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To Ridicule?

Orson Scott Card's new novel, Empire, is really funny:

The team of four Americans had been in the village for three months. Their mission was to build trust until they could acquire accurate information about the activities of a nearby warlord believed to be harboring some operatives of Al Qaeda.

All four soldiers were highly trained for their Special Ops assignment. Which meant that they understood a great deal about local agriculture and husbandry, trade, food storage, and other issues on which the survival and prosperity of the village depended. They had arrived with rudimentary skills in the pertinent languages, but now they were reasonably fluent in the language of the village.

The village girls were beginning to find occasions to walk near whatever project the American soldiers were working on. But the soldiers ignored them, and by now the parents of these girls knew they were safe enough -- though that didn't stop them from rebuking the girls for their immodesty with men who were, after all, unbelievers and foreigners and dangerous men.

For these American soldiers had also been trained to kill -- silently or noisily, close at hand or from a distance, individually or in groups, with weapons or without.

They had killed no one in front of these villagers, and in fact they had killed no one, ever, anywhere. Yet there was something about them, their alertness, the way they moved, that gave warning, the way a tiger gives warning simply by the fluidity of its movement and the alertness of its eyes.


It goes on.

First five chapters here. In chapter four, the President is assassinated.

Comments

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ashamel
Dec. 4th, 2006 03:13 am (UTC)
Wow.

I'd like to see the training for noisy killing though (and I guess it could actually happen, as an intimidation technique.)

But wow.
benpeek
Dec. 4th, 2006 03:16 am (UTC)
you read chapter two and the whole, 'america is not like rome because we don't bitch slap france,' conversation?
ashamel
Dec. 4th, 2006 03:25 am (UTC)
No, your excerpt was quite enough for me.

I have enough to read without such crap.
benpeek
Dec. 4th, 2006 03:32 am (UTC)
in chapter four terrorists kill the president!
ashamel
Dec. 4th, 2006 03:35 am (UTC)
Well that's alright then. All is forgiven.
benpeek
Dec. 4th, 2006 03:47 am (UTC)
the vice president cops it, too.
ataxi
Dec. 4th, 2006 04:57 am (UTC)
I don't think all the combinations work too well - killing someone silently from a distance without the use of weapons sounds challenging.
ashamel
Dec. 4th, 2006 05:12 am (UTC)
And close at hand in a group is sort of creepy.
ataxi
Dec. 4th, 2006 03:20 am (UTC)
Hahaha
This just begs for a quote-by-quote demolition. Here's a couple:
"They had arrived with rudimentary skills in the pertinent languages"
Orson's research budget didn't extend to working out what the actual languages spoken by ragheads are, apparently. He should've realised: it's the Language of Terror.
"though that didn't stop them from rebuking the girls for their immodesty with men who were, after all, unbelievers and foreigners and dangerous men."
This village is practically teeming with women in desperate need of some free, democratic lovin'.
"Yet there was something about them, their alertness, the way they moved, that gave warning, the way a tiger gives warning simply by the fluidity of its movement and the alertness of its eyes."
Buy now for the bonus use of alertness as a metaphor for alertness!

What a load of rubbish.

benpeek
Dec. 4th, 2006 03:23 am (UTC)
Re: Hahaha
in chapter three, the main characters wife refers to herself as a cooky-baking wife.
ataxi
Dec. 4th, 2006 03:29 am (UTC)
Re: Hahaha
See ashamel's comment above for an indication of whether I'm likely to get to chapter 3 :-)
benpeek
Dec. 4th, 2006 03:33 am (UTC)
Re: Hahaha
in chapter four the president is assisinated!
paulhaines
Dec. 4th, 2006 04:38 am (UTC)
You know, and I know you'll disagree, the guy used to be good back in the late 80s.

Now are you quite sure he's not *really* talking about a group of missionaries trying to convert the *real* unbelievers to the land of Mormon? Cos, you know, that's what all of his books are really about.

I just posted a blog about the sagging weight of Card's prose too. And I count myself a fan of the man's writing. Early writing but.
benpeek
Dec. 4th, 2006 07:16 am (UTC)
you know, i have actually heard a lot of people say his books fromt he eighties are really good. but what can you say, huh? buying any of his books now just further encourages him to keep going with this insanely bad writing he's pumping out now.

(oddly, it reminded me of tom clancy.)
paulhaines
Dec. 4th, 2006 07:22 am (UTC)
buy them 2nd-hand -- he don't see a cent.
benpeek
Dec. 4th, 2006 09:21 am (UTC)
nah. there's stuff i actively want to read, whereas card has never held any real interest for me.
paulhaines
Dec. 4th, 2006 04:40 am (UTC)
I just went to the link you posted. Ha ha!

I thought you had been paraphrasing the 1st chapter, but you weren't. That's the goledarn actual prose!
benpeek
Dec. 4th, 2006 07:13 am (UTC)
dude, i could not make this up.
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Dec. 4th, 2006 07:18 am (UTC)
And at home, the soldier's wife baked cookies.
kaolinfire
Dec. 4th, 2006 05:15 am (UTC)
STOP! IT BURNS! IT BURNS!
benpeek
Dec. 4th, 2006 07:18 am (UTC)
in chapter three, his wife bakes cookies!
wheeler
Dec. 4th, 2006 09:37 am (UTC)
For a noted homophobe, Orson Scott Card does seem to have a bit of a thing for rugged men in uniform.
benpeek
Dec. 4th, 2006 09:45 am (UTC)
and they didn't take advantage of the village girls, remember.
shadowsandice
Dec. 4th, 2006 11:51 am (UTC)
Meh.
benpeek
Dec. 5th, 2006 01:56 am (UTC)
come on, did you read the cookie comment?
iagor
Dec. 4th, 2006 12:09 pm (UTC)
Oi.
benpeek
Dec. 5th, 2006 01:57 am (UTC)
chapter two compares rome and america against each other. here's the run down: rome bad, america good.
strangedave
Dec. 4th, 2006 03:43 pm (UTC)
The descriptions of Princeton as a haven of hard core Leftism is apparently pretty funny, too.
benpeek
Dec. 5th, 2006 01:58 am (UTC)
i think the whole book would be a bit laugh, really.
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