Monday, November 18, 2013

Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card

Although first published in 1977, I'd never heard of this title until I saw a preview for the movie adaptation a couple of months ago.  Apparently this is true for lots of folks; as I hear it the local middle school library is suddenly seeing a run on a book that had been sitting lonely and dust covered on the shelves for some time.

Yes middle school.  Which makes sense, in that the hero is only six years old when the novel begins, and not even a teenager at its end.   But I don't believe there's any reason to think this isn't also a novel for adults. I just missed it because I seldom read science fiction. Which brings us to the story line.

Set in the future, an alien race (buggers) caused trauma in an attack on Earth, and having barely won, the governments worry about a new attack. The complexity of coordinating space warfare with these aliens seems beyond the ability of veteran soldiers and instead requires an intensively trained savant: someone who has enough genius to understand the situation, can perhaps process the massive information streams in some intuitive fashion, who is vicious enough to prevail but empathetic enough to lead others. So the governments seek out little children who might have the right mix of abilities and carefully monitor them, looking for the one(s) who have what it takes.

Ultimately our hero Ender is a strong candidate. Ender's back story includes his little sister, for whom he has much affection, and his sociopathic big brother for whom he has only discomfort. His training consists of life like simulations. And I can't say more without introducing spoilers.

So is it worth reading? Absolutely. The plot is interesting, the development of Ender as a hero is interesting. The absurdity of the children's age considered their circumstance is hardly noticeable, other then in the occasional bit of puerile dialog.

Ender's Game

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