In an alternate universe of the kind he might envision in his novels, Orson Scott Card would be at the forefront of publicity for the sci-fi saga Ender's Game (out Nov. 1). A living legend among authors in the genre, Card, 61, wrote the novel on which the film is based, the story of a sensitive wunderkind tapped to lead humankind's last stand against an insectlike race of aliens. The book has sold millions of copies since its publication in 1985 and is regarded as a classic, particularly by people inclined to, say, make a pilgrimage to Comic-Con dressed as stormtroopers and superheroes. Yet you won't see Card promoting the movie at this year's Comic-Con or anywhere else, for that matter. The studio behind the $110 million production, Lionsgate, is doing everything it can to distance the film from the author who dreamed up the story in the first place.
Over the years, Card has drawn increasingly intense criticism for his long-held personal beliefs in particular, his views on homosexuality and his opposition to gay marriage. As public awareness of the Ender's Game movie has grown, the controversy surrounding the author has reached a crescendo. Earlier this month, a small online group called Geeks OUT even called for a national boycott of the film. ''We're dismayed by the statements Orson Scott Card has repeatedly made against the LGBT community and marriage equality,'' says Geeks OUT board member Patrick Yacco. ''We feel that [a boycott] is the best way to send the message that we don't agree with what he's saying.''
In a statement to EW last week, Card declared the debate on the issue of gay marriage ''moot'' given last month's Supreme Court rulings upholding the rights of states to legalize same-sex marriage. ''Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute,'' he added. Days later, he quietly stepped down from the board of the National Organization for Marriage, a group devoted to battling same-sex marriage, which he had joined in 2009.
These gestures did little to silence his critics. With negative publicity mounting, Lionsgate quickly issued its own statement: ''We obviously do not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card.... The simple fact is that neither the underlying book nor the film itself reflect [his] views in any way, shape or form.''
Asked to clarify his position, Card writing from Switzerland, where he was sitting on the jury of a film festival demurred. ''I'm not sure I'd have anything to add on the matter beyond correcting the record,'' he wrote via email. ''I have no interest in going back to flog dead political issues. Both my fiction and my life demonstrate who and what I am.''