Orson Scott Card – Sci-Fi’s Great Controversy?
In a world riddled with divisive characters, topics, and politics, calling Orson Scott Card the most controversial figure in Science Fiction is not a statement to be made lightly. Regardless of its connotations, that is how many Sci-Fi fans see the famous author of the even more famous Enders Game novels.
We're not talking controversial on a Ja Ja Binks level here, not even cancelling 'Firefly' after one season controversial. Such is the level of antipathy felt towards Card because of his beliefs; he cannot be lumped in with the other so-called controversies that fuel the majority of sci-fi fan discussion. However, if it weren't for the greatness of some of his work, there may not be any controversy at all.
Enders Game, regardless of the personal beliefs of its author, will go down as one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time. The story, which plots an intergalactic war in which a human child army forms Earth's main defense, is credited by many as rivaling the works of such Sci-Fi greats as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. Because of this, many fans are left feeling confused and angry when they hear the vitriolic arguments coming from Card's mouth. Imagine, for example, you discovered that your favorite teacher, the one whose lessons actually stuck with you throughout your life, had seriously conflicting views with your own on what is morally right. This is what it feels like for many fans of Card's work.
The controversy around the author stems from his fiercely anti-gay views, views that do not sit well with vast swathes of the science fiction fan universe. Despite denying that he is a homophobe, Card once notably exclaimed that the acceptance of gay marriage was "the end of democracy in America". In 2009, Card joined the board of the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-gay group, which seeks to counter the movement for LGBT equal rights, only cementing his position as an anti-gay advocate.
Card has made little effort to hide his beliefs and the simple fact is, that by reading reaction to his comments, it is clear that he totally at odds with most fans of the genre. This fact alone makes the recent news that DC Comics have hired him to pen the first digital chapters of 'Adventures of Superman', very surprising. For many, it brings this controversial and divisive character (Card that is, not Superman) back to the forefront of the genre, something that nobody really wants to see.
The move by DC Comics mystifies even more when you consider the fact that the world-famous publisher recently re-launched the Alan Scott, aka the 1940's version of the Green Lantern, as their first openly gay superhero in 'Earth 2'.
The controversial hiring has led fans and equal rights groups to launch a petition against DC Comics. In an effort to show the publisher the ill- feeling held towards the move, the petition held on AllOut.org reads:
"OUTRAGE: DC Comics has just hired anti-gay writer Orson Scott Card for their new digital Adventures of Superman.
He's written publicly that he believes marriage equality would lead to the end of civilization. He's also on the board of a notorious anti-equality organization.
We need to let DC Comics know they can't support Orson Scott Card or his work to keep LGBT people as second-class citizens. They know they're accountable to their fans, so if enough of us speak out now, they'll hear us loud and clear. Sign and share!"
At the time of posting, the petition had achieved over 8,000 signatures and is just one sign indication of fan anger towards the move. For sci-fi fans, this latest controversy does not achieve much, but what it does do is add more weight to the argument that Orson Scott Card is perhaps, Science Fiction's most controversial figure.
Don't expect this battle to go away any time soon either. At the end of 2013, the long awaited movie adaptation of 'Enders Game', starring Harrison Ford, will be released, leaving fans with another tough decision to make. Do they give in to their love for the genre and head to theatres to see the movie, thus pumping cash into their enemy's pockets, or hold strong to their moral beliefs and boycott anything to do with the man?