Greetings all,

First, I’m sorry for missing Wednesday. Honestly, the wife and I spent the week moping over our sons being away on vacation. I’ll have a review ready for you all on time next Wednesday.

Speaker
The cover for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

I was reading narratives today, and I noticed a trend that I see even in some of the greats. Some writers tend to get a bit preachy. I don’t know that I argue anyone who says I do this on occasion either.

I think any writer has the right to write in a way that supports things they believe in. It’s not something I actively do too much, but it happens.

However, some writers focus on their philosophy or beliefs, and that leaves the reader to slog through thousands of words that have way more to do with the author’s views than the character’s growth or development.

The comparison I’d like to make is the difference between Speaker for the Dead and Children of the Mind, both by Orson Scott Card

Speaker for the Dead is a wonderful book and by far my favorite in the series. Everything that happens in that story is related to the characters and how the choices they make affect each other. Yes, it’s clear the view Card has, but it’s far more about the characters than the author.

Children of the Mind, I feel, is the complete opposite of that. I remember reading that story and feeling like the story came to a screeching halt so I could read a commentary on philosophical principles.

Now, Card is one of the great science fiction writers of our generation. He can do whatever he wants, and my opinions won’t affect his life at all.

While I feel those introspective tangents drag down stories that would otherwise be amazing, it doesn’t mean the technique is “bad.”

Children
The cover for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

I don’t hide from my beliefs. Some of them are obvious in my writing. However, not everything I write is a reflection of my beliefs. I do, however, have to challenge myself to make sure I’m not committing the same offense. Every writer puts a tiny piece of himself into his characters. The trick is not to overwhelm the fictional character with a personal agenda (unless of course that is your goal).

Ayn Rand was very objective in her writing, and she’s studied in high schools and universities around the world. There is an audience for such writing. Some people absolutely look for writing that supports their beliefs.

The question I pose to this community is this: Does political or philosophical agendas have a place in general fiction?

I think it depends on the author. The reason I noted Card is that his books seemed to progress from stories with plots that lean toward an agenda (Ender’s Game) to agendas with a few story-driven interludes (Children). That shift felt odd to me. I probably wouldn’t have read the rest of the series if Ender’s Game was structured the same way. I honestly only finished Children because I had already invested so much into the saga.

That said, I’d probably read a sequel if it came out. I’ve seen a lot of books from that world, but to my knowledge an actual sequel isn’t out. If it is, let me know.

So I leave this as an opening to what I hope becomes a discussion on the matter. What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading,

Matt

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