How Orson Scott Card Broke My Heart

Simple graphic of a rainbow-colored "broken heart"

Pictured: Totally Orson Scott Card’s fault

Does anybody else remember Zdorab?

Zdorab was a character in Orson Scott Card’s Homecoming Saga. Here is a link to the Wikipedia article on the series.

Zdorab was my favorite character in that series.

Zdorab was gay.

This series (a loose, science fiction retelling of the Book of Mormon–no, not that Book of Mormon) follows a group of people who journey to and repopulate a long-abandoned Earth. It’s their chosen land, their mission is from God (or a super-powerful A.I., whatever) and the whole series is chock-full of fun stuff like spirituality, betrayal and redemption.

Come to think of it, most Scott Card series are chock-full of that stuff.

I have read a lot of Orson Scott Card. All of the original Ender books (by which I mean the first four, which actually star Ender). All of Homecoming. All but one of the books in The Tales of Alvin Maker. The first two of the Ender’s Shadow books. I have read Wyrms. (Who else do you know who’s read Wyrms?) I have read flipping Treason, Card’s 1988 rewrite of his 1979 novel A Planet Called Treason. (For my sins, I actually did attempt to read A Planet Called Treason first, and was greatly relieved when I found out Card had revised it.) I have read Pastwatch. I have read Songmaster. I have read Saints. I have read The Worthing Saga. I have read The Folk of the Fringe. I have read the short story collection Flux. I have read Lovelock, the first in the unfinished Mayflower trilogy that he started with Kathryn Kidd.

I have read a lot of Orson Scott Card, is what I’m saying.

And most of what I read of his work, I read between the ages of ten and seventeen. Which means that, not only was Orson Scott Card’s writing a big part of my life, it was a big part of my life during some of my most formative years.

Yes, that’s right. Orson Scott Card was one of the most influential writers of my puberty.

And I don’t think that this was a bad thing. There’s a lot of compassion in his books, especially for marginalized groups–both real and imaginary. His books offer good lessons about honor and integrity and owning up to your own mistakes. The characters in them grow and change and usually at least one person is offered a chance at redemption–though they don’t always take it–and I never could resist a good redemption arc. These books encourage goodness, and mercy, and using power (if you have power) in the right ways, for the right reasons.

These books are not perfect. For one, the heroes (when male), tend to be the specialest special chosen messiahs who ever specialed, and that can get tedious. There’s also a touch of gender essentialism at times that I could really do without, but it’s not really worse than you’d find in any random handful of SF books pulled from the shelf. (Or maybe it is. I just looked at my own bookcase for confirmation of this theory, only to find Lynn Flewelling, C. S. Friedman and Esther Friesner in the “F” section, with Ellen Kushner, Ursula K. LeGuin and R. A. MacAvoy on the next shelf down. Good showing, Bookcase!) And, in retrospect, I’m not sure how I feel about some of the representations of minorities. Nevertheless, these are, for the most part, books that mean well. Books that celebrate the good in their characters and encourage their readers to think about what they/we can do to make them/ourselves better.

I don’t buy Orson Scott Card’s books anymore. I have no plans to buy Orson Scott Card’s books ever again. When Ender’s Game comes out in theaters, I plan not to see it. Even though, years ago, I was once deliriously excited by the rumor of a possible, upcoming Ender’s Game movie.

Dragon Age: Origins is my favorite video game, but I did not buy its comic book tie-in, even though I wanted it. Because Orson Scott Card’s name was on it.

I do not buy Orson Scott Card’s books. I do not buy his products or support his projects financially. Yes, my reasons are entirely ideological.

And the rest of my rant is under the cut:

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