This is a clever sci-fi book. So clever that I felt completely sans imagination through a lot of the eponymous games of the book. Essentially, this boThis is a clever sci-fi book. So clever that I felt completely sans imagination through a lot of the eponymous games of the book. Essentially, this book is about Ender Wiggin, the Earth’s last real hope for salvation from aliens (called “buggers”) who have attacked the Earth a couple of times already. And to be trained as the only hope for humanity is to be tortured: Ender is taken from his family at a young age, ostracized from the kids at his training school, and consistently tested beyond the breaking point for even an adult. All of the rules are changed for Ender Wiggin, which is not a positive thing. But the training works—only too well—and at the end, Ender realizes he is responsible for genocide.
I might call this a sci-fi book with a message about genocide, but to do so would be to subscribe to a reductionist view of literature. It is safe to say, though, that all good writers imbue their writing with their worldviews; those worldviews are implicit and unavoidable. Card manages to point a finger here at genocide, but it is through the narrative and an examination of the “otherness” of the “buggers.” Both sides, unable to understand “the other,” attack before empathizing. It is only through understanding that first the “buggers,” and then Ender, are able to achieve peace. Americans would do well to read this book and understand that “the other” has a face and children and hopes and dreams, too, as Ender does. As we all do. (And I’m talking to those, especially, who support Sarah Palin’s hate speech about the mosque at Ground Zero, but I digress.)
This understanding of conflict is written throughout this book; this thread illuminates many of our basic truths as humans that are important and valid lessons. As Ender’s brother Peter says, “The world is always a democracy in times of flux, and the man with the best voice will win. Everybody thinks Hitler got to power because of his armies, because they were willing to kill, and that’s partly true, because in the real world power is always built on the threat of death and dishonor. But mostly he got to power on words, on the right words at the right time.”
There is a reason why this book occasionally pops up in top-100 reading lists: it’s an important book. Read it if you haven’t already done so....more