Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Empire by Orson Scott Card

I once knew a person who only watched movies that were rated two stars or less. From his perspective, a movie isn't a forum for engaging in serious discussion, but rather a simple form of entertainment that shouldn't be taken seriously. Using this viewpoint, I would hazard to guess that this person would have enjoyed this book.

Empire is a work of speculative fiction that asks the question, "if civil war were to break out in the United States between Conservatives and Liberals, what would it look like?" If you take this book seriously (something that I wouldn't recommend) then you run the risk of being pretty disappointed. On the other hand, if you ignore the political rants and enjoy the action, then this book is OK.

The novel revolves around two army officers, Major Malich and Captain Coleman, in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that leads to the assassination of the U.S. President, Vice-President, Secretary of Defence and several other people. Following these assassinations, a left-wing group led by a thinly-disguised George Soros takes over New York City and claims that it is the legitimate government of the United States. The resulting chaos leads to armed conflict and, depending on your point of view, a fast-paced action thriller, or a literary mess that contains mindless conservative babble.

In my opinion, this book has numerous, numerous flaws. First, the characters are so wooden you could crack them in half. Then there is the dialogue that comes straight out of a Rambo movie. The historical references, meanwhile, seem more like a high school essay than insightful analysis. On the plus side, I found the pace of the book quite good and the action very enjoyable, if you like big explosions and lots of shooting.

This book won't win Orson Scott Card a PhD in political science or history, nor is it a particularly believable vision of a civil war in the Unites States. What it does accomplish, however, is provide a fun action story that appeals to those who like video game-like entertainment.

2 out of 5 stars