NPF: ART vs ARTIST

Posted in No Politics Friday on March 8th, 2013 by Ed

At first glance this is going to seem like a curious interpretation of "No Politics", but I'm interested to see the resurgence in interest in the science fiction classic Ender's Game resulting from its (inevitable) Hollywood film adaptation. Accordingly, the book's author, Orson Scott Card, has also gained a higher profile. In case you didn't know, Orson Scott Card is an asshole. Specifically, Orson Scott Card is a ultra-strict Mormon who has a Falwell-sized beef with The Gays. He calls himself a libertarian but believes that the government should be violently overthrown to prevent people from doing The Gay.

This has led to articles like the recent Salon piece "What Happened to Orson Scott Card?" speculating about the his descent from respect author of a sci-fi classic to Michael Savage knockoff. While the obvious conversation to have here would be the old "Can the art be separated from the artist?" debate, I have a more naive question.

I am not a great student of fiction writing and I do not claim to be able to talk about it with an air of expertise. But I can't figure out why anyone who read Ender's Game can claim to be surprised by Card's heel turn. It has been a while since I read it – and I did not really like it, hence it's not like I re-read it a dozen times – but my read of Ender's Game was essentially as an Objectivist fairy tale. I thought it was Atlas Shrugged written by a person with basic English writing skills and more imagination. I also thought that everyone realized this because it seemed really goddamn obvious. It surprised me over time to learn that the book was quite popular in my social circle and most people did not see it that way.

I'm sorry if I'm taking potshots at your favorite book here. I don't have especially negative feelings toward it; it just wasn't my thing, and I thought its ideological core was Randian. Since I hate listening to myself talk about fiction and literature I'm not going to go into an extensive discussion of why I thought the right-wing undertones and themes were obvious throughout the book. I'm just curious to see if anyone else read it that way, or if I imagined/misinterpreted those political messages where they were not.

For me, however, nothing Happened to Orson Scott Card. I assumed he was this way from the outset.