Like many young nerds, I first picked up sci-fi masterpiece Ender’s Game when I was about 13. I was entranced immediately by this world, where humanity was at war with an insectoid alien race, and breeding geniuses for battle. The characters were well drawn and the action was non-stop. I must’ve read it three times before I finished junior high.
The novel is finally getting a film adaptation, after spending what seems like forever in development purgatory. In fact, the very first entry in the production blog has been posted. From Bleeding Cool:
Most of us read Ender’s Game when we were young and wondered when it would become a movie. We never dreamed then that we would all be part of the team to bring it to the screen, nor did we realize the novel’s description of our world would be so prescient that its vision would still be unfolding before our very eyes today. And now, watching Asa bring a character to life that has been on our minds since our youth, we realize things happen for a reason. We were waiting for him. Make yourself comfortable, Ender!
The list of names attached to the project is also impressive: Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, True Grit‘s Hailee Steinfeld and Ben Kingsley.
So why do I have such mixed feelings about this movie?
Partially, I’m guilty of believing that the characters in my head are better than what will end up on the screen. It’s an old form of book snobbery that I’m almost never guilty of (every medium has it’s strengths!), but for some reason, I can’t shake the feeling in this case.
My other source of consternation is far more serious, and it has to do with Ender’s Game (the novel) scribe Orson Scott Card being a notorious homophobe.
I started getting a whiff of that when I continued to read the Ender series, which went to some fascinating places — and also had a rigid sense of sexual “rightness.” At 14 or so, I just thought that was kind of weird and out of place in the universe.
As I grew up, came out, and read more about Card’s troubling views on the LGBT community, I started feeling pretty conflicted about one of my childhood favorite novels. Rain Taxi has a pretty comprehensive lineup of Card’s grossest ideas in its review of the obscenely homophobic Hamlet’s Father.
I know that we’re all supposed to be able to separate great work from troubled and/or just plain nasty artists. But I’ve come to the point in my life where it’s hard to make excuses for people with vile and hateful viewpoints — whether they wrote awesome novels about kids at “battle school” or not.