Friday, August 6, 2010

Ender's Game

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Ender Wiggin Series #1
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Tom Doherty, Associates, 1985
Introduction, 1994
ISBN-13: 9780812550702
Very Highly Recommended

The Earth is under attack and the survival of the human species depends on a military genius who can defeat the alien “buggers.” Recruited for military training, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin’s childhood ends the moment he enters his new home: Battle School.
My Thoughts:

The alien "buggers" have tried to destroy the human race twice. Before they can launch a third and final battle, a new brilliant commander must be found to eliminate the threat once and for all. This creates the necessity for Battle School, where highly intelligent children are trained to be the soldiers and officers needed for the war. When tested, Ender exhibits the desired combination of compassion and cruelty needed in the great commander hey are looking for, so, at age 6, he is sent off to Battle School. Ender survives and excels at Battle School, despite his small stature and the fact that he is intentionally isolated, and allowed to be bullied and persecuted.

Ender's Game really is an incredible science fiction classic. Originally published as a short story in 1977, the rewritten novel is both a Hugo and Nebula Award winner. Ender's Game explores the question: what does it take to make a great commander? While you may or may not agree with the International Fleet's answer to that question in regards to Ender's training, you will never forget the character Ender Wiggins.

I don't know why I haven't read Ender's Game before now, except for the fact that I kept thinking I had read it.

The simple style in which Card wrote Ender's Game is particularly effective, especially since we are experiencing Battle School through the eyes of Ender, who is a very young genius. Often now considered a YA book, it is clear that there are many gifted children, or even those deemed "different" by their peers, who are going to really relate to Ender. I also very much enjoyed Card's introduction included in my copy of Ender's Game. I'm going to add a quote (found below) from it to my sidebar.
Very Highly Recommended - it really is a classic


In other genres, that desire is usually expressed by producing thinly veiled rewrites of the great work: Tolkien's disciples far too often simply rewrite Tolkien, for example. In science fiction, however, the whole point is that the ideas are fresh and startling and intriguing; you imitate the great ones, not by rewriting their stories, but rather by creating stories that are just as startling and new. pg. xii, introduction

I writing Ender's Game I deliberately avoided all the little literary games and gimmicks that make "fine" writing so impenetrable to the general audience. All the layers of meaning are here to be decoded, if you like to play the game of literary criticism - but if you don't care to ply that game, that's fine with me. pg xviii-xix, introduction

I forced the audience to experience the lives of these children from that perspective - the perspective in which their feelings and decisions are just as real and important as any adult's. pg xx, introduction

The story itself, the true story, is the one that the audience members create in their minds, guided and shaped by my text, but then transformed, elucidated, expanded, edited, and clarified by their own experience, their own desires, their own hopes and fears. pg. xxv, introduction

“I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one. Or at least as close as we’re going to get.”
“That’s what you said about the brother.”
“The brother tested out impossible. For other reasons. Nothing to do with his ability.”
“Same with the sister. And there are doubts about him. He’s too malleable. Too willing to submerge himself in someone else’s will.”
“Not if the other person is his enemy.”
“So what do we do? Surround him with enemies all the time?”
“If we have to.”
“I thought you said you liked this kid.” opening

The doctor was trembling; his voice shook as he spoke. “They leave these things in the kids for three years, what do they expect? We could have switched him off, do you realize that? We could have unplugged his brain for all time.” pg 3-4

Then Ender looked at the others coldly. "You might be having some idea of ganging up on me. You could probably beat me up pretty bad. But just remember what I do to people who try to hurt me. From then on you'd be wondering when I'd get you, and how bad it would be." pg. 7

"My name is Graff, Ender. Colonel Hyrum Graff. I'm director of primary training at the Battle School in the Belt. I've come to invite you to enter the school."
After all. "But the monitor-"
"The final step in your testing was to see what would happen when your monitor came off. We don't always do it that way, but in your case -"
"And he passed?" Mother was incredulous. "Putting the Stilson boy in the hospital? What would you have done if Andrew had killed him, given him a medal?"
"It isn't what he did, Mrs. Wiggin. It's why." pg. 19

"What is it like, there?"
"Hard work. Studies, just like school here, except we put you into mathematics and computers much more heavily. Military history. Strategy and tactics. And above all, the Battle Room."
"What's that?"
"War games. All the boys are organized into armies. Day after day, in zero gravity, there are mock battles..." pg. 23-24

"Anderson, think what we're going to do to him."
Anderson was defiant. We're going to make him the best military commander in history."
"And then put the fate of the world on his shoulders. For his sake, I hope it isn't him. I do."
"Cheer up. The buggers may kill us all before he graduates." pg. 36


Unknown said...

It is great to see that you enjoyed Ender's Game as much as I did. It really is a classic :-) I'm hoping that I enjoy the rest of the series, but preparing myself for a disappointment as I've heard that they aren't as good.

Lori L said...

I'll be following to see if you like the next books in the series. My son,who lent me Ender's Game, has said the second book is also very good and I'll be starting it soon.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read ENDER'S GAME yet. And I keep thinking I need too. :)

I'm glad to hear that it really is a classic. (And putting the quotes at the end of the reviews is quite delightful.)

Lori L said...

It really is quite good, Jessica - read it! I set aside reading it for way too long.