Carlos Velez's Reviews > Empire

Empire by Orson Scott Card
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Apr 11, 09

Read in March, 2009

Orson Scott Card proves to me he can write amazing things outside of the Ender series. This novel deals with conspiracy, presidential assassination (not refered to as George W. Bush, but definitely implied), the beginnings of an american civil war, and the man who must find the truth in order to clear his name and restore the United States to balance.

The balance of what? That's the real issue, the meat of the story, the moral. The author speaks, after the conclusion of the novel, about how in the United States today, we are divided between the right wing and the left wing. He refers several times to the Blue State / Red State demographic and misleading it is. A slightly more precise phrase would be Urban / Rural. Even in the staunchest of red states, there are urban populations that identify primarily with the democratic population, and vice versa. A civil war based on these differences of beliefs would rip the United States apart becausee there are no geographical boundaries to separate one belief system from another. "Belief system? This is just politics" Not anymore. Each wing has its extremists, and even farther in toward the middle, many of our average citizens have passionate anger and resentment towards people of the other wing. Pro-life look upon pro-choice with righteous indignation, Pro-Gay marriage look with disdain upon the Anti, without regard to the people themselves who carry those beliefs. Beyond even those extremes, a man who identifies primarily with right wing conservatism can be treated with the same contempt as a left wing extremists for only one diverging opinion, such as opposition to the current war or how it's being handled.

"But it would be a long step to civil war just for a little political intolerance." All it takes is for one side to reach the conclusion that the other side is going to take away their way of life, or their belief system, or values. Then that side could choose to take preventative action, in self-defense, and take up arms. The other side would have no choice but to also take up arms in self-defense. It happened with Yugoslavia and Rwanda, though there were no clear geographical divisions there either. It's extreme, and not inevitable, but the tension between these political belief systems surely destabilizes our government and our society. Tolerance and understanding of these differences builds strength and places checks and balances on the seats of power. Intolerance and political profiling tear us down.

The book deals with these issues magnificently. There is no force feeding of ideals or dogma. The message is there, carried just under the current of the intriguing plot and characters of Orson Scott Card, at times surfacing when one character becomes impassioned or offended, and then riding the waves of conflict and twists of plot. I am not an avid reader of political or conspiracy fiction, nor are they among my favorite movies, but Card has a gift that transcends genre or preference, and plays to the human soul.
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