Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sci-Fi Review: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet #1)
by Orson Scott Card 

Andrew "Ender" Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast.

But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway almost as long. Ender's two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. While Peter was too uncontrollably violent, Valentine very nearly lacks the capability for violence altogether. Neither was found suitable for the military's purpose. But they are driven by their jealousy of Ender, and by their inbred drive for power. Peter seeks to control the political process, to become a ruler. Valentine's abilities turn more toward the subtle control of the beliefs of commoner and elite alike, through powerfully convincing essays. Hiding their youth and identities behind the anonymity of the computer networks, these two begin working together to shape the destiny of Earth-an Earth that has no future at all if their brother Ender fails.

My Review:
Ender’s Game is one of those books that I’ve wanted to read for some time. I saw the movie when it came out and liked it, but never got around to picking it up as a book. Glad my friend and I got into a talk about books because he reminded me about this.

This is a story about a child genius who is enlisted into an intergalactic army and molded into perhaps the most gifted commander of his time, all before the age of 12.

First off, I dig a good sci-fi with all the technology, the space science, the what ifs, and the deep questions, and Ender’s Game delivers. Ender and the other kids are part of it, much smarter than they should be and given the responsibility for the fate of humankind, though most don’t really understand it. And that leads into the next thing I found fascinating.

Ender, unlike most of his peers, knows he’s being used, that the game is bigger than just a game, that his teachers are not his friends, that his friends are not his friends, not really, not when he has to lead them. He knows that no one will rescue him but himself. He’s the victim and the savior all in one. And it just draws you right in. Rooting for him. Rooting for his success, even though deep down you know it’s terribly wrong how he’s being used. And all through it, the shocking reminders that he’s the age of a kindergartener or first grader.

This story toys with ideas of morality. The author gives us the perspective of those in charge of the Battle School and the children’s training, so we have a peek into that mindset of knowing that despite your love for those children, you’re going to break them so you can build them into what they need to be. Despite that you’re going to do it because it needs to be done, even it if means prison or worse if the war is in fact won, if the gamble pays off.

Overall, I loved the story. It’s just one of those books that truly does deserve to be labeled a classic. I devoured it in a day and a half. I highly recommend this to folks who love sci-fi and underdog stories.

There are four more books, but this one reads well enough that you could stop with it and be satisfied.

I purchased my copy of this book.

This is the second book I've read by Orson Scott Card. The other was The Seventh Son for which you can read my review here.

About the Author:
Orson Scott Card is best known for his science fiction novel Ender's Game and its many sequels that expand the Ender Universe into the far future and the near past. Those books are organized into the Ender Quintet, the five books that chronicle the life of Ender Wiggin; the Shadow Series, that follows on the novel Ender's Shadow and are set on Earth; and the Formic Wars series, written with co-author Aaron Johnston, that tells of the terrible first contact between humans and the alien "Buggers." Card has been a working writer since the 1970s. Beginning with dozens of plays and musical comedies produced in the 1960s and 70s, Card's first published fiction appeared in 1977 -- the short story "Gert Fram" in the July issue of The Ensign, and the novelette version of "Ender's Game" in the August issue of Analog.

The novel-length version of Ender's Game, published in 1984 and continuously in print since then, became the basis of the 2013 film, starring Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, and Abigail Breslin. Card was born in Washington state, and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, he runs occasional writers' workshops and directs plays. He frequently teaches writing and literature courses at Southern Virginia University.

He is the author many sf and fantasy novels, including the American frontier fantasy series "The Tales of Alvin Maker" (beginning with Seventh Son), There are also stand-alone science fiction and fantasy novels like Pastwatch and Hart's Hope. He has collaborated with his daughter Emily Card on a manga series, Laddertop. He has also written contemporary thrillers like Empire and historical novels like the monumental Saints and the religious novels Sarah and Rachel and Leah. Card's recent work includes the Mithermages books (Lost Gate, Gate Thief), contemporary magical fantasy for readers both young and old. Card lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, He and Kristine are the parents of five children and several grandchildren.

Source: http://us.macmillan.com/author/orsonscottcard

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