YA Librarians Honor Sci-Fi Writer, Stir Hornet's Nest

The Young Adult Library Services Association presented its annual Margaret A. Edwards Award to science-fiction writer Orson Scott Card last week, paying tribute to the ways in which his novel Ender's Game and its follow-up Ender's Shadow fulfill the Edwards Award mandate of "helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role and importance in relationships, society, and in the world." (No mention, sadly, of Speaker for the Dead, the immediate sequel to Ender's Game.) Card's selection kicked up some controversy, however, due to his extreme views on homosexuality. As School Library Journal, which co-sponsors the award, summarizes the debate, "If a well-known author writes and speaks about gays and lesbians in a way that many interpret to be anti-gay, should he be given an award that honors his outstanding lifetime contribution to writing for teens?"

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Note. I first heard about this story at this LISNEWS blog post.

Well now, if we're going to start handing out science fiction awards based on the authors' opinions of sexuality... then let's not even get into the views of:

Philip K. Dick (bizarre ideas about the private lives of women)
Robert Heinlein (more of the above)
L. Ron Hubbard (don't even get me started... the words batshit loco don't even begin to cover it)
Frank Herbert (the Harkonnens... 'nuff said)
Jerry Pournelle (thinks AIDS might have been invented)
Octavia Butler (sometimes, a third sex is a good idea)

I mean, the list goes on and on. The point is, authors, and I don't mean sci-fi authors alone, tend to have some really odd ideas. That's what makes us read them. The same goes for any artist, whether an artistic writer, painter, or musician. The reason most of these people are good is because they have some odd idea.

This isn't to defend Mr. Card's views on homosexuality, whatever they may be. Besides, in the current Amerika, it doesn't matter what his views on homosexuality are. If someone writes a book with an anti-gay theme, they're homophobic. If they write a book featuring a prominent lesbian character, they're committing some kind of moral offense. If the author of that lesbian book is female, then she's probably making a feminist statement. If the author is a male, he's obviously a pervert.

According to the standard moral code, the only book worth reading is some kind of realistic slice of life story featuring nothing but contemporary settings and morality and possessing a strongly heterosexual character with ambiguous views on controversial issues. Fortunately, those books are incredibly boring so few people bother with them.

Arguments from authority are unacceptable. ~Carl Sagan

Orson Scott Card might be a homophobe. He might kick kittens into puddles, and push old ladies into oncoming traffic. He might spit on the sidewalk occasionally. However distasteful any of these things might be... He writes some great books for young adults (and hey, adults). The fact that's he's not the most tolerant of others isn't really the issue. The award isn't "Best Human Being Who Writes Wonderful Books for Teens." It's for the books and how they apply to the lives of the readers.

If you are looking to a science fiction writer for healthy attitudes about seks you are going to be disappointed.

Let them stick to awesome space lasers and large space b00bs with lasers.

Teenaged boys, the lot of 'em.

I don't know in what context he made his anti-gay comments, but professionally, his thoughts seem to be different:
from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. (Feb 1993)--
"I bought the book. I started reading. And I soon realized that I was in the hands of a masterful storyteller who was trying to do with gay society what I have tried to do with Mormon society in those few stones I've written that are set within it: To tell a truthful, entertaining story about fascinating characters in a strange but real milieu without ever asking the reader either to approve or disapprove of the community the characters belong to. "
"I don't have the same moral worldview as the author, of course, but then I often don't."

He doesn't seem all angry and crazy that this is a gay-themed novel (which I haven't read: I just did a search for OSC and homosexuality to find his opinions), but some people seem to be getting all angry and crazy about him. Go figure.

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