With just over a month to the release of the film, I thought that I should prepare to see it by reading the novel.
Ender’s Game is a military science fiction novel set in the not too distant future. People from the earth have moved out into the galaxy and encountered an insectoid race called the Formics. The people in the book refer to them mostly as “buggers.” The buggers have already attacked twice with devastating results and it is feared that a third attack might be the end of humanity.
The political condition on earth is precarious with tensions between the Warsaw Pact nations and others set aside in light of the threat from the buggers.
The military is on a search for someone who can lead space-going forces to finally end the threat from the buggers. They recruit children that demonstrate high mental and physical abilities to be trained in combat at the International Fleet (IF) Battle School. Ender Wiggin, aged six years, is identified as a very special recruit by the Battle School commander Hyrum Graff. Ender is taken from his family that includes his older brother, Peter, who had been considered for Battle school, but was eliminated for displaying sociopathic behavior, and Ender’s sister, Valentine, with whom he shares a strong bond. Ender is the third child in his family, but the law on earth states that families are limited to having only two children. This makes Ender a “third,” opening him up to ridicule and abuse by other students at the school.
The abusive treatment of Ender results in a confrontation between him and an older student. Ender’s keen mind allows him to devise a way to defend himself that end in the death of another student. Ender thought he had only wounded the other student and explains to Graff that by showing his aggression early on, he would be able to avoid future confrontations.
Battle School for Ender is a lonely place at first, but as he demonstrates is uncanny ability to come up with strategies to win battles in the zero gravity battle room. Ender demonstrates his skill as a commander at the head of his own army and is transferred to the Command School to be trained to command his own fleet.
At the command school, Ender encounters a hero from a previous war with the buggers, Mazer Rackham. Rackham’s job is to give Ender intense individual training. Ender is then led into a special battle “simulation” center to command a fleet as his final exam at Command School, which actually turns out to be the final battle with the actual buggers.
One of the things that most appealed to me about this book was the focus on Ender’s character and his feelings as a young person. One of the main messages in this story is that because of adult manipulation, adults are not to be trusted in this world. Ender is being used by Graff and it is up to the reader to decide of the ends justify the means. I felt that Ender was used and abused by the persons in charge of the school in a very sad and tragic way. It would seem that the adults in the story chose children because of their ability to be manipulated so easily by adults skilled in the art of influencing them. It is really a sad story at its core. But that is not to say that it is not a good story. It is fact a very good story that will hopefully translate into a great film this fall.
I also liked the simple language that the author used in the telling of Ender’s Game. There isn’t a lot of techno babble to wade through, rather the story focuses on the characters and their development.
Over the past several years there has been much controversy centering around the author, Orson Scott Card, due to his religious beliefs, his conservative political positions, and his stand on homosexuality. While I do not agree with many of the public positions he takes on these and other subjects, I refuse to let them get in the way of seeking what I consider good science fiction. I have heard that many have boycotted Card’s books, and that many are planning to boycott the film that is to be released on November 1st of this year. As I read, I kept his controversial positions in mind and didn’t detect Card taking advantage of his audience by attempting to include his views in the story.
Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game is a good story and worth a read for any science fiction fan.
Well, there it is…