I keep forgetting to update my reading list. Anyway, I just finished Orson Scott Card’s book Ender’s Game. It’s one that I always meant to read, but I’ve had such bad luck with the “geek canon” lately that I was almost scared to try. (Examples: though I loved Philip K. Dick, William Gibson and the Dune series really let me down.) I shouldn’t have worried. Ender’s Game was fantastic. It’s really almost a kid’s book, and once I picked it up I found it difficult to put down. In the future humanity is threatened by a sentient alien species called “buggers” so we specially breed and train military commanders to lead the war against them. That makes it sound boring and nerdy. Really it’s about an 8-year-old boy called Ender who just might be the hero we need. The story follows him through his training, which mostly involves playing games (both physical and video). It’s really, really good. I had a couple remaining comments and questions for those of you who’ve read it…Okay, the ending blindsided me. It all works, but it just happened so fast. It’s like, I was getting worried that Ender was still in “training” with only 20 pages to go, and then suddenly the war was over, the colony thing happened, he and Valentine got older, Peter ruled the world, and then Ender discovered that he could help the buggers live again. I know there are sequels, but it just felt a little rushed.

Okay, so we’re to assume that the buggers sorta “read his mind” via the ansible during those couple weeks when he was going crazy from the battles? Why only him? Was it because of his super-empathetic ability? The rotting-giant-hollow freaked me out. So they didn’t put it in the game; they just dredged it up from his subconscious to get his attention. Remember the bit where he saw Peter’s face though, and someone commented that it was a picture the computer couldn’t have seen? Where did that come from? That’s the loose end that bothers me the most. Any ideas?

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  1. It’s all too deliberately vague for mme, Kris, but I will say that when I teach the book in my classes (every year, my students overwhelmingly choose it as their favorite of all the novels we read–The Great Gatsby and Ficciones usually tie for a distant second), the main area of contention is always the conclusion. We’re talking literal arguments over the “Speaker for the Dead” chapter and what it does–good or bad–for the book. Half the kids like it because they say it redeems Ender and allows him to make up for the destruction he unknowingly caused, half the kids hate it because they say it betrays the messages of the book about ends justifying the means and shifting morality during times of war and that no one is immune from being manipulated. It’s fun as hell to watch (and take part in)!

    Now, when are you starting Ender’s Shadow?

  2. Hee. Just as soon as I finish Order of the Phoenix, probably. 🙂

    Would you mind directing a few of your students over here to discuss it further? I think it’s too fresh for me to add anything really coherent right now, but I’m interested in hearing more about what they liked/didn’t like about it.

  3. I don’t know that it is a loose end — doesn’t one of the two Speakers of Expository Dialogue in that passage more or less explain that the computer probably went and got the picture of its own initiative, for reasons best known only to itself? That’s how I read it, anyway.

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