Tom Doherty Associates
New York 2006
The only book by Orson Scott Card I have read before is Ender’s Game, a well-written and exciting Sci-Fi set in the far future. It gave no indication that Card is a right-wing nutter.
Empire is set in the very near future. The good guys in Empire believe the most reliable sources for news are the Washington Times and FOX. One of the characters appears on the O’Reilly Factor and Bill-O is portrayed as sane and reasonable!
The bad guys are left-wingers who call their movement “The Progressive Restoration”. On one page in the middle of the book, he uses “The Progressive Revolution” a couple of times in such a way that it looks like during the writing he did a search and replace and then added a few paragraphs using “Revolution” by habit. It absolutely doesn’t look like it is done on purpose. Very sloppy of the author and then the editor to let it through.
The premise is that a few Army Generals plot to take over the government of the US, first the Red States because they will be sympathetic to the cause, then the Blue States because they can be overwhelmed by the Red. As one character points out, Red States simply have more rural population and Blue States have more urban population. I’m not sure that’s true, but that seems to be what the leaders of the rebellion believe. The first act of the rebellion is to rocket the White House and knock off the President, Vice President, Secretaries of Defense and State, and a handful of other VIPs. The Speaker of the House, whom the rebels regard as a pussy, assumes the Presidency.
It’s actually quite well written, and makes an effortless and entertaining read, if you can stomach the politics of the good guys.
Without being a spoiler, I want to point out that almost exactly mid-book Card pulls off one hell of a surprise for the reader. I’ve seen this plot device only once before, and I can’t tell you where without tipping you off.
He adds an Afterward to exhort folks on different points on the left-right continuum not to assume that those who disagree are stupid, loony or evil. He doesn’t indicate that he is anywhere on that continuum other than where you would guess from his writing.
I give it four stars for readability and excitement, two stars for literary quality and three barf bags for its political POV.