Features

Game ender

"Game ender" Continued...

Issue: "American bounty," Nov. 30, 2013

Taken together, it’s a very unusual way to go about promoting a movie based on the work of a hugely popular author, akin to promising Game of Thrones fans that HBO producers didn’t let George R.R. Martin anywhere near their series. It seems quite possible that OddLot and Lionsgate’s attempts to head off controversy may have actually served to dampen the enthusiasm of the very audiences they were seeking to attract—Card’s loyal readers and those most likely to stump enthusiastically for the film.

Twitter and Facebook often drive word-of-mouth film marketing these days, and mentions of Ender on social media sites leading up to its release were unusually low, especially for a movie based on a novel that has been at the top of The New York Times paperback list for the last 54 weeks. Perhaps it was because even the studio that made the film sent a message to audiences that their story’s creator was someone to be ashamed of not celebrated.

Waiting for Uncle Orson

Media attacks have made Orson Scott Card understandably wary

By Warren Cole Smith

Orson Scott Card
Pawel Supernak/EPA/Landov
Orson Scott Card

Most people know Orson Scott Card as a science fiction writer, the author of the Hugo- and Nebula-prize winning 1985 novel, Ender’s Game. But in fact Card is something of a polymath. 

He writes historical novels—more than a dozen of them so far—based on characters from the Bible. A devout Mormon, he writes liturgical music and dramas. For years he wrote a column under the pen name “Uncle Orson” for The Rhinoceros Times, an alternative newspaper in his hometown of Greensboro, N.C. His columns were cranky, libertarian-leaning, and wickedly funny.

But Card is not a visionary artist to homosexual groups like Geeks OUT for his stand for traditional marriage. From 2009 until the summer of 2013 Card served on the board of directors for the National Organization for Marriage, a conservative group made up of Catholics, Mormons, and evangelicals.

Geeks OUT organized “Skip Ender’s Game” events in eight U.S. cities. Earlier this year, the LGBT activist organization AllOut.org protested DC Comics’ hiring of Card to provide the script for a Superman storyline. A Wired editorial described Card as a “noted homophobe.”

When I met Card nearly five years ago, these controversies were in the future, and his multitude of fans knew him first as the visionary artist. He was warm, open, and cordial. What was supposed to be a 10-minute interview turned into a two-hour visit. I asked him why Ender hadn’t yet been made into a movie, and he said, “Lots of reasons.  We haven’t been able to get the script right, and we haven’t been able to find an actor young enough to play Ender [in the book he’s five years old] who has the acting ability necessary for the role.” He also explained his disciplined writing process. When he finishes a book, he pays trusted readers to give him detailed feedback. “If they stop reading for any reason, even to go to sleep or go to the bathroom,” Card told me, “I want to know where they stopped. I want to know where reading the book stops being the most compelling thing they’re doing.”

Card has called the attacks against him “savage,” “lying,” and “deceptive”—and they have made him understandably media-shy. Earlier this year, when the DC Comics story broke, I emailed him to ask for a follow-up interview. His wife Kristine was not enthusiastic: “Scott is busy at work on a novel, and is trying not to let all the hoopla distract him. So, for the moment, we’ll have to turn you down.”

Given the way the media have treated him, I can’t say I blame him. 

Megan Basham
Megan Basham

Megan, a regular correspondent for WORLD News Group, is a writer and film critic living in Memphis, Tenn.. She is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide to Having It All.

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