Author: Orson Scott Card
This is a story about a short-lived civil war in a contemporary USA. It starts with the assassination of the president and VP by unknown terrorists, followed up by an attempted coup by the military and a rebellion of Liberal Elitists on the coasts, who are supported by a Bill Gates caricature with his army of iPod-like AT-STs ripoffs.
The novel started as a video game project that stalled, so OSC decided to convert the plot into a thriller. While it would have made a decent video game, he never really put the pieces together enough to make a coherent book. Too many holes, too many questions, too many implausibilities hamstring the effort. OSC specifically refers to 24 many times during the book, including in the acknowledgements. I haven’t seen the show, but I can only hope it’s tighter and better written.
But, Card is a decent historian, and presents us with an intriguing idea. Given the title and the content of the prolog, I don’t think I’m giving away anything when I say that the civil war is a ploy, a first step by a nefarious man to turn the US into an empire. Card’s thesis is this: it is improper to compare the US to the end of the Roman Empire. If the US collapsed right now, the vestiges of our culture worldwide would be shrugged off. He claims it is more proper to compare us to the end of the Roman Republic, having not yet entered the Empire stage. The plot came from Card’s attempt to imagine how the US would transition from the republic stage to the empire stage. It could use some polishing, but it is a thought-provoking idea.
Despite a transparent attempt to appear moderate, the book is politically charged. Strawmen emerge from the left and the right, but the stronger characters are all, let’s say, one sided. E.g. all the academic people are froo-froo and treacherous, while only half the military people are gruff, power-hungry bullies.
OSC claims that reviews of Empire break down political lines – low from the left and high from the right. This sort of mine-field tactic is a cheap trick of argument, unworthy of someone as smart as OSC.