The Orson Scott Card/Superman Controversy Examined and Questioned

As writers and authors it is difficult to remove yourself from the worlds you create. Often times the utopian or dystopian ideals that you set forth into a story are those that you foresee as the most, or least, preferable world possible. The worlds we create as fiction writers are indelibly marked by our own personalities and politics—even our most villainous characters are in some way part of ourselves because they are created in our imaginations. Regardless of this, our works are not reflective entirely of our particular view point—only informed by them. It is, of course possible to write or imagine worlds, people, and scenarios with resolutions that we wouldn’t condone or advocate for in the real world. The beauty of creative writing and fiction writing is that we can build and populate realities that are as based in the real world as we want (or not).

Therefore, this raises an interesting question about the political power of supporting a particular author in regard to whether or not you agree with their actual worldviews, as opposed to whether or not you enjoy their work on its own. Recently, Orson Scott Card—writer of the famously popular Ender’s Game Series—was consigned by DC Comics to write an out-of-continuity Superman story in the relaunch of the title Adventures of Superman and all of fandom exploded in tirade. Card, a Mormon with a pedigree so prestigious that he is actually the great-grandson of Brigham Young, has openly opposed gay marriage in recent years and has historically held extremely conservative views regarding the Civil Rights of homosexuals (which have admittedly been at least revised over the years to keep current with the trends of Constitutionality and legality) that are based in his personal morality and, no doubt, his religious upbringing.

When DC announced the author of this one-shot tale, fans all across the internet swore to boycott the issue and rallied to have the company fire the author from the story. Meanwhile, Card’s novel Ender’s Game is consistently held to be one of the best Science Fiction novels of the 20th century (and considered the best by many), is recommended reading for Marines recruits and Officer’s Candidate School students, and has been adapted into a major motion picture to be released later this year, boasting an all-star cast including Harrison Ford. Where is the boycotting of the beloved Ender’s Game in the face of his never-been-secret views? In the meanwhile the story has been held up as, amidst the controversy, the artist attached to the issue has stepped down leaving the story without an illustrator and the release of the issue—the first in the relaunched series—has been apparently delayed and comic retailers are saying that due to the feedback they will only order the comic on a demand basis.

Are we as readers relegated only to consuming fiction by authors who we philosophically agree with? Are we as authors delegated to keeping our opinions to ourselves in order to be more commercially accepted? Certainly authors like Ayn Rand found a political following (posthumously) in the Tea Party and Fiscal Conservatives with her works, notably Atlas Shrugged—but I thoroughly enjoyed the book while having some issues with its philosophical underpinnings. Likewise for Ender’s Game. It’s a great book and deserves its much-lauded status. In reading Atlas Shrugged I found myself constantly challenging the ideals in the book, and checking them against my own which in turn required me to closely examine the beliefs I held gospel. I found that in reading a story so firmly entrenched in a philosophy that I did not agree with, but was nonetheless well written and well argued with a compelling plot (though arguably the characterization in Shrugged was lacking, and in the case of the protagonist ultimately disappointing) was like having a great conversation, taking a challenging course, and getting swept up in the escapist joy of fiction reading. I liken it to having a debate with a good friend with whom I am completely politically opposed—only in contest can we test the veracity of our own beliefs. Additionally, I have found very little in Ender’s Game that betrays a homophobic tone or even an abnormal amount sophomoric adolescent ribbing.

 

As a Superman fan, a person who enjoyed Ender’s Game, and someone who firmly believes personally that homosexuals deserve the full gamut of civil rights, privileges, and benefits as heterosexuals I find myself wondering “What’s the big deal?” Don’t we suffer as readers and thinkers when we relegate ourselves to have intellectual discourse with those who exclusively agree us? Aren’t we then doomed to never test our opinions and beliefs against opposition, making our opinions all the weaker?

So I turn the question to you—what do you think of the controversy over Orson Scott Card’s issue of Superman? Do you believe we should only support and read from authors and writers we agree with? What do we really look to get out of our reading?

 

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Written by Brandon Melendez

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Time Enough for Love- Robert A. Heinlein

 

There is no denying that Robert Heinlein is one of the most important science fiction writers of the 20th century. It is fair to assert that between his works and those of Asimov you can find the foundation of any science fiction story of the past 60 years or better. Heinlein specifically focused his science fiction on two very important domains that are indispensable to creating worthwhile worlds of science fiction—scientific theories and political ideas. So much so that I’ve found myself adding the Dean of Science Fiction to my own short list of personal favorite authors—even with due deference to some issues with his characterizations. While I cannot say that I found 1973’s Time Enough for Love to my favorite book of his (that will probably always remain Stranger in a Strange Land), this particular text is probably the ultimate execution of a variety of themes and contentions that Heinlein had attempted to make, using character types that had finally found their fullest evolution in the course of the novel.

The prime example is in the character of Lazarus Long (born Woodrow Wilson Smith), whom we can find the seeds of in a number of older, seasoned, super-intelligent, uber-wealthy, multi-professional men in other books such as Jubal Harshaw and Professor Bernardo de la Paz (who all seem to be transparent and purposeful analogues of the author). Lazarus is the galaxy’s oldest man, weighing in at over 2000 years old, and is the last man alive to have been born in the medieval 20th century. In the far off year in which the story takes place, Lazarus finds himself in one way or another the sire of most of the population of the planet Secundus, who are all “Howards” (part of a genetic experiment set in motion by Ira Howard to engineer longer lived humans through genetic culling and strict breeding rules) in conjunction with technological advances in extending live ad infinitum.

The books itself is organized into a series of novellas, generally narrated by Lazarus, though other characters narrate as needed, of enlightening tales from across his long, long life. Embedded within all of the stories and subplots Heinlein outlines many radical beliefs for the early 70s, and indeed for today. Never much of a fan of organized religion and advocating in practice the political ideology of libertarianism Heinlein also advocates for a variety of marriage styles in his prose. Specifically in Time Enough for Love, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress the plots and character developments rely heavily on polyandrous marital and familial settings whereas love is not “free” but is also not a burden and the sowing of wild oats is an understood physical need, whereas emotional needs are shared and new lovers are welcomed into groups often and readily. In Time Enough for Love, using the basis of the galaxy’s oldest man, Heinlein manages to attack the taboo of incest and its total reliance on the Old Testament morality in the face of genetic testing and mapping to the extent that a “totally clean genetic map” doesn’t preclude even parents from reproducing with their adult offspring, in a world where everyone lives for ever and can age in any direction they wish.

In that, the book raises interesting questions about mortality and immortality and what happens to morality, taboos, mores, and desirability over the course of a couple thousand years. It is a beautifully descriptive book both in the character’s interaction and in the technological jargon employed—much of which was accurate and bleeding edge as of publication. While with little exception it is arguable that Heinlein generally wrote the same book time and again, with each iteration the plots became more fantastic, the strange mix of liberalism and conservatism in the political nucleus, and the sheer idealism in the face of humanity becomes more captivating.

Perhaps the most interesting characters in Time Enough for Love, as in all Heinlein novels, are not the semi-messianic male leads but rather the male-subservient, yet intelligent and domineering female characters. In Heinlein, women are liberated yet happily servants in many ways; though at the end of the day the women are always the leaders of the family, the most intelligent and insightful, and the true deciders of matters. Men, Lazarus Long especially, are always at the mercy of women and all chauvanist power is merely a show to impress a woman, and for all the male competence in his fiction the most Pollyannaish woman ends up being a competent and independent individual while the men invariably end up dependent on their skill or largess for their physical and/or emotional well being.

In trying to keep this admittedly decades old book review spoiler free, I know that I have been exploring broad strokes of Heinlein in general, but as I stated: insofar as character development is concerned all these books are the same. The trappings change, the plots change but these archetypes remain the same: the powerful yet subservient woman, the sentient computer, the messianic male, and the enlightened elder all find themselves in fantastic and different settings—all hearkening to Heinlein’s personal military experience and incredibly progressive views. Time Enough for Love is the capstone on the Dean of Science Fiction’s career, and certainly I enjoyed it, it wouldn’t be my first recommendation to someone who has never read his work before. In all, Time Enough for Love has some moments that make you question your own sense of sexual and political taboos and in such is a worthwhile experience in fiction—biased as I am, you should start with Stranger in a Strange Land.

 

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Written by Brandon Melendez

The Toast | Women of Men’s Destruction Reviewed

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” alt=”” width=”294″ height=”294″ />It seems like when you hear about a breakup song, movie or book, it’s usually written by a woman. Society usually views breakups from a woman’s perspective and we forget that men go through the situation, too.  Eat Your Serial’s Marty Evan provides the male perspective of a broken heart with Women of Men’s Destruction.

If Taylor Swift were a bitter, jaded, but witty, male, she would be protagonist Nave Mitchell Bruno. His back-story is a familiar one; boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl cheats on boy, boy gets heart broken. Yes Ladies, men are capable of feelings, too! Burned by a bad break up, Nave decides to swear off relationships and enjoy his bachelor-hood with his friends Jep, Tommy and Scooter, who have also been scorned by the women that they all loved.

I must admit that this story and I got off to a bad start with a tasteless joke in the first chapter.  To play fair, even Evans made the narrator of the story say it was tasteless, but I didn’t want to let one bad sentence in the whole story to keep me from reading. I also had to keep in mind that this is written from a male’s point of view, and the male and female sense of humor can be quite different.

As the story moves forward, we learn about the different breakups these men went through. Nave discovered his girlfriend of two years, Rhoya, sleeping with another man, Jep suffered a similar fate with his girlfriend Karen, Tommy and his partner Jules had a dysfunctional relationship filled with mutual infidelities and arguments, but still remain “friends” (with benefits), and Scooter’s ex-girlfriend Anne made him feel inadequate and dumb. She also broke up with him on his birthday. These men have all been through situations anyone, man or woman, can relate to but what they decide to do afterward may not be so familiar to everyone.

After learning that his ex has been looking for him at one of his favorite bars, Nave decides to talk to her when she shows up one night. Seeing her in tears gives Nave the idea to take the upper hand and invite her over to his place. He may not have a set plan, but he knows this is his chance to take advantage of the power he has over a clearly distraught Rhoya.
Unfortunately for Nave, Rhoya is pretty good at the deception game herself and he doesn’t really have the upper hand after their visit, but this feeling of defeat doesn’t last for long. He comes up with a plan that will get revenge for him and his burnt friends.

Though some of the humor is crude and at times a bit sexist, anyone who has been through a bad breakup and wanted revenge on his or her heart breaker can relate to this story. If you’re easily offended, this probably isn’t the best story for you, but if you’re dying to know how Nave’s plan worked out, you’ll have to read it for yourself.

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

 

 

The Toast | AMERICA AGAIN : Re-Becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t

With the election, I felt like I should be doing a little more political reading than I have been doing in the past few months. Election day is incredibly important and who better to give me the important political knowledge I need so despera

tely than Stephen Colbert.

Yes, you read correctly: Stephen Colbert.  His new book, AMERICA AGAIN: Re-Becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t, is not only informative, and gives some insight the exceptionalism of America,  but it’s in 3D! How can you possibly go wrong with a book in 3D?! You can’t.

This book covered a lot of hot topics such as the economy (jobs and Wall Street), healthcare, energy and even had a section about elections. Yes, I realize that Colbert is not actually taking the outrageous stances that he projects on his show and writes about in this book, but just because they aren’t serious opinions does not make them any less enjoyable to read about.

As a recent college graduate, I was fortunate enough to find a job, but it probably would have been a lot easier if I had followed the tips Colbert was offering up in the “Jobs” section of his book.  Does your resume need some updating? Colbert gives some helpful hints on how to make your resume more appealing to employers. For example, under “work experience” he suggests using another word besides work.

“Worked? We know you worked. It was work. This sounds weak. Always make your job sound vital by using action verbs like jack-hammered, Wind-Sprinted, Sucker-Punched, Heimliched and NASCARed”.

If you ever heard the rumor that knowing another language would help you in your job search, Stephen Colbert is here to tell you you’re totally wrong. Never admit that because “it says you’re willing to cheat on English.”

Healthcare is a huge concern for every voter out there. Colbert believes that socialized healthcare is not the way to go, and even has a Canadian tell you how he prefers paying for American Healthcare over the free Canadian Healthcare if “you’re feeling so darn sick you must absolutely must see the doc right away.”  If you’re signing up for insurance for the first time and want to see what an insurance form would actually look like, have no fear, he has included an example of one “as a dry run.” Some of the questions on this form that you can look forward to answering are “Can you breathe? Has this been a recurring problem?” and  “If you smash your funny bone against something, is it funny?” Don’t worry ladies! He hasn’t forgotten about you, this form also includes questions like “Has God ever punished you with the Time of the Blood?” and “Is Aunt Flo in town?”

The “Election” section of the book covered some major factors that go into a candidate’s election campaigning, for example, fund raising and donations. He suggests that the big money is in small donors. And how do you get small donors? By spamming the hell out of their emails. He also covers voter fraud. Did you know Robin Williams disguised himself as Mrs. Doubtfire so he could vote twice for lax border laws that allow Scottish housemaids to steal American nannying jobs?! NEITHER DID I! Thank you Stephen Colbert for exposing a liar and a fraud!

While the actual Presidential Election itself is a very serious and important event, instead of trying to find some type of humor in those political memes, why not read AMERICA AGAIN : Re-Becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t and actually have a good laugh.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

 

 

 

The Toast | Foxglove Hearts Reviewed

This is not a normal review that I usually do about the EYS authors and their stories. Why is this one different? This story is not fully finished yet. I have been getting wrapped up in this story and look forward to every new chapter, and th

is week’s “review” gives my reasons of why you should also be looking forward to every chapter of “Foxglove Hearts” by Suzette Kramer.

Most girls went through a horse phase while growing up. I know a lot of the girls I grew up with rode horses and were pretty much obsessed. That bug never seemed to bite me, but there was something about “Foxglove Hearts,” which has a heavy equine theme, that really interested me.

The story begins with a young woman named Mallari Jones, who has just finished up her master’s degree, receiving a phone call in the middle of the night. In most cases, a phone call that wakes you up in the middle of the night is never good news and this call is no different.

The caller lets Mallari know that her parents have been in a horrible car accident. When Mallari arrives to the hospital, the nurse is only mentioning the condition her mother is in, but nothing about her father. I don’t want to spoil the story too much, but the fate of Mallari’s parents is not so good.

After a long struggle to keep her family’s farm afloat and to keep her family together, Mallari had to make the tough decision to sell her beloved White Cove Farms. With her sister, Staci, leaving for college in Mid-August, and the farm barely making it by, she knew she couldn’t handle running the place on her own any longer. After selling, Mallari found a new job and a new home at the prestigious Foxglove Acres.

The Monarque’s, the owners of Foxglove, were very generous to allow Staci to stay with Mallari until she left for school. What they didn’t expect when they arrived was Bryce Monarque.  When the Jones girls arrive at his home, he is immediately attracted to Mallari. Unfortunately for him, Mallari has a boyfriend and he’s the boss’s son. Not to mention, he’s also a bit of a player.

Speaking of Mallari’s boyfriend, Chad, they have a bit of an odd relationship. They’ve never had any sort of physical contact besides cuddling and holding hands. They started as best friends and it turned into more. When Mallari started moving to her new home, Chad seemed to be working more out of town. After helping her sister move into her dorm, Mallari decides to stop by and pick up the sunglasses she left at Chad’s apartment.  It was also an excuse to see him. She was getting sick of the long distance relationship and the fact he wasn’t returning her phone calls didn’t help either. What she discovers that night at his apartment changes the relationship between the two.

After that night, Mallari begins to regain focus on her job, there was a lot going on at the farm that needed her attention. Now that Chad is out of the picture, is that going to change her relationship with Bryce?

I’m excited to see where the story is going to go from here. The only downside of this story is the equine jargon. If you’ve never had any experience with it, it can throw you off a little, but not so much to where the story is no longer enjoyable. If you haven’t started reading Foxglove Hearts, there’s no better time than now.