Book Review: Empire by Orson Scott Card

Once again, Orson Scott Card hits a home run with his latest book, “Empire”. From the publishers summary:

Orson Scott Card is a master storyteller who has earned millions of fans and reams of praise for his previous science-fiction and fantasy works. Now he steps a little closer to the present day with this chilling look at a near-future scenario: a new American Civil War.

The American Empire has grown too fast, and the fault lines at home are stressed to the breaking point. The war of words between Right and Left has collapsed into a shooting war, though most people just want to be left alone.

The battle rages between the high-technology weapons on one side and militia foot-soldiers on the other, devastating the cities and overrunning the countryside. But the vast majority, who only want the killing to stop and the nation to return to more peaceful days, have technology, weapons, and strategic geniuses of their own.

When the American dream shatters into violence, who can hold the people and the government together? And which side will you be on?

In typical OSC fashion, Empire is about self introspection and solving societal problems. Once again he builds amazing characters that you can’t help but idolize and appreciate for their true character.

Major Reuben Malech is a protégé in the US military. He’s worked his way up in the ranks through truly hard work (both in the field and in the classroom). He’s a historian as well, which plays a significant role in the plot. Captain Bartholomew Coleman (nicknamed Cole) is another protégé who has been chosen by Malech as his assistant and just happens to start on a “bad day.”

So enough about the story… let’s talk about the political undertones.

Throughout the story, Malech and Coleman are the few “sane” minds. There are conspiracies coming from both sides (left and right) and there is distrust everywhere. The distrust is very realistic in that it closely represents the current political landscape. Both sides accuse the other of conspiracy of this or the other.

The difference in the book compared to current politics is only a matter of action. In the book, people with power actually take action to accomplish what they want rather than just a war of words.

One point that is illustrated by OSC in the afterward is that our societal divide is not as clear-cut as it was in American Civil War. When you look at red vs blue states, there is somewhat of a visible line, but when you look at individual counties, there is no definite political divide line. But Card also points out (through the story as well as in the afterward) that it only takes one highly motivated individual (with the right resources) to start a war.
So can this actually happen? Do you think American politics is nearing the point of a civil war?

Discuss!

Book Grade: A-

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