When I was around 15 or so, I read Orson Scott Card’s masterpiece science fiction novel Ender’s Game. Being a big ol’ sci fi geek from way back, I was predisposed to loving the story of a young boy on a future Earth, recruited by the military to learn how to fight a looming alien invasion. The story was simple and elegant, the writing crisp and vivid, and the book knocked my socks off.
I read it several times. The last time was only about five years ago.
Last year, I read a press release online announcing that Hollywood is finally making an Ender's Game movie. I proceeded to have an immediate nerdgasm.
But shortly after the movie announcement was released to the far corners of the Internet, I started seeing more news stories. The stories focused on Card himself, and the fact that he’s widely known to be a big-time bigot. More specifically, a major homophobe. Many attribute his neo-conservative perspective to the fact that he’s a Mormon (and is in fact the great-great grandson of Brigham Young – fun fact!).
Thanks to the magic of the Internet, several articles and statements have emerged since then, all authored by Card over the years. In a 1990 article, Card postulated about the dangerous “homosexual agenda.” In 2004, Card claimed that gay people are the result of child abuse and molestation, and that gay marriage will never count as "real marriage." And in 2008, he wrote an article for the Mormon Times, arguing that gay marriage will result in the end of American democracy.
There’s more. There's a lot more. Go Googling and see. But that was enough for this sci-fi-fan (and newly out gay guy) to bum hard.
I know how to separate reality from fiction. With a few exceptions (I’m lookin’ at you, Chris Brown and Mel Gibson), I’m usually able to appreciate a piece of entertainment for what it is, without letting my perspective be tainted by a less than savory backstory.
But… I don’t know. This just makes me sad. See, I love Ender's Game. I remember visualizing the main character so clearly: Ender Wiggin, the boy taken away from his family, isolated in interstellar Battle School, and forced to become a genius at the game of war. I already have a copy ready for my daughter to read as soon as I think she might be interested. How do I do this, though? How do I pass along one of my favorite childhood books, knowing that it was authored by someone whose beliefs are truly ugly? We’re not talking about some random novelist crouching in a dim corner of the Geek Literature basement. For many fans, Card is the J.K Rowling of science fiction. What if you found out the creator of your beloved Harry Potter was, let's say, a big racist?
I still think Ender’s Game is an amazing book. And I know my daughter will love it. I also know that if she finds out about Card's homophobic beliefs, she'll refuse to read it. (She’s very protective of her gay dad that way.) Do I tell her about Card? Do I let her enjoy the book for a while and then tell her? In a few years, when I have the urge to pick up the book again myself and reread it, will I even be able to do so?
This may not seem like a big deal to some people. Maybe I should just get over it. But the thing is, I just found out that one of my favorite childhood writers thinks I'm an abomination. And I'm just not sure what to do with that.
P.S. Issues aside, the trailer for the movie isn’t really grabbing me. Check it out and see what you think.