If forced to pick, I’ll tell you that my favorite book is Ender’s Game.
I’ve read it more than a dozen times and I’m repeatedly impressed by how easily I connect with the characters, Card’s writing style, and his words. I feel like I understand the way his characters think because I have as exacting and rational a mind as they do. I understand them, because I feel as though I am like them.
In Shadow of the Hegemon, the second book in the Ender’s Shadow companion series, Card writes:
“What a laugh, though. To think that one human being could ever really know another. You could get used to each other, get so habituated that you could speak their words right along with them, but you never knew why other people said what they said or did what they did, because they never even knew themselves. Nobody understands anybody.”
Simple words, simply stated and yet they hit the nail so exactly on the head that you have no choice but to believe them for the truth that they are. Card writes with words that are as carefully selected as the characters themselves would choose, none of them wasted or embellished; they stand alone. That was just one example of the many quotes I’ve marked down over the years I’ve been reading his books.
Yet as much as I love Card’s words and his books and his characters, I can’t say that he’s my favorite author because I don’t align myself with his personal views. As logical and rational as he writes, the way he has advocated so vocally against the LGBT community in the past has made me uncomfortable supporting his work to that degree.
Ender – the prodigy child Card famously created for his award winning novel Ender’s Game – would see the same people his author disapproves of and love them for who and what they are. That’s the message the books present as Ender mourns the loss of the Buggers and searches for a new home for their last Queen. And Bean – the main character from Card’s spin off series – who is even more calculating than his mentor due to the turning of Anton’s Key, would see differences of love as no better or worse than any of the other facets of human personality that he has studied all his life.
So how can a man who creates such rational thinkers not follow his own morals and logic? How can he believe that the LGBT community should be denied the same rights as everyone else because of how they feel, who they love, and what they believe? The Buggers and other alien species in Card’s books were different from humans, but Ender and Bean sought always to protect them because in the end they had the same capacity for life and love.
When the movie came out in 2013, there were many people who boycotted the theatre because of this author’s personal beliefs. Not because he believed them (people can believe whatever they want), but because he was so outspoken about them. It made even true fans like myself uncomfortable with supporting his work. The drama has since died down, but as a habitual re-reader, I’m reminded of it every time I pick up one of his books.
Should I continue to support Card’s livelihood even though I disagree with him? Or should his fiction be evaluated as separate from its author? I can’t decide. I don’t want to give up something that I love, but sometimes standing up for what you believe in requires sacrifice.