What is more important: the writer or the writing?
This is the question I asked when I started writing “The Case Against Card.” Can we approve of the ideas in Orson Scott Card’s writing, even if we disagree with him on an issue or two? I think we can.
When I finally got to read Ender’s Game, the story compelled me. At first, this was because of the writing and the characters. Something happened in the last chapter that blew me away. Card presented an idea, simple in its brilliance, but large in scope.
The idea, the Speaker for the Dead, was a wonderful notion about identity and perspective. A Speaker for the Dead would be a person who, upon hearing of a death, would research that person, digging out all the details of their life. Once the Speaker’s work was done, they would call for a gathering and tell about the departed, leaving no aspect untouched. Telling about only the good in someone’s life would only help the survivors remember part of who a person was. The mistakes, the evil, the rage, those things had to be included to create a complete picture.
It’s an idea that lives at some weird crossroads between fiction and philosophy. Sadly, the current controversy surrounding Orson Scott Card may have turned him into a victim of his own ideas. Society is playing Speaker for him right now, though most people are leaving out anything good that can be said about Card.
A good story should stand for itself. Card has many stories that fall under this listing. The Ender’s Game books are the most notable, but those aren’t alone. Card’s books on writing have guided those who haven’t read his fiction. It was Card who first showed that there could be a generation of noteworthy science fiction writers past the prime days of Asimov, Bradbury, and Herbert.
Perhaps it would be best to let Card’s own words define the foolishness of arguing about his personal beliefs in this particular case:
“Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state “
–Orson Scott Card, Entertainment Weekly, 2013
The final word on this subject has not been spoken. Others will say more, speaking in loud or quiet voices as they see fit. I only hope that we can find a message of inspiration and follow that. Hate will only slow us all down.