December 25, 2007
Empire is a novel by Orson Scott Card published last year. I found it in the airport book store and the back cover described a book very much like what I had recently been thinking about, regarding the current direction of the U.S. government and society as a whole. The main characters are all U.S. soldiers or veterans that lean right to varying degrees, who are caught up in a sort of rebellion when a successful rocket attack takes out the top members of the Executive branch and cabinet. In the resulting chaos, a left-wing group conquers New York City and various state and local governments begin aligning themselves with this new organization.
I wish Card had focused more on the issues, morals, and ideas associated with how and why this could happen and the consequences of a country that has become so divided and complacent. Instead the majority of words are there to move the plot along without a whole lot of commentary on the subject. That's understandable, considering this is supposed to be a thriller and exploration of a possible near future for the United States.
To his immense credit, Card does make parallels to a possible consequence within the story, and the book has underlying criticism of both right- and left-wing extremists as well as the citizens who have allowed things to reach this point. Which is good, because it slips those thoughts into the reader without forcing the issue. People of any political leaning can read it, enjoy it, and not feel like Card is trying to force his own beliefs upon them. Your individual political views will shape your perceptions of the story and its political opinions. Although I suspect (and no doubt Card does as well) that people who lean far in one direction or the other will not be able to see that they are exactly the kind of people being criticized by the book. Instead, they will believe the book vindicates their own political choices.
Posted by josuah at December 25, 2007 9:55 PM UTC+00:00
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