Dear Orson Scott Card,
Hi. You don’t know me, but I was fan of yours. Or I am a fan of yours. I’m not quite sure yet which one of those it is.
You see, just before going on holiday earlier this year, I compiled a list of books I wanted to read. The list was a combination of fluffy chick-lit, old classics and a smattering of sci-fi; one of the books I wanted to read was Ender’s Game.
I didn’t know much about the book before I started reading – just that it was a ‘must-read’ in science fiction circles, that it was something of a cult classic, well reviewed and much loved on the review-sites I looked at. When I started reading the introduction to the 1991 version of Ender’s Game, I was immediately engaged and couldn’t help but feel a building respect for you. I read the introduction where you disagreed with the teacher who contacted you disputing that ‘gifted children’ thought the way that the characters in the story did, and I was amazed. I was one of those gifted children. I was nowhere near genius level, but I had a high IQ, was part of my school’s Gifted & Talented scheme from a young age. I learnt quickly, I had an adult mind. It was only when I started reading your comments about gifted children that I realised that I was not the only child who only felt like a child in the size of their body, not the maturity of their thoughts.
And then I read the story, and was blown away. I love books, love stories, love being taken away to a different place, or time, or mindset – and you offered all three. I loved Ender’s Game. It was intelligent and creative and manipulative and I found myself thinking about it days later. The story of how a genius child was the only hope of saving Earth, how his brother and sister struggled for power of their own, the fear and hatred and uncertainty that comes with power and genius and opportunity. I could tell that Ender’s Game was going to be one of those books that I encouraged everyone to read, that I couldn’t stop re-reading myself.
And then I got home, and in a typical act of our times, I found myself Googling the book, and then you. I found that I (behind the times, as ever) had read Ender’s Game mere months before a big budget Hollywood production of the book was to be released. I found that there was a lot of controversy around the book, around you. And I found out that you, the author of my favourite novel of 2013, hated me.
Let me share some quotes with you, tell me if they seem familiar.
The dark secret of homosexual society — the one that dares not speak its name — is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally.
That’s just one quote from a whole bunch of awful things you said back in 2004. But that was a long time ago, right? Well, how about this, then?
Already in several states, there are textbooks for children in the earliest grades that show “gay marriages” as normal. How long do you think it will be before such textbooks become mandatory — and parents have no way to opt out of having their children taught from them?
That was 2008. And in fact, as recently as this year you were spouting off about how your LGBT fans should ignore your bigoed, homophobic views for tolerance – despite the fact that you’ve said some pretty horrible things about the gay community.
With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.
Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.
So I’m conflicted. Ender’s Game was a magnificent novel. The book itself isn’t homophobic – it advocates peace and communication and the negative aspects of too much power – completely at odds to some of the things you have said, and written. But how can I love a book which was written by someone who hates what I am? How can I advocate the reading, buying of something where the profits will line the pockets of someone who is not only homophobic, but also on the board of an atrocious anti-equality organisation – the American National Organization for Marriage? In short, I can’t.
Having written my undergraduate degree in whether a novel can have aesthetic value, I believe that the value of any story lies both in the words on the page and in the reader’s response to it. I loved the words on the page, in Ender’s Game - but I am now unable to see the book in the same way, knowing your opinion about who I am.
It’s your prerogative to say horrible, homophobic things about the LGBT community, Orson Scott Card. Neither I, nor anyone else can stop you writing and saying things which feel like thorns to my heart when I read them. I’m glad that I know the truth about how you feel about the LGBT community – because now I can choose to boycott your books, your films, your work. I will not be complicit in supporting someone who thinks that same sex attraction is a “reproductive dysfunction”, as you do. I hope that one day your views change, because I would love to recommend Ender’s Game to my friends, my future children – but until then, I’m deleting the file on my Kindle and boycotting the film when it comes out this year.