Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1) Ender's Game discussion


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Dystopian?

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Erica Listopia has this on a dystopian list. I always thought it was pure science fiction. Sure, Ender's teachers are mean, but they're not a Big Brother government. Nobody thinks they're living in a utopia. The world's in jeopardy but it's not post-apocalypse. Aside from the futuristic setting, I can't see what would prompt people to call it dystopian.
Your thoughts?


Julia Yeah. I believe the listing is false. Pure SCI FI


message 3: by Jon (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jon "Dystopian" is a stretch. If I remember correctly (it's been awhile since I've read the book), there are restrictions on births and a 2 child rule. The Earth is recovering from 2 earlier wars with the buggers, but nothing in the book would lead me to label it dystopian.


IUHoosier I think it fits, more so for the followup books than the first one. Ender's basically been kidnapped by the government and forced to become something he isn't - a ruthless military genius, completely eclipsing his gentler nature. Because the book is from his viewpoint in the beginning, we don't really see his society and how it exists until later in the Saga. Ender's Game is primarily sci-fi, but the Saga's world is very much dystopian.


Inês dunno i've read a book called The Declaration by Gemma Malley were there isn't alowed to have kids due to finding a cure for mortality and overpopulation and end of recurses it could be but i stil think that is purely sci Fi :) but don't know it could fit in distopian :)


Abdó For me the underlying theme in Ender's game is how Ender is unable to change the future that "the system" has prepared for him. As IUHoosier says, Ender is a genius, but this is not enough to let him free himself from his destiny. No matter how hard he tries to avoid it, he becomes a murderer and a geonocide, despite his good nature. For me the book is about how the government defeats Ender, more than how Ender defeats the buggers.

And then, there is Peter's story. A messed up sociopath who gains influence and puts himself in a position to change the system. If we look at the big picture, who Peter and Ender are by their nature, and who they become, well, I think it is a pretty twisted picture. I'd say "dystopian" sort of fits.


Jenna It can be both genres.

The government is totally corrupt to begin with. They send six year olds with "special talents" off to fight an alien enemy that can kick our actual army's ass. Not only that, but the government lies to Ender about his final test at commander school. They make him kill the enemies because they knew if Ender realized it wasn't a game, he wouldn't go through with it. Sure, it was for the good of the species, but frankly, we all can see in some light that it was wrong.

Peter is also a psychomaniac who the government is letting into political power along with his 10 year old sister. I think we can all agree there is something wrong with that.

Books can be a variety of genres. There is no doubt that this novel is sci-fi. But there is some dystopian influences as well.


Tuesdi-jo Just because the book is sci-fi doesn't mean it can't be dystopian too. The government has control over every aspect of the citizens' lives. They lie to everyone, and use people's ignorance to to get what they want. On top of all that, the world is in dire straights because of aliens. It doesn't sound pleasant. I think it is both.


Jenna Tuesdi-jo wrote: "Just because the book is sci-fi doesn't mean it can't be dystopian too. The government has control over every aspect of the citizens' lives. They lie to everyone, and use people's ignorance to to g..."

true that!


Erica Yeah, dystopian is a subgenre of science fiction. They do cross paths a lot, but I think people label more books as dystopian now. Most dystopians are sci fi but most sci fi aren't dystopians.


Tuesdi-jo Erica wrote: "Yeah, dystopian is a subgenre of science fiction. They do cross paths a lot, but I think people label more books as dystopian now. Most dystopians are sci fi but most sci fi aren't dystopians."

agreed


message 12: by Will (new) - rated it 3 stars

Will IV It isn't just the setting that makes a novel dystopian or not, its theme and message are just as important. Ender's Game, however, does not focus on the government, the state of society, the economy, or anything else dystopian really. If anything, the major threat in the book comes from an outside source, not the government. Just because the world it is set in is not utopian doesn't make it dystopian, therefor this is pure sci-fi, in my opinion.


message 13: by Jon (new) - rated it 1 star

Jon Ladner "Dystopia" doesn't mean that the setting is a scary future, or a corrupt government, or that society is bad.

A dystopia is a PERFECT society, that the people welcome, but that becomes dehumanizing - an ironic twist on Tomas More's Utopia. Every aspect of the people's lives are governed somehow, through an intricate set of laws/procedures, designed to iron out the troubles that arise from the natural state of man. While More (and Plato) portrayed this as a good thing (perhaps ironically), dystopian writers portray it as something that is unequivocally bad.

Some examples of dystopia:
1984 - the people loved and worshiped Big Brother; the government had the full support of the people
Brave New World - people were always happy; free sex everywhere, and soma.
Harrison Bergeron - people were made perfectly equal
With Folded Hands - people no longer had to work

A true dystopia is never as simple as 'the government is mean to us.' Ender's game? Not a dystopia. Not even close.


message 14: by Chelsea (last edited Jun 17, 2013 07:21PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Chelsea The definition of dystopia, according to dictionary.com, is "a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding." It is the opposite of utopia which is an ideal or perfect society.
His parents were not free to exercise their religious beliefs, which falls under oppression. There must have been overcrowding since there were population control laws (also oppression). They were facing possible extermination by an alien race. They were creating child soldiers. They were allowing, even encouraging, children to murder each other, while they watched and did nothing. And they were placing the fate of the human race solely into the hands of children. They also hid most of the facts about the state of things from the general public. There was also a pending political unrest/world war, that broke out right after the aliens were killed. Most of us would consider that a pretty miserable society. Based on the definition above it meets the criteria of a dystopia.

Jon, I agree with you in most cases, but in 1984 most of the people didn't necessarily love or support Big Brother. They were too afraid to speak out against Big Brother and those who did were tortured and "vaporized." I very much doubt that the average person "loved and worshiped" the government.


message 15: by Will (new) - rated it 3 stars

Will IV Chelsea wrote: "The definition of dystopia, according to dictionary.com, is "a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding." It is the opposite of utopia which is an id..."

Well yes, there was obviously some oppression going on, but it was not even remotely the focus of the book. The society wasn't touched upon in its theme or message and we barely know anything about it from this book.

Regardless of the state of the society, in order for the book to be a dystopia, this oppressive society must at least take a central role to the narrative's theme, and it just doesn't. The society this takes place in is a backdrop that's hardly touched upon.

Like I said, just because it isn't a Utopia, that doesn't mean it's a Dystopia. And while there are clear signs of a China-esque government, it still doesn't appear in theme and therefor this novel is straight up Sci-fi.


message 16: by Chelsea (last edited Jun 17, 2013 07:22PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Chelsea Will wrote: "Regardless of the state of the society, in order for the book to be a dystopia, this oppressive society must at least take a central role to the narrative's theme, and it just doesn't. The society this takes place in is a backdrop that's hardly touched upon. "

I agree with you. The main theme of the novel is not the (possibly dystopian) society. It is at most a background theme. I was not saying that I personally agree with the classification, actually I was surprised by it. I was not stating my personal opinion, just explaining that it technically meets the criteria set out in that definition which is probably why it was placed in that genre, which is what I thought the original question was.


message 17: by Jon (new) - rated it 1 star

Jon Ladner Chelsea wrote: "I very much doubt that the average person "loved and worshiped" the government. "

Of course they did. That's what the two minutes hate was all about. They united everyone in a common hatred, and filled the void with a Machiavellian love for their own government.


message 18: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Goodwin I think Dystopian is a stretch, again because the focus is not on the society at all. Now is the book political, in the sense that it is making a statement about the powers of government? Oh sure.


message 19: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Aguiniga well its a dystopian book because the government has control but he fails that is another way that means dystopian.


message 20: by Gary (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gary It's an interesting question.

From a personal standpoint, I think contemporary reader transported into that society would probably view it as a culture gone mad, but that's not quite the same as it being a dystopian novel.

There are dystopian elements... but I don't think the demise of society is the intent of the book. Rather, I think it was a post-Apocalypse (alien invasion) sci-fi novel. Those dystopian elements are really more incidental/coincidental to the invasion more than an expression of a social ideal gone wrong.

For example, I can see how the militarization of childhood that features in the novel could be seen as dystopian, but I suspect OSC meant ultimately to present a society in ruin trying to cope, not one sliding into an insane government/social system. There are a lot of ideas meant to back up the use of children, but within the context of the novel these are cold, hard choices rather than philosophical ones, so I don't think I'd consider it a dystopian novel any more than I would consider World War Z a dystopia. (That's a rather an odd example, but still....)

I haven't read the later books, but my understanding is that they do get dystopian in that children start trying to manipulate and control the government as they see fit, and there's an element of authoritarian manipulation the goes beyond the need to survive the war. That certain sounds like it might fit.


message 21: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed No two people would define dystopia the same. Randists would consider a state like Sweden to be dystopian; ante-bellum seccesionists would require their utopia to have slavery.

Ender's world is merely a security state.


Benk36 Personally, I don't think it's dystopian because it's been a long time since the invasion, civilisation in general seems to running fine and people in general don't struggle to survive. Although I can understand why people would call it dystopian.


Kelly Brigid ♡ I personally don't find it dystopian. I find it Sci-fi. Nothing more, nothing less.


message 24: by Budd (new) - rated it 5 stars

Budd Dystopian is simply the opposite of utopian. For it to be a dystopia, a majority of the population would have be marginalized or live in fear of the government. I don't think that is the case in the Ender Universe. You have his brother and sister being critical of the government with no fear of retribution. That is actually a pretty good litmus test for dystopias, can you speak out critically about your government, if not, you may be in a dystopia.


Scott Sigler Budd wrote: "Dystopian is simply the opposite of utopian. For it to be a dystopia, a majority of the population would have be marginalized or live in fear of the government. I don't think that is the case in ..."

Doesn't Peter do the majority of the critical analysis, and under a pen-name? I thought he had to hide his identity because of what he was saying.


Raptori Scott wrote: "Doesn't Peter do the majority of the critical analysis, and under a pen-name? I thought he had to hide his identity because of what he was saying. "

Both Peter and Val did the writing, and the reason they had to hide their identities was that they were children, and people wouldn't have taken them seriously if they had known their ages.


Scott Sigler RaptorSaur wrote: "Both Peter and Val did the writing, and the reason they had to hide their identities was that they were children, and people wouldn't have taken them seriously if they had known their ages."

Ah, thank you. It's been while since I read it.


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