottom of his rant.
posted by sneebler at 4:45 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Asshole, thy name is Orson.
posted by Optamystic at 4:47 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Would it be alright with everyone if we just pretended that one, really fun book he wrote was actually written by someone else?

Someone gay would be a good candidate, to my mind.

I'm thinking Ernie.
posted by Construction Concern at 4:48 AM on September 8, 2011 [21 favorites]


Good grief, "ponderous" sounds lighter and more nimble than the heaving hulk of dried molasses that somehow managed to blurth [sic - I just made that up, it felt right] forth from Card's pen:
"She killed herself. Walked out into the sea, dressed in her heaviest gown. A funeral gown. Two soldiers went in after her, and a boat was launched, but when they brought her body back, she was dead."

I think I'll go have a drink of water. Cold water. When they find my empty cup in the recycling bin, it will have been binned.
posted by fraula at 4:52 AM on September 8, 2011 [50 favorites]


Ender's game is easily one of the crappiest sci-fi books I've read. And then I keep hearing stuff like "if we just pretended that one, really fun book he wrote". Do you mean to tell me HE'S DONE WORSE SINCE?!
posted by rainy at 4:54 AM on September 8, 2011 [24 favorites]


Alas, the Alvin Maker books are rather good, and rather Mormon. So I think we'll just have to treat Orson like Dave Sim.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:54 AM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


sooo... ummm, did you click Amazon or Powells?
posted by the noob at 4:54 AM on September 8, 2011


I'm glad somebody finally dealt with the play's obvious "Old Hamlet was a gay demonic pedophile spirit trying to psycho-incestuously seduce his son and make him a filthy gay, too" subtext. It's always been the big, stinking pile of elephant in the room...
posted by PlusDistance at 4:55 AM on September 8, 2011 [36 favorites]


I have never understood why Card is such a looming figure in SF. I've read mountains of SF over the years, and Ender's Game is just so flat, just a piece of workmanlike children's science fiction with rigid, unlikeable characters. There are other classics that strike me the same way from other disturbing talkative giants in the field, but with Card, there's just so much nothing there, followed by his endless homophobic screeds. Bradbury gets a pass for being a crank because he actually wrote some amazing stuff, but Card's just Ender's Game, More Ender's Game, Son of Ender's Game, Oh By The Way Here's Ender's Game From Another Point Of View, and strange LDS-flavored alternate history pieces, though he apparently has tons of time to write endless op-ed pieces on faggotry from his own particularly ugly point of view.

What am I supposed to be admiring in his work, or more precisely, why do so many people consider this guy worth a good argument? Why is he worth analysis, rather than just another NOM dickhead? I just don't get it.
posted by sonascope at 4:55 AM on September 8, 2011 [72 favorites]


Would it be alright with everyone if we just pretended that one, really fun book he wrote was actually written by someone else?

You laugh, but there's a pretty good chance that Ender's Game actually was written by somebody else, no joke.

Further, if you still view that book through the lens of youth, you might want to take a look at a damning essay called Sympathy For The Superman.
posted by mhoye at 5:00 AM on September 8, 2011 [58 favorites]


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.

I'd vaguely picked up (from comments here, mostly) that Card was not exactly pro-gay, but I hadn't actually been aware that he was a flaming homophobe of the first order. I can remember reading the short story of Ender's Game, and later the novel, as a teenager and loving it; I'll always have a slightly soft spot for him as a writer because of how much fun those were to read when I was young. (I took a look at it again a couple of years ago and am sure that I wouldn't enjoy rereading it. Sonascope's description of it as "flat" is how I would experience it as an adult, not to mention the nazi-esque overtones; perhaps that flatness is what worked so well for me as a teenager.)

But if that quote is actually representative of his views, I am surprised (and disappointed) that he has maintained so much mainstream prominence. I'm willing to shrug and say "it was a different era then" when I read accounts of prominent writers from the 1960s saying nasty and clueless things about "fags" and "homos," but much less so for a contemporary writer who should know better.
posted by Forktine at 5:03 AM on September 8, 2011


This story originally appeared in a ghost story anthology (which I bought because I love ghost stories). The editor of the collection actually stated in the intro (granted, in a somewhat roundabout fashion) that his publisher made him include the story, that he was not given a choice. Believe me, the story is so reprehensible and psychotically gay panicky that I actually threw the book away in the garbage to try to prevent anyone else from reading it. Ug. Orson Scott Card is seriously broken. Something is deeply wrong with him.
posted by Malla at 5:06 AM on September 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'm not a huge scifi reader, but everyone talks about Ender's Game, so I gave it a shot. And gave up about halfway through because I was bored stiff. Maybe I'm too old to have read it - I certainly have affection for crappy books I read when I was a kid - but I don't understand why he's still given such status. Especially now that he seems to revel in going so thoroughly off the deep end.
posted by rtha at 5:06 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know it's deemed important, in literary criticism, to separate the text from the author, and I generally attempt to do that. A lot of literature that I enjoy an awful lot is the work of people who appear to have been tremendous assholes, and it doesn't impede my enjoyment at all. My very favorite science fiction author in the world, Gene Wolfe, appears to have political views diametrically opposed to my own, and I still think "Book of the New Sun" is an amazing achievement.

I enjoyed "Ender's Game", although I liked "Speaker for the Dead" a lot more. I liked quite a bit of Card's short fiction, as well. But his outspoken homophobia, his talk-radio-level rhetoric in support of the Bush administration on his website, and his mercenary willingness to strip mine his own fictional universes for bad sequels, have all combined to make me retroactively dislike work that I enjoyed the first time around. Off the top of my head I can't think of any other writers that have managed to reverse my esteem for them based entirely on factors external to their writing.
posted by Ipsifendus at 5:09 AM on September 8, 2011 [35 favorites]


To expand on my earlier dick-punching comment:

Look, it's fine if you want to simplify Shakespeare a bit for a modern audience--No Fear Shakespeare does that, with the text side-by-side with a "translation" into 21st-century English. It's even better if you want to play around with some of the themes or characters in a reworking of the play, like Stoppard did in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

What Card's done, though, is introduce themes and events (Hamlet's dad being a pedophile, and a GHOST PEDOPHILE at that) that are completely and utterly absent from the play and not justified by anything in the text whatsoever. I can't decide if that's the worst part, or if his recasting the language into tone-deaf thudding lead-weights-falling-on-concretebullshit like "I don't have time for Laertes. He must know I didn't mean to kill his father" is a more egregious crime against literature.

Either way, yeah. That's a dick-punching.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:09 AM on September 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Evil doesn't always wear a swirly black cape or announce itself in a spittle flecked rage. Some times it's so quiet and normal seeming that it's hard to recognize.

This is a bad man spreading evil.
posted by FunkyHelix at 5:16 AM on September 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


Evil doesn't always wear a swirly black cape or announce itself in a spittle flecked rage.

And sometimes, as in this case, it does.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:16 AM on September 8, 2011 [22 favorites]


I didn't like Enders Game, but when I was younger, I absolutely loved " Unaccompanied Sonata and Other Stories". For me, it was the height of literature.

So yeah - It's super depressing that he's such an awful man.
posted by seanyboy at 5:20 AM on September 8, 2011


Huh. I had one of those THIS IS THE LAST STRAW moments and went to gather and throw away my old Card books from the 80s and 90s, both to get them out of my house and to make sure nobody reads them... and I guess his last bigoted rant must have actually been the last straw, because I seem to have already done that. Go me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:23 AM on September 8, 2011 [45 favorites]


I've got a lot of affection for science fiction aimed at younger readers, and one of my favorites is a little mostly forgotten book by Arthur Clarke, Dolphin Island. It's a slight, simple book about a boy, an adventure, a crisis, and his response to the crisis, and I reread it not too long ago and was pleased to find that it still felt like a good story. It was a piece on a human scale, with a human view and a quest that's reasonable for a boy of his age, and it's the kind of work considered quaint these days because the special magical main character always has to be THE ULTIMATE SAVIOR OF HUMANITY AND POSSIBLY THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE!!! Somewhere along the way, the only narrative that we can tell about a young protagonist discovering his distinctive gifts is that he can save the whole universe. Really? We can't just have smaller, quieter, more nuanced stories?

Of course, we do have those things, but the writers don't end up on panels at conventions, or getting fifty page analyses of fascism in their work. I'm sure that lots of kids found themselves feeling empowered by Ender, but I'm disturbed that we can only work at that level now. Is the disempowerment and marginalization of actual youth so deep now that it can only be countered by a world-saving narrative? I'm being hyperbolic, of course, but I'm just mystified by the power Card has to attract attention to his endless axe-grinding.

Hey, though, we're living in the world of the future, so everything's gotta be BIG BIG BIG, right down to authorial assholism. Sheesh.
posted by sonascope at 5:24 AM on September 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


Something is rotten in the pate of O. Scott.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:25 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


The man doth protest too much me thinks. Would not be surprised to see him get outed eventually. (Not that there's anything wrong with being gay. :))

Except being gay and being rabidly anti-homosexual in your politics is pitiable and pathetic.
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:28 AM on September 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


Read Ender's Game, enjoyed it. Later on read Ender's Shadow, enjoyed that too. Much later on read some of the interviews and the ugliness of his character just shocked me profoundly. I knew I couldn't read anything else or do anything else to support this person in any way. To be honest, I actually felt a bit guilty that I simply couldn't separate the man from his work. After reading some of the comments here..not so much.
posted by tetsuo at 5:31 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Somewhere along the way, the only narrative that we can tell about a young protagonist discovering his distinctive gifts is that he can save the whole universe. Really?

I think it's a trope that appeals to a certain type of kid (and the most likely to be reading books). When you feel like and outcast as a kid, there's a definite attraction to the idea that you're secretly special and could save the world, just like the characters in the books you read.

While I haven't read it as an adult, I think the Marty Stu nature of Ender is part of the appeal that makes it so appealing when you're young.
posted by drezdn at 5:32 AM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


But if that quote is actually representative of his views, I am surprised (and disappointed) that he has maintained so much mainstream prominence.

Dude, that quote is representative of the liberal, tree-hugging end of his views. He has previously stated that the legalization of gay marriage is the end of democracy in the United States, and therefore that it is morally right to overthrow any government that allows gay marriage. Article here.

(The old saw that all moralisers are in fact acting out against their own primal urges is an old saw and not always a rhetorically useful one. As such, I will draw no inference from the fact that his column is called "In the Village".)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:33 AM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


"She killed herself. Walked out into the sea, dressed in her heaviest gown. A funeral gown. It was pretty heavy. That's dangerous in water because you could drown. Two soldiers went in after her, to try and save her, because she was wearing her heaviest gown and they were afraid she might drown. And a boat was launched, a rowboat, a blue one with white trim and a crew of lifeguards. The boat they launch when someone's drowning to try and save them. They launched it to try and save her. To keep her from drowning in the sea in her heavy funeral gown. But when they brought her body back, she was dead. She'd drowned. They tried to save her, but they failed. If she'd been alive, I would have just said 'they brought her back' instead of 'they brought her body back,' because 'body' kind of implies 'dead.' Which she is. She drowned. I think it was the heavy gown that did it. The funeral gown."
posted by Naberius at 5:35 AM on September 8, 2011 [87 favorites]


sonascope, Card had the advantage of using a now-standard SF trope for, if not the first time, then the first time it was really popular--almost every time there's a story when the character discovers that ZOMG THE GAME IS REAL, someone says, "Oh, just like Ender's Game, then." It also portrays its child protagonists and characters as basically little adults, which is deeply bogus in terms of relating to the way that children actually act, but is comforting in a way to smart, precocious children, who like to believe that they're way more mature than other kids their age rather than just being socially isolated and possessing a large vocabulary. (In other words, your typical young SF fan.) And so, like Frank Herbert and Dune--another SF classic that I found overrated and not that enjoyable of a read, while understanding what other people found in it--he spun off a career and reputation that has survived, not his death (as in Herbert's case), but his gradually increasing and ever-more-vocal homophobia.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:35 AM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I feel sorry for him. That's some serious, high level self-loathing going on right there.
posted by fungible at 5:38 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I liked the part where Ender won the Quiddich match.
posted by Trochanter at 5:40 AM on September 8, 2011 [28 favorites]


I don't care what you say, Speaker for the Dead was some good shit.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:41 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


The old king was actually murdered by Horatio, in revenge for molesting him as a young boy—along with Laertes, and Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, thereby turning all of them gay. We learn that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are now "as fusty and peculiar as an old married couple. I pity the woman who tries to wed her way into that house."

This brought real tears to my eyes. Shakespeare was a real person. He breathed, he loved, he wrote and took care in what he wrote. What Card has done is dig up his grave and taken a shit on his corpse. Does the man have no feeling at all, no empathy? Can he not imagine how grotesque and horrifying this garbage is to anyone who reads and understands Shakespeare? How can he so gleefully twist and tear another writer's work?

Someone is inhabited and driven by demons, and it isn't Hamlet's father.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:42 AM on September 8, 2011 [31 favorites]


So Jack Chick changed his name, gave up drawing and became a SF writer of reknown?
posted by inturnaround at 5:43 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


This has been spreading like wildfire since the Rain Taxi review.

Subterranean Press Publisher Bill Schafer's circumspect response.

Author Scott Lynch had a satirical take.

Amazon reviewers have been not so kind.

Publisher's Weekly has a roundup of the whole thing.
posted by kmz at 5:43 AM on September 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


Metafilter: To expand on my earlier dick-punching comment...
posted by mhoye at 5:44 AM on September 8, 2011 [39 favorites]


And oh, there's Buy A Big Gay Novel For Scott Card Day on Twitter. Megwrites has a compilation of the recs.
posted by kmz at 5:51 AM on September 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


Is there a word for the dawning realization you experience when you start reading something thinking it's satire* and slowly realize it's for real? I'll bet the Germans have one.

* Haha, OSC re-writing Shakespeare...that's a good one. This is what, like The Onion for literary criticism?
posted by JaredSeth at 5:51 AM on September 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


I still love Ender's Game -- have re-read it recently, in fact -- and my partner borrowed it and read it for the first time last month, and found it amazingly enjoyable.
posted by hermitosis at 5:53 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


sonascope: Bradbury gets a pass for being a crank because he actually wrote some amazing stuff

Wait, in what way was Bradbury a crank?

mhoye: You laugh, but there's a pretty good chance that Ender's Game actually was written by somebody else, no joke.

Further, if you still view that book through the lens of youth, you might want to take a look at a damning essay called Sympathy For The Superman.


Ugh. I lost any misplaced respect I had for Orson Scott Card as a writer or man quite some time ago. Still, those two essays (when I first read them on K5, and then again upon rereading them now) make me want to defend the man. They are just so specious, strident and self-congratulatory. The Ender series may be shitty books, but they're shitty because they are poorly written, lazily plotted, and have an unlikable sociopath as a protagonist. They're not shitty because they're a secret apologia for spousal abuse, incest and Hitler.
posted by 256 at 5:55 AM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


>Author Scott Lynch had a satirical take.

"You're the only woman left in the play that isn't a nurse," said King Henry. "So I'm totally buying you from your dad."

Princess Katharine looked very sad and confused.

"I know I'm covered in mud now, but I can take a bath," said Henry. "Sign here, baby."


This may be the best abridgement of Henry V, ever. I so want Branagh to star and direct!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:58 AM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Wait, in what way was Bradbury a crank?

I'm figuring he meant RAH -- who is a crank.
posted by thanotopsis at 5:59 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shakespeare was a real person. He breathed, he loved, he wrote and took care in what he wrote. What Card has done is dig up his grave and taken a shit on his corpse. Does the man have no feeling at all, no empathy? Can he not imagine how grotesque and horrifying this garbage is to anyone who reads and understands Shakespeare? How can he so gleefully twist and tear another writer's work?


To advocate for part of it? I'm ALL FOR people doing this to Shakespeare's work. It's how we got West Side Story or Ran or Scotland, PA. People playing with the themes is great. People making up whole levels of backstory and retelling is great. Some do it well, some poorly, but we won't know which is which until it's done, and creators should be encouraged to try.

Now this hack writer did it poorly and was offensive and bigoted in the process. THAT is the crime here. But I think we should encourage writers to do this, especially when the original work is in no danger of being forgotten in favor of the new.

After all, the above complaints could equally apply to modern masterpieces like Christopher Moore's adaptation of the gospels into Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal or Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas' adaptation of Hamlet into The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew, both of which deserve to exist and be celebrated.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:01 AM on September 8, 2011 [26 favorites]


Next time Card is at a sci-fi convention panel, I will pay men to make-out in front of him. Preferably in related cosplay outfits. Any takers?
posted by Theta States at 6:09 AM on September 8, 2011 [30 favorites]


They're not shitty because they're a secret apologia for spousal abuse, incest and Hitler.

I don't know. I lived in Greensboro, NC for several years in the late 90s and early 2000s, and Card was the crank opinion writer for this rag called the "Rhinoceros Times," a local right-wing newspaper. In hindsight, the paper was pretty much a manifesto for the Tea Party (complete with occasional yet transparent protestations that religious conservatism wasn't their bag), and would quite often spew a lot of the worst shit. He may not have been an apologist for Hitler, but he would sometimes get a hard-on for the more authoritarian stuff that Bush pushed through, and a reading of his works (including non-Ender ones) gave me plenty of evidence that he worshiped the will of the strong, whether it be a spouse, a general, or a president. And while it was nowhere near the level of Heinlein (although that's not exactly a low bar), he did seem to write an awful lot about very intimate family members.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:09 AM on September 8, 2011


Noooooooooooooooooo TvTropes noooooooooooooooo!!!

Just kidding I didn't want to do any work today anyway.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:09 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The neurologist Simon LeVay did, in fact, demonstrate that homosexuals are "born that way" in 1991. Ivanka Savic proved it conclusively in 2008.

That's one piece from the article that's dead wrong, though. These people did no such thing. Homosexuality likely has a biological component, but it also likely has environmental components, just as heterosexuality does.

One of a pair of identical twins is more likely to be gay if the other is, but it's far from assured. Some still claim the difference is based on something purely biological, like varying intrauterine testosterone levels. This is still speculation. No one knows how experience in the real world affects the expression of these biological differences, but it does. For example, there really may be a connection, for some gay men, between having been sexually abused as a child and their sexual orientation.
posted by shivohum at 6:13 AM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


From memory (I'm not googling for it while at work), OSC has gone on the record saying things about men knowing mens' bodies much better than they do womens' and thus getting more sexual pleasure from them. He also if I remember rightly was talked out of such a relationship by his Church.

Certainly his portrayals of male/male relationships I've read are far more interesting and touching than his straight ones. And combined with the above, my conclusion is "So far in the closet he can see Narnia." And my understanding of his arguments (such as they are) against gay marriage boil down to "you can't do that or everything I've suffered will have been for naught."
posted by Francis at 6:14 AM on September 8, 2011 [31 favorites]


Ug. Orson Scott Card is seriously broken. Something is deeply wrong with him.
When I was an undergraduate theatre student, I was aware, and not happily so, how pervasive was the reach of the underculture of homosexuality among my friends and acquaintances.... As a not-particularly-pure-minded heterosexual adolescent, I understood the intensity of sexual desire...

One thing is certain: one cannot serve two masters. And when one's life is given over to one community that demands utter allegiance, it cannot be given to another. The LDS church is one such community. The homosexual community seems to be another.

Only when they attempted to pretend that their sin was righteousness did he harshly name them for what they were: fools, hypocrites, sinners. Hypocrites because they were unwilling to change their behavior and instead attempted to change the law to fit it; fools because they thought that deceiving an easily deceivable society would achieve the impossible goal of also deceiving God.

The average fifteen-year-old teenage boy is genetically predisposed to copulate with anything that moves. We are compassionate and forgiving of those who cannot resist this temptation, but we do not regard as adult anyone who has not overcome it; and we can only help others overcome those "genetic predispositions" by teaching them that we expect them to meet a higher standard of behavior than the one their own body teaches them.

The Church has plenty of room for individuals who are struggling to overcome their temptation toward homosexual behavior.
sort of an open book really...
posted by ennui.bz at 6:16 AM on September 8, 2011 [26 favorites]


Oh. So Card's gay for reals then and self-loathing. That almost makes me feel bad for him. I wonder if he was molested and if that's what he tells himself made him that way. It would explain a lot of his hostility and where he got that idea from. I mean, don't misunderstand me: I have little sympathy for closeted homophobes, but there is something unfortunate there.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:22 AM on September 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Sonascope wrote: I have never understood why Card is such a looming figure in SF.

He isn't really, not any more. But there was a time when he was an amazingly good, very prolific writer. His early stuff is incredible - very sharp, very confronting, and mostly consisting of short stories. Then something happened and he lost the ability to write - he could only rewrite. Ender's Game was originally a short story (supposedly based on a single line: "The enemy's gate is down") that became a novelette that became a novel that became a rewritten novel that became a series. There may have more steps involved. The Tales of Alvin Maker was originally going to be a trilogy, I think - it's now an open ended series that he may have forgotten about. There's a whole lot of other crap that I'm not even going to mention. But the fact that he's a horrible flatulent joke now doesn't mean that he was a bad writer back then, when he made his reputation. Back then he was brilliant.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:24 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait, in what way was Bradbury a crank?
I'm figuring he meant RAH -- who is a crank.


No, Bradbury has definitely become something of a crotchety old fart in his later years.

Nonetheless, he's not anywhere near dripping with twisted hate the way Card is, and his art is masterful, beautiful, perceptive, and lasting in a way Card can only dream of, so I still love him.
posted by Naberius at 6:25 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why is he worth analysis, rather than just another NOM dickhead? I just don't get it.

Everyone who makes a genuine effort at discourse is worthy of analysis (not by every single person, just in general). Nobody who shows interest in engaging deserves to be treated as "just another NOM dickhead".

Card has gone off the deep end, certainly. Feel free to ignore him. Revising his record to make your point seem stronger.... Not cool.

So ya, Dave Sim category. Although that category might deserve a new name, cause I think Card may have exceeded even Sim.
posted by Chuckles at 6:25 AM on September 8, 2011


Also, this is kind of a crappy post... Less editorializing!
posted by Chuckles at 6:26 AM on September 8, 2011


Certainly his portrayals of male/male relationships I've read are far more interesting and touching than his straight ones. And combined with the above, my conclusion is "So far in the closet he can see Narnia." And my understanding of his arguments (such as they are) against gay marriage boil down to "you can't do that or everything I've suffered will have been for naught."

I had totally never heard this. Now I'm sad, and I don't hate him as much. It also makes Songmaster make a lot more sense.

Of his books, I think Hart's Hope, Wyrms, Red Prophet and The Folk of the Fringe are actually pretty good - they're all screwed up, but they're memorable and have well-written parts - a few bits of Hart's Hope are actually all lyrical and memorable. Wyrms has a female protagonist and it's a pretty good action-adventure with some very un-Cardian stuff about abortion in it. Red Prophet is...okay, it has problems, but I will forever love it for being basically "okay, you white folks killed a bunch of natives for stupid, fearful, greedy reasons and it really is totally your fault forever, and you ruined America" - reading that flat out for the first time when I was in my teens was a politically transformative moment for me. And I really, truly love The Folk of the Fringe - the cross-country stuff is beautifully observed, even though the "pogrom against the Mormons" is dumb. I think I like it more because I didn't know anything about Mormons when I read it, so I read it as a variant on "out group gets violently attacked by crazed Americans, has to flee". Also, the story about the teacher in the wheelchair was one of the first grown-up science fiction stories I ever read.

Now I'm thinking that it might be productive to read Card's damaged and closed-off male protagonists as closeted - the adult Ender, for example, makes so much more sense if he's deeply in denial. His romantic relationship with what's-her-name makes absolute sense if you read it as someone telling himself that love born from sympathy and identification are the same thing as sexual/romantic desire....and being able to tell himself that because he's never let himself know actual sexual/romantic desire.

Jesus, this is like the key to all Card's writing! That nun-like woman in Songmaster with the love that had to be denied!!!! The gaunts in Wyrms!! The oddly muted straight relationships!!!!
posted by Frowner at 6:27 AM on September 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


Still, those two essays [...] make me want to defend the man. They are just so specious, strident and self-congratulatory.

I really didn't get that vibe at all, and I think there's enough meat to the arguments made that even if I disagreed, I'd be hard pressed to dismiss them as specious. But having said that...

The Ender series may be shitty books, but they're shitty because they are poorly written, lazily plotted, and have an unlikable sociopath as a protagonist. They're not shitty because they're a secret apologia for spousal abuse, incest and Hitler.

... they can be both.
posted by mhoye at 6:28 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hopefully Card will continue writing bad adaptations of Shakespeare so he'll no longer be associated with SF.
posted by jiawen at 6:30 AM on September 8, 2011


the adult Ender, for example, makes so much more sense if he's deeply in denial

So does the soaped-up-in-the-shower fight scene between Bonzo and Ender.
posted by mhoye at 6:31 AM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Now I'm thinking that it might be productive to read Card's damaged and closed-off male protagonists as closeted

Like I said above, I haven't read anything of his since I was a teenager. But from my memory of his writing, plus the descriptions of it I've seen since, this rings very true. If so, that's so sad. Here we are in a world where gay rights are expanding, to the point of legal gay marriage in many places, and even his fictional characters can't find happiness.
posted by Forktine at 6:34 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So does the soaped-up-in-the-shower fight scene between Bonzo and Ender.

On a moment's reflection: Gah, and also ick. To follow myself up: There should be a German word for that moment I just had.
posted by mhoye at 6:36 AM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Scifi author John Kessel has a thoughtful, pointed take on what's wrong with Ender's Game as well, for folks interested:

Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender's Game, Intention, and Morality
posted by mediareport at 6:40 AM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Is it just me, or are the genocided aliens in the Ender's Game called "buggers"?
posted by DU at 6:40 AM on September 8, 2011 [18 favorites]


The most depressing thing for me is that "Unaccompanied Sonata", a beautiful story set in a savage dystopia may actually have been Card's idea of a utopia.

That stings.
posted by seanyboy at 6:42 AM on September 8, 2011


Don't miss Sarah Monette's extra-gay take on Hamlet, either.

I enjoyed a few of Card's books, and many of his short stories, but when that first rewrite of Ender's Game about Bean came out and changed the entire book? Ugh.
posted by jeather at 6:43 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


What Card has done is dig up his grave and taken a shit on his corpse.

I wouldn't worry about Shakespeare. Shakespeare is a mountain. Greater men than Card have tried to plant their flag on him and failed. At this point in his life Card is so crazy and so broken that I can only watch him like some crazy broken person I can't do anything about. His life must be pure hell. ("Which way I fly is hell; myself am hell; And in the lowest deep a lower deep, Still threat’ning to devour me, opens wide, To which the hell I suffer seems a heaven.")

My opinion of Card's work hasn't changed or my opinion of Card's violent fantasies. As for his gay Hamlet: it needs more Ethan Hawke.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:45 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not generally in favor of assuming "self-loathing closet case" when someone proclaims their homophobia, but the more Card writes on the subject the more likely that interpretation seems in his particular case. Very sad.

I read through the essay linked above which claims Ender's Game is an apologia for Hitler. I do have to defend him on that count. The writer of the essay is making some nutty arguments.

a) Ender was a third child, just like Hitler. (Well that certainly proves her case. WTF?)
b) Ender was bullied and abused as a child and so was Hitler. (Just like Harry Potter, another well-known Hitler surrogate. )
c) The government in the Ender's books practiced eugenics. Hitler believed in eugenics. (Wow - if every science-fiction novel which portrays a government practicing eugenics is actually promoting fascism, then the problem is a lot more widespread than just Orson Scott Card. BTW - I don't remember anything in the books which indicates that Card actually condones what his fictional government was doing.)
d) Ender committed genocide, just like Hitler. (Except if she actually read the book, she would realize that Ender didn't know he was committing genocide. He thought he was playing a training exercise/video game. She could make a much more convincing case that Doctor Who is an apologia for Hitler, since the doctor has committed genocide knowingly on multiple occasions.)

I can think of some legitimate critiques of Ender's Game, but claiming Ender is meant to stand for Hitler is not one of them.
posted by tdismukes at 6:53 AM on September 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


Wait, in what way was Bradbury a crank?
I'm figuring he meant RAH -- who is a crank.

No, Bradbury has definitely become something of a crotchety old fart in his later years.


The worst part of it, which I didn't see mentioned in the link, is that he's recently started proclaiming that Fahrenheit 451 isn't about censorship at all, just about the evils of television. (Despite, y'know, writing exactly the opposite many times over.) Evidently he's decided that censorship is a fine and necessary thing.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 6:55 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: To expand on my earlier dick-punching comment...

I finally have one of these! I'm a real boy now!
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:57 AM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I recall a fairly obvious "tv sucks read books instead" theme in Fahrenheit 451 right next to the "censorship is bad" theme.
posted by jeather at 7:00 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


a) Ender was a third child, just like Hitler. (Well that certainly proves her case. WTF?)

You kind of left out a lot there. The sister, the incest, the age of losing virginity, etc, etc.

Except if she actually read the book, she would realize that Ender didn't know he was committing genocide.

And now you left out the part where Ender says he would have done it anyway.

Wow - if every science-fiction novel which portrays a government practicing eugenics is actually promoting fascism, then the problem is a lot more widespread than just Orson Scott Card.

Why are you considering each piece of evidence in isolation? No one word in the books links Ender to Hitler. The entirety does.
posted by DU at 7:05 AM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


but he wrote that book where a nerd saves the world so it's all good
posted by Legomancer at 7:07 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Guys, Orson's a jerk and all, but he wrote Ender's Game so he'd have a character to seek redemption in Speaker for the Dead. It's in the afterword and everything.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:08 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The last time I thought about Card was when that NPR poll was going around, the one about favorite sci-fi and fantasy books. As i was voting, and leaving Ender's Game off my list because I too can't separate my fondness for the book from my loathing for the man, I was hoping others would do the same. Alas, no.
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:09 AM on September 8, 2011


I don't know. I lived in Greensboro, NC for several years in the late 90s and early 2000s, and Card was the crank opinion writer for this rag called the "Rhinoceros Times," a local right-wing newspaper.

Okay, so Card might be a hateful homophobe, but let's pretend like his "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything" column isn't solid gold. Where else can you find a print newspaper that lets a crazy old man write reviews of high school theater productions and new flavors of potato chip? Just looking at the last month or so, it looks like he's written a "review" of the Outer Banks that consists of a list of places he likes to go, a bit on the importance of proper Q-Tip care(care of the Q-Tips, that is, so they have a good long life) and a bit complaining that the Tea Party has been taken over by crazies.

I mean, it's like he discovered the dumbest kind of blogging, and sold print newspaper editor on publishing it. It's genius.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:13 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll make this comment again, because it's fun to make this comment:

ENDER'S GAME = GREASED MEN
posted by emelenjr at 7:13 AM on September 8, 2011 [37 favorites]


He's called Ender because... he likes it in his end?

Sorry. That's all I got here.
posted by grubi at 7:14 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Guys, Orson's a jerk and all, but he wrote Ender's Game so he'd have a character to seek redemption in Speaker for the Dead. It's in the afterword and everything.

If this is humor, sorry for misunderstanding - you know that he wrote Ender's Game as a short story first, long before any of the other stuff was even thought of? People ret-con stuff in their afterwords all the time, and make all kinds of claims about work - that whole JK Rowling "I had the end of the series in mind from the beginning" thing, for example, where she obviously didn't have anything except a hazy postscript in mind (which is fine, but which was routinely used to explain the godawful, clumsy plotting in the later books).
posted by Frowner at 7:15 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Orson Scott Card on Gay Marriage:

"Marrying Is Hard to Do.

Men and women, from childhood on, have very different biological and social imperatives. They are naturally disposed to different reproductive strategies; men are (on average) larger and stronger; the relative levels of various hormones, the difference in the rate of maturity, and many other factors make it far, far easier for women to get along with other women and men to get along with men.

Men, after all, know what men like far better than women do; women know how women think and feel far better than men do. But a man and a woman come together as strangers and their natural impulses remain at odds throughout their lives, requiring constant compromise, suppression of natural desires, and an unending effort to learn how to get through the intersexual swamp."

On top of this, he wrote another essay which basically boiled down to:

"We can't legalise gay marriage, because the inability of gay people to get married is the only thing forcing people to be heterosexual! If gay marriage was legal, *everyone* would be gay, because gay relationships are so much easier, more natural and less stressful!"

Essays like this do bring to mind "So far in the closet he can see Narnia."
posted by Year of meteors at 7:17 AM on September 8, 2011 [87 favorites]


Card seems pretty obsessed with his little hate campaign. Someone should keep an eye on him, before he goes on a psychotic rampage and shoots up a gay bar or something.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:19 AM on September 8, 2011


Off the top of my head I can't think of any other writers that have managed to reverse my esteem for them based entirely on factors external to their writing

Tom Clancy is the other author whose right wings views have totally erased any rereading pleasure I would get from his books. I have several of Card's books, but I failed to reread a single one of them since Ender's Game got published more than a quarter century ago. I must not have liked them all that much, time for the Goodwill box trash bin.
posted by francesca too at 7:22 AM on September 8, 2011


I've been on Twitter for a long time and I've never seen anything much good come out of it. Until now. #buyabiggaynovelforscottcardday is made entirely of rainbow-colored awesome.
posted by The Bellman at 7:23 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think Card's politics are hateful and this book may be bad, but I find it hard to believe that the summary in the FPP is accurate. Why try to understand a book when you can generate tons of traffic by writing a snarky bad-faith capsule that will make people angry? I don't trust you, Internet.

And a two-minute hate is not a good enough subject for an FPP.
posted by grobstein at 7:23 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


What are Card's sales figures? What percentage of those are the righteous? His ongoing rabidity is certainly a sop to that market sector which guarantees him a certain minimum sales. As long as he continues to froth for the faithful, he can keep paying his bills in style. And the more froth he generates, the better off he is. You can bet that Hamlet will be required reading in thousands of church groups, schools and camps.

Card may be a loon, but he's a canny one.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:24 AM on September 8, 2011


Someone should keep an eye on him, before he goes on a psychotic rampage and shoots up a gay bar or something.

I'd be more in the "hires male prostitute rent boy to carry luggage to Europe so they can pray the gay away" camp. I love those ones.
posted by Trochanter at 7:26 AM on September 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Except if she actually read the book, she would realize that Ender didn't know he was committing genocide.

One of the offshoots of Holocaust Denialism, especially popular with those who really like that whole Fascism thing and wish it was more popular, is that Hitler's orders were misunderstood, and he was unaware of the wholesale slaughter, or even attempted to shut it down unsuccessfully in the chaos of war. (Yep, that's right, it's the Allies' fault all those jews died.)

That's the point of the K5 article above: there's a greater-than-zero chance that OSC was a front for a group interested in the cultural redemption of fascism. Science Fiction seems to attract right-wingers, and its readership is at least tolerant of it, so it would be a good beach-head to reform Hitler's image... only someone sniffed 'em out. Dunno if I buy it, but it's interesting to think about.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:27 AM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


The fact that Orson Scott Card is a hack is largely independent from his lunatic political views. He could be a staunch advocate for gay marriage, and Ender's Game would still be an equally repugnant (and probably even more overrated) piece of bullied-nerd Gary Stu redemption through violence wish fulfillment.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:28 AM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


For some reason I always feel somehow betrayed when sci-fi authors show themselves to be reactionaries. Even in the heart of the most dystopian sci-fi is often a story of hope and faith in human nature and possibility that I always feel is somehow inherent to the genre. Then someone like Card comes along and proves that at some level they have no faith in humanity and human potential. So sad.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:30 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


an unending effort to learn how to get through the intersexual swamp.

"Go to the Dagobah system, Orson."
posted by octobersurprise at 7:31 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is so, so, so disappointing.

I love Ender's Game. There's something about that book that's deeply meaningful to me. I don't know if Orson Scott Card intended to evoke, through is writing, what he has evoked for so many people who love that book. I'm beginning to suspect that he wrote it, and continues to see it, from a radically different perspective than many of his readers.

In college I went to a talk Orscon Scott Card gave. I had no knowledge whatsoever about him personally - I went to the talk because I assumed it would be cool to see the guy who wrote one of my favorite books. I was absolutely crushed when he spent the entire two hours spewing vitriolic politics, and so were dozens of other people in the audience. There was one girl sitting near me who went up to ask him a question at the end of his talk. I don't even remember what she asked, but he started shouting at her, arguing. She tried to keep the conversation going for a few minutes, but then she just started to cry and walked out of the room. I knew just how she felt. It was so disillusioning to see somebody who wrote a book that I thought was ultimately about acceptance and compassion act that way.

When I got home that evening, I decided to write Orson Scott Card a letter. I wanted to tell him that I was going to continue to appreciate his book even though he and I radically disagreed. I wanted to tell him that what Ender understood was that even when two people are so different they can't possibly see eye to eye, they could still accept each other. It's kind of embarrassing to write this out, but it was an important day for me. I was using the man's book (or rather, what I took from it, which may or may not have been what he intended) to help me deal with my disappointment in the man himself. Weird.

I never sent the letter.

It seems to me, though I find it a bit scary to be so judgmental, that Orson Scott Card wrote more wisdom in to his book than he has managed to actually understand. I hope those of us that got something real from Ender's Game can hold on to that compassion, even if he refuses to.
posted by Cygnet at 7:33 AM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


I knew just how she felt. It was so disillusioning to see somebody who wrote a book that I thought was ultimately about acceptance and compassion act that way.

Funny, I got the impression that it was a desperate cry for help from someone who was a bad day away from shooting up his high school.
posted by empath at 7:40 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's the point of the K5 article above: there's a greater-than-zero chance that OSC was a front for a group interested in the cultural redemption of fascism. Science Fiction seems to attract right-wingers, and its readership is at least tolerant of it, so it would be a good beach-head to reform Hitler's image... only someone sniffed 'em out. Dunno if I buy it, but it's interesting to think about.

This is conspiracy theory crap. The evidence cited? On the phone, years later, sputtering mad and trying to defend Ender's Game, Card 1) misstated the contents of the book, and 2) "manages to sound very convincing when he says Hitler was never on his mind" in writing Ender's game. We all know that's absurd, therefore Ender's Game was written by a shadowy pro-fascist cabal. You gloss this as a "greater-than-zero" likelihood, which may be technically correct, but we might as well discuss the greater-than-zero chance that Ender traveled back in time and wrote it.

I don't think Ender was written as a shadow biography of Hitler. On the other hand, the connections are not coincidence. Speaking broadly, the book is meant to evoke our sympathy with someone who does something very horrible (even if innocently, even if perhaps justly!). Why is that something damning to say about a book? Should books only allow us to empathize with the clean and perfect? Self-appointed anti-fascists could do with a less fascist attitude towards art.
posted by grobstein at 7:42 AM on September 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Worth noting: Card's novelization of The Abyss is excellent.

He's a dickhead. But it's great.
posted by mightygodking at 7:42 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think Ender was written as a shadow biography of Hitler. On the other hand, the connections are not coincidence. Speaking broadly, the book is meant to evoke our sympathy with someone who does something very horrible (even if innocently, even if perhaps justly!). Why is that something damning to say about a book?

I think the world didn't have a shortage of apologias for Hitler that needed to be addressed.
posted by empath at 7:45 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It also portrays its child protagonists and characters as basically little adults, which is deeply bogus in terms of relating to the way that children actually act, but is comforting in a way to smart, precocious children, who like to believe that they're way more mature than other kids their age rather than just being socially isolated and possessing a large vocabulary. (In other words, your typical young SF fan.)

Ok, this is a little off topic, but knock it off. Unfortunately, the above description does fit me as a child, but I bet everyone felt alienated from time to time growing up. All kinds of people like sci-fi, and it is a bit rude to write us off as introverted, socially-backward, easily bullied nerds with an axe to grind.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 7:45 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Except if she actually read the book, she would realize that Ender didn't know he was committing genocide.

And now you left out the part where Ender says he would have done it anyway.
"

DU - it's been a long time since I've read the book and I don't have a copy handy. Can you provide some context for "Ender says he would have done it anyway?"

What I remember is in line with the Wikipedia description:

"Each day the games become increasingly grueling, and Ender is slowly worn down to exhaustion. Waking and sleeping blend together as Ender nearly loses his mind
...
Ender's "final exam" consists of a scenario where bugger ships outnumber Ender's fleet a thousand to one near a planetary mass. Ender orders the use of a special weapon, the Molecular Disruption Device, against the planet itself, destroying the simulated planet and all ships in orbit. Ender makes this decision knowing that it is expressly against the respectable rules of the game, hoping that his teachers will find his ruthlessness unacceptable, remove him from command, and allow him to return home.

Soon after Ender's destruction of the "simulated" Formic fleet, Rackham tells him that all the simulations were real battles taking place with real fleets, and that he had killed all the queens on their home planet. After Ender realizes that he is responsible for the destruction of an entire species (as well as the "simulated" I.F. pilots he was careless at times with), the guilt of the xenocide sends him into depressive sleep.
"

Actually, one of my criticisms of the book is the idea that the Earth government would avoid deliberately destroying the Formic homeworld in the first place, leaving the job to a child who didn't know what he was doing. Bear in mind that the Buggers are not an oppressed minority being targeted for the sake of racial purity. They are an alien species that attacked and nearly wiped out all of humanity. I don't think there is a government on Earth today which, if the human race was fighting for its existence against alien invaders, would hesitate for a moment to wipe out said alien invaders completely if given the opportunity.
posted by tdismukes at 7:48 AM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is conspiracy theory crap. The evidence cited? On the phone, years later, sputtering mad and trying to defend Ender's Game, Card 1) misstated the contents of the book, and 2) "manages to sound very convincing when he says Hitler was never on his mind" in writing Ender's game.

Yeah, I had to agree with the conspiracy theory holding no water, but for a different reason. OSC sounds like a sociopath. I mean that literally. He gains sympathy (for his character, who is also a sociopath) by making a pity play despite the character being in a position of strength (e.g. the abuser who "just can't help himself" so you have to pity him). Classic sociopath behavior, albeit a step removed. When confronted, lies on the spot and threatens to destroy the attacker. Again, classic sociopath behavior.
posted by DU at 7:49 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought it was Laertes who was bi-curious.
posted by obloquy at 7:50 AM on September 8, 2011


Why is that something damning to say about a book? Should books only allow us to empathize with the clean and perfect?

What turned me off from the book was that as a bullied nerd who had adopted a superior, antagonistic, closed-off attitude with people as a self-defense mechanism and has had to work really hard to move beyond that, so I can actually form meaningful relationships with people, i found that the book was working really hard to appeal to the worst parts of my personality, and it makes me think that he has doing far more harm with the book to bullied kids that read it than he is doing good.
posted by empath at 7:50 AM on September 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


Can you provide some context for "Ender says he would have done it anyway?"

Quoting from Sympathy for Superman
The most explicit parallel between Hitler and Ender is that they're both genocides. Hitler, of course, ordered the death of millions of Jews, Slavs, homosexuals, physically and mentally handicapped persons, and so on. Ender exterminated an entire intelligent species. Most people, I hope, agree that mass murder, much less genocide, is quite indefensible. Yet, as we follow Ender's life after he wipes out the Buggers, we're invited to understand and forgive his actions.

Why? How? Here are two answers. "I would prefer not to see anyone suffer, not to do harm to anyone. But then I realize that the species is in danger..." "I thought I was playing a game. I didn't know it was the real thing. But...if I had known the battle was real, I would have done the same thing. We thought they wanted to kill us." The first words are Hitler's, the second Ender's. But the idea is the same, an appeal to good intentions. To save our people, we had to eliminate the threat presented by the existence of the stranger.
posted by DU at 7:52 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would feel bad for him if he weren't so evil.

Having read and loved (as a teenager) most of his work, I honestly believe the following claims are likely try:

Card is (biologically) gay and was molested as a child. He thinks the gay is part how every guy feels and part a result of his molestation and that it must be resisted at all costs because it is evil.

That's a tragic story, but I really wish the guy would get some therapy instead of spreading the hate he feels towards himself around the rest of the world.
posted by callmejay at 7:52 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


likely TRUE
posted by callmejay at 7:54 AM on September 8, 2011


OSC had a stroke a few years back, like Bradbury. The difference is that Bradbury didn't start being a cranky asshole until after the stroke.

I only started reading Card in the late 90s, but it seemed to me that he started to really go off the deep end after his disabled son died young. This isn't an excuse or apologia, just an observation.

I have a buddy out here, a super-nice polite guy who grew up very close by to OSC. If he doesn't have something nice to say, he doesn't say anything at all. He has never said one word about OSC.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:57 AM on September 8, 2011


Funny, I got the impression that it was a desperate cry for help from someone who was a bad day away from shooting up his high school.

It might be useful to ask the people who liked Ender's Game why they liked it...I mean, some of us are not introspective and some of us will lie, but it still might be useful.

I liked Ender's Game quite a lot in my late teens and early twenties, although by my early twenties it was mostly about nostalgia. I've read it a bunch of times, though.

I don't think I ever really identified with Ender, though, partly because Card is at such pains to work in "that Valentine, she's such a girl, the way girls are", ever other line, but also because I really couldn't imagine myself hurting people the way Ender did, intentionally or not.

I liked the book because it captured the fear and desperation that I felt through my early teens and that affected me strongly for many years after - the violence in the book seemed both 1. impossible for me to commit, for a variety of reasons; and 2. the only thing that would actually stop the things that happened to me. Also because the book clarified for me that no matter how much I hated the people who bullied me, I didn't actually want to kick them to death - even if I never found out that I kicked them to death.

And the message I took away about the book's genocide was that it was awful and tragic, and that the righteousness of the anti-alien forces was actually a mistake rooted in terrible accident and willful stupidity. I don't think this has anything to do with Holocaust apologia, since most Holocaust apologists don't seem to consider the Holocaust a tragedy, much less one that has to be undone as much as possible by the perpetrators.

I mean, it's a screwed up book and it reads awfully thin now.

Which is worse, to be the screwed up little nerd who feels that nothing will fix the scary stuff they're experiencing except violence or to be the adult who feels that it's really important to point out that the screwed up little nerd sure is pathetic, eh?
posted by Frowner at 7:58 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Scifi author John Kessel ... Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender's Game, Intention, and Morality

I just wanted to second this recommendation. The Ender/Hitler parallels are weird and creepy, but Kessel has an insightful look at disturbing stuff in Ender's Game--and why many of us are drawn to it--that is more widely applicable even beyond Card's work.
posted by straight at 7:59 AM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


to be fair to bradbury, the internet has the potential to be one of the most efficient systems of control ever devised

also since we're talking about shakespear repurposing has anyone tried rehabilitating Iago
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:59 AM on September 8, 2011


You guys might think this is garbage, but I think history will paint a different picture! We will see who is remembered in five hundred years: the mighty Card or the lowly Shakespeare?
posted by neuromodulator at 8:01 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


It all makes sense now! The "pity the monster." The weird attachment issues. The wooden romance.

Ender = Anakin "Darth Vader" Skywalker.
posted by Nomyte at 8:02 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"She killed herself. Walked out into the sea, dressed in her heaviest gown. A funeral gown. Two soldiers went in after her, and a boat was launched, but when they brought her body back, she was dead."

There is a Willow growes aslant a Brooke,
That shewes his hore leaues in the glassie streame:
There with fantasticke Garlands did she come,
Of Crow-flowers, Nettles, Daysies, and long Purples,
That liberall Shepheards giue a grosser name;
But our cold Maids doe Dead Mens Fingers call them:
There on the pendant boughes, her Coronet weeds
Clambring to hang; an enuious sliuer broke,
When downe the weedy Trophies, and her selfe,
Fell in the weeping Brooke, her cloathes spred wide,
And Mermaid-like, a while they bore her vp,
Which time she chaunted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her owne distresse,
Or like a creature Natiue, and indued
Vnto that Element: but long it could not be,
Till that her garments, heauy with her drinke,
Pul'd the poore wretch from her melodious buy,
To muddy death

Thank you Michael S. Hart, and FUCK YOU Orson Scott Card
posted by word_virus at 8:02 AM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Dude just needs to find someone to lift his luggage.
posted by Mister_A at 8:06 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


"It seems to me, though I find it a bit scary to be so judgmental, that Orson Scott Card wrote more wisdom in to his book than he has managed to actually understand. I hope those of us that got something real from Ender's Game can hold on to that compassion, even if he refuses to."

Actually, a number of his writings demonstrate compassion and a willingness to try to get inside the mind of character who does something awful or who holds beliefs Card disagrees with. It's unfortunate that Card is apparently unable to hang on to that mindset when discussing politics.

"I wonder if he was molested and if that's what he tells himself made him that way."

"And my understanding of his arguments (such as they are) against gay marriage boil down to "you can't do that or everything I've suffered will have been for naught.""

This is totally the vibe I'm getting from him.

I used to enjoy Card's writing quite a lot when I was younger, but as I grew older I got more critical of his storytelling and lost most of my interest in his work. I did enjoy Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, which I thought was well-crafted and had some interesting ideas.
posted by tdismukes at 8:06 AM on September 8, 2011


256: Wait, in what way was Bradbury a crank?

Naberius: Bradbury has definitely become something of a crotchety old fart in his later years. Nonetheless, he's not anywhere near dripping with twisted hate the way Card is, and his art is masterful, beautiful, perceptive, and lasting in a way Card can only dream of

I still admire Ray Bradbury's writing, but there's an undercurrent of patronising heterosexual male Ick toward the Queers and also the Girls With Ladybits through a lot of it. And then there's his story "My Son, Max" (circa 2002!), which is jaw-droppingly homophobic.

This is without even considering the magical talking penises in Farewell Summer, which scarred Dandelion Wine for me for life.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:08 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


We see the effects of displaced, righteous rage everywhere around us, written in violence and justified as moral action, even compassion. Ender gets to strike out at his enemies and still remain morally clean. Nothing is his fault. Stilson already lies defeated on the ground, yet Ender can kick him in the face until he dies, and still remain the good guy. Ender can drive bone fragments into Bonzo’s brain and then kick his dying body in the crotch, yet the entire focus is on Ender’s suffering. For an adolescent ridden with rage and self-pity, who feels himself abused (and what adolescent doesn’t?), what’s not to like about this scenario? So we all want to be Ender. As Elaine Radford has said, “We would all like to believe that our suffering has made us special—especially if it gives us a righteous reason to destroy our enemies.”23 -- from Kessel's article.
posted by straight at 8:10 AM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


What am I supposed to be admiring in his work, or more precisely, why do so many people consider this guy worth a good argument? Why is he worth analysis, rather than just another NOM dickhead? I just don't get it.

Pater Alethias gets at why I think so many people love the book (including me, when I read it many years ago, though I imagine I'd feel much differently about it nowadays). Basically, it's wish-fulfillment for the bright and powerless.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:14 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yonmei's Dissecting Orson Scott Card: Part 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
posted by zarq at 8:16 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I had to agree with the conspiracy theory holding no water, but for a different reason. OSC sounds like a sociopath. I mean that literally. He gains sympathy (for his character, who is also a sociopath) by making a pity play despite the character being in a position of strength (e.g. the abuser who "just can't help himself" so you have to pity him). Classic sociopath behavior, albeit a step removed. When confronted, lies on the spot and threatens to destroy the attacker. Again, classic sociopath behavior.

Oh yes, a much more measured hypothesis.
posted by grobstein at 8:17 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


In a happier world, Thomas Disch would still be alive, and Orson Scott Card would be in therapy.
posted by drezdn at 8:23 AM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh yes, a much more measured hypothesis.

Around 4% of the general population is sociopathic. Considerably less than 4% are acting as fronts for hate groups.
posted by DU at 8:23 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Basically, it's wish-fulfillment for the bright and powerless.

Which is funny because that's exactly the reason I find it so despicable, inasmuch as the specific wish being fulfilled is to use the purifying power of violence to transform oneself from victim to victimizer, and this is presented as happening while still somehow retaining moral superiority.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:29 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Okay, so I read Ender's Game shortly after it came out, and I enjoyed it, probably in no small part to the reasons that Pater Alethias describes. Speaker for the Dead was pretty good too. But even there, I sort of felt that something was a bit... off. I'm not talking about alleged fascist apolegia, just a sense that there was something odd going on. The moral analysis in Kessel's piece is instructive, but still not quite it.

Then I read the Homecoming Saga and holy crap that was some weird shit. Then I figured out what it was: Card is Mormon, and makes no bones about that.

This makes all kinds of sense, really. I was and still am a Christian, so there were certain themes that resonate in Card's work, but there's almost an uncanny valley thing going on here. His writing would probably not trigger my weird-shit-ometer the way it does if he were an orthodox Christian or if he were a straight-up non-Christian. But the way it is, it's just kind of bizarre.

Example: Kessel notes that Ender is some kind of Christ figure, but that
The word “peace” calls to Ender’s mind not the Prince of Peace, not the Jesus of turning the other cheek, not the Jesus who stayed his apostle’s hand when the apostle attacked the soldier who came to take Jesus in the garden.
And yeah, okay, those are a lot of the nice things that Jesus did that non-Christians like. But that's not really the point here. Ender isn't as much a Christ figure with a different emphasis, but a Christ figure that is completely theologically inverted. Christ is the savior, not because he was nice, as Kessel seems to say, nor because he's a judge, as Card seems to say. No, the core of Christ's redemptive work is, according to orthodox Christianity, that he is the focal point of unjust violence. Card depicts Ender's sacrifice as being willing to do terrible things and then be guilty for it. But the Bible depicts Christ's sacrifice as being willing to suffer terrible things, completely absent any guilt of his own. The fact that Christ then goes on to judge the world (cf. Revelation) is thus not a source of guilt for him at all, and in truth, it is Christ's suffering at the hands of the unjust that is in some sense the thing that makes him uniquely fit to mete out judgment. Christ is, in essence, not the innocent killer, but the innocent victim. If anything, the Bugger Queen always struck me as being a more accurate Christ figure, as she was willing to die for the good of humanity.

But, of course, Mormons don't think of Christ as being divine. They're explicitly non-Trinitarian, and view Jesus and Satan as being essentially brothers, created beings who choose opposite paths. And Mormon soteriology is superficially similar to Christian soteriology in that it uses a lot of the same vocabulary, but a quick read of the Mormonposition on the subject shows that they attribute some pretty drastically different meanings to that vocabulary than traditional Christianity does. Protestants, Roman Catholics, and the Eastern Orthodox may have some differences of opinion as to the mechanics of salvation, but they're all in basic agreement about what salvation is. Mormons are sort of off on their own there, as they've drawn these idiosyncratic distinctions between "salvation," "immortality," and "eternal life," distinctions I'm not even sure I get. But the vocabulary is close enough to cause some major dissonance if you're aware of such things. Like in music, where a half step is the most dissonant interval, Mormonism is really jarring for many Christians because it's very close to Christianity while being somehow radically different.

And another thing: I think Kessel is right about his theory that Card is advancing an ethics predicated purely on intent, and that
The doctrine that the morality of an action is solely determined by the actor’s motive rests on a significant assumption: that the good always know what their motives are, and are never moved to do things for selfish reasons while yet thinking themselves moved by virtue.
He's also right that identifying "Calvinists" as advocating a morality based purely on actions is weird, but again kind of misses the point. Yes, Calvinist soteriology maintains that salvation is the gratuitous act of God independent of human action. But Calvinist ethics are intensely based upon intention. Indeed, the Calvinist take on original sin is that human acts are sinful, not because the results are bad, but because humans are, in our current state, incapable of acting from pure motivations.

So this, again, is deeply weird. Yes, Christianity does generally advance a theory that the ethical value of an action is significantly predicated on the intent of the actor. Calvinism isn't alone here either; Thomas Aquinas described the principle of double effect which does a huge amount of work in Catholic ethical thinking. But this gets weird because most traditions of Christianity are deeply suspect of our ability to actually act from pure motives while Card seems to attribute perfect self-knowledge to his protagonists. That too is going to cause some significant dissonance for Christian readers, because Christians are generally taught to second-guess their own motives and operate from the assumption that they're probably acting selfishly on some level. Again we've got a theme which sounds a lot like a Christian theme but somehow gets it completely wrong.

So suffice it to say that I've had a big problem with Card, completely aside from the fact that a lot of his work pretty much sucks, for quite some time.

What I find really interesting is the idea that Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead might actually have been written by committee. I'd like to see some more evidence before actually espousing this theory, but it would certainly seem to make sense. The are certainly similarities between those and the rest of his works, but the quality is pretty drastically different in ways that have never really been clear to me. A lot of authors get better with age and practice, but if anything, Card seems to have gotten a lot worse. I never really understood that, so the theory that he was never any good to begin with has a certain cogency to it.
posted by valkyryn at 8:31 AM on September 8, 2011 [37 favorites]


Card is that guy that claims to not like something, but can't shut up about it. And every conversation seems to inevitably contort itself so that he can turn it back to that subject,

And the more he talks about it, the more everyone wonders why the hell, if this is something that bothers him so much, he keeps immersing himself in it. Eventually, you have to start suspecting that there is an underlying motivation there that is driven by powerful urges.

At which point you can only feel sorry for the guy, and be a little angry at all the people he's hurting by not dealing with what's going on inside of him.

I stopped caring about what Card thought a long time ago, but at this point, I'd love it if he'd shut up and got some help for whatever demons are eating away at him.
posted by quin at 8:32 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Grobstein, I repeat that I have actually read this story. The short description up top is perfectly accurate. It is a hateful thing, full of poison, and also poorly written.
posted by Malla at 8:36 AM on September 8, 2011


It is a hateful thing, full of poison, and also poorly written.

-The food at this restaurant is terrible!

-I know! And the portions are so small!
posted by emelenjr at 8:41 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Mork calling Orson... fuck off, Orson."
posted by scody at 8:41 AM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ok, this is a little off topic, but knock it off. Unfortunately, the above description does fit me as a child, but I bet everyone felt alienated from time to time growing up. All kinds of people like sci-fi, and it is a bit rude to write us off as introverted, socially-backward, easily bullied nerds with an axe to grind.

I dunno, I haven't read the book, but from reading discussions and synopses, I always felt that was totally the reason it was so popular; it seems like catnip for bright, alienated, and arrogant kids who feel surrounded by jerks and dummies (Sort of like The Conscience of a Hacker, but longer and vile and repugnant). Most grow out of it and become healthy people.

For the others, it's not a far jump from Ender Wiggins to Howard Roark.

And from there, madness.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:43 AM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


We should have seen this coming when he named the bad guys in Ender's Game "the Buggers".
posted by w0mbat at 8:45 AM on September 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


This, of course, alludes to you: "since we're talking about shakespear repurposing has anyone tried rehabilitating Iago"
Disney?
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 9:04 AM on September 8, 2011


DU - looking at that juxtaposition of quotes from Hitler and Ender, it seems to me that the author of Sympathy for Superman is saying that because aggressors sometimes claim to be acting in self-defense, that invalidates all such claims by people who actually are acting in self-defense. In the Enderverse, humanity really is fighting for survival against an enemy which is trying to kill them and has almost succeeded. Given the circumstances, Ender's genocide is much more justifiable than the Doctor's multiple genocides, but I don't see anyone arguing that Doctor Who is about promoting fascism.

This quote from that essay is also weird: "Certainly, it isn't OK to kill somebody because you think he might try at some time in the future to kill you. Why then is it OK to wipe out whole races for the same reason?"

If Ender wiped out a whole species because he thought they might try to harm humanity at some point in the future, I would agree that he was a monster. In point of fact, the Buggers had actually already attacked humanity and almost wiped them out and were continuing to fight humanity with almost overwhelming force. The issue isn't whether it's okay to kill somebody because you think they might try to kill you at some point in the future. The issue is whether it's okay to kill somebody when they've just attacked you, beaten you half to death, and they're standing over you with a knife trying to stab you and you have no way to disarm or subdue them.


BTW - do you know where that quote Ender saying he would have done it anyway if he had known comes from? Was it from Ender's Game or one of the later books? The author of the essay doesn't say and I don't remember the quote.


Another thing just occurred to me about Sympathy for Superman. The author is very upset about the idea promoted in Speaker for the Dead that understanding will necessarily lead to forgiveness. To her, Ender is unforgivable, even if his actions occurred due to ignorance. Of course, there is a parallel to Ender's actions. The Buggers originally attacked humanity (and almost destroyed them) due to ignorance - they didn't realize that humans were sentient. By Radford's logic, the Buggers are also unforgivable - a bunch of insectoid Hitlers. So maybe they did deserve to be exterminated after all - this gets so confusing.
posted by tdismukes at 9:08 AM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


When I read Ender's Game as a young person, I felt sorry for him because of what he was tricked into doing. Ender isn't Hitler, he's Rommel -- dedicated to the cause out of blind military obsession and unhappy when he finds out what he's been fighting for (except Rommel supported a coup like a real man when he realized what was up and Ender just moped around like the little emo boy he was.)
posted by michaelh at 9:12 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, so my point is that if Ender's Game is a bad book, it's not because obtuse people want to be Ender anymore than The Matrix is bad because some people want to be Agent Smith. It's not written for the purpose of eliciting that reaction...
posted by michaelh at 9:16 AM on September 8, 2011


Which is worse, to be the screwed up little nerd who feels that nothing will fix the scary stuff they're experiencing except violence or to be the adult who feels that it's really important to point out that the screwed up little nerd sure is pathetic, eh?

Probably to be the guy selling books to bullied nerds telling them that violence is the only solution to their problem.
posted by empath at 9:17 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


...Ender's genocide is much more justifiable than the Doctor's multiple genocides, but I don't see anyone arguing that Doctor Who is about promoting fascism.

I've seen people right here on MeFi arguing that, although I don't know how seriously. In any case, the parallels between Ender and Hitler are a lot stronger than the ones between Who and Hitler.

In the Enderverse, humanity really is fighting for survival against an enemy which is trying to kill them and has almost succeeded.

And in the Hitlerverse, humanity (Germany) "really was" fighting for survival against an enemy (Jews, etc) which is trying to kill them and almost succeeded (WWI). Isn't that the point? From the very next paragraph after the one I quoted above:
And ["humanity really is in danger" is] a valid argument, if you're still a child and no one has ever told you what the road to Hell is paved with. It's a matter of historical record that Hitler honestly believed that the people he defined as human were in terrible danger from "inferior races." He did not merely use the threat to Nordic racial purity to become Fuhrer. Rather, he became Fuhrer because there was simply no other way to institute the sweeping racial programs his beliefs required. As Waite writes in The Psychopathic God: "The horror of Hitler was this: he meant what he said, he lived by his ideals, he practiced what he preached." And this, precisely, is the horror of Ender the Xenocide.
posted by DU at 9:22 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The author is very upset about the idea promoted in Speaker for the Dead that understanding will necessarily lead to forgiveness.

She also seems entirely unwilling to permit intention to even count as part of the analysis. But we all seem to know that it does. The legal system has contemplated the difference between murder and negligent homicide pretty much forever. Exodus, the Code of Hammurabi, the Roman Twelve Tables, all of them include different penalties for crimes committed deliberately and crimes committed accidentally. So while Card may be wrong that intention is the only basis for ethics, and that people can actually have a perfect understanding of their own motives, Radford seems to be wrong that intention can't mean anything at all.

In a sense, it seems that Radford is maybe overstating her own case. Because she seems to assume that Hitler's actions are obviously and unquestionably evil, she takes offense that someone might draw, intentionally or otherwise, a parallel example and ask us to consider whether knowing the actor's intent makes a difference. She may disagree with Card's answer to the question, and even his framing of it, but that doesn't make the question a bad one as such.
posted by valkyryn at 9:22 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


shivohum: I wouldn't really put much stock in a study that tries to blame young people for their own abuse. See the blogger's comment: Yes, #3 is wholly unpleasant. The authors give the example here of young people ‘who are exploring their sexual identity’ (2010, p.67), putting ‘themselves in situations where they are at risk for being sexually abused’ (2010, p.67). No child ever puts her or himself in a position to be abused by an adult.

The study doesn't even come to a particular conclusion, so I wouldn't go around claiming people turn gay because they were molested just yet.
posted by i feel possessed at 9:26 AM on September 8, 2011


I feel strangely pleased with myself that I genuinely had a strong dislike for Ender's Game long before I ever learned anything about Card himself. It's like I'm a hipster of liberalism or something.
posted by Flunkie at 9:29 AM on September 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


I bet he's a ghost.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:38 AM on September 8, 2011


francesca too: "Tom Clancy is the other author whose right wings views have totally erased any rereading pleasure I would get from his books."

Related: Empire, in which OSC imitates Clancy... badly. One of the worst dollars I've ever spent at a Goodwill...
posted by FlyingMonkey at 9:44 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised Ray Bradbury isn't more widely thought of as a crank, actually. I've only read Fahrenheit 451, but going by that, he is and ever was. It's not so much his opinions as his attitude: That novel is just shot through with contempt for other people, and as a consequence, terror of what they might do. Then there's its coda. Lots to agree with, but it's still astoundingly self-serious, self-righteous, and frankly, unhinged-sounding. Also, his horror of "minorities" creeps me out. Yeah, he namechecks Republicans and octogenarians, but I know what that means. I put him in the same cranky bucket as any of the hundred million wearying anyones who imagine themselves to be warrior-victims of "political correctness", and I just don't trust him. I mean, it's not a big deal, he's like a hundred. But I can't get close to his writing.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:46 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Enders game has always been Twilight for people who were told they were smart too many times.

The Ender character is almost completely lacking in any internal agency which is part of what makes it such an easy book to read. Both Ender, and the reader encouraged to inhabit the character, are simply pulled through the plot never needing to make decisions of any kind, and yet he is AMAZING at EVERYTHING, including space quidditch. There is also the fucked up weird sexual shit going on (the charged soapy shower fight scene and how hot Bean is for being an independent sociopath who knows what he wants and gets it), Bella and Ender's inherent inability to relate to women, the rampant misogyny, its got everything.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:50 AM on September 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


In the Enderverse, humanity really is fighting for survival against an enemy which is trying to kill them and has almost succeeded. Given the circumstances, Ender's genocide is much more justifiable than the Doctor's multiple genocides

This is true, and it's a mistake to condemn Ender as if he were just like Hitler. In the fiction of the story, Ender's actions to wipe out the Buggers really are self-defense for the human race, whereas Hitler's claims of self-defense against the Jews were 100% scapegoating bullshit. There's really no comparison.

What Kessel argues is that we should condemn Card (and maybe ourselves), not Ender. We should condemn this narrative, this fantasy of a boy backed into a corner so that he has no choice but to commit genocide, for which the circumstances render him blameless.

This sort of fantasy is (probably) the story Hitler was telling himself when he committed genocide. This is the sort of story America tells itself to justify killing 100,000 Iraqi civilians. We're the real victims! We have no choice! It's self-defense!

Within the fantasy, Ender actually is innocent (against the buggers -- his actions killing other humans are less defensible, I think). That's what makes the story immoral and dangerous.
posted by straight at 9:51 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


But then, when I read the books, there was something I found more deeply sympathetic about the couple of characters who are meant to be you and are actually Card. Its the same theme over and over of children wildly surpassing adult expectations, and using that fantasy skill to subvert exploitative adult authority, up to and including Bean murdering his caretaker. I can't help but feel like there were adults in Card's life who needed the shit kicked out of them like the children in his books do. That seems to take the fire out the evil I could see in Card's bullshit, it just seems so sad. The books just make me wish twelve year old me could help twelve year old Card, cleverly and with panache, kick the shit out of his demons.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:51 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Nymph, in thy Orson be all my sins remembered."
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:54 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Next time Card is at a sci-fi convention panel, I will pay men to make-out in front of him. Preferably in related cosplay outfits. Any takers?

Hell, I'll do it, and I'm straight. As straight as an arrow. Straight as a sword. A long, hard, penetrating sword. A subtly pulsating, warm, hard thrusting

oh god
posted by shakespeherian at 9:55 AM on September 8, 2011 [45 favorites]


Radford's only saying that there are certain actions for which good intentions cannot mean anything at all. Genocide is one of them. It doesn't really matter if the architects of the Holocaust thought they were doing good. Adults have the responsibility of having a token amount of self awareness, enough to consider the idea that they might not be infallible. People who cannot manage that are mentally ill, actually.

If Ender were an adult, he'd be a psychopath. Instead Card's made him a child. Ender is both a killer and an exceptional human being for which there are different moral rules. It's very dark actually, yet the way that Card elevates Ender as a moral example is really disturbing.

Though Card's homophobia is so specifically bizarre, it's worthwhile to note that people, like Radford, had noticed long before that he was off the deep end.
posted by cotterpin at 9:57 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ender's Game desperately needs to be re-envisioned as a homosexual coming of age story re-titled:

Rear Ender's Game: The Making of a Totally Fierce Intergalactic Queen



posted by Skygazer at 10:02 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


"And in the Hitlerverse, humanity (Germany) "really was" fighting for survival against an enemy (Jews, etc) which is trying to kill them and almost succeeded (WWI)."

No, in the universe which Hitler existed (i.e. our own) Germany was not fighting for survival against Jews who were trying to kill them and had almost succeeded and were unstoppable except by annihilation. Nor was there any evidence to suggest that was the case. Hitler may have made claims to that effect, but he was either lying in order to manipulate the masses, living in a delusion which he chose not to question because he found it psychologically rewarding, or both.

I suppose you could make the argument that Hitler was trapped in an unbreakable psychotic delusion where he honestly didn't know that Jews/Gypsies/homosexuals/etc were human and that they weren't trying to kill everybody in Germany and he had no way of questioning his delusion or perceiving the truth. I rather doubt that fully matches the historical facts, but if it did, then I would make the argument that he wasn't any more responsible for his actions than the paranoid schizophrenic who shoots the postman because he thinks the postman is an alien reptiloid come to eat his brain. In that case, the actual guilty parties in Nazi Germany would the non-insane individuals who put Hitler into power and followed his orders.

Regardless, my point still stands. There exists such a thing as self-defense. Aggressors (whether criminals, sociopaths, paranoid psychotics, or simple thugs) often claim to be acting in self-defense. It does not follow that anyone who acts in genuine self-defense is therefore a criminal, sociopath, paranoid psychotic, or thug.
posted by tdismukes at 10:03 AM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I kind of liked Speaker For The Dead, and some weird alt-history novel he wrote called Pastwatch. They didn't change my life or anything, but they were moderately entertaining and had relatively intriguing plots. Which is all faint praise, I know, but I don't feel personally betrayed by OSC's own philosophies (which I do find abhorrent).

But as for Shakespeare -- hell, he'll be fine. There have been so many fucked-up re-interpretations of Shakespearan work out there -- even just counting the ones I've seen, I've seen cyber-punk versions of MacBeth, a Romeo and Juliet set amongst blues musicians, a truly weird Hamlet starring Richard Thomas that was vaguely 1940's-themed until they suddenly had Laertes come running in wearing camoflauge tights and carrying an Uzi, and someone's mind-meld of MacBeth and Fast Food Nation. Some of those worked really kind of awesome (surprisingly, the Fast Food Nation thing was really cool), and some really were awful, but -- Shakespeare's own reputation was unscathed and any "what the hell was THAT?" slander ended up landing squarely on the adapters themselves.

Hamlet's been subjected to far worse than a language change and a weird answer to the "what's my motivation" question. Trust me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:03 AM on September 8, 2011


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. – Homosexual "Marriage" and Civilization Orson Scott Card, February 15, 2004


This is all the reason I need to not like Card. I'm done with him. Anyone who makes claims like this...not worth supporting financially.
posted by Fizz at 10:05 AM on September 8, 2011


My only experience with Mormonism is that , when I was really down and out, and finally got a job as a nursing assistant in an Arizona hospital , a Mormon head of H.R. managed to find my 15 year old original name from before I changed sex and fired me on the spot my first day citing that reason (that I did not list my 15 year old pre-sexchange name). She then took it upon herself to talk to the next Mormon run nursing home down the street that I got hired at the next week to get me fired (again) which lead directly to 2 years of homelessness for me (I was in a shelter 1 months after losing that job)

I know have known gay and transgendered people who have been kicked out of the Mormon Church and ostracized forever by their families. What kind of a religion, what kind of a people does such things?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:09 AM on September 8, 2011 [49 favorites]


tdismukes: Dolchstosslegende.
posted by Grimgrin at 10:10 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Off the top of my head I can't think of any other writers that have managed to reverse my esteem for them based entirely on factors external to their writing

Dan Simmons [Previously] Not the post, more so the commentary about his views on Islam.
posted by Fizz at 10:12 AM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


From memory (I'm not googling for it while at work), OSC has gone on the record saying things about men knowing mens' bodies much better than they do womens' and thus getting more sexual pleasure from them. He also if I remember rightly was talked out of such a relationship by his Church.


That does actually remind me of one of those friend-of-a-friend stories; a young man whose father, a member of a religious group not a million miles from Orson Scott Card's, was oddly fixated on telling him about the importance of fighting his sexual desire for other men throughout his childhood and adolescence, and beyond into marriage. This was confusing to the guy, because he hadn't really felt much in the way of sexual desire for other men.

So when he was old enough he got to talking with his father about this, and discovered that his father, through decades of marriage to his mother, had spent his whole life filled with lustful thoughts about other men. And, because he had been told that homosexuality was not innate, and was the consequence of lifestyle choices by people too weak to resist their base urges, he just assumed that all men felt like this, all the time: that no man preferred to have sex with women, but most managed to hold back their desires, apart from the occasional, guilt-inducing lapse.

I really hope that's apocryphal, because it's about the saddest thing in the world.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:12 AM on September 8, 2011 [35 favorites]


He's called Ender because... he likes it in his end?

Also, WIGS! LOLLLLLL
posted by hermitosis at 10:13 AM on September 8, 2011


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.


Of course the true idiocy of his argument is that it doesn't even fucking matter. Choice shouldn't be a bad word. Whether something is bad and whether something is a choice are orthogonal questions.
posted by kmz at 10:17 AM on September 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


I really hope that's apocryphal, because it's about the saddest thing in the world.

As far as I can tell, this is the way most of those conservative self-hating closeted gay dudes feel. They really believe themselves to be straight, and they believe that their feelings are shared by most if not all other straight guys.
posted by KathrynT at 10:18 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can't remember the last time I wanted to punch someone in the dick this hard.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:39 PM on September 8


I can. It was when Scott Adams dropped by.

As for Card, Christ, what a frothing bigot that man is. It pains me that he wrote one of my favourite short stories. I'd like to just unreservedly loathe the man.
posted by Decani at 10:20 AM on September 8, 2011


As a big ol' gay man myself, I have to say that this whole affair sets my gaydar a'singin'.
posted by jayb3369 at 10:24 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is fascinating. I once (with a coauthor) turned Hamlet into an adequately written pro-gay screed. Well, comedic play.

Romeo and Hamlet
The core premise is that Claudius is the conservative homophobe, the Elsinores are the ruling house of Verona, where Romeo is the unofficial leader of Verona's LGBT community, or, as they were known in Renaissance Italy, "Montagues". Claudius is scheming to marry Hamlet off to Juliet as part of a political bargain, but at the ball, Romeo (and his lesbian friends, Mercutio and Benvolio) have snuck in and when Hamlet and Romeo's eyes meet... Well, let's just say Hamlet's life got way more complicated. All that, and we got to replace the obscure cunt puns in the original with far more accessible cum/come puns.

It's not my absolute favourite part of the script, but here's the wedding speech we gave Friar Lawrence:

We gather here today before the Lord
The only witness we need here this day
This secret wedding in your hearts is stored
And soon his loving message you’ll convey
As creatures built by Him from scraps of dust
You live your lives forever in God’s view.
And in you has been placed this natural lust;
Made in His image as a Montague.
As destined in the days before your birth
You lovers, once alone, now make a pair
Be warned, for some will doubt this union’s worth
And in the dark days hence, do not despair
Against the Lord, this hatred cannot stand.
The laws of nature mock the laws of man.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:27 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have to say that this whole affair sets my gaydar a'singin'.

That photo is priceless.
posted by drezdn at 10:28 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


From jayb3369's link:

Rather, he's plotting a series of games based on the Ender's Game universe.

Wouldn't any fan of Ender's Game be weary of playing what they think is a video game based on Ender's Game?
posted by drezdn at 10:29 AM on September 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


In the context of this thread, the photo from here remind me of this Glenn Beck book.
posted by drezdn at 10:31 AM on September 8, 2011


In the Enderverse, humanity really is fighting for survival against an enemy which is trying to kill them and has almost succeeded.

I don't have a copy, and apparently haven't had one for some time, but that's not how I remember it.

What I remember is that a human fleet encountered a Bugger fleet, and that the human fleet was almost entirely wiped out by the superior Bugger tactics until Mazer Rackham figured out where the fleet's hive queen was located. I don't remember any attacks on Earth, but without the book could be misremembering.

The Buggers are not trying to kill humanity. The Buggers explicitly did not understand that they had been killing people, believing instead that they had been killing drone-avatars of whoever the human Hive Queen was. As far as we know, the Hive Queen calls off the attacks more or less instantly after she realizes that she has been killing actual individual people instead of meat-robots and switches to a purely defensive posture, eventually accepting her fate.

By the time Ender is commanding the first fleet to arrive to attack the Buggers, the human race is bent on a program of extermination against an enemy that is no longer any threat whatsoever.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:33 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


And as for Bradbury, fine storyteller that he is, I lost respect for him when he went after Michael Moore for "Fahrenheit 9/11" on the grounds that he (Moore) was misappropriating the title of one of Bradbury's works.

Coming from the man who wrote "Something Wicked This Way Comes", "I Sing The Body Electric", "There Will Come Soft Rains" and "The Golden Apples of the Sun" this struck me as a level of hypocrisy usually only found amongst the American Christian right.
posted by Decani at 10:33 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"What Kessel argues is that we should condemn Card (and maybe ourselves), not Ender. We should condemn this narrative, this fantasy of a boy backed into a corner so that he has no choice but to commit genocide, for which the circumstances render him blameless.

This sort of fantasy is (probably) the story Hitler was telling himself when he committed genocide. This is the sort of story America tells itself to justify killing 100,000 Iraqi civilians. We're the real victims! We have no choice! It's self-defense!

Within the fantasy, Ender actually is innocent (against the buggers -- his actions killing other humans are less defensible, I think). That's what makes the story immoral and dangerous.
"

This is actually a much deeper and more interesting critique. It's also a charge that could be laid against many thousands of other books, tv shows, and movies. These stories present a central character who is a badass warrior of some sort. In order that the reader/viewer can identify with the protagonist guilt-free, a situation is laid out where the bad-ass warrior, who only wants to be left alone, is targeted so that he has no choice but to (avenge his slain kung fu master/ rescue his family from gangsters/ wipe out hordes of terrorists or zombies/ destroy an invading alien fleet or homeworld/ etc) after which the hero walks away from the explosions without looking back. To the extent that these stories make violence seem both inevitable and exciting and the victims of the protagonist's violence seem deserving of their fate, they have the potential of training the audience to think in ways which can be dangerous.

By that standard, I think the Enders books are less guilty than many in the genre. The buggers turn out not to be monsters deserving of death, but beings much like ourselves. The deaths of countless humans and buggers turn out to be due to a colossal misunderstanding which might have been averted if the responsible parties on both sides (not Ender) had managed to ask more questions and tried harder to communicate. The protagonist goes catatonic with guilt when he learns what he's been manipulated into doing. The second book is concerned with a search for redemption for the actions in the first book. For a book that does have its share of violence glamorization, it could have been much worse.
posted by tdismukes at 10:34 AM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Radford's only saying that there are certain actions for which good intentions cannot mean anything at all. Genocide is one of them. It doesn't really matter if the architects of the Holocaust thought they were doing good.

I don't think that's the kind of intention valkyryn is getting at. The difference between murder and negligent homicide is not why you intend to kill someone, but whether you intend to kill someone.
posted by Jahaza at 10:36 AM on September 8, 2011


Forthcoming from Orsen Scott Card:


Ender's Game IX: The Wrath of Cock

Ender's Game XVI: The Second Cumming

Ender's Game XVII: Attack of the Bones

Ender's Game XIV: Deeper Impact

Ender's Game XXII: Revenge of the Lisp

posted by Skygazer at 10:38 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I once (with a coauthor) turned Hamlet into an adequately written pro-gay screed.

I once worked on a production of Hamlet that became a pretty interesting feminist statement simply by virtue of changing Hamlet's gender. (The Horatio/Hamlet relationship got all KINDS of nifty.)

Then again, we also knew to leave the language alone because it still worked even with that change because Shakespeare is a frackin' genius.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:39 AM on September 8, 2011


ROU_Xenophobe - It's been a long time for me as well, so I could be mis-remembering parts of the book. The Wikipedia article does make a couple of references to humanity barely surviving the initial conflicts with the Formics.

You are right about the misunderstanding on the part of the Formics which lead to the original conflict. They didn't understand in the beginning that they were really killing humans.


Grimgrin - I'm familiar with the idea of Dolchstosslegende. The fact remains that it wasn't true. Once again, the fact that some people claim to be defending themselves when they're really not does not invalidate the whole idea of self-defense.
posted by tdismukes at 10:53 AM on September 8, 2011


"also since we're talking about shakespear repurposing has anyone tried rehabilitating Iago"

I saw one where Othello's an abusive prick and has been shacking up with Iago, and Iago tries to sabotage his relationship with Desdemona out of a weird jealousy/saving Desdemona thing.

It was kind of a confused mess, honestly, but I think the point was to read Iago as the tragic hero.
posted by klangklangston at 11:01 AM on September 8, 2011


So, time for a perverse tale of adolescent woe. Ender's Shadow was the first novel I read in English, independently, after working up the courage to think that I can read an entire novel in English. I read Ender's Game immediately after I tore through Shadow. Then I reread the two novels side by side, keeping careful mental note of how the timelines in the two novels overlapped and diverged.

I was in the seventh or eighth grade, so 12 or 13. I wasn't bullied, not in any literal sense. I was just very different from the other kids.

I was only slowly learning to pass for a native English speaker, having arrived in the States the previous year. Also, I was attending a private Hebrew school. I'm not Jewish in any sense of the word. My mother's second husband is Jewish, which made our family eligible for refugee status under some post-Soviet immigration program. My stepfather's family made the decision to place me in a private Hebrew school so I wouldn't come in contact with the black kids in public schools. You know, to shield me from negative influences.

To this day, I can sound out Hebrew writing and discuss some sections of the Talmud (in extremely superficial detail).

For two years, I went through the motions of daily prayer, rituals, and religious observances that I neither understood nor cared for. (Quitting the school wasn't a viable option, since my stepfather was heavily beholden to his family, and we were their "project.") I was never in fear of being "found out." I made no secret of my mother's ethnicity and my lack of religious belief. It was the feeling of alienation that was worst of all. Constant and total feeling of alienation, a wall between my private self and the demands of a foreign outside world in which I was powerless to change anything.

Ender's Shadow, even more so than Ender's Game, tapped into what I was feeling and helped it crystallize and find a name. It reflected the experience of being uplifted from squalor into affluent civilization (one of the things that fascinated me the most about the US is suburbia, it was entirely foreign to me); the constant need to problem-solve, self-perfect, prove my abilities to peers and adults (I was a proud and overachieving kid — the idea of being taken for stupid because I talked funny was galling to me); and, of course, the experience of being powerless and wanting to be significant. My adolescent years were lonely, confused, and full of weird family strife. I wanted better. I wanted out.

But that's not the most important part. Most importantly, I read the novels as LGBT YA fiction. I was too afraid to put it into those words at the time, but the books were some of the first stepping stones on the way to coming to terms with being gay.

Yes, I realize that Card's books are not the best thing to hand to a fragile adolescent. But at the time they were all I had. I had no gay role models to look up to. Growing up (in Soviet Russia!), I lived in a culture that knew of two "gay" things: Freddie Mercury and roving drug-addled lunatics who kidnapped children to molest and murder. I'm not sure how widespread that second one was, it's not really a question you ask yourself at that age.

So Bean was my surrogate and Ender was my boy crush. Yes, it's a broken and subversive reading, and it helps to keep a fanfic writer's mindset. But it's all kind of there, at least in the terms I understood "love that dare not speak its name" at that age, at that time, in that place: the cautious first curiosity, the grudgingly growing admiration, the establishment of a close emotional bond, the need for physical proximity, the painful feelings of empathy… it's all there. To this day I have a very vulnerable soft spot for woobies, which Ender is in spades.

I hate to say that I learned better over time. There's a lot of repugnant stuff in the books that I wilfully ignored. The need to resort to violence, and respect and admiration for people who wouldn't hesitate to "do the right thing" are part of my cultural upbringing. I am proud of myself for consciously returning to the books at 15 or 16 to identify what made me like them. That was my first experience examining my emotional responses: ah, I see — Ender and Bean appealed to my need for power, recognition, and companionship. In turn, that experience helped me realize that the personal needs the novels tapped into couldn't be fulfilled by reading more books. The books were an escape from a real-world problem that had to be addressed by real people, including myself, in the real world.

It's also why I cringe when I look at someone's online profile and see Ender anything on their list of favorite books. Did this individual ever examine their reactions to what they read? Did they like the violent bits? What kind of place were they in, emotionally, when they read them? Would they have a similar response to them if they reread them now? Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow are difficult books for me to make smalltalk about. They're too intimate.

I value, even treasure my first time reading those novels. That experience prepared me to take further steps toward better self-knowledge and actualization. The novels themselves have little to do with it now.
posted by Nomyte at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2011 [45 favorites]


I value, even treasure my first time reading those novels.

My problem is that knowing what I now know about his personal politics, I am a bit ashamed at my love of this series. I read Ender's Game when I was 14 or 15 and I like to think that I was smart enough to have noticed certain ideological issues and political beliefs that I find personally disagreeable right now, but I somehow glossed over those issues. I was just along for the ride, enjoying the battle-sequences.
posted by Fizz at 11:16 AM on September 8, 2011


Speaker for the Dead did change my life. It is honestly one of the most compelling arguments for humanism that I've ever read, and it is explicitly so, such that one of the last lines in the book is the rigid Catholic Cardinal sighing and saying, "Almost, you make me a humanist". It argues for understanding, tolerance, getting past surfaces and seeing to the real individuals beneath, and it argues that those practices create a stronger, more bound, more real community than any surface institution such as the Church or racial similarity.

How it was written by OSC, I'll never understand. He has since gone back and written a bunch more stuff in the Ender universe that reifies the entire story as a general screed for the necessity of heterosexual marriage, which is stupid, but he's stupid. Now he's fucking with Hamlet, which also changed my life, so that's not ok. But I'll stand up for Speaker for the Dead. Reading it now is like if a very young David Duke had written A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or To Kill a Mockingbird or something. It's incredibly jarring, but the book is still really good.
posted by Errant at 11:17 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


bradbury is a crank
asimov is a misogynist
PKD was a schizo misogynist
lem was classist
borges was provincial
vonnegut was maudlin
nabokov was classist and crypto-libertarian
burroughs was probably a pedo


A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates is subtly biased towards strings including "1"
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:19 AM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


borges was provincial

people from bookshelf #19043612 are like THIS but people from bookshelf #026191649 are like THIS
posted by DU at 11:24 AM on September 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


those assholes in the red hexagon have been keeping us down for too goddamn long
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:26 AM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


though the "pogrom against the Mormons" is dumb. I think I like it more because I didn't know anything about Mormons when I read it, so I read it as a variant on "out group gets violently attacked by crazed Americans, has to flee".

It's worth noting that while the idea of a Mormon pogrom might seem out of place today, they're more or less a historical fact (and only really "less" if you take the view that neighbors of the Mormons had legitimate grievances that justified the reaction of warfare and forced mass relocation).

I'm not altogether sure how likely any of the specific scenarios in Folk of the Fringe are. But take the level of animosity that a good chunk of evangelical Christianity has towards Mormons -- I don't think it's too strong to say there's a lot of evangelicals who see Mormonism as not just silly and incorrect, not even just intentionally exploitative, but actually inspired and directed today by infernal forces. Combine that with the general suspicion and mockery with which Mormons are often seen in the population at large. Under the right explosive circumstances, I'm not sure another Missouri-like situation is the most incredible thing in that particular piece of fiction.
posted by weston at 11:26 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


bradbury is a crank
asimov is a misogynist
PKD was a schizo misogynist
lem was classist
borges was provincial
vonnegut was maudlin
nabokov was classist and crypto-libertarian
burroughs was probably a pedo


Excerpt from "88 Lines About 44 Fantasists."
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:28 AM on September 8, 2011 [18 favorites]


"Sympathy for Superman" highlights something I'd completely forgotten about:

Card lays out a hierarchy of forgiveness, and at the apex of this hierarchy is the Nordic.

At this point, the self-loathing homophobia is priced-in, but the linkage of race and ethics was rather a surprise.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:30 AM on September 8, 2011


he's plotting a series of games based on the Ender's Game universe.

That well's running awfully dry by now, surely?

And FWIW, my take on Ender's Game was that the fights with Stillson and Bonzo seemed awfully bloodless and unemotional. The real disturbing parts for me were the Giant's Drink game: "burrowing into the eye". In some ways it's a setup for the fantasy-is-reality reveal at the end; but still it paints Ender as emotionally disconnected from humanity. I too found that somewhat comforting as an awkward adolescent and find it somewhat disconcerting as an adult.

I still like Speaker for the Dead a lot too. It's hard to detach from Card's obnoxious opinions now; but it's still great. (In addition to Errant's points, I'd note that Speaker succeeds very well at creating believable and genuinely alien aliens -- the piggies are far better developed antagonists than the buggers.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:30 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


yeah i'm done with fiction, j michaels *pulls out owl-train telephone directory, dumps risperdal/depakote in the trash, puts on sweater-vest*
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:32 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I read Ender’s Game a long time ago (20 years?) and thought it was awful, just terrible in every respect. I was in my early 20’s, and had read a LOT of Science Fiction in my time. It seems like many of the the people who loved it were (a) teens and (b) not sci-fi fans. I still can’t believe how many reviews that say "I didn’t like this, I guess I don’t like sci-fi".

I didn’t remember a damn thing about the plot after I read it. The only thing I remember thinking was "what was all the gay subtext about?" and a weird gay pedophile undercurrent that made me uncomfortable.
posted by bongo_x at 11:34 AM on September 8, 2011


It's also a charge that could be laid against many thousands of other books...In order that the reader/viewer can identify with the protagonist guilt-free, a situation is laid out where the bad-ass warrior, who only wants to be left alone, is targeted so that he has no choice... To the extent that these stories make violence seem both inevitable and exciting and the victims of the protagonist's violence seem deserving of their fate, they have the potential of training the audience to think in ways which can be dangerous.

Yeah, I was wondering myself whether that critique of Ender's Game applies to every revenge story. One big difference is the extent to which Card's story encourages us to identify with Ender and see things from his perspective. A whole lot of revenge stories (especially movies) have a much more third-person perspective. The viewer says, "OH! They shouldn't have messed with that guy!" The protagonist is not so much a blameless victim as a (self-appointed) instrument of justice. Not so much innocent as willing to get his hands dirty.

And maybe the Ender's Game version is more dangerous for me because getting bullied at school is a lot closer to my real-life experience (and Ender's response more like my own fantasies) than having my family killed by a gang of ruffians.

But I think it's possible that all these revenge stories appeal to and feed stuff in us that we maybe ought to starve instead.
posted by straight at 11:36 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I liked Ender's Game when I was a kid. Having not thought about it in years, and thinking about it in light of some of the discussion here, it is kinda fucked up.

MeFi is destroying my childhood!
posted by epilnivek at 11:39 AM on September 8, 2011


I read the original Ender's Game short story probably 8 years ago, and saw at once both what turned me off about the story (Ender was soulless) and what would appeal to so many people ("They laughed at Einstein!"). But looking back, I can see it as a juvenile version of Ayn Rand: the reason things suck is that people aren't as awesome as you, and wouldn't it be great if the world recognized your superiority?
posted by grubi at 11:41 AM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


How it was written by OSC, I'll never understand.

That's easy. Insectoid monsters that almost accidentally destroyed the human race because they were too alien to understand individuality = ramen. Men who sexually desire other men = varelse or maybe even djur.

Because dude crazy, that's why.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:46 AM on September 8, 2011


Yikes. I knew Card was fucked up, but this is truly pathological.

In a happier world, Thomas Disch would still be alive, and Orson Scott Card would be in therapy.

Hear, hear.
posted by homunculus at 11:52 AM on September 8, 2011


Speaker succeeds very well at creating believable and genuinely alien aliens

But can we also talk about the insanely bad science at the end of Xenocide?

"Our only hope is if we can come up with three completely revolutionary scientific advances at once. All we need is a matter duplicator, a cure for AIDS, and a way to travel faster than the speed of light."

"Ok. I'll start working on the FTL thing." "I'll take the AIDS cure." "I'll get working on that matter duplicator." "Great. We'll meet back here next week."
posted by straight at 11:54 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, yeah. "Insanely bad [X]" and "Xenocide" go together like peanut butter and jelly.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:55 AM on September 8, 2011


burroughs was probably a pedo

There are rumors about Clarke as well.

Niven's turned into a crank.

And, of course, there is Orson Scott Card's former assistant editor, the Nebula-winning and Hugo-finalist Eric James Stone, who is also a homophobe.

A pity. I guess science fiction is a bit like computer animation, in that it is only limited by our imagination, but, as a result, quickly marks the limits of our imagination.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:06 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure Niven has always been a crank.

Who are the science fiction writers that the right are opposed to?
posted by drezdn at 12:13 PM on September 8, 2011


So, wait a minute.

The antagonists in Ender's Game are called "buggers"?

So this should really be no surprise, right?
posted by kenko at 12:13 PM on September 8, 2011


Subterranean Press Publisher Bill Schafer's circumspect response.

Haven't read all the comments yet, but I keep wondering something. I've only read two Subterranean Press releases. Both were YA titles by bigtime authors who don't usually write YA (Connie Willis, Philip K. Dick). And both were pretty unabashedly bad, on several levels (the Dick book was plagued by typos, for one; the Willis book had absolutely narmy, terrible illustrations; plots sucked in both cases). I'm starting to get the general feeling that they publish these works not because they're . . . good but because they're big names and guaranteed money makers. But my sample size is small. Anyone read any books by this press that they love?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:18 PM on September 8, 2011


I'm starting to get the general feeling that they publish these works not because they're . . . good but because they're big names and guaranteed money makers. But my sample size is small.

From reading the Card press release, that's almost exactly implied. I have a Scalzi Subterranean Press book, but I haven't got around to reading it yet. They have printed many lesser know respected authors, but I can't vouch for the quality of anything they've put out.
posted by drezdn at 12:22 PM on September 8, 2011


drezdn: "Who are the science fiction writers that the right are opposed to?"

China Miéville.

Other Leftist authors include:

* Iain M. Banks: Has spoken out against Tony Blair, George Bush, the War on Terror and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
* Ursula Le Guin: Feminist themes.
* Philip K. Dick: Used to write articles for Labour and left wing publications.
* Kim Stanley Robinson: has a trilogy about global warming and espouses a number of libertarian/independent, anti-authoritarian, anti-megacorporate ideas in his Mars series.

We should probably also include David Brin in that list, as he identifies as a libertarian, against Republican depradations on civil liberties, and other issues.
posted by zarq at 12:23 PM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


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.

For example, when I was much younger I knew a young man who was for all intents and purposes, heterosexual. He was mugged, and involved in a rape situation involving a tent peg.
posted by cereselle at 12:25 PM on September 8, 2011


Also, re: Dick, his works have been objected to over the years because they are permeated with drug use.

Also, many negative depictions of authoritarian governments and monopolistic corporations probably do not endear him to the right wing.
posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on September 8, 2011


Didn't Dick swerve hard right near the end though?
posted by drezdn at 12:29 PM on September 8, 2011


The only thing Orson Scott Card is worth to me now is that when I look back over my life and regret that I'm not the best selling science fiction author that I thought I might be when I was an impressionable youth, I can ignore the fact that it's not my laziness or lack of talent and instead can just say "maybe I could have done it if I had the asshole gene."

That said, OSC and I do have one thing in common -- he and I both look at each other with judgment and think 'what horrible thing must have happened to that man to make him turn out that way.'
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:30 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


What kind of a religion, what kind of a people does such things?

Christianity. Christians. Have done for a very long time now.
posted by General Tonic at 12:30 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also see figures two and four on this page.

Figure 2:
Fourteen Political Authors
	        Correlation with
	Author	Right Wing
        Anderson  +0.38
	Heinlein  +0.37
	Dickson   +0.34
	Campbell  +0.32
	Niven     +0.22
	-----	-----
	Wells	-0.19
	Brunner	-0.20
	Dick	-0.22
	LeGuin	-0.23
	Sturgeon -0.23
	Zelazny	-0.23
	Delany	-0.27
	Herbert	-0.27
	Ellison	-0.32

posted by zarq at 12:31 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


So, wait a minute.

The antagonists in Ender's Game are called "buggers"?

So this should really be no surprise, right?


Well sure, it's clear in hindsight.
posted by IAmUnaware at 12:31 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also see figures two and four on this page.

Interesting, I wonder if anyone has done this with more contemporary authors?
posted by drezdn at 12:35 PM on September 8, 2011


Didn't Dick swerve hard right near the end though?

That's what she said!

No, really, that's what she said when my wife and I were discussing PKD's life and political/philosophical leanings; whereas I argued that he was pretty much "out there leftist" the entire time.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:41 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Didn't Philip K. Dick believe that most political issues we would recognize are illusions? I suppose that his cultural allegiances were more left than right, but he was not an opinion columnist like Card.
posted by grobstein at 12:45 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


grobstein: "Didn't Philip K. Dick believe that most political issues we would recognize are illusions? I suppose that his cultural allegiances were more left than right, but he was not an opinion columnist like Card."

I could be wrong, but I seem to remember reading that he was. But yes, his political beliefs were, at various points in his life all over the map.
posted by zarq at 12:52 PM on September 8, 2011


I sort of figured that most of PKD's later work was just trying to process his weird experience.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:53 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Anyone read any books by this press that they love?"

The Ocean and All Its Devices

William Browning Spencer is criminally under-appreciated.
posted by tdismukes at 12:59 PM on September 8, 2011


Didn't Dick swerve hard right near the end though?

I don't recall Phil swinging to the hard right politically (but it's been a decade or more since I read Sutin or the Exegesis), but he did become much more fervently religious following his experience/mental break in 1974. But (also as I recall) as late as 1980, in the introduction to The Golden Man, he was still making a distinction between himself and Heinlein, politically, and describing himself as a (I paraphrase) "hippie freak."
posted by octobersurprise at 1:03 PM on September 8, 2011


PhoBWanKenobi:

Subterranean Press' bread and butter is limited editions for collectors, which comes typically comes in one of two forms:

1. Limited edition reprints of well-known work;

2. Off-beat works from well-known authors.

So, using myself as an example, in the first category SubPress has done limited editions of my Old Man's War books, all signed by me, with interior illustrations, etc. In the second category, it published my novella "The God Engines," and well as being the initial publisher for my collection of essays Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded.

The first category tends to have very good works in it because for the limited editions, Subterranean generally goes with books proven in the market. In the second category, there's more variation with quality of the source material, although I think SubPress does some good work here too (this year's Hugo winner in the Novella category, Ted Chiang's "The Lifecycle of Software Objects," was published by SubPress, for example).

Generally speaking, I have been very pleased how SubPress has treated my work (I was particularly pleased with the work they did with "The God Engines," which I think may be the best looking book I have), and I have also been very pleased with how they've treated me as an author, both in input on the work and in how they've compensated me and other authors I know who have worked with them. I have been impressed enough with them that they are the small/limited press who gets the first look at my non-Tor Books fiction projects.

If I may, I'll also vouch for publisher Bill Schafer as a decent human being. From just my own experience: The very first piece of work I did with Subterranean Press was a limited edition of my novel Agent to the Stars; as part of his appreciation to cover artist Mike Krahulik, he donated 10% of his profits from the run to the Child's Play charity. Later, when Peter Watts had his little run-in with the US Border Patrol, he donated $1,000 to his legal defense, raised from sales of a chapbook of mine. Another time he had bought a story I'd written and I asked if I could buy it back to do a fundraiser for another author who had run into financial trouble; he gave it back for free and matched the first $1000 of donations.

In short: Good people doing good work. I'm happy to be published by them.
posted by jscalzi at 1:13 PM on September 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


Thanks for the rundown, jscalz. I did get a general sense of good quality from, for example, the YA issue of their magazine guest edited by Gwenda Bond. Like I said, a sample size of two or three is really small (if I'd only ever read two HarperTeen books, who knows--might have had a similar feeling about them), but the quality of the first book I encountered published by them, Nick and the Glimmung--which I didn't seek out, but stumbled across in the teen section of the local library--was weak enough that I immediately remembered it the second time it happened, with Connie Willis's D.A.. They were both really, really odd, slight, expensive and not so great books, and it's rare that I have experiences with a publisher, as a reader, that stick out in my mind like that. The statement here from Bill Schafer--that he's surprised that anyone is speaking up now, as this is a reprint and he thought it would be of interest to collectors--just seemed to underscore the hazy thesis I was starting to form, which stands out pretty starkly against what I've heard about them in the spec fic community (I've only ever heard glowing things about how they treat their authors, for instance).

Of course, vastly different editorial tastes than mine might be the source of a lot of this. I'm not sure that excuses bad copyediting, or, in this case, publishing something so apparently rankly homophobic, but that doesn't mean he's a bad person, or even a bad editor.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:27 PM on September 8, 2011


"It's worth noting that while the idea of a Mormon pogrom might seem out of place today, they're more or less a historical fact (and only really "less" if you take the view that neighbors of the Mormons had legitimate grievances that justified the reaction of warfare and forced mass relocation)."

Yeah, the way the Mormons spin it, they were poor little put-upon naifs, not Danites who burned their neighbors' homes. And that's without ever getting into Utah, where they killed plenty of civilians.

I mean, I'm not Zane Grey or anything, but Mormons whitewash their history with mighty big brushes and have no problem giving people the boot if they question it.
posted by klangklangston at 1:29 PM on September 8, 2011


Card is such an asshole. He's not a good enough writer to be such a raging asshole.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:49 PM on September 8, 2011


Subterranean Press is great if you like books as physical objects like I do. And there's no way you can look at jscalzi's output there and cast aspersions on their editorial policies. Here is a great thread on The God Engines (spoilers).
posted by infinitewindow at 1:50 PM on September 8, 2011


Ender's game is easily one of the crappiest sci-fi books I've read.

Actually "Speaker for the dead" is the best of the series. The 4th book in what should have been a trilogy is absolutely putrid, but less so than the "shadow" series.

Is it just me, or are the genocided aliens in the Ender's Game called "buggers"?

He changed it in the later series when he realized what "bugger" meant.
posted by mike3k at 1:54 PM on September 8, 2011


What did he change it to? Also, he didn't know what bugger meant?
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:55 PM on September 8, 2011


I'm not doubting that jscalzi's books with them are great, or that they're great people. But seriously, the two books of theirs I read were of the "why was this published?!" category (or, in the case with the Dick novel, more like, "I can see why this fell out of print"). The only conclusion that I could come to was about their interest to collectors--not an invalid reason, but not really my thing--and publishing a homophobic version of Hamlet might seem to be a questionable editorial decision to many, right? No? Just me?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:57 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


What did he change it to?

They're called walkie-talkies in all subsequent books.
posted by drezdn at 2:02 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


* Iain M. Banks: Has spoken out against Tony Blair, George Bush, the War on Terror and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

Not only that, Banks has stated outright that he created the "Culture" setting as a liberal alternative to the general right-wing domination of sci-fi.
posted by baf at 2:08 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


grobstein: "Didn't Philip K. Dick believe that most political issues we would recognize are illusions? I suppose that his cultural allegiances were more left than right, but he was not an opinion columnist like Card."

I could be wrong, but I seem to remember reading that he was. But yes, his political beliefs were, at various points in his life all over the map.



Okay I kinda wanna read those opinion columns.
posted by grobstein at 2:10 PM on September 8, 2011


I'd really like to see the passages from the Hamlet book that have to deal with homosexuality, molestation, etc. The article really only states it as fact, without providing any evidence for it.... And since some of the other stuff we've seen makes giant leaps that I don't think are supported ("Ender is Hitler! Because Ender has two siblings, and while Hitler had more than two, he only really grew up, before age 6, with two!! Also, the book was written by a shadow group that supports fascism. Duh." And maybe I was young when I read the books, but I didn't see anything incestuous about Ender's relationship with his sister. Maybe I just would have to go back for that one).

Now, obviously, Orson Scott Card has awful beliefs, and it's totally believable that he would put such a disgusting message in a book. I don't think this is undeserved character assassination or anything -- and I certainly don't think his version of Hamlet is some unappreciated masterpiece, given what excerpts are provided. I just would like to actually see some of the segments that present the "gay molester ghost" plot.
posted by meese at 2:10 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I do agree with meese on that one--the original review seems a bit thin and unsupported, and it kind of unsettles me how its claims are being repeated without that support. Not that I don't believe those claims, but it does look like a bit of weaksauce.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:11 PM on September 8, 2011


I threw away my copy of the book that included this story, and I urge you not to read it yourself, but trust me, it is all gay molestation crap all the way through. The reviewer is not exaggerating. "Gays will rape your children and turn them gay" is not a subtle, understated theme in the story -- it's the insane screechy core of the tale.
posted by Malla at 2:20 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other words, we are not talking subtext and shower scenes. Hamlet's dad rapes Horatio, Laertes, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, and they all become violent, sneaky gays. Gertrude sends Hamlet overseas to school to keep him from being molested, too. It's a gross right-wing fantasy.
posted by Malla at 2:29 PM on September 8, 2011


I'm pretty suspicious of any mapping that puts Asimov that far rightward. This must be mostly age bias.
posted by DU at 2:34 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other words, we are not talking subtext and shower scenes. Hamlet's dad rapes Horatio, Laertes, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, and they all become violent, sneaky gays. Gertrude sends Hamlet overseas to school to keep him from being molested, too. It's a gross right-wing fantasy.

That, or the latest offering from Dennis Cooper.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:39 PM on September 8, 2011


I've met the guy. I've had dinner with the guy, on his dime. I've met his family. I've enjoyed his books over the years. And yet somehow, I didn't quite realize just how homophobic the man is.

So what do you do when you already have books he's written? If we found out he were racist, it would likely inspire the same type of response, but what should that response be? Should I throw away the books? Donate them? Destroy them? Let them sit on my shelves unread? Should I let my children read them someday, and if so, do I share the insight into the man's character?

guess I'm setting myself up for an askme
posted by davejay at 2:48 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, I'm not Zane Grey or anything, but Mormons whitewash their history with mighty big brushes and have no problem giving people the boot if they question it.

Mormons certainly do whitewash their history. But the Church doesn't give people the boot for questioning the whitewashed history. Members of the Church research church history and write about it all the time in ways that directly contradict the whitewashed versions of history portrayed in various church publications, films, etc., and they don't get the boot for it. The church excommunicated Fawn Brodie in 1946, but come one, that's one person and that's 1946 (the church didn't excommunicate Hugh Nibley, who was an apologist but whose writings about church history were not at all supportive of the "whitewashed" narratives that most members of the church are familiar with). It hasn't excommunicated Richard Bushman, and there are entire online communities and publications of current Mormons dedicated to discussing and bringing to light accurate history of the church and its members.
posted by The World Famous at 2:54 PM on September 8, 2011


Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern are Violent, Sneaky Gays

Tom Stoppard's much less well known first draft.
posted by quin at 2:54 PM on September 8, 2011 [21 favorites]


(I would add that I am also an example of someone who openly and consistently questions the whitewashed history of Mormonism. And I've never heard or seen anyone in the church bat an eye at it. In fact, people nearly always agree with me and engage in open discussion about it.)
posted by The World Famous at 2:57 PM on September 8, 2011


Anyone read any books by this press that they love?

They have my undying gratitude for printing an omnibus edition of Barry Hughart's Master Li and Number Ten Ox novels, which have (except for the first one, Bridge of Birds) been insanely difficult to find for a long time. I admit, I'm less than thrilled with the level of proofreading in that edition, but I'm very happy that they printed it.

Also, as Metafilter's Own John Scalzi just noted, Bill Schafer generally seems to be a hell of a decent guy.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 3:00 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Clearly our children need to be protected from the threat of HomoGhosts.
posted by panboi at 3:08 PM on September 8, 2011


That does actually remind me of one of those friend-of-a-friend stories; a young man whose father, a member of a religious group not a million miles from Orson Scott Card's, was oddly fixated on telling him about the importance of fighting his sexual desire for other men throughout his childhood and adolescence, and beyond into marriage. This was confusing to the guy, because he hadn't really felt much in the way of sexual desire for other men.

WHY do all these HOMOSEXUALS keep sucking my COCK!?

posted by Sebmojo at 3:22 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


What did he change it to?

Formics. As in ants.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:39 PM on September 8, 2011


Anyone read any books by this press that they love?
- The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox reprint omnibus by Barry Hughart, worth every penny and more.
- Nell Gwynne's Scarlet Spy by Kage Baker, best steampunk Victorian prostitute spies evah
- Backup by Jim Butcher, Thomas Raith with Mike Mignola art eeeeeeeeeeeee
- Purple and Black by K.J. Parker
- Clementine by Cherie Priest, book 2? 1.5? in her Confederate steampunk zombies series


And I don't own them, but mash my face against the screen with longing for the fancy editions of Beagle's Mirror Kingdoms, Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, Valente's Ventriloquism, Mieville's Embassytown, and Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind.

I don't read / can't afford everything Subterranean prints, but they're a wonderful SFF/horror resource for books to lust after reprints of quality fiction from lesser-known authors and obscure fiction from better-known authors. Yes, sometimes it's obscure because it sucks. At least I don't have to find this out by hunting down a wildly out-of-print copy. Any author names showing up on the Subterranean print roster that are unfamiliar to me, I make a mental note to at least check them out. Thanks, random local library apparently intent on snapping up every Subterranean trade edition in existence!
posted by nicebookrack at 3:46 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just read the original Ender's Game. Like the other short works of Card's I've read, it was a good story.

Didn't Dick swerve hard right near the end though?

I've read a lot about Dick and have never encountered any reason to think this. Of course, in his final decade, he was continually trying on different philosophical/religious/spiritual worldviews to see how they fit. It wouldn't surprise me if one could find some statement that could be interpreted as right-wing... and it would surprise me even less to find that two weeks later he was dismissing his previous statement.
posted by Zed at 3:54 PM on September 8, 2011


Yeah, the way the Mormons spin it, they were poor little put-upon naifs, not Danites who burned their neighbors' homes.

There's certainly some problems with the whitewashed narrative that probably has the largest currency inside of Mormon culture, and no less than Brigham Young himself stated that some of the Danite militia-style strutting may have contributed to the problems in Missouri (though his opposition may have been more to Sidney Rigdon and a speech he gave that's thought to have been a Danite rallying point than the general concept).

But from what I've read, I don't think there's really a strong case around the idea that things were really kicked off by Danites or similar groups actually perpetrating a crime like you're describing on outsiders. Maybe you a specific event in mind that I'm not familiar with, but I think the causes listed in the Wikipedia article I linked to are a better summary: the Mormons at the time were a good bit more literally and immediately eschatological than Mormons tend to be now, and so they'd openly assume imminent dominance was a-comin' shortly, including inheriting surrounding land of non-Mormons. And even without this implicit threat, they formed an intimidating economic and political bloc.

Strong abolitionist streaks and pro-Indian sentiment born from Book of Mormon narratives probably didn't help. But I think it's largely that they immigrated in the grip of the idea that they were going to inherit the place and looked like they might have the cohesiveness and numbers to actually pull it off. Lots of nervousness ensued, some uneasy compromises were tried, but eventually enough people from both sides ended up escalating that you ended up with partisan ad-hoc militia and then warfare and eventual expulsion.
posted by weston at 4:00 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


FYI, "Hamlet's Father" is semi-available to read and searchable in its originally published anthology, The Ghost Quartet: Amazon & Google Books.
posted by nicebookrack at 4:01 PM on September 8, 2011


I'll also vouch for publisher Bill Schafer as a decent human being.

Forgive me if I find that a little hard to believe. I mean, I'll believe you, in a bit, but right now I'm finding it hard. Publishing this shit hurts people. Seriously hurts people. If he wants Subterranean Press to be some sort of bad boy "we'll publish anything! someone has to!" kind of spot, well, he's on the right path. But if he wants folks to think of him as a "decent human being" with a good heart, well, he needs to own up to this publication as a mistake. His response so far is pretty fucking pathetic. "We want to hear from you. We're surprised because no one notice when we published it before."

Yeah, ok. He actually wrote, "These concerns and complaints are serious enough that I want to address them" and then - wtf? - completely fails to address them. There's not even a promise of a future statement; he just says he'll think about what folks tell him for next time.

Does Bill Schafer now believe that publishing Orson Scott Card's disgustingly homophobic garbage was a mistake? Does Bill Schafer plan on apologizing? Does Bill Schafer have an appreciation for the damage this kind of garbage does to many young lesbian, trans and gay kids? Does he plan on publishing similarly homophobic works in the future?

We have no idea. His statement says nothing.
posted by mediareport at 4:02 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I give him Ender's Game and the fencing dialog in Monkey Island.

That's it.
posted by linux at 4:21 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Re PKD: In the 70s he was anti-abortion. That's about the only Right position he ever took, I think. Don't know if I'd call him a misogynist exactly but his views on women were pretty retrograde. I always thought he and Norman Mailer had similar views, or at least notions that developed from a similar set of 1940s concepts.
posted by CCBC at 4:23 PM on September 8, 2011


the black iron prison is fucking real, it's no joke
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:23 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Phew. MeFi has OSC issues. Who knew?
posted by Devonian at 4:27 PM on September 8, 2011


Phew. MeFi has OSC issues. Who knew?

Does anyone not have OSC issues? Seriously.
posted by The World Famous at 4:35 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


They have my undying gratitude for printing an omnibus edition of Barry Hughart's Master Li and Number Ten Ox novels

This may be the most important thing in this thread.

Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds is a wonderful book that I feel confident recommending to almost anyone. You should read it. The sequels are good too, but Bridge of Birds is a real treasure.
posted by straight at 4:37 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


"But the Church doesn't give people the boot for questioning the whitewashed history."

Didn't they disenfellowship (I think that's the word) Grant Palmer?
posted by klangklangston at 4:43 PM on September 8, 2011


Why again am I supposed to care what this dork thinks?
posted by jonmc at 4:43 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another Sons of Anarchy thread?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:46 PM on September 8, 2011


metafilter: why again am i etc.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:46 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, to publish one gay-panic hatefest is a misfortune. To publish two could be seen as carelessness.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:51 PM on September 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


So can we rewrite Ender's Game to make Ender gay?

But seriously I liked that series as a kid, and if we got rid of all the sci-fi authors who turned into raving lunatics we'd have to trash Heinlien. I cringed when reading this review though... UGH.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:52 PM on September 8, 2011


And so, like Frank Herbert and Dune--another SF classic that I found overrated and not that enjoyable of a read, while understanding what other people found in it--he spun off a career and reputation that has survived, not his death (as in Herbert's case), but his gradually increasing and ever-more-vocal homophobia.

C'mon... Herbert is a much better writer than Card, and he explores the nature of a young messiah in much more depth.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:56 PM on September 8, 2011


Didn't they disenfellowship (I think that's the word) Grant Palmer?

All I know about Grant Palmer is what I'm reading on Wikipedia right now. But first, disfellowshipment is not getting the boot out of the church. Second, at least according to Wikipedia, he was disfellowshipped as a result of his having published a book wherein he expressed his lack of belief in the foundational events of the church itself.

I think there's a pretty big difference between openly disagreeing with a whitewashed version of LDS church history on the one hand and publishing a book announcing a lack of belief in the foundational events of the church on the other hand. And I would again hold up other historians who have published extensive and detailed books that examine church history without, as far as I can tell, any significant negative response from the church as an institution (Bushman, for example). On that topic, here's a link to an episode of Mormon Stories Podcast where Bushman is interviewed about his experiences in that regard. Unfortunately, I don't see a transcript.

While it can accurately be said that there have occasionally been members of the church who have been subject to varying degrees of church discipline (which is, at its core, a local issue that depends largely on the temperament of local leaders) because of their vocal opposition to theological positions of the church, I don't think it's accurate to say that anyone who openly opposes the whitewashed version of Mormon history that is usually presented in the church will be booted for it.
posted by The World Famous at 4:58 PM on September 8, 2011


this raises an interesting question, what should churches do with famous members who are an embarrassment to them? it's not totally clear that this is the case with the LDS church who may actually agree with OSC and Glenn Beck in a lot of their hate filled ranting. but it could be argued that refusing to distance itself from these ugly people harms a church's goal of growing its membership. a cynical person might point out that the church has a financial interest in keeping members, especially wealthy ones, and 10% of their income.
posted by sineater at 5:05 PM on September 8, 2011


All kinds of people like sci-fi, and it is a bit rude to write us off as introverted, socially-backward, easily bullied nerds with an axe to grind.

That was me as a kid, though, and I did like Ender's Game. I remember reading the sequels while sitting alone at university, eating corn chips and chicken salad.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:07 PM on September 8, 2011


People keep forgetting the 'bloggers take over the world' subplot in Ender's Game. That was strangely prescient.

I'm a Metroidvania fan. I also support gay rights. Should I buy his Xbox Metroidvania?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:17 PM on September 8, 2011


I always thought [Dick] and Norman Mailer had similar views

Well, except for the whole stabby thing. I think Dick's beliefs about women were those of a man--even a liberal man--of his time, mostly, complicated in Dick's case by a life-long ambivalence and obsession with his dead twin sister. He was married five times and none of his wives ever claimed that living with him was a walk in the park, but (as far as I recall) he never stood out among men of his time as especially misogynist or abusive (unlike, say, Mailer). He couldn't write women and rarely tried on the one hand, but on the other, Angel Archer in Transmigration of Timothy Archer was an effort to respond to that lack. Critics will decide how successful he was there, but it's worth noting, too, that it was Ursula LeGuin who championed him as "our own homegrown Borges."

All of which is to say that I think Dick can be charged with retrograde views on women, but probably not with especially retrograde views on women for a man of his time.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:18 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bradbury gets no pass from me. He appeared on Politically Incorrect during the Bob Packwood scandal and defended Packwood's actions when ten (or more) women, mostly former staffers, stepped up with accusations of sexual abuse/assault. Bradbury said the women were making "a big deal" out of it, and then said "Who *wouldn't* pat a woman on the ass when she walked by?"

It was kind of amazing to watch Bill Maher's face drop as he slowly raised his hand; you could tell Bradbury had been a hero of his, and he'd just fallen, right in front of him.

So no. Fuck Ray Bradbury and all of his bullshit.
posted by tzikeh at 5:22 PM on September 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Didn't Philip K. Dick believe that most political issues we would recognize are illusions? I suppose that his cultural allegiances were more left than right, but he was not an opinion columnist like Card.

I saw a low budget adaptation of Radio Free Albemuth and it looked like Tea Party propaganda, even though it was faithful to Dick's vision.

But I really don't like this MeFi trend of political purity tests for authors. A work should stand alone, and if Bradbury has 'incorrect' opinions that doesn't change the beauty of his words. Heinlein was a crank, but his juveniles were amazing, and if you ignore the politics in Starship Troopers the action is glorious. Etc.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:33 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Phew. MeFi has OSC issues. Who knew?

Well, anyone who's ever read any thread on Metafilter that has ever mentioned him, for starters.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:34 PM on September 8, 2011



If I may, I'll also vouch for publisher Bill Schafer as a decent human being. From just my own experience: The very first piece of work I did with Subterranean Press was a limited edition of my novel Agent to the Stars; as part of his appreciation to cover artist Mike Krahulik, he donated 10% of his profits from the run to the Child's Play charity.


And here we go... I was going to come up with a hypothetical example of a MeFi's Own Sci-Fi Author breaching our political standards, but I've got one right here. After the whole 'Dickwolves' thing should we boycott John Scalzi because he once worked with Mike Krahulik?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:36 PM on September 8, 2011


tzikeh, Bradbury always seemed like exactly that kind of blithely misogynist jackass to me. His writing reeks of it. Yet he's so adored somehow; I always feel like nobody sees it but me.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 5:39 PM on September 8, 2011


Don't know if I'd call him a misogynist exactly but his views on women were pretty retrograde.

Dick was born in the same decade that U.S. women's suffrage was; most of his output predated second wave feminism (which I'm dating to the publication of The Feminine Mystique in 1963.) I don't think his views could be said to be retrograde for his time.

To his credit, he acknowledged that Joanna Russ' feminist critique of sf in the '70's had its points (with a response that still makes him sound like a jerk by modern standards, mind you) and he seems to have been working on his own issues; I've seen a character in The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, his posthumously-published final novel described several times as his best written female character... but that's the best known Dick novel I haven't read, so I can't comment first-hand.
posted by Zed at 5:40 PM on September 8, 2011


So what do you do when you already have books he's written?

What do you want to do with them? I mean, if you still like the books, if they still have sentimental value to you, or if they remain an important part of your life, then keep them. If not, then get rid of them and make space for something else. I have plenty of books (and music) by people who aren't or weren't very admirable. I won't discard my copy of Pound's Cantos any time soon, or my Chanel biography, or Beaton's diaries, and they were all as unpleasant as Card.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:42 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Don't know if I'd call him a misogynist exactly but his views on women were pretty retrograde.

I've never really noticed this. His writing reads like pure poetry to me (except for more boring work like F451) and its too easy to just get swept away in it. Reading something like Dandelion Wine gives me a physical charge.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:52 PM on September 8, 2011


I've only read one Orson Scott Card novel, Treason, which kind of felt like he took the setting from Vernor Vinge's Tatja Grim short stories (people placed on a world where metal was incredibly scarce for nebulous reasons by some far off and nefarious power) populated it with the social dynamic of Dune (powerful households composed of people you'd not trust behind you with a sharp knife) and then turned Norman Spinrad's Feric Jagger and took himself very seriously while he did it.

So a book with no irony set on a planet with no iron.

Given that, plus the amazing amount of gushing enthusiasm I heard about Ender from people who couldn't name ten science fiction authors, I decided I could give Ender's Game a miss. Based on comments here, I'm just going to carry on believing it's just Joe Halderman's The Forever War from the "Mirror, Mirror" universe.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:54 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: No? I was one of Penny Arcade's more vocal critics during that bit, but I still read the comic and I still go to PAX. I find OSC's views repellent but I still enjoy some of his work. I don't blame anyone for using their money as they see fit, but the drumhead guilt-by-association thing is ridiculous.

But I think that's your point also, so maybe you could say your piece without resorting to inflammatory rhetorical questions?
posted by Errant at 5:56 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


vonnegut was maudlin?!?!?!
posted by Chuckles at 6:38 PM on September 8, 2011


People keep forgetting the 'bloggers take over the world' subplot in Ender's Game.

Mostly because it also allows us to forget how exceptionally one-dimensional the Peter and Valentine characters are. He's a bully, she's an angel, and they're all SUPERNATURALLY SMART because they're WIGGIN KIDS and gah.

But yes, the ubiquity of the network does seem very prescient. (Although ISTR it's a lot more controlled in Ender's world -- if I remember rightly Peter and Valentine get their anonymous access only by the string-pulling of firstly their parents and later Colonel Graff.)

The Battle School "desks" also seem kinda iPad-ey now, no?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:50 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


That well's running awfully dry by now, surely?

Oh god I had no idea. I bailed after Shadow Puppets; Card didn't.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:56 PM on September 8, 2011


Lovecraft in Brooklyn:

"After the whole 'Dickwolves' thing should we boycott John Scalzi because he once worked with Mike Krahulik?"

More than once, actually, since I also wrote the intro to a Penny Arcade book.

I think one thing that happens is that over time, any person working in any creative field will inevitably work with people who have shown their ass in one way or another, in no small part because inevitably everyone shows their ass in one way or another (I do not except myself from the ass-showing, alas).

Every creative person is in some way (and often in more than one way) flawed, because every person is in some way (and often in more than one way) flawed. Everyone has an internal calculus about where the line is, after which you decide to cut someone loose because of all the baggage they carry. That calculus isn't always immediate obvious to anyone not inside your own head, and if their own calculus is different, you have to accept you'll get criticism for your choice.
posted by jscalzi at 7:03 PM on September 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


Who are the science fiction writers that the right are opposed to?

Well, Jane Yolen got attacked because she defended libraries, just recently. Libraries are socialist, you know.

According to the Banned Books Week website, Aldous Huxley is still ruffling feathers, as is Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games). I'm sure there are more if you check out previous year's lists.
posted by emjaybee at 7:18 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


any person working in any creative field will inevitably work with people who have shown their ass in one way or another, in no small part because inevitably everyone shows their ass in one way or another

Sure. The next part is when it gets interesting: what does one do after it's been pointed out to one that one has just shown one's ass in public? At this point, we're all still waiting to see Bill's response, no?
posted by mediareport at 7:22 PM on September 8, 2011


Speaker for the Dead has a bit where a little kid gets mad at Ender and charges him. What follows is an action scene which dwells on how much faster, stronger, and smarter Ender is than ... a little kid.

I've only read Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead. I enjoyed Ender's Game well enough the first time, but I think Speaker for the Dead soured it for me. I reread Ender's Game a couple of times after that and each time I felt I could see through the glamor of righteous violence into something ugly and evil.

I have come to feel that the worth of reading them may come from studying their craft after one's disillusionment about them. These were good books to become disenchanted with: an important lesson following an easy fall.

I idly wonder what could we learn from Hamlet's Father but I have no intention of investigating it.
posted by wobh at 7:26 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who are the science fiction writers that the right are opposed to?

I can't imagine they'd be thrilled with Samuel R Delaney
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:28 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ender does end up getting pissed on in that encounter, though.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:28 PM on September 8, 2011


I fucking hate Ender's Game. If you hadn't first read it when you were a kid, you would hate it, too.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:32 PM on September 8, 2011


I posted an open letter to Bill Schafer about this here. (So that is obviously a self-link). Here's the most important section:

By publishing this poisonous work, by stamping this story with the Subterranean Press logo and distributing it through the world, you have added strength to those hateful voices. Those hateful voices (of which, admittedly, Card is but one of many) help create a social climate in which queer people are routinely mocked, tormented and threatened with violence. In which queer teenagers take their own lives in terrible numbers. (Especially, I suspect, queer teenagers who have experienced or are experiencing sexual violence.) In which queer people are brutalized and murdered.

...I hope that my letter inspires you to make a further public statement, one which publicly proclaims your support for queer people. One which acknowledges that you know that the ideas that queer men are pedophiles and/or that queer people are queer because they were abused are hateful lies, disproven again and again. One which a scared teenage boy, as terrified of his own sexuality as he is of his abusive father, could read and be comforted by.

I hope that everyone reading this letter is moved to make such statements, and that we can collectively drown out the poisonous bile spewed by Orson Scott Card with a wildly diverse chorus of love and acceptance, anger and hope and beautiful fantastic visions of queer liberation.
posted by overglow at 7:39 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


bradbury is a crank
asimov is a misogynist
PKD was a schizo misogynist
lem was classist
borges was provincial
vonnegut was maudlin
nabokov was classist and crypto-libertarian
burroughs was probably a pedo


James Hogan was a doubleplus crank
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:41 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


China Miéville.

Other Leftist authors include:

* Iain M. Banks: Has spoken out against Tony Blair, George Bush, the War on Terror and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
* Ursula Le Guin: Feminist themes.
* Philip K. Dick: Used to write articles for Labour and left wing publications.
* Kim Stanley Robinson: has a trilogy about global warming and espouses a number of libertarian/independent, anti-authoritarian, anti-megacorporate ideas in his Mars series.


Don't forget Ken MacLeod, hard-left-libertarian.

I'd be tempted to say Stross too

Richard Morgan wrote a dreadfully sincere book about the evils of capitalism and dedicated it to Chomsky
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:43 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I fucking hate Ender's Game. If you hadn't first read it when you were a kid, you would hate it, too.

The whole 'military drone' thing is going to make it more relevant though. And make 'drone pilot' an even more tempting/disturbing career path.

How much does that pay, anyway?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:45 PM on September 8, 2011


You know, I have no problem with this guy writing his hateful drivel. It's a free country. He should be allowed to express himself any way he wants. Just like I think people should be allowed to write extremely negative, 1 star reviews for all of his books on Amazon.
posted by crunchland at 7:47 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes writers are entangled in the conventions of a genre. This was a problem with Stross's Laundry fiction for awhile: combine James Bond tropes with Lovecraft tropes and you run the risk of a double dose of misogyny.

He's tackled the problem and, I think, only partially overcome it (compare the protagonist Bob's relationship with his wife Mo versus the various blocking characters, bad guys who tend to be women; the Bond thing is deconstructed in Jennifer Morgue). His other recent fiction, Glasshouse and The Family Trade series, suggest that the apparent misogyny in the Laundry series is mainly genre poisoning. Sub-genre, rather, or influence poisoning.

With these "Golden Age" SF authors who seem to be misogynistic or right-wing cranks you need to remember what a small pond SF was in the 1950s; influence was concentrated, toxic influences poisonous.

As for still living authors whom the Brain Eater hath devoured, despite there's being a whole world out there in terms of influence, I really can't say.
posted by bad grammar at 7:54 PM on September 8, 2011


* Kim Stanley Robinson: has a trilogy about global warming and espouses a number of libertarian/independent, anti-authoritarian, anti-megacorporate ideas in his Mars series.

Don't forget The Years of Rice and Salt: an alternate history in which the Black Death wipes out Europe entirely and the world is dominated by Islam, China, and a Native American confederation. That ought to push a few buttons.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 7:56 PM on September 8, 2011


He changed it in the later series when he realized what "bugger" meant.

What did he change it to?

Formics. As in ants.


So okay, the logical next step would be to Santorum his books. Pick something so incredibly gay that it would make Card's head explode if he thought about it too long, and start calling it "formics." Then Google bomb the hell out of it until that's the standard meaning of the word.
posted by Naberius at 8:00 PM on September 8, 2011


When I was younger, I read some of Orson Scott Card's novels and enjoyed them.

Alas, he has turned into (or out to be) a petty little man.
posted by moonbiter at 8:00 PM on September 8, 2011


i have read stuff by card but can't really remember it one way or another.
the solutions to the problem of author-image decay i've seen are either to read no fiction at all, which seems to make people go insane/messianic, or reading outsider art stuff like darger books or some shit where the "currency" doesn't exchange

culture is an ugly fucking business
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:01 PM on September 8, 2011


Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds is a wonderful book that I feel confident recommending to almost anyone.

...and also more or less invites the reader to laugh along with the sexual assault of a woman.
Lady Wu, whose beauty was said to rival that of the semilegendary Queen Feiyen, was carried into the bushes by a creature who had no ears or nose, and whose eyes were as yellow as his teeth.

We all have our little weaknesses, but I must question the judgment of Cut-Off-Their-Balls Wang when he abandoned his fellow hooded monks to disport in the bushes with Lady Wu. He missed a great deal of excitement.1
...and also has laugh-out-loud funny bits and many, many other merits, but I, personally, end up unable to recommend it.

1 pp.81-82 of the Del Rey mass market paperback
posted by Zed at 9:02 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've never read Ender's Game. I've a feeling that it's not as unpleasant as this thread.
posted by joannemullen at 9:03 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


shakesperian: "Hell, I'll do it, and I'm straight. As straight as an arrow. Straight as a sword. A long, hard, penetrating sword. A subtly pulsating, warm, hard thrusting..."

Eponysterical?
posted by schmod at 9:25 PM on September 8, 2011


No.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:26 PM on September 8, 2011


But I really don't like this MeFi trend of political purity tests for authors. A work should stand alone, and if Bradbury has 'incorrect' opinions that doesn't change the beauty of his words. Heinlein was a crank, but his juveniles were amazing, and if you ignore the politics in Starship Troopers the action is glorious. Etc.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:33 PM on September 8 [2 favorites +] [!]


Well, you know, in this case people (including people on metafilter) are upset about the work, which is icky and homophobic. Yes, the author also happens to be homophobic. But surely we should be able to say, hey, that icky homophobic book is hella fucked up, right? Or is that too unfair to poor Uncle Orson?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:29 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]



Well, you know, in this case people (including people on metafilter) are upset about the work, which is icky and homophobic. Yes, the author also happens to be homophobic. But surely we should be able to say, hey, that icky homophobic book is hella fucked up, right? Or is that too unfair to poor Uncle Orson?


I was talking more about the attacks on Bradbury and PKD. This is obviously a fucked up book, and one I don't support at all.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:56 PM on September 8, 2011


While I disagree with many of Bradbury's and others opinions, it never keeps me from reading the books, unless the books themselves sound bad.
posted by drezdn at 10:00 PM on September 8, 2011


Don't forget The Years of Rice and Salt: an alternate history in which the Black Death wipes out Europe entirely and the world is dominated by Islam, China, and a Native American confederation. That ought to push a few buttons.

It would push all kinds of buttons... if only it was readable. I really like KSR's writing (and that kind of book in general), and I found it totally blah, not at all engaging like his previous books.

I've never read Ender's Game. I've a feeling that it's not as unpleasant as this thread.

Ooh, feel the love! Seriously, the book isn't nasty -- it's the author who is completely nasty; there are a few hints of that nastiness that show up in deeply closeted ways in the book, but nothing like what he expresses in later essays and interviews. Honestly, I think it is an important book to read; it's becoming foundational in the genre, and its importance is irrespective of its author's unpleasant and sad views. Lots of other important literature was written by people with unpleasant attitudes; the book has to stand or fall on its own merits.

But having said that, I think it would be hard to justify buying one of his books or otherwise having your money go to support him -- he deserves to be remembered as an important author whose flaws damned him in the marketplace.
posted by Forktine at 10:01 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a fan of Lovecraft's work. Lovecraft was also a xenophobic nutcase whose work was sometimes pretty darn explicitly xenophobic nutcasery. If he were alive today, I wouldn't buy his books, because I wouldn't want to help buy him a bigger soapbox from which to proclaim his views. But he's been dead a long time, so I have all his works and continue to buy adaptations and derivative works, and to read the original, though it makes me wince in places.

I recently learned from a friend of a friend of a favorite author of mine that said author voted for George W. Bush because he's a single-issue anti-abortion voter. I consider this position abhorrent. But I bought his latest collection, and expect to buy his forthcoming novel in hardcover. If he were an outspoken anti-abortion campaigner or if his books unsubtly made a habit of portraying women who have abortions coming to bad ends, that would be different. But he's quiet about his politics personally and in his books -- it's something I had to learn from a friend of a friend.

For me, that's the line... if you're advocating and helping to publicize a position I find loathsome, I won't want to help you, and won't buy your books. This is not an opinion on the books, some of which I might love if I ever borrowed a copy and read it for free. If you merely hold your position, but aren't doing much to advance it, I can probably live with that.

I'm glad Shaefer is pausing to solicit responses and to think about what to say. I don't see how anything said off the cuff would be likely to improve the situation, and I'm generally a big fan of introspection. But he's pretty much in the unenviable position of needing to take a stand that'll make him enemies no matter what he chooses.

And I'm currently reading Card's Unoccumpanied Sonata collection, which a friend gave me several years ago, and some day I'll get to the Ender's Game novel, which has been on my shelf forever.
posted by Zed at 10:52 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I really don't like this MeFi trend of political purity tests for authors. A work should stand alone, and if Bradbury has 'incorrect' opinions that doesn't change the beauty of his words. Heinlein was a crank, but his juveniles were amazing, and if you ignore the politics in Starship Troopers the action is glorious. Etc.

Does this extend to discussion of Ayn Rand novels? Just curious.
posted by davejay at 11:23 PM on September 8, 2011


But I really don't like this MeFi trend of political purity tests for authors. A work should stand alone, and if Bradbury has 'incorrect' opinions that doesn't change the beauty of his words. Heinlein was a crank, but his juveniles were amazing, and if you ignore the politics in Starship Troopers the action is glorious. Etc.

Does this extend to discussion of Ayn Rand novels? Just curious.


Never read them, but from what I understand they're just vehicles for her ideology. If somebody said to me 'hey, Atlas Shrugged actually has some amazing action sequences' than yeah, I might consider checking it out. I dislike Heinlein's politics, but I'm still going to recommend his early books.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:25 PM on September 8, 2011


I want to say one other thing. I don't know jscalzi at all, and I'm certain he doesn't know me. But his blog has been a truly remarkable exercise in expanding the range of voices available to the public, for which he deserves an immense amount of credit. Sometimes he fucks up, but sometimes people fuck up. Far more important is that he frequently lends his popular blog to less-heard voices in the SF community and to writers in general; rather than theorizing about what minority voices might think about a thing, he turns his medium over entirely to those voices and allows them to speak for themselves. I have nothing but praise for the writer as I perceive him, and I dislike the idea that a) there is any kind of political purity test on MeFi, because there isn't, and b) that someone is trying to use a genuinely expansive voice as evidence of knee-jerk malfeasance by association.

I've only read one of his books, I believe the first novel he published, so I'm not what one might describe as a fan. But I am a fan of the massive generosity and humility he demonstrates with his public voice, and I hope that he will continue to demonstrate the same. He doesn't need me to defend him, but I don't like the attack by implication on him all the same.
posted by Errant at 12:55 AM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I want to say one other thing. I don't know jscalzi at all, and I'm certain he doesn't know me. But his blog has been a truly remarkable exercise in expanding the range of voices available to the public, for which he deserves an immense amount of credit. Sometimes he fucks up, but sometimes people fuck up. Far more important is that he frequently lends his popular blog to less-heard voices in the SF community and to writers in general; rather than theorizing about what minority voices might think about a thing, he turns his medium over entirely to those voices and allows them to speak for themselves. I have nothing but praise for the writer as I perceive him, and I dislike the idea that a) there is any kind of political purity test on MeFi, because there isn't, and b) that someone is trying to use a genuinely expansive voice as evidence of knee-jerk malfeasance by association.

I've only read one of his books, I believe the first novel he published, so I'm not what one might describe as a fan. But I am a fan of the massive generosity and humility he demonstrates with his public voice, and I hope that he will continue to demonstrate the same. He doesn't need me to defend him, but I don't like the attack by implication on him all the same.


I wasn't attacking him. I was troubled by the attacks on other authors, and wondered if it would be the same way if the attacks were on one of our own.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:59 AM on September 9, 2011


I wasn't attacking him. I was troubled by the attacks on other authors, and wondered if it would be the same way if the attacks were on one of our own.

There isn't an "our own". The attacks you have seen, such as they are, are on authors who have demonstrated a bias or intolerance, reinforced repeatedly through expression. Ezra Pound was a fascist. He said so, proudly. Saying that Ezra Pound was a fascist is not attacking him. Heinlein was a proto-libertarian. Bradbury had some ideas about women that many people, including myself, find troubling. Lovecraft was a demonstrable racist and supremacist.

Your question was, is Scalzi tarnished by his association with Krahulik in the eyes of MetaFilter? My answer is, a) there was no consensus on what the dickwolves thing even meant or if it was a big deal at all, b) even if there had been, you are trying to use that discussion as evidence of a party line on MetaFilter which simply does not exist, and c) you are trying to do so at the expense of one of the genuine good guys in SF. I dislike that you are attempting to demonstrate evidence of MeFi groupthink and corresponding hypocrisy by invoking completely tangential issues and collaterally implying that MeFi ought to shun these artists in order to be consistent. There is a MeFi; there is no MeFi opinion. Your premise is flawed.
posted by Errant at 1:17 AM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Lovecraft in Brooklyn's intention was the reverse of what you believe it to be, Errant. It was to produce a straw man about guilt by association; bringing a MeFite in just functioned as a kind of "what if it was your wife or husband being threatened?" gambit. As a gambit, it didn't make a lot of sense, but it didn't make a lot of sense in the opposite direction than the one you think.

Incidentally, LiB, re: Metroidvania, there was a discussion about Orson Scott Card's video game work - quite an interesting one - here, when Shadow Complex came out.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:26 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gabriel Holkins was the one who trolled everyone with Dickwolves Dickwolves Dickwolves. Mike Krahulik didn't handle it well, he basically said "what the fuck is this bullshit" and made a fumbling attempt to avoid the entire issue. So, nah, I think jscalzi is in the clear.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:37 AM on September 9, 2011


Excerpt from "88 Lines About 44 Fantasists."

Oh, God, I'm sorry everyone.

Vonnegut was maudlin,
World War 2 still shook him up.
Borges was provincial,
Poured his wine into a cup.
Nabokov was classist
And crypto-libertarian.
Bradbury became a crank
As an octogenarian.

Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm
Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm

Asimov showed gender bias
He was a product of his age.
Card was a closet case
Spewed his hate onto the page.
PKD was way screwed up,
A schizo misogynist.
L. Ron Hubbard was, of course,
The first Scientologist.

Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm
Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm

Hogan denied the Holocaust
Left his reader's mouth's agape.
McCaffrey thought you'd turn gay
If you suffered anal rape.
Clark was a pederast
Buggered boys in old Ceylon.
Nivens wished you were dead
If your name's Jose or Juan.

---

I'll stop there.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:46 AM on September 9, 2011 [19 favorites]


Don't forget Dan Simmons who wrote some fable of some sort about wiping the Arabs off the face of the earth (post 9/11 but that doesn't excuse anything). There's also John C. Wright who converted to Catholicism and then went totally batshit insane over politics.
posted by Ber at 4:28 AM on September 9, 2011


I never really thought of "you can't libel the dead" as a challenge before...
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:44 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does this extend to discussion of Ayn Rand novels?

I remember liking Anthem when I read it.
posted by drezdn at 5:41 AM on September 9, 2011


Not only that, Banks has stated outright that he created the "Culture" setting as a liberal alternative to the general right-wing domination of sci-fi.

Is that 'the Culture setting' or The Culture? Frankly, they give me the heebie-jeebies.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:39 AM on September 9, 2011


I just finished reading the whole thread and since I missed it if anyone said it, I'm going to say this: maybe the early works of OSC are more representative of his true self than his later ones. Perhaps when his views were noticed and discussed widely, he discovered that he had just outed himself and decided to toe the church line more carefully in the future. That usually cripples any artistic enterprise.
posted by hat_eater at 6:44 AM on September 9, 2011


Lovecraft in Brooklyn's intention was the reverse of what you believe it to be, Errant. It was to produce a straw man about guilt by association; bringing a MeFite in just functioned as a kind of "what if it was your wife or husband being threatened?" gambit. As a gambit, it didn't make a lot of sense, but it didn't make a lot of sense in the opposite direction than the one you think.

I think it's weird that Lovecraft is assuming that this is a Metafilter thing. The responses to RaceFail 09 on here were a lot more, say, tempered than in the sci-fi-community-at-large. But I also think these responses make sense. Sci-fi has long been a genre where both progressive idealism and traditional values come into conflict. It's a diverse community politically.

When we're talking about an individual writer's politics, LiB seems to be implying that in some cases we should be able to just put aside political issues because, say, the prose is good. I don't want to dismiss work out of hand because of politics, but that's personal, and I acknowledge that some people with different life experiences than I have are unable to do that. That being said, politics still can stand in the way of my enjoying a work, and it's all really very relative. For example, oft-recommended-on-metafilter The Mote in God's Eye bugged me because of its positively Victorian portrayals of women--not to the point where I wouldn't read Niven again, but enough to stop me from recommending it to others. But Orphans of Chaos was so rankly disturbing that I'll never read Wright again, and that's not even pulling the offensive things he's blogged about into the equation.

It's all relative, and these are deeply personal reactions to fiction we're talking about. Still, when it comes down to it, I don't know that anyone is really "attacking" anyone else.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:22 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember liking Anthem when I read it.

So do I. Of course, 13 year old me also thought that Night Ranger was the greatest rock and roll band ever.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:39 AM on September 9, 2011


jscalzi: Every creative person is in some way (and often in more than one way) flawed, because every person is in some way (and often in more than one way) flawed. Everyone has an internal calculus about where the line is, after which you decide to cut someone loose because of all the baggage they carry. That calculus isn't always immediate obvious to anyone not inside your own head, and if their own calculus is different, you have to accept you'll get criticism for your choice.

That's a very eloquent way of putting it. I'd amend it to include the degree of "punishment" that you decide on, whether it's simply not pursuing further work of theirs (in my case, applied to Harlan Ellison and Mel Gibson), actually purging their work from your personal collections (OSC, although in my case that only consisted of Ender's Game), or even criticizing people who patronize them further.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:51 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


" I don't think it's accurate to say that anyone who openly opposes the whitewashed version of Mormon history that is usually presented in the church will be booted for it."

That's fair. I withdraw my charge.
posted by klangklangston at 7:53 AM on September 9, 2011


I think I've said this in previous OSC threads, but I realized OSC was gay when I read Songmaster. I was thirteen or so. It wasn't subtle. The protagonist, a beautiful young boy named Ansset, has this wonderful man friend and the man friend is in love with Ansset so this one time, the man seduces Ansset into having sex with him. Ansset is like "OK, I'm an innocent child so I'm happy to go along with this sex because I don't know that it's wrong. Hey, I am sure enjoying all the male-male sex you and I are having, much older man. Uh oh, suddenly I feel intense physical pain because I've been given a sci-fi drug that makes it so that sexual pleasure in my body will always be accompanied by EXTREME PAIN. Ooops, you're misinterpreting my cries of extreme pain as expressions of sexual pleasure! Luckily here come the future police to stop all the sex we're having and put you in jail. Sadly, the pain I felt was so extreme that I am now brain-damaged and permanently impotent."

It did not take a lot of sophistication for me to combine that with the subtext in the other OSC books I'd read and go YUP THIS MAN IS TEH GAY.

I realize authors use their imagination and don't just thinly veil autobiographical events, but the weight of the evidence (to my mind) leans to OSC = GAY + MOLESTATION.

And that is very sad. And of course does not change the fact that he's fucking horrible.

I actually think there's a nontrivial possibility that if the Ansset story really is OSC telling his own molestation story, then he may not be gay, just incapable of enjoying sex because he never dealt with the molestation.
posted by prefpara at 7:59 AM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Never mind my summary. Here is the molestation sequence from Songmaster.
posted by prefpara at 8:04 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember liking Anthem when I read it.

So do I. Of course, 13 year old me also thought that Night Ranger was the greatest rock and roll band ever.
posted by JaredSeth at 9:39 AM


We the Living is really pretty good; it's basically a near-autobiography of living through the Bolshevik revolution in Leningrad. As a novel, it's way more interesting than anything else Rand wrote. It also has the added bonus of helping you understand why she went so nuts about embracing capitalism and rejecting anything that even faintly resembled communism...
posted by COBRA! at 8:21 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joey Michaels: I'll stop there.

Oh don't you DARE stop. If you finish it, I have friends with a home recording studio. It will be a youtube sensation. We will play it live at Consonance and cause a riot; imagine all those elder filkers screaming and waving their mandolins and lap harps. We will be banned for life from Worldcon. Tor.com will write editorials condemning us.

It will be GLORIOUS!
posted by happyroach at 8:45 AM on September 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


That is fabulous!

Can we choose Tiptree to end this list?
posted by rmd1023 at 8:52 AM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


prefpara - it gets deeper. Re-reading that passage, I see that it's actually Annset who seduces the older man, not the other way around.
posted by tdismukes at 9:00 AM on September 9, 2011


tdismukes - only after being groomed for at least a chapter. But you're right that OSC writes in some complex agency on the part of Ansset that I think is consistent with experiencing but reviling homosexual desire. OSC himself wrote that homosexual desire is natural and understandable in children, and adults basically have to fight it their entire lives. So the adult male is a criminal and Ansset the child is not because he is too young/innocent to understand the wrongfulness of his natural desires or control his behavior.

Of course, the trauma of the experience numbs him for life. All of this consistent with OSC's depicions of sexuality and expressions of homophobia.
posted by prefpara at 9:05 AM on September 9, 2011


Publisher's Weekly has a roundup of the whole thing.

...which has been updated to link to this thread.
posted by Zed at 10:38 AM on September 9, 2011


REALLY interesting comment from Marvin Kaye on that PW post:
For the record, when I put together “The Ghost Quartet” for Tor Books, Scott Card was not my choice to be one of the four contributors. Not because I do not respect his work; in the past I have bought an original dragon novella from him, and reprinted his horror classic, “Eumenides in the Fourth Floor Lavatory.” However, Tor insisted that Scott be one of the contributors to “The Ghost Quartet.” When approached, he tried to beg off because he was under such deadline pressure that he warned it would take him a very long time to write something new for the book.

However, Tor Books insisted that he MUST be one of the quartet. Tor made it clear they would not publish “The Ghost Quartet” unless Scott was part of the mix. As a result, he was over a year late delivering his manuscript, by which time one of the other authors was very angry at me.
MK
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:42 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


happyroach: I have 12 authors there. Ber suggested 2 more. Help me come up with 30 and their foibles (w/c?) and I'll complete it. And fix some of the rhythms. Egads.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:55 AM on September 9, 2011


Does this extend to discussion of Ayn Rand novels?

I don't subscribe to an objectivist or libertarian worldview. But I quite like The Fountainhead, and even think it has some pieces of brilliance and insight.
posted by weston at 11:31 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would have a serious "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY" moment if the cast and characters of Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia turned Card's shitty butchering of Shakespeare into a feature-length film. Sweet zombie Jesus, I'd see that movie like a hundred times. I think it would be hysterical.

Also, Card can go suck an egg. His peculiar brand of crap is just tiresome.
posted by ben242 at 11:34 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


mark twain: arrogant wearisome misanthrope
faulkner: racist
socrates: pedo
butt: fart
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:20 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I WILL NOT HAVE YOU SLANDER BUTT ANY LONGER
posted by grubi at 12:26 PM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks to an anonymous donor, Connan Doyle, Grossman, Farmer, Elizabeth Bear, John C. Wright, Ellison, Simmons and Marion Zimmer Bradly are done. Hilariously so.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:28 PM on September 9, 2011


joeymichaels:

Samuel R. Delany
Fritz Leiber

My contribution:

Tolkien made a Middle Earth
But never knew when to quit
Sturgeon overcriticized,
named nine-tenths of creation shit
posted by infinitewindow at 12:37 PM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Leiber spent a dozen years
Struggling with poverty.
Sam Delany wrote novels
That bordered on pornography."
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:48 PM on September 9, 2011


If you find another option for PKD, you could echo the original by having 'scientologist' in the penultimate couplet, eg:

L. Ron Hubbard was, of course,
The first Scientologist.
Alice Sheldon aka Tiptree,
I chose you to end this list.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:53 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure Piers Anthony is worthy of this list, but you could have fun rhyming panties with vigilanties.
posted by straight at 1:08 PM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Harry Harrison's best known
Character's a moralist qua crook
And Neil Stephenson, the sap
Never learned how to end a
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:41 PM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm copying lyrics and suggestion to this previously defunct LiveJournal, in case you want to see it all together including the anonymously donated lyrics.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:47 PM on September 9, 2011


Robert Anton Wilson
Was drugged well past his wits
Crichton thought he was smarter
Ignored climate scientists
posted by grubi at 2:01 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mieville hated Tolkien's work
has no time for romantics
Banks wrote the Culture books
hippies in high tech ships
posted by Hactar at 2:21 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ben Bova wishes his ears were burning.
posted by drezdn at 2:35 PM on September 9, 2011


Aspirin was clever
His works were hit or myth
Martin's work is dark and rapey
Says fanfic doth infringeth
posted by grubi at 2:41 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bester worked on TV
And had a freaky Dianetic trip
Cherryh transcends genre
With worldcraft and gender ish
posted by grubi at 2:46 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sam Delany wrote novels
That bordered on pornography.


Bordered, schmordered. He wrote some porn. But not nearly as much as Silverberg.
posted by Zed at 2:50 PM on September 9, 2011


I added Lem, Lovecraft, Alan Moore and Anthony. Adding Grubi's latest additions now.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:52 PM on September 9, 2011


Zed: How about:

Sam Delany wrote oodles
Of glorious pornography.

?
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:58 PM on September 9, 2011


I'll note that he's universally called "Chip" and never "Sam" and recuse myself from further evaluation.
posted by Zed at 3:10 PM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here is the molestation sequence from Songmaster.

Wow. I mean, just.....
posted by mediareport at 4:01 PM on September 9, 2011


I was being all anonymous for some reason, but eff it; this is too much fun. Combined all of the suggestions. Tweaked a few lines for better rhythm. All lines based on gossip and fanwank, of course. Feel free to play with further.


Vonnegut was maudlin,
World War 2 still shook him up. (1)
Borges was provincial,
Poured his wine into a cup. (2)
Nabokov was classist
And crypto-libertarian. (3)
Bradbury became a crank
As an octogenarian. (4)

Asimov showed gender bias,
was a product of his age. (5)
Orson Card, a closet case,
Spewed his hate onto the page. (6)
Heinlein had a special way
Of making incest seem ok. (7)
PKD's bizarro visions
Signified mental decay.(8)

Hogan denied the Holocaust
Left his reader's mouth's agape. (9)
McCaffrey thought you'd turn gay
If you suffered anal rape. (10)
Clark was a pederast
Buggered boys in old Ceylon. (11)
Nivens wished that you were dead
If your name's Jose or Juan. (12)

Conan Doyle snorted coke
then photoed fairies on the glen (13)
Grossman, though he was a geek,
pissed off genre fiction fans. (14)
Jose Farmer fanficked Burton,
made enemy of Vonnegut (15)
Lizzie Bear blogged on the other,
racefail arguments won't stop. (16)

John C. Wright was homophobic,
wrote of spanking teenagers. (17)
Ellison was widely-known
as tittie-twist extraordinaire. (18)
Simmons was a xenophobe,
hoped the Arab race would end. (19)
MZB was liberated,
fine with husband's young boyfriends (20)

Tolkien made a Middle Earth
But never knew just when to quit (21)
Sturgeon overcriticized,
called most of creation shit (22)
Harry Harrison's best known
character might be a crook (23)
And Neil Stephenson, the sap
Never learned how to end a (24)

Leiber spent a dozen years
Struggling with poverty. (25)
Chip Delany wrote novels
full of fun pornography. (26)
Illuminatus Bob Anton
Was drugged well past his wits (27)
Crichton thought that he was smarter--
Ignored climatologists (28)

Mieville hated Tolkien's work
has no time for romantics (29)
Banks wrote the Culture books
hippies in high tech ships (30)
Lem hated those who wrote
On the west side of the globe. (31)
H.P Lovecraft hated more -
was a racist xenophobe. (32)

Robert Aspirin was clever
His works were hit or myth (33)
Martin's work is dark and rapey
Says fanfic doth infringeth (34)
Bester worked on television,
had freaky Dianetic trips (35)
Cherryh transcends genre
With worldcraft and gender ish (36)

Donaldson keeps cashing in
On his early glory days. (37)
Adams couldn't keep a deadline,
filled his editors with rage. (38)
Anthony wrote a volume
all about women's panties. (39)
Moore made superheroes into
Mental case vigilantes. (40)

Neil Gaiman is twitter's darling;
once he wrote for Doctor Who. (41)
Cassandra Clare plagiarized,
made all of those fangirls stew. (42)
L. Ron Hubbard was, of course,
The first Scientologist. (43)
Alice Sheldon known as Tiptree,
I chose you to end this list. (44)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:00 PM on September 9, 2011 [22 favorites]


Weirdly enough, I'm uncomfortable with #11 cause I want to (and have no reason not to) believe that's more than just rumor based on homophobia and assumption based on living in Sri Lanka. I'm totally fine with the other pieces of slander though. All the other things said against people I like I think is 100% true ;-)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:29 PM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm totally fine with the other pieces of slander though.

I like to think that we're just making light of the sci-fi world's predilection for gossip. 88 rumors about 44 fantasists, let's call it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:32 PM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Much better title ab FABULOUS job cleaning it up.

Is there any malicious gossip we've left out?

Also, we could rephrase 11:

Clarke was called a Pederast
Lived with boys in old Ceylon.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:43 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of tweaking that could still be done--not a fan of the second Anton line; I think I twisted the meaning of the Harrison one a bit, and we've managed to misspell Asprin, apparently. But I'll leave you guys to all of that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:54 PM on September 9, 2011


I want to favorite this over and over and over and over.

Robert Asprin's name is misspelled, though.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:55 PM on September 9, 2011


DAMMIT PREVIEW, I TOTALLY LOOKED AND THEN FORGOT TO LOOK AGAIN.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:56 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: arrogant wearisome misanthrope

I'm not sure about Harry Harrison - his best known character WAS a crook. Want to somehow work in the Julian Assange thing.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:06 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Preserving the rhyme scheme (but beating grammar to death) how about:

Harry Harrison is oft for
Julian Assange mistook. (23)
And Neil Stephenson, the sap
Never learned how to end a (24)
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:48 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here is a version with the Clarke change and with my proposed Harrison change.

Asprin is also spelled correctly.

So anywhere that we skirt too closely to libel if we call it "88 Rumors?"
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:54 PM on September 9, 2011


What an ugly piece of work. And you're so proud of it!
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:09 PM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eponysterical!
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:17 PM on September 9, 2011


I remember this Card short story about a boy pianist who had his fingers progressively chopped off for the sin of hearing and incorporating Bach into his music. The boy was supposed to remain musically "pure" for some reason or other.

Once I realized that the story sided with the people/cult who chopped of his fingers -- literally suggested that it was the "right thing to do" -- I never read another word of Card's. It was hugely disappointing, years later, when I discovered he's such an anti-gay hatemonger, but not terribly surprising. I flashed back to that awful story and thought "oh yeah, now that story makes perfect sense coming from Card."
posted by treepour at 7:32 PM on September 9, 2011


treepour: "I remember this Card short story about a boy pianist who had his fingers progressively chopped off for the sin of hearing and incorporating Bach into his music. The boy was supposed to remain musically "pure" for some reason or other."

Whoa, that was by CARD?! Ugh. That story creeped me out for years. I never realized it was by OSC.
posted by zarq at 8:03 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


You people are brilliant. I need to set it to music.

Also, I know it doesn't fit or even scan, but I couldn't help myself:

Shelly was an early feminist
Slept with Shelly at age 16
Doctrow is a paranoid
Thinks the government will REDACTED BY ORDER OF HOMELAND SECURITY
posted by happyroach at 8:28 PM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Kid Charlemagne wrote: I've only read one Orson Scott Card novel, Treason [...] So a book with no irony set on a planet with no iron.

Yeah, that's the revised version. The original was A Planet Called Treason and it was, IMO, a stronger book. He could not keep his hands off any of his earlier works, and his changes were almost always for the worse.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:57 AM on September 10, 2011


This monster thread is still going? Aye aye aye aye aye aye aye. Any way here is my two cents:

1.) I was a nerd and I was bullied and I loved Ender's Game all the way up to the point where they said he just blew up a whole damn planet which only Darth Vader could do in character. After that I never had any inclination to pick up another O. S. C. book.

2.) The textbook case for the Separation of Art and Artist has got to be Heideger:

a. arguably the top guy in his field in his generation.
b. unarguably a monstrous guy.
c. thoroughly studied and documented and opined on from every angle.

His books are in every university library on the planet not in Israel, and probably in over half of those as well. He isn't going away in spite of his monster status. I have read the books. They are interesting for the point of view. Seems to me he has this PhD++ vocabulary and the sensual awareness of a four year old just discovering for the first time how incredible some of our most routine seeing and hearing and understanding can be. I see why philosophers like it, but I really do not.

3.) Attributing psychoanalytic motives to others is dubious even if you are being paid by their medical insurance to diagnose them. The best one I read on Heideger is that he was deeply insecure from a) his short stature and b) his rustic boondocks origin--he never knew what the place setting was supposed to be or what wine to order with what food or when to stand or sit for introductions and that's the psycho dynamic source of his crimes and whatnot. They say all his greatest work was done in a cabin in the woods by himself. Whatever.

It doesn't matter. If you like his books read them and if you don't then don't. If you like the man you are misinformed on a crucial variable.

4.) The thing about Ender's Game being parallel to Adolf Hitler's biography is probably bogus. The combining of it in internet annals with smack talk about Robert Adams and the other guy who is still alive to sue but we all know his name makes it look even more bogus.
posted by bukvich at 10:19 AM on September 10, 2011


Once I realized that the story sided with the people/cult who chopped of his fingers

I hate to defend Card, but I think you misread the story.

The protagonist comes to side with the people who chopped off his fingers, but we're supposed to read this as tragic. The last bit of the story shows that people are still humming tunes that the authorities didn't want them to hear. It is said that the tunes actually make them unhappy, yet they prefer that unhappiness to not having the tunes.

I think it's actually a good story in many ways. It really gets at the insidiousness of "Who better to enforce the law than someone who has suffered from it's lash?" The protagonist-turned-enforcer can't question the righteousness of his actions without admitting that he lost his tongue and fingers for nothing.

My biggest problem with the story is the ridiculous idea that a musically gifted kid sequestered away with no outside musical "influences" would produce some amazing, pure, wholly original music. At best he'd probably reinvent the pentatonic scale.

Given some of Card's other writing, he probably wanted readers to question that whole cult that seems to think originality is the only thing that matters in art. But he's trying to juggle too many ideas in the story, and the story does end up asking us to accept that the protagonist produces some kind of wholly new and worthwhile music.
posted by straight at 1:46 PM on September 10, 2011


Tent peg: I could have done without falling down that rabbit hole.
posted by bq at 2:11 PM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


"a. arguably the top guy in his field in his generation.
b. unarguably a monstrous guy.
c. thoroughly studied and documented and opined on from every angle.
"

Heidegger's not inarguably monstrous, just to check in briefly on this derail.

And his Nazism makes sense in context (obviously, not excused): A lot of Heidegger's work, and his real passion, comes directly from the obstinately irrational German Romantic poets (Rilke, especially), and within that context he really gets swept up in the idea of heroic mythology. From that side, the Nazis were deeply aesthetically appealing to him. From the other side, he'd always been a bit of a bumpkin philosopher and was pretty ambitious and egotistical, and the Nazis liked him back, so they promoted him.

However, Heidegger's philosophy really isn't a good fit with Nazi philosophy, even if they like the same Siegfried (e.g. Heidegger's essays and lectures on the spirit of technology being dehumanizing was directly contradictory to both the dehumanizing totalitarian nature of Nazism and with the emphasis on technological modernism and efficiency within Nazism). And by the end of the war, the Nazis had him digging ditches.

Part of the problem is that a lot of Heidegger disciples (and Heidegger) tried to whitewash his beliefs (understandable, because anything tainted with Nazism was obviously taboo in postwar Germany), and for a while they succeeded. But when the first big wave of existential postwar philosophy was over, Heidegger's critical reappraisal involved saying, "Yeah, hey, this guy was a total fucking Nazi," and imputing that to all of his philosophical positions. Which is interesting, in part because Sartre fought with the resistance against the Nazis, but essentially stands on Heidegger's shoulders, and if Heidegger's philosophy is truly Nazi at its core, Sartre's is too.
posted by klangklangston at 4:01 PM on September 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Authors Say Agents Try to “Straighten” Gay Characters in YA
posted by homunculus at 3:30 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Scott Lynch, author of The Lies of Locke Lamora, jumps on the bandwagon and writes THE SO MUCH LESS GAY and NOT WRITTEN WITH GAY BIG WORDS version of THE CRONICLE HISTORY OF HENRY THE FIFTH
posted by Greg Nog at 8:52 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Poul Anderson had a giant head
Ayn Rand said: "MY PARENTS ARE DEEAAAAAAD!!!"
posted by Eideteker at 12:19 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


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