[Archive] Review: Ender’s Game

Ender's Game CoverTitle: Ender’s Game

Author: Orson Scott Card

Type: Fiction

Release: 1985

Publisher: Tor Books

Original Review: December 23, 2012

 

Wow. Where can I possibly begin with a book like this one?

Ender is chosen, or perhaps created, by the international government’s search for a fleet commander. Even in normal school, they single him out until he has to get in fights with other kids in order to make it. But the real test comes when he’s only six years old, when they send him out into space to join Battle School.

There, Ender advances far faster than anyone else ever has, rarely getting even a small taste of failure. The teachers are constantly messing with things to push him to his limits. Not only does he improve himself, but he teaches an entire generation of students a whole new way of thinking that vastly improves their skills. With his genius he starts to change the nature of the no-gravity shootout games that determine students’ rankings.

And it’s in these games that you start to really respect Orson Scott Card’s writing. At first he skims through situations because these are no challenge for Ender, but even there you can see the beginnings of strategy. In fact, the things you see Ender learning make you wonder if Card hasn’t spent a bit of time in space himself! If battles seem a bit far away, it’s because you’re looking at them through a tactician’s eyes.

This is to say nothing of the big pile of moral dilemmas and other thought-provoking questions that are hidden in the text. Is Ender anything like his calculating, pain-loving brother Peter? And if so, is it because of who he is, or because Battle School made him that way? And most importantly, is it right to want to get rid of the invading alien force at all?

Card purposely leaves all of these questions without a clear answer, and that only adds to the depth of this work. It gives an effect that I rarely see in any other book: it has that “literary” quality to it, but it’s also a fast-paced adventure that keeps you reading.

So there’s definitely a good reason Ender’s Game is the science fiction classic that it’s considered to be. It’s the Book of the Month for December 2012 over at West Michigan Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fans, if that means anything. If you haven’t read it yet, give it a shot–you might start to look at things in a new way.

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