I just recently started reading more scifi than fantasy much thanks to “A Guide to Navigating NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books” and yet another list called “100 Best Sci-Fi Books”. (I read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 two weeks ago and suddenly know what all the fuss was about when he died back in June this year. He did some excellent work. I will read more of his books once I can wrap my stubby fingers around them.)
In 1985 Orson Scott Card had his scifi novel Ender’s Game published based on his short story from 1977 (but really nursed at the back of his mind as early as 1967) and by now it’s become kind of legendary. I started reading it about a week ago only to find out that the movie’s released in theatres next year. Sadly, I doubt that even the scifi-savvy Harrison Ford can do justice to a book this amazing.
Basically, I believe it’s still too surreal and complicated to adapt from book (and comics) to film. I say this only having read the first book of the Ender Wiggin series.
In a distant future when humans have expanded their habitat further out into the galaxy and even beyond that, they are threatened by an insect-like alien they call “buggers”. It’s been 70 years since the humans defeated the buggers and drove them back into space but the fear of a future attack still hangs heavy on everyone’s shoulders. To outwit and delete the buggers for all time the humans need good soldiers, and even better commanders, which leads them to recruit the most gifted of Earth’s children for vigorous training in Battle Schools situated in space.
Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin isn’t just gifted; he’s brilliant – perhaps even too brilliant. Nonetheless, he’s chosen for Battle School at the tender age of six. Wihtout having arrived at Battle School the violence and mind-games commence and will only grow worse the further into his education he gets. Little does he know of the plans for him to be human kind's saviour...
This book has a good story evolving in a fascinating and compelling way. It has many interesting characters and they’re allowed to be ugly and evil (which most of them are). Ender is of course über awesome and the term “kill your darlings” comes to my mind more than once in one reading session. An author is only as good as the flaws it gives its characters. I like Ender’s Game but Ender doesn’t really have flaws bigger than his small stature, sometimes bordering on stupid stubbornness and his young age.
As a finishing note I think the book is interesting since it mirrors a conflict that’s been officially buried since 1991 when the Wall came down. There’s a lot of talk of the Warsaw Pact and the conflict between the USA and the USSR which was actually what pulled me in to begin with. My interest in both politics and scifi makes this book even better (same goes for Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and Orwell’s “1984”). But that’s the brilliant thing about scifi isn’t it? It’s supposed to be a kind of commentary on society – what we’re afraid that it’ll become or want it to be.
I wonder what people will read into our stories in 50 years.
P.S. Don't actually buy the book. If I've convinced you about Ender's awesomeness, then download it or buy a second hand copy. Don't see the film at cinemas either. Don't give this man any money. Excellent author, horrific person. Sadly, Orson Scott Card produced the film so he'll be given some of its proceeds. So again, don't allow him any of your money. Thanks.