Review of Orson Scott Card’s Empire

I read this on Natalie from Birdbrain‘s recommendation.

Just pretend for a moment:  imagine if I said that a book, based on a video game, written by a Mormon who specializes in science-fiction, and is as heavily didactic as a Dan Brown novel, would actually be a very good and thoughtful book?  You would (rightly) say that I am mad.  Yet I am not.

The fact that Orson Scott Card actually managed to pull off this stunt–never minding his necessarily bizarre Mormon worldview–demonstrates he is a fiction writer of the highest calibre.  I’m not going to reveal too many of the details, but will rather highlight several major themes.

Demonstrating himself to be intellectually superior to Fox/CNN, Card points out that the “red state/blue state” divide is a myth.  It is actually a divide between urban/elite/academia versus rural/suburban/religious (for all of you who keep laughing at me and agrarianism, keep in mind that California, from a geographical perspective, is overwhelmingly conservative.  It’s simply the three Sodoms on the coast that make it liberal”).  The whole backdrop to the novel is “civil war.”  What this divide means–and is something I have noted for a long time–is that the next civil will happen between cities and counties rather than between North and South.

Card does a good job in showing the lunacy both of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism.  At first you would think he is stereotyping the Left and the Right.  He isn’t.  Just watch Fox or CNN.  Card’s analysis, while on target, misses the target in the end, though.  I’ll explain below.

Does Card Base a Character off of George Soros?
I wonder how many conservatives picked this up.   Soros is the uber-rich financier who has bankrolled every leftist cause for the past 20 years.  Technically, neo cons are opposed to Soros (though they cheer when he tries to destroy Christians and traditional societies in Serbia and Russia).  Anyway, I think Card based a character off of Soros and it was a brilliant move on his part.

The Writing Style
Card does everything correctly.  His characters have fitting names yet they avoid allegory (unless there is some deeper meaning behind making the main character a war hero and an ethnic Serb.  No doubt neo cons are enraged).

The Inadequacies of the book
I know from Card’s blog that he is a neo con and a Zionist.  Sadly.  While he does tone down the Zionist rhetoric considerably, it emerges from time to time.  My main problem with the book is that he actually thinks there is a true “conservative-liberal” divide.  Yes, he is right to reject the red-blue divide, but he still thinks that (neo) conservatives and (neo) liberals are actually opposed to each other.  While he hints that powerful people up top may may play both sides against each other, he leaves it at the level of “accidental side plot.”  He does not see, unlike C. S. Lewis in That Hideous Strength, that the main point is that powerful people (either CFR or Bilderbergs) are playing “republicans” and “democrats” against one another.  This artificial opposition serves to mask what the Bilderbergs are really doing.  You want proof?  Point out to both sides that the leaders of Republican and Democratic parties are actually funded by men with connections to National Socialism and openly espouse many of their tenets–and see how you are laughed at. Yet conservatives cannot account for the fact that McCain and Bush (not to mention Obama) openly supported (enforced?) the bailouts.   That was fascism that would make Hitler blush.

I don’t expect Card to know that the members of the Council on Foreign Relations openly control Republican Party members (this stuff isn’t even secret anymore).  Nor do I expect him to know that the founders of the Council on Foreign Relations allowed ex-Nazi Party members to bank with them in the 50s through the 70s. This stuff is public knowledge but most people don’t want to admit it.  Still, Card should have known at least that someone is controlling both sides.

But don’t let that dissuade one from reading the book.  It really is a well-done piece.