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I hate to prove his premise -- but this is right wing fantasy
on January 3, 2007
In the afterward for this novel, the author rails against all that is wrong with politics in America today, and I agree with everything he says. To summarize, his belief is that right vs. left, red vs. blue is far too simplistic, and that it lumps people into groups where they usually do not agree with everything that the group stands for. Very true, very astute. So why do I feel like the novel itself ignores this?
The heroes of the book are very right-wing, and the storyline itself is very anti-left. There is perhaps one strawman right-wing crazy who doesn't seem to do much, and an entire left-wing conspiracy that is dismissed and demonized in the thoughts of the protagonists at every turn. The one "liberal" protagonist doesn't do a or express a liberal thought in the novel, leaving us with one perspective, which one must assume is the author's opinion. I'm willing to admit that perhaps Card is clever enough to have done all this on purpose just so the reader will have the reaction I did, and prove his point -- but I don't think that is what was intended. Just as Card challenges us to examine our own beliefs and biases in the afterward, I feel like he ignored his own advice in the writing of the thoughts of the protagonists of the novel.
Politics aside (which is very difficult to say or do when it comes to this book, it is about a Civil War after all), the book is a bit unfocused. It is part military thriller, part mystery, part political commentary, but spends not enough time in any mode, and when it is all done, you are left with a plot that started with a very plausible premise and ended up with an extremely implausible resolution and a "mystery" that most would predict from practically the very beginning.
Oh, and the book spells "Hari Seldon" incorrectly. I usually enjoy the way Card pays homage to the things that he enjoys, even if it lets a little too much of his own perspective creep into the book, but honestly, how does a book get published with that kind of spelling error in it? I'm going to have to assume it was an editing error.