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December 3rd, 2006
09:12 pm
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*twitch*
Dear Orson Scott Card,

You're fired.

As a member of the Super Secret Cabal of American Liberals Who Control All Media Everywhere, I'm demanding that you turn in your Professional Science Fiction Writer license. Your hideous political opinions might once have been forgivable, but now your descent into the foam-at-the-mouth wing of the Right has brought you to the unpardonable sin of writing prose that makes people go blind:

Reuben Malich knelt over the body and cried out in the keening wail of deep grief, the anguish of a soul on fire. He tore open the shirt of his uniform and struck himself repeatedly on the chest. This was not part of his training. He had never seen anyone do such a thing, in any culture. Striking himself looked to his fellow soldiers like a kind of madness. But the surviving villagers joined him in grief, or watched him in awe.

Within moments he was back on the job ...

Once I've got my snazzy new artificial eyes in, I plan to search the Internet in hopes that someone is giving you the Left Behind treatment1 you so richly deserve. Until then, please refrain from writing anything more, ever.

Let us pretend all you ever penned was Ender's Game, and think of you fondly as that one-hit wonder who immediately vanished back into obscurity in late 1985. Let us never speak of your wingnut alter ego again.

Signed,

Me

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(13 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:baphnedia
Date:December 4th, 2006 05:45 am (UTC)
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Gah! I can't see what I'm writing! I hope there arent ani tipos!
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From:baxil
Date:December 4th, 2006 06:48 am (UTC)
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From:kshandra
Date:December 4th, 2006 06:30 am (UTC)
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I've waffled over the past decade or so on whether or not to read any of his stuff; I heard about his politics before I ever started, and it immediately put me off. gridlore has tried talking me into at least reading Ender's Game, as we already own a copy, so I wouldn't have to give that homophobic, bigoted asshole any of my money. The answer to that question is rapidly (typo'ed "rabidly," thought about leaving it as it seemed appropriate) becoming "Not just no, but hell no" once again.
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From:elynne
Date:December 4th, 2006 06:40 am (UTC)
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Ender's Game really is a pretty good book. The sequels... meh. But the first one is pretty good. But yeah... I don't know that I could unhinge (hah!) my knowledge of the writer enough to re-read the story, so. There's plenty of other good books in the world by authors who aren't obnoxiously crazy assholes. ;)
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From:heron61
Date:December 4th, 2006 06:35 am (UTC)
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Dear gods, that's laughably bad. Btw, this piece about Card and Ender's game by SF author John Kessel is (IMHO at least) very much worth reading. This piece is rather off-the-wall, but contains what may be interesting information (or perhaps odd delusion, it's difficult to tell, but the article being referenced can be obtained, and I'll likely do this.
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From:baxil
Date:December 4th, 2006 06:54 am (UTC)
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If "Within moments he was back on the job" hadn't been lifted straight from the official book text, I would have sworn up and down that someone was trying to mock and/or parody him. I would have bet money on this. I would have bet good money. And lost.

(And then I would have lapsed completely into italics for the remainder of my post.)

This is the Kissinger-winning-the-Nobel-peace-prize moment of modern science fiction. I pity the Tom Lehrers of the field.
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From:baxil
Date:December 4th, 2006 06:58 am (UTC)
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Also, thank you for the links. I look forward with interest to the result of your research.
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From:roaminrob
Date:December 5th, 2006 05:53 am (UTC)
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Wow.

Wow.

Those two links -- as respectfully as I can manage, since I don't know you and hence have no personal opinion of you -- are laughably bad. I'm left wondering if the authors read the same book I did.

Demagogues love to scour the things others create to find hidden intentions and motivations, whether they're actually there or not. They, for example, are the ones that'll convince you that Snow White was a racist story, and that the Matrix was an analogy for Christ. I admire the demagogues' skill in distorting a story to suit their own ends, but that doesn't force me to see it as any kind of truth.

Incidentally, to respond directly to the first article, there is ample precedent for moral innocence in intention. You feel a tickle on your neck and slap it instinctively, killing a fly that you didn't know was there. Did you intend to? What if it was a less-despised bug, like a butterfly?

That ridiculous example aside, how about, say, manslaughter? There you have a long-standing law that explicitly states that murder committed without the intention is a lesser crime.

All of this ignores the fact that, in the Ender's Game story, Ender was written to be not just unaware, but incapable of being aware of the results of his actions regarding genocide. I don't see how you can parallel that to Hitler, who was quite aware.

(And, can we find a new villain now, please? I'm kinda sick of everybody going to such great lengths to relate other people to Hitler. Seriously, it's become a joke all it's own now. Forget Godwin's Law, I decree that henceforth anybody invoking Hitler's name in an argument about anything other than World War II automatically loses the argument.)
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From:baxil
Date:December 6th, 2006 09:48 am (UTC)

Vaguely off-topic re "moral innocence in intention"

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Lifting a QOTD from a friend's journal (it was in a locked post, so I'll respect their privacy):

"While it has been empirically shown (by Axelrod) that ["Tit for Tat"] strategy is optimal in a perfect world, two agents playing tit for tat remain vulnerable. A one-time, single-bit error in either player's interpretation of events can lead to an unending 'death spiral.' In this symmetric situation, each side perceives itself as preferring to cooperate, if only the other side would. But each is forced by the strategy into repeatedly punishing an opponent who continues to attack despite being punished in every game cycle. Both sides come to think of themselves as innocent and acting in self-defense, and their opponent as either evil or too stupid to learn to cooperate.

"This situation frequently arises in real world conflicts, ranging from schoolboy fights to civil and regional wars. Tit for two tats could be used to avoid this problem."

-- Wikipedia, "Tit for Tat"

...

... I agree with you, innocence of intention is a good moral concept with long pedigree. However, it's insufficient by itself for ethical justification. The essay at the first link, if nothing else, has a point there. I think we can argue in good faith about the points it raises, but I'm not certain why you're so quick to dismiss it.

Full disclosure: Still haven't read Ender.
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From:roaminrob
Date:December 7th, 2006 04:46 am (UTC)

Re: Vaguely off-topic re "moral innocence in intention"

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You're right, I did have a knee-jerk reaction to the article. I was short on time when I wrote my reply, and managed only to skim and speed-read the text of the article.

However...

I stand by my comments, indeed even more so now that I've read it thoroughly. I reject the article for a wide array of reasons, some based on personal philosophies, and some simply because I logically disagree with its analysis.

But first, let me quote the following passage from the first article:

"...Fourth, the passages insist that the difference between Hitler’s genocide and Ender’s is that Ender’s was an accident. Ender thought he was playing a simulation whereas Hitler knew the gas chambers were real. This "science fiction element" (remote-directed war) serves in moral terms as yet another evasion; in reality, people do not commit genocide by accident. This is another parallel between the bugger war and the fight scenes where Ender kills Stilson and Bonzo, all three constructed by Card, however improbably, so that Ender never knows he is killing his adversaries. But whether or not Ender’s battle simulations were practice or real, the ultimate purpose of any practice was to enact such destruction in reality. Ender and his commanders were aiming for this battle and they all knew it; thanks to the trick played on Ender it just happened sooner than it would have otherwise."

I was waiting with baited breath for the article to address this point, and sorely disappointed to find that it spent a single paragraph side-stepping it. If you'll allow me for a second to create a hypothetical situation: You and I decide to go out for pizza. We have some energy to burn, and the pizza's taking a while to come up, so we end up playing some of the arcade games. Uncharacteristically, you play one of the shooter games (whether it's as a gun-wielding individual or a 1940's era bomber or space-conquering gunship, whatever). Sometime after the fact, it's discovered that, although you believed the game to be nothing more than a game, you were controlling an actual thing in an actual reality, wherein you murdered actual individuals.

Now: how morally guilty are you of the crime of murder?

Note that, from the quoted passage, the linked essay would say that you're guilty because you were being trained for murder anyway. I don't think it makes sense to hypothesize about what might have happened in a fictional work, incidentally; I could as easily argue that, based on what's presented of Ender in the book, he was secretly planning to find an alternative solution once he was presented with a real-life attack scenario.

I have some further comments, but I'll include them separately 'cause I bet I'm running out of space in this one.
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From:roaminrob
Date:December 7th, 2006 04:59 am (UTC)

Re: Vaguely off-topic re "moral innocence in intention"

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A few more points:

I tend to instinctively reject articles such as that one because I don't think that fictional works, or authors of fictional works, should be analyzed for the purposes of creating controversy, without much more evidence behind the analysis than is usually presented. One case in point would be the nutcase article (referenced from the first article) that argued that Ender's Game was an apologia for Hitler, based on some stodgy biographical similarities between Hitler and the fictional character Ender. ...Say what now?

Part of that reasoning is because I think that questioning the motives of creative individuals will dramatically stifle their creativity. As a writer yourself, you might understand where I'm headed with this. If you were to write a popular work, only to have it analyzed by a cadre of self-serving antagonists for themes you never even considered while writing the story, how would you approach your next story? In fact, you've experienced some of the same effect in relating some nonfictional experiences, and I have noticed some throttling back of what you choose to share here.

That's the other major reason for rejecting that article altogether. There are so many other minor points I could address here and there -- points where I disagree with its view of the story, points where I think it misleads to support its analysis -- but I've hit on the biggest two.
From:halyn
Date:December 4th, 2006 06:51 am (UTC)
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Amen to that.
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From:roaminrob
Date:December 5th, 2006 05:27 am (UTC)
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The Alvin Maker series has been pretty good, too, although this doesn't make the outlook very good for the rest of the series.
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