Ironically, given Orson Scott Card’s foolish and futile opposition to gay rights, his 1985 YA sci-fi novel “Ender’s Game” not only preaches tolerance, but has also given solace to countless gay kids and other outsiders struggling with loneliness and alienation. And some of the scenes in the book — an assault in the shower, for example — are frankly homoerotic. So the good his book has done helping kids cope has probably more than balanced any damage the author himself has done with his outspoken homophobia.
But to limit the book to such sexual politics doesn’t do it justice. More important, it achieves a prescient glimpse into a future dominated by virtual reality, drone warfare, and poisonous demagoguery. And at its core it dramatizes the crucial conflict between empathy and destruction.