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Hamlet's Father Hardcover – April 29, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hugo and Nebula–winner Card (Pathfinder) tinkers with the backstory of Shakespeare's play in this flimsy novella. When Hamlet is a boy, his father snubs him while doting on all his friends in a manner that the reader will immediately identify as perverse. After a blissful interlude at school, Hamlet returns to Elsinore for the events of the play. Card's Hamlet is more calculating, less dark, and almost completely isolated. He despises his father; his close relationship with his mother is only briefly shown; and even his closest friends, Horatio and Laertes, get little page time. The writing and pacing have the feel of a draft for a longer and more introspective work that might have fleshed out Hamlet's indecision and brooding; instead, the focus is primarily on linking homosexuality with the life-destroying horrors of pedophilia, a focus most fans of possibly bisexual Shakespeare are unlikely to appreciate. (Apr.)
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About the Author

ORSON SCOTT CARD, a New York Times bestselling author, has won several Hugo and Nebula Awards for his works of speculative fiction. He lives with his family in Greensboro, North Carolina. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 104 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean; Signed, Limited edition (April 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159606269X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596062696
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,509,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

212 of 246 people found the following review helpful By Aidget on September 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
There is a popular phrase that my kids repeat whenever they come upon something completely different from desired expectation, "I reject your reality and insert my own." This phrase is applicable in many ways to this book.

OSC has always been one of my favorite authors and so I had pleasant expectations that this would be an intriguing take on a classic story. Sadly, it is not. Yes, there is rampant and ham-fisted homophobia here. The shock is not that Card is against Homosexuals, one only needs to Google him to see where he stands, the shock is that he deals with his message so incredibly poorly. If anything, he comes across as strident and pathetic. One would have thought he would use the incredible amounts of nuance he was capable of once upon a time to craft his tale. He didn't. He couldn't be bothered, and it shows.

The other problem the book never overcomes is how he rejected Shakespeare's Hamlet and inserted his own. Hamlet is unrecognizable. If anything, he is a shamefully embarrassing Mary Stu of the Author. There is no glorious angst, as the Prince tried to wrestle with truth/loyalty/death/existance. There is only silliness and an increasing feeling of discomfort. The feeling you get when you watch someone make a fool of themselves in public.

If you truly want something to give you an expanded idea of what is going on while Shapespeare's Hamlet plays out on stage before you, I recommend Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Trust me. You will never watch Hamlet without having an expanded understanding of the tale again.

This? You are forced to go see Hamlet in order to ensure that all is still right in the world and scrub this book from your psyche.

It is my belief Card has lost it, not just in his repulsive political views, but in his craft. The man can no longer write.

It's sad, really.
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141 of 171 people found the following review helpful By snow on September 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Card proves himself to be a bigot once more. Surprise, surprise. The fact that this made it past the publishers at all is disgraceful. Do yourself a favor and read Falling for Hamlet or some other revision instead.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By vnd1r on May 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I once respected Card as a science fiction author. I once respected Card as an author. I once respected Card as a person.

That this novella manages to single-handedly erase all of that respect should say a lot about the quality of this piece and of Card. There is nothing wrong with re-imagining a classic work; Tom Stoppard showed us how you could easily reimagine Hamlet to go from a deep and brooding tragedy to a sarcastic but affectionate dark comedy. Mr. Stoppard managed to write a short book that cleverly takes the basis from The Bard and contribute something new, meaningful, and intelligent.

This book, with its shallow and forgettable characterizations, lack of genuine literary energy, and absolutely vile justifications for its numerous contrivances, does nothing of the sort. It does not even bother to mask the shameless intent to forward an agenda dedicated to harming, demeaning, and removing the rights of innocent people. It is bad enough that it is contextually vile, but it is also mechanically dull, flat, and lifeless.

No wonder it is a piece of fiction; Card couldn't find evidence from real life that homosexuals were the root of all ills, and thus must have had to resort to the realm of the imaginary to justify and further his bigotry with this ham-fisted attempt to not only regard homosexuality as indistinguishable from pedophilia, but also treat homosexuality as a sexually transmitted disease unto itself, spread through sexual abuse. If you doubt that Card would have included such things, please refer to my previous statements on vile justifications for numerous contrivances.

Don't read this book, Amazon customers. Don't even justify this with your interest. It is not some fanciful re-imagining; to put it in the same category as Tom Stoppard's work is an insult to Mr. Stoppard. It is a piece of hateful and destructive propaganda, merely wearing the rotted skin of a great work as its mask.
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91 of 113 people found the following review helpful By A. E. Vincent on September 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Is this book rather stupidly homophobic? Yes. But let's be clear -- it's just plain stupid. If you have any interest in Shakespeare's Hamlet whatsoever, then you know the greatness of the play, the revolutionary quality it possesses that makes it a watershed in literature, is its ambiguity. Hamlet is driven by doubt rather than certainty, and that doubt is what leads to the story's most profound dilemmas and richest language. So NATURALLY Orson Scott Card has decided that he'll tell a version devoid of any moral complexity or doubt whatsoever, because to him, I suppose, the greatest thing about Hamlet is that somebody stabs someone else through a curtain? Something like that? God only knows what you think Hamlet's about when you think stripping the doubt out isn't disemboweling the story.

Orson Scott Card's attitudes towards homosexuality mark him as a bigot, a crank and simply a very old man. But the publisher should be embarrassed that -- to cash in on a name known for literary success now decades old -- they published anything this ghastly.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By M Windmill on September 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In Orson Scott Card's version of this classic tale, Hamlet's father is a lousy king who sexually assaults a number of underage boys, turning them gay in the process. He gets away with this for AT LEAST 20 years, possibly longer. Even though he's murdered by one of his victims, the death is fairly quick. Even AFTER dying he gets to come back as a ghost and bully his son, the one boy he DIDN'T rape, into killing off his surviving victims, thus preserving the dead old pedophile's legacy. To cap it all off the death of Hamlet's father is blamed on Claudius, ensuring that the single surviving victim, Horatio, will be forced say nothing about what REALLY happened, or face execution for the treasonous act of murdering Hamlet's Father.

After all of this, Hamlet's father gets to spend eternity raping his own son.

This isn't a condemnation of homosexuality, but a roaring love letter to pedophilia. It might as well have been titled "The Pedophile Triumphant" or "The Virtues of Molesting Little Boys."
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