February 06, 2015

Book Review - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

This is a re-release of the acclaimed debut novel first published in 1977. It has been re-published to coincide with the film starring Harrison Ford. It is interesting to discover why he wrote the book and what he was thinking as described in an introduction by the author first published in 1991. The story is of gifted children drafted to BattleSchool for training and assessment in a desperate search for a supreme battle commander . The commander is needed to lead the Earth's forces in an interstellar war against 'the buggers', the insectoid race that came out of the stars in the first interstellar war. This story is deservedly a classic. It focuses on Ender Wiggin, a hugely intelligent 6 year old who is sent to Battle School after his brother Peter, fails as he is too nasty and his sister, Valentine, fails because she is too nice. Because of their genetic potential, their parents were given permission to breed a Third, in a world where 2 children is the maximum allowed. The result is Ender, who combines his siblings' traits. His growing up is a combination of developing knowledge & skills and of understanding the duality of his own personality. When he is first sent into space, "There were 19 other boys in his launch. They filed out of the bus and into the elevator. They talked and joked and bragged and laughed. Ender kept his silence. He noticed how Graff and the other officers were watching them. Analyzing. Everything we do means something, Ender realized. Them laughing. Me not laughing. He toyed with the idea of trying to be like the other boys. But he couldn't think of any jokes, and none of theirs seemed funny. Wherever their laughter came from, Ender couldn't find such a place in himself. He was afraid, and fear made him serious."  The children at BattleSchool face tough challenges to make sure they can do the job but is the price they pay too high? As with the best scifi, the underlying political realities are deftly inserted into the action so that no-one is in any doubt that the black and white areas in life are well and truly greyed out! The space tech is handled well and you can simply read this as a coming-of-age story with fight training. I really enjoyed this book.

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