Mark Johansen's Reviews > Ender's Game

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
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Dec 18, 10


This isn't a bad book, but I think it's highly overrated. People often talk about a key feature of fiction being "suspension of disbelief". In "Ender's Game", I found it not hard to believe that someday people will build faster-than-light starships and that we will fight cartoonish bug monsters from other planets. But what the author never makes believable to me is that the war will be led by a 6 year old boy.

Why a child? Why? Okay, I could believe that starting very young might be the way to train someone to be the best at something. Even if you want to dispute that idea, surely you wouldn't doubt that there might be people who believe it is true and who would act on it, especially in a time of crisis. The whole brutal training regimen they put the small children in the story through strikes me as pointless and sadistic, but I could believe that a society faced with destruction by a dangerous enemy would try anything, even torturing their own children, if they thought that was the only way to survive.

But the whole point would surely be that you start training at 6, so when the child is 20 or 30 or whatever he's had a lifetime of training and practice and now combines the experience of men much older with the vitality of youth. But in the book, they start the boy training at, what is it, 5?, and have him leading troops in combat at 9. I'm sorry, I just don't believe it. It's absurd.

Maybe the author could have given some explanation to make this plausible, but he doesn't. He doesn't even try to explain why they do this or how it could possibly work. We're just supposed to accept it.
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