Orson Scott Card: the author and the work

I’ve kept up with the recent Orson Scott Card controversy in libraryland, and I respect nearly everyone who has taken a strong stance against the decision by the YALSA to award OSC the Margaret A. Edwards award for adolescent literature for 2008.

But.

I’m not sold on the controversy here.

There is no denying that OSC is a homophobe…no, that’s probably not strong enough. “Fear of homosexuality” doesn’t approach his views. OSC is a heterosexist bigot, based on his own words, and does not deserve either our respect or our patience. But the two works that are being honored, Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, are not homophobic. They don’t seem to speak with the same voice as OSC in interviews. They portray strong, smart kids doing incredible things, and should stand above and beyond the idiocies of the author.

The award is given, according to the description online, in order to:

…recognizes an author’s work in helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role and importance in relationships, society, and in the world.

The works do just that.

The author can be an idiot…hell, it could probably be argued that most artists of any sort are damaged in some significant way. Insanity, adultery, substance abuse, and yes, crazy beliefs…all crop up in the pantheon of artists. Just because the author is nuts doesn’t mean that the work is nuts.

Would I give OSC an award? No. Would I honor the work? Yes, I would. It’s a fine line, but otherwise I find myself having to question every piece of art by examination of the artist.


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