cover image Hamlet's Father

Hamlet's Father

Orson Scott Card, Subterranean (, $35 (96p) ISBN 978-1-59606-269-6

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.)