Almost halfway through Ender’s Game, the 1985 science-fiction novel by Orson Scott Card, a pair of siblings try to manipulate global opinion by posting polemics “on the nets” — Card’s early anticipation of the World Wide Web. To succeed, they must overcome the biases of “the news herd.” Card sets his story in a far future of interstellar warfare, but he seems to comment on our own times when he describes his characters’ need to sift “accurate information out of the stories of the hopelessly ignorant, gullible news writers.” Apparently some things never change.
Now the modern-day news herd has descended on Card himself, as the movie version of Ender’s Game, with its production budget of more than $110 million, prepares to reach theaters on November 1. Many left-of-center pundits dismiss Card as a social pariah — a gay-bashing bigot and possibly even a racist — simply because he is a Mormon who has had the gall to oppose same-sex marriage. “Card’s views are ugly,” complained Alexandra Petri in the Washington Post in a column about calls to boycott the movie on account of the author of the novel it’s based on. Petri came down on the side of seeing the film — see it despite the “visible intolerance” of Card, she said — but others are less certain. Many are doing their best to creep out moviegoers: David Weigel of Slate even compared Card to George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi party. It’s as if Ender’s Game were the new Triumph of the Will.