Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Ender's Game

by Orson Scott Card.

I am not a science fiction reader, but I do make occasional forays into unfamiliar genres of children's and teens' fiction in order to broaden my horizons and better my Readers' Advisory skills from time to time. I often start with the big names, the classics, the always-on-the-list items, figuring there has to be a reason people keep talking about them. And so it was that I picked up this classic starting point for teen Sci-Fi.

The story begins as young Ender, just six years old, is plucked from school and sent to Battle School to learn among the big boys. It seems many hopes ride on this tiny genius being their next great fleet commander, a gem of rare tactical brilliance, and hopes of destroying the "Buggers" and avoiding future wars lay with him. He is pushed hard, odds stacked against him and circumstances manipulated in any way possible to make him work harder. Years before any one else in history, he was pushed up to a position of command within the school, in charge of his own army of soldiers - green ones, at that, whom he was to mold. All old rules about resting time and battle practices were thrown out in the interest of pushing him and his crew to the breaking, forging them by fire. Not long after, he is again moved up, some five years earlier than normal, to Command School, where he is pushed further and harder than before, now being trained and opposed by the only surviving hero from the earlier wars.

Throughout, we see the master manipulators discussing their concerns, their needs and fears about Ender and about the upcoming invasion, which make this whole thing both more and less humane. Ender is no normal kid, to be sure, even at six he is light years ahead of most average ten- or twelve-year-olds, a genius who had been annealed to pain by his cruel older brother. This and the twist at the end, as well as Ender's occasional lapses into frustration and his fear about his own nature give this an incredibly deep humanity, rather than being a mere adventure tale. He had to be, as they explain to him when all is said and done, someone empathetic enough to understand the enemy and thus defeat him, but survivalist enough to make the tough decisions about us or them. He is indeed, just that person. For this extra depth and dimension, I really, really liked it.

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I read this one years ago, and loved it. I read it again witwhen h my (then) 12-year-old son read it. Aren't there a couple others about Ender?
Oh, "L" is me, MaryP. It comes up that way whenever blogger is set to refuse anonymous comments - no WordPress allowed!
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