Matt's Reviews > Empire

Empire by Orson Scott Card
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's review
Feb 11, 10

bookshelves: trashed-after-reading
Read in June, 2009

It's rare that I get to use the term "puerile shit," especially when it comes to one of my favorite authors, Orson Scott Card.

However, 'Empire' afforded me that opportunity -- in spades-- and before I'd finished this right-wing-infused manifesto thinly disguised as a novel, I had many, many other opportunities to generate even more graphic and offensive terminology.

OSC's foray into the techno-thriller world dominated by Clancys, Coonts, and Browns, is mediocre storytelling at best, and stunningly sub-par for Card. But it's the passages such as this that bore me:

“A lot of Americans would love to slam the doors shut and let the rest of the world go hang.”

“And if we did,” said Cole, “who would save Europe then? How long before they find out that negotiations only work if the other guy is scared of the consequences of not negotiating? Everybody hates America till they need us to liberate them.”

“You’re forgetting that nobody cares what Europeans think except a handful of American intellectuals who are every bit as anti-American as the French,” said Malich.

Yeah, it would be one thing if these characters represented one perspective in the book, balanced by others, however, these characters are tasked to present the ONLY perspective -- or rather, the only perspective worth respecting -- and as a result, their dialogue and ideology both become even more strained, growing both tired and tiresome. The narrative is written in a manner that suggests that to disagree with this "America! Fuck yeah!" position, you immediately are in league with the novels "villians" -- the weak, leftist intelligentsia.

OSC was once an innovator, a dreamer, someone who saw promise even in bad situations. Drawn into writing the Empire series by a computer-gaming company (no, I'm not making that up), OSC offers little in the book with which I could empathize, and that is strange territory as a Card fan. Instead of rooting for the protagonist, I found myself rooting for some breakthrough moment when Card would cast away the pretense and show you it was all a rouse -- but it never comes and instead I rooted for the book simply to be over already.

(And yes, you read that correctly -- Empire SERIES. Don't wipe just yet, because OSC is pinching off another turd.)
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