Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my HUGO WINNERS list.This is the reading list that follows the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". I loved reading the Locus Sci-Fi Award winners so I'm going to crack on with the Hugo winners next (but only the post-1980 winners, I'll follow up with pre-1980 another time).According to Goodreads, Ender’s Game is the book most frequently shelved as ‘science-fiction’ or ‘sci-fi’. Since I joined Goodreads, Ender’s Game is the book most frequently recommended to me by friends here. Thank-you, Goodreads and co, for your part in introducing me to Ender’s Game ; we got along splendidly.You know that feeling: when a book just feels right? When you instantly feel at home in this world? When you get annoyed with the real world for introducing upon your time together? When you want to start all over again the moment you hit ‘the end’? When you want to bounce up and press the book into someone else’s hands so they might feel the way you do? Yeah? Like that.Oddly enough, I started with book two in Ender’s Saga – Speaker for the Dead – which is a very, very different book. I’ve given them both 5-stars, and I’m pretty excited to see what other twists and turns the story takes. I’ve seen some complaints that the series gets weaker as it goes along, but I’ve also seen people complain about the first two, and for me they were flawless victories – so I’m disregarding all naysayers and holding strong to my own opinion as shameless fanboy so far.Quite simply, Ender is awesome. The scenario he faces is awesome. The challenges he overcomes are awesome. The climax is awesome. The fallout is awesome. The only thing that wasn’t awesome was the slightly contrived way the Hive Queen is delivered to Ender – that felt clunky – but by then there was so much momentum on this wave of awesome-sauce that I was in a forgiving mood.I don’t have much to say in terms of critical discussion – I totally threw my analytical hat away about three pages into Ender’s Game and just immersed myself in the story. And I had a great time! It’s... extremely accessibly sci-fi. Super-smart, heart-of-gold kid, smacks down the bullies, teaches himself to be a military genius, shoulders the pressure and responsibility of the world, then saves mankind by kicking-ass at videogames. Hell yeah!The zero-gee battle games (which make up a big part of the story) are a bit a childhood fantasy for me. It’s basically zero-gee laser-quest. It talks directly to my ten-year-old inner child. I had dodgy knees as a child and struggled to run in team games – but I dreamt about zero-gee. This next sentence should be written in giant, flashing capital letters but I’m going to exercise all the restraint I have: I want to play!I understand that Orson Scott Card has publicly said some reprehensible things and that’s massively pissed some people off. Fine: the guy is a douche and I won’t recommend him as a dinner-party guest. But his work is superb and I would whole-heartedly recommend Ender’s Game to anyone with any interest (at all) in sci-fi!Wiggin FTW! Woo!After this I read: SanctusMartine
Every now and then you come across a book whose prose is thoroughly unimpressive but whose premise and sheer bravado manage to suck you in nonetheless, to the point where you end up enjoying it an awful lot. Ender's Game falls into that category for me. The first few chapters feature some of the choppiest prose I've come across in a published book -- sentences so short and dull that I seriously wondered how the book had ever got published. However, the writing gradually gets better, and as for the story itself, well, it's simply compelling. It kept me up for the better part of two nights and had me doing some serious thinking afterwards. Not bad for a young-adult-cum-science-fiction novel.Ender's Game centres on Andrew 'Ender' Wiggin, a precocious six-year-old who is selected for the inter-planetary Battle School, where children are trained to become commanders for the International Fleet (a space agency which is supposed to keep alien threats at bay). Ender's teachers suspect he is a strategic genius, so in order to nurture his talent and see what he is capable of, they subject him to an increasingly gruelling training programme in which he has to lead much older kids into mock battles. It soon becomes apparent why: the teachers believe that Ender may be the only person capable of beating the Buggers, a technologically advanced race from outer space who may or may not have evil designs on planet Earth. So they push young Ender to his very limits, only to realise much later that they may have pushed him too far. Is Ender up to the challenge? And what exactly does this challenge entail, and what does it mean in terms of right and wrong? These are just some of the questions raised in Ender's Game, a page-turner if ever I read one. While overall characterisation is shoddy (Ender himself remains a two-dimensional character, and the other characters never make it past 1.4-dimensional), there can be no doubt that Ender is a great protagonist. It's simply riveting to watch him overcome his own fears, outwit his enemies, win the respect and support of those who matter and prove himself worthy of the big task ahead of him. Reading about his game tactics is like watching a strategy book come to life, and I for one really enjoyed that experience (I guess I should be reading Machiavelli and Sun Tzu next). But Ender's Game is more than an exciting tale about a child prodigy overcoming tremendous odds to find the meaning of his life. It also deals with fairly fundamental ethical issues. Once the final battle is over, you are left with a lot of questions -- about the legitimacy of manipulation and using children as a means to an end, and about the ethics of war and colonisation. You are given an insight into how lonely life can be at the top, and how hard it can be to live with yourself after you've done something terrible (even if you were tricked into doing it). You are left feeling not just for Ender, who pays a heavy price for the games others play on him, but for his victims, who may not quite deserve the treatment they get. So what if the writing is sketchy and the characters are cardboard cut-outs? It's still a gripping read which makes some worthy points. A deserved classic, in my opinion.Alexander
** spoiler alert ** I read this novel because it was often the favorite novel of students of mine, and I wanted to understand why. I should mention that I love science fiction, and have read it avidly since I was barely more than a child. I'm not by any means some kind of anti-sci-fi snob.The first thing that bothered me is that the novel sets adults against gifted children in a way that strikes me as bizarre. Adults are essentially evil but teachers especially. The children are inherently excellent, capable of helping each other in trying to figure out just what the adults are hiding, which is, in this case, a vast and secret war they are tricking the children into fighting for them. This was perhaps the hardest to believe of all the things thrown at the reader, and interestingly, it is hidden from you until the very end, though you can guess at it before then.What disturbed me the most is that the writing is terrible---far too much happens internally, inside the character's head--it's an emo space opera, basically--and one of the most interesting events of the book is nearly buried and the presentation of it is rushed, because it is near the end. There are many points in the battle scenes where it is impossible to understand what's happening. And the penultimate plot event, where it's revealed all of the games were not..games...could have been handled more interestingly. But the novel was overdetermined, things happening only because the writer wants them too and not because they feel inevitable, and so too many of the arrows point in the same direction. By the time Ender meets Mazer, his final teacher, my eyes rolled back into my head at the implausibility of it all. And it's worth mentioning the thing no one prepared me for was the bizarre homoerotic subtext built into the book as well, a subtext that is sometimes just a plain old supertext, on display, right beside how women in this novel are to be loved distantly and kept from real knowledge, and turned against themselves, so they can then be used to compel others.It creeped me out and I'm gay.I'm also a former 'gifted child', and was tested and poked and pushed, all of these things, made to study computer programming when I didn't want to, and I made myself fail out of their program to get away from them. But I found no commonality with the gifted children here, not as I have in other stories about gifted children, say, like Salinger's Glass family. Also, these kids are all jerks. I do hand it to Card for the ideas in the novel: blogging? Yes. It's in here, well before anyone was doing it, and it ...matters a lot, and in the ways blogging matters. Also the idea of an institution that runs on the manipulation of its populace into a distant war with an implacable foe, as a way of controlling people. And a society that has no privacy at all, not even in dreams. This novel does offer a dark picture of what life is like under these terms. Also, the idea of how a hive-mind would think differently, without language, and the complications of communicating with someone like that, that's brilliant also.I wish it had been revised--that the battle scenes were clearer, that the movement of the novel's action, the way the 'buggers' are in a race to try and communicate with Ender before he kills them, that this were more obvious to the reader, and not a surprise whipped out at the end, so that it could have lent tension to the scenes of the games and manipulation, which were only boring. And Ender's decision, to be the Speaker for the Dead, that struck me cold, because in the end, the buggers were only trying to do what everyone else in his life were doing to him: poring over what makes him tick and trying to get him to do their bidding. The novel contains a rant against style at the beginning, added by Card, called 'literary tricks' by him. I think the most interesting thing about it is that given the millions sold, it is proof that story matters more than style, even as convoluted and badly formed as this one is. In the end what matters is the questions the novel raises and the implications of the questions, and that the novel really is about something at its core, behind all of the badly rendered fight scenes. I admire style, don't get me wrong. I love it. But it would appear you can get by without it.Litchick (is stuck in the 19th century)
I'm not giving any of my money to a man that wrote this, and who regularly donates money that he's earned from his books towards anti-gay rights outlets.Marvin
I believe it was A. E. Van Vogt who said, "The Golden Age of Science Fiction is 14." And in fact, much of the classic science fiction of Heinlein and others feed into the mind of the adolescent boy. The protagonist Ender is an adolescent's dream. He is alone, alienated and feels he is not appreciated for how special he is. In other words, he is the average teen male or at least how the average teen male sees himself. Add on the naive and egotistical worldview envisioned by Heinlein and it is no wonder why adolescents flocked to the science fiction pulps of the 50s. In fact it can be argued that the teen sci-fi fan of the 50s was not all that different from the Emos of our generation.Ender's Game was written in 1986. Yet it reads very much like a Heinlein novel and the plot and themes are not all that different from Starship Troopers. Card was smart enough to add in video games and the internet as waves of the future but the old Cold War mentality and the "might is right" philosophy hangs on. This is why this somewhat sadistic journey of a six year old child to his role as sci-fi messiah is so disturbing. Ender is brilliant but it is his habit of extreme violence that attracts him to his superiors. This appears to be a virtue in the author's eyes. In fact, one of Ender's teachers spell it out in no uncertain terms. "The power to cause pain is the only power that matters, the power to kill and destroy, because if you can't kill then you are subject to those who can, and nothing and no one will ever save you."Keep in mind this is being said to a six year old boy.This is the basic theme of the novel. Violence is never extreme enough if it is for a good cause. This idea is never really questioned by Ender or anyone. At the end there is a twist that appears to lay doubt. However is not the basic moral issue in question but the assumption that sets the means to the end in playThis is why I cannot give this novel anything more than two stars. Card isn't a bad writer although some of his action scenes are muddled and he had an annoying habit of changing to third to first person and back for no reason. This was his first novel but I've never read anything else by him so I don't know if he developed any better habits. But this kind of philosophy in any story, especially one that appeals to teens, is disturbing to me. I'm OK with the idea of a young boy with talent being challenged and persecuted. It is a stalwart of YA literature. Harry Potter is an excellent example. But Card seems to preach "If you can't beat them, join them but just be a better fascist than they are."While we are on the subject, Orson Scott Card is also known for his rather conservative social and religious viewpoints. One of those is his opposition to gay marriage and his basic revulsion to homosexuals in general. So why does his book have so many scenes of young boys running around and wrestling in the nude? Not to mention that the aliens are nicknamed "Buggers". I see some major issues here. Mr. Card, please seek help.Jay Kristoff
I know it's a classic of SF. Didn't work for me. Call me heretic.If Ender's Game were a piece of modern SF, the cries of "Gary Sue" would be heard all the way across the cosmos. Ender is a (view spoiler)[hyper-intelligent child, who begins the story as a much reviled outsider, but soon has his peers (often boys much older) eating from his palm, becoming a master battle tactician who single-handedly saves the entire human race from destruction. (hide spoiler)]This is nerdboy fantasy 101. This is a book for every little boy who got beat up by the jocks, picked on because he was in the chess club, who sat alone in his room with a nose full of snot and his little fists clenched white, vowing one day he would "show them all". And hell, I was that little kid with the face full of snot, so I understand the niche for a book like this. But creating an ultra-child who's simply flawless and perfect at everything, who won without really trying - it just felt plastic and flat. Tell a story about a normal kid who used what little he had to win out? Yeah, that'll work. This? Not so much.I found Ender to be a singularly unbelievable and unsympathetic character. He spoke like a 30 year old man, even when he was 6. For me, there was no sense of life or light in Ender or his sister (who also speaks like a 30 year old man). (view spoiler)[The climax of the book, due to the nature of the much-lauded 'twist', just drifts into view and fades out again. In order to pull off his switcheroo, Card keeps readers in the dark about the stakes in play, and with no stakes, I found it hard to care. I was looking at the amount of pages left in the book, thinking "All these simulations are well and good, but this climax better show up soon." And lo and behold, the simulations were the climax, and the MC and the reader just went through the battle to save humanity without even knowing it. The end. (hide spoiler)]I guess what I'm ultimately saying is, if you want me to be frightened about the gun to my head, you have to let me know it's there.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>Lit Bug
2.5 StarsI had no intention of picking up Ender’s Game for two reasons – One, I came to know about this book only recently when I happened to see a mini-trailer of the movie and saw a little kid saving Earth, which put me off despite being okay with Harry Potter, really. Two, OSC came into focus by his conservative views on marriage and sexual orientation followed by an outcry demanding to ban EG. But I grew heavily curious if his views explicitly shaped his most famous work, and had to read it.Honestly, I found the work immensely unbelievable if I kept in mind the fact that the protagonist Ender was between 6 and 10 years old throughout the work. It seemed too implausible for a young mind to attain adulthood so easily, even if he was gifted. Being sharp, intelligent, exceedingly adaptive and perceptive is one thing – and gaining a maturity that is accumulated by years of exposure to experience and an ever-widening world is quite another thing. By half the novel, I was so annoyed I couldn’t enjoy it. But once I stopped forcing myself to see him as a kid and let myself assign him an age I thought was believable to me (mid-late teens in the first half of the book and mid-late twenties in the latter half), I found myself curiously enjoying the story.Now, this is an interesting story, despite being so clichéd and possessing hardly any novelty. The writing is well-paced, the twists are not forced, and although I didn’t relate myself to any of the characters, it is obvious it would touch some nerve with some bright kids going through that alienation. Also, it is not a literary kind of story, though it had immense potential to be a really good bildungsroman. It is a plain story in plain words, easy on the mind, and possibly more popular than it is worth because it touches a certain group of people not before adequately represented in fiction.As a military SF work, it is curious and inadequate – it is fit neither for young children, nor for adults – it contains a bit of violence, nearly negligible sexual explicitness and young protagonists, but it is too complex as a piece of psychological work for little kids to understand. And kids’ psychology is the focal point of this novel. I’d rather 6 year olds watch Doraemon/Micky-Minnie-Donald-Scrooge-Tom&Jerry cartoons, even though I don’t find all of them beyond reproach from certain perspectives. For adults, it is too simplistic a piece of fiction to be enjoyable. Perhaps, kids in mid-late teens might appreciate it if they can relate to it and have nowhere else to turn to.I had hoped for some beautiful observations on growing up, some touching instances of friendship-formation, of emerging from childhood into adolescence in a world where an innocent kid had to grow up too fast – what it meant to be a child, what it would be to lose that innocence and to be flung in a world that afforded no love, no care, no warmth. But, well, OSC misses the mark completely. Can we know the dancer from the dance? I’ve been meaning to review this book as objectively as possible – and I wanted to read it precisely because I wanted to see if I could know the dancer from the dance, OSC from EG. I was pretty sure I would be able to pick out some insinuations about his conservative, inflammatory views on homosexuality. Surprisingly, I didn’t.I did see blatant, overt sexism that could have been easily rendered logical, given its genre of SF. Now, this very sentence in the beginning caught me off-guard, and alerted me to further potential signs of sexism. "A few girls. They often don't pass the tests to get in. Too many centuries of evolution are working against them. None of the will be like Valentine, anyway." Now, despite my sincere wishes to see more women, more non-Whites, non-Western, non-strictly-heterosexual settings in SF, I’m quite okay with Men, Whites and Western, Heterosexuals (MWWH now onward) settings as well. The beauty of SF is that with a pseudo-scientific explanation, it is very easy to incorporate strictly MWWH without being offensive to the non-MWWH categories. What bothered me here was that there were no logical explanations for the new world. Or whatever they are, they do not amount to much.Only two women of consequence are present here – Valentine (Ender’s sister, conceived in order to induct her into the army, but rejected because she was too soft, too conciliatory, and therefore, though it is not explicitly stated, too feminine. Peter, their eldest sibling with his unruly nature only acts as a foil to Valentine and a double assertion of this feminine/manly dichotomy. And another girl is the one with Ender who helps him save the world.About the quote I cited about ‘few girls passing the tests’, no further explanation is given. What kind of evolutionary process? OSC doesn’t bother to explain, while he spends endless pages of explanations on some things that really didn’t matter to the story at all.Possibly the only strong female character in the story is the co-fighter with Ender and the sole girl in the BattleSchool, and she plays second-fiddle to Ender (okay, I know she is a minor character), but she is also the only character to fail at the most critical juncture. Alai, the only non-White (presumably African) and non-Christian character too has no role beyond helping Ender, though he is definitely portrayed better than I expected.Now, I have issues with it because I saw in the HP movies how these obstacles were overcome and could have been done so here too – HP and other characters were kids, but were better specimens of bildungsroman. Hermoine and Ron were as well-rounded, individual characters as Harry himself, and no less important. Harry alone did not defeat Voldemort – the entire wizard world did it with him. Harry is not infallible. Nor are others. And HP, despite having few female characters actively taking part in the series, is far from sexist.So because it can be done, I found it immensely irritating it wasn’t done. I’m pretty convinced that OSC’s personal beliefs have a lot to do with this portrayal, which comes across to me as a typical White Male Fantasy. His Mormon neo-conservative views might have had a significant bearing on his characters that are dangerously impressionable on young minds. As for the recent furor over his anti-homosexuality views, I could detect no such instances of it in the book, nothing even faintly propaganda-type. Except for the complete erasure of sexuality in a school full of teens.I was dithering between 2 and 3 stars – it was lucid, well-paced, but ordinary. It is a teenage White Male fantasy with clear anti-Russian leanings. As an SF work, the part about the games is well-delineated, imaginative, but at some critical junctures, scientific explanations are missing. The world-building is haphazard, sloppy, and yet it is overall readable. Or maybe I found it so because I was just done with something nastily heavy as Spivak and needed a real no-brainer controversial lucid book. I fail to understand how this deeply flawed piece won the Nebula. Hugos, I don’t pay much attention to, because they are voted on by fans. But I’m increasingly being disappointed by some inclusions in Nebula, especially those in the post-1980s.But ‘nuff said, it was annoying enough not to make me reach for his other books. Solely based on the (de)merits of this one, rather than OSC’s personal whims. Because if the dancer cannot be separated from the dance, I cannot read/enjoy at least a quarter of the wonderful books I’ve read. Unless an author seeps noticeably into his works, there’s no point in doing otherwise. The author must remain in the back of the mind, and not completely obliterated. S/he must be brought to the fore whenever it is necessary and appropriate to do so. But when the author and the work are unrelated, it is best to keep them separate.Mark Lawrence
I read this story quite a while back with no special expectations. Like most books I read it just happened to be lying around the house. I read it, was hugely entertained, and went on to read three or four of the sequels.I've heard since all manner of 'stuff' about the author but what's true and what isn't I don't know and I'm not here to critique the man behind the keyboard. All I can do is report on the contents of the book and those I can thoroughly recommend you check out.The main character, Ender Wiggin, through whose eyes we see the story unfold, is a child genius. If you're one of those people who wants your protagonist to be an average member of society, typical of his/her age and gender... step away. Ender's story is told because he is very far from ordinary. OSC employs a bunch of fairly standard story-telling tricks. Our hero is underestimated at every turn, he exceeds expectations, we know he's got it in him and we're frustrated by the stoopid people who just won't see it. There's a bully/nemisis and nobody else but us sees just how nasty he is... However, OSC manages to bake an irresistable cake using those standard ingredients and once he starts sprinkling on originality as well, you've just got to eat it all.This is sci-fi, not hard sci-fi, not soft sci-fi... let's say 'chewy'. It has a slightly old school EE Doc Smith feel to it, and you expect someone to pull out a monkey-wrench whenever the computer starts smoking, but none of that worried me. There definitely is some characterisation going on. We're not talking Asimov's Foundation here where brilliant ideas invite you to forgive cardboard characters. The people here are decently drawn and Ender has his own angst (involving genius psychopathic syblings) that is quite engaging. However, it's the stuff that goes on that drives the story. The war games in preparation for battling the aliens, the unfortunately named 'Buggers'. These war games and Ender's brilliance in overcoming increasingly dire odds are a major theme and I loved them.And then there's the twist. I'll say no more on that except that I was too engaged with the story to see it coming, and when it hit me ... well, I'd give the book 6* just for that moment. It doesn't work for everyone but it did for me!.Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I rarely really enjoy reading science fiction (the movies are another matter), but - most likely because of the refreshingly unpretentious and clear prose, which did take me by surprise - this book was almost a joy to read. I say "almost" purely because it's still science fiction, and for many reasons that are too long-winded to go into here, I prefer fantasy.It's nice, though, to have Card (in his 1991 introduction) refer to this clarity of style, and actually encourage his readers to read Ender's Game any which way they please. In his own words:I designed Ender's Game to be as clear and accessible as any story of mine could possibly be. My goal was that the reader wouldn't have to be trained in literature or even in science fiction to receive the tale in its simplest, purest form. And, since a great many writers and critics have based their entire careers on the premise that anything that the general public can understand without mediation is worthless drivel, it is not surprising that they found my little novel to be dispicable. If everybody came to agree that stories should be told this clearly, the professors of literature would be out of a job, and the writers of obscure, encoded fiction would be, not honored, but pitied for their impenetrability. (p.xix)Ok, so he loves to toot his own horn (and did he "design" it that way or was he just not able to write anything more elaborate? ouch, snarky Shannon!), but since I really don't like wanky, pretentious writing, I appreciate the unadorned prose of Ender's Game. It's no Neuromancer, that's for sure *grimace*.Quick Summary - a few spoilersEnder's Game is set sometime in the future, when the world is divided up differently and yet united under various pacts and hegemonies to face the threat of the "buggers" - an insect-like alien race with a hive mind that attacked, and was repulsed. Now, after a successful defeat in the Second Invasion 70 years before, the powers that be are feeling the strain of finding the person to lead their own invasion force, sent to the buggers' home world after the Second Invasion. The starships will be in place in a matter of years, and their one hope is 6 year old Ender Wiggin, one of many genius children who have been monitored for the right qualities for years. Sent to Battle School with all the other geniuses (mostly boys), he is isolated and pushed to extremes no other student is, all to find out if he is the one, and if he is, to have him ready by the time the starships reach the buggers' home world. Training is done in null gravity in the battlerooms, "armies" against each other, and Ender excels at the game. But with Ender's level of genius he quickly attracts hatred and hostility from some of the others students. His own efforts to beat the game draw him closer to his biggest fear: that he will be just like his older brother Peter, who would have been here in his place if it weren't for the fact that he's a sadistic kid who relishes torturing others.------------------------------------------That this book is about children trained to be soldiers and skilled killers didn't really shock me - it happens in the real world often enough, and in a much more hellish way, as I learned from reading A Long Way Gone. But it's still a pretty horrible thing to do, brought on by sheer desperation it's true, but the things these children endure are things most adults would crumble under. They think and speak like adults, and I really needed the reminders of their ages. Ender is only 11 when the war with the buggers finally ends. But there is definitely something poignant and utterly tragic about the loss of innocence - if these kids with their higher intellects and greater-than-usual understanding and awareness were ever innocent - and childhood. One of the kids, a little 6 year old boy called Bean, helped drive this home:He felt terrible. At first he thought he felt bad because he was afraid of leading an army, but it wasn't true. He knew he'd make a good commander. He felt himself wanting to cry. He hadn't cried since the first few days of homesickness after he got here. He tried to put a name on the feeling that put a lump in his throat and made him sob silently, however much he tried to hold it down. He bit down on his hand to stop the feeling, to replace it with pain. It didn't help. He would never see Ender again.Once he named the feeling, he could control it. He lay back and forced himself to go through the relaxing routine until he didn't feel like crying anymore. Then he drifted off to sleep. His hand was near his mouth. It lay on his pillow hesitantly, as if Bean couldn't decide whether to bite his nails or suck on his fingertips. His forehead was creased and furrowed. His breathing was quick and light. He was a soldier, and if anyone had asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he wouldn't have known what they meant. (p.224)However, it's less the human condition and more a sort of anthropological perspective of human attitudes and alien race relations that interests me. The notion of superiority, of the right to live and survive no matter the costs to the enemy, of judging other species' intellect by their ability to think like us and see us the way we see ourselves - this is what really fascinates me. From the time the European settlers arrived in Australia and decided the Aborigines were barely human because they couldn't say a tree was "a tree" and didn't understand that taking a sheep was stealing, to the idea that because the buggers look like insects they don't have feelings, or reasoning. Remember the aliens in Independence Day? I mean, aside from that movie being just another propaganda film for the Greatness of America (it smacks of insecurity that some people feel the need to reinforce this myth, but oh well), the aliens were, well, alien - and once reduced to the unknowable Other, gone is the human conscience in destroying them. Because Ender studies the buggers' strategies and tactics, to understand them, he feels compassion for them. He wants to understand them completely, but nothing is really known about them. It isn't until the end of the book that we find out more, as does Ender, and the real enemy becomes us rather than the buggers, for being so stubborn and self-righteous and superior, that we sought to destroy destroy destroy before finding out anything about what we were destroying. Which is, classically, what humans are best at: destroying. Much easier than creating. Kill first, ask questions later kind of attitude. Do we even deserve another planet to colonise when we don't even know how to look after this one? Well, a question for another day, though I make no effort to hide my own cynacism and contempt.This book is considered a science fiction classic and the vast majority of people who have read it have loved it and studied the crap out of it. There are some negative reviews of course, and one I read here on Goodreads made several very good points, notably that the characters are rather one-dimensional ("cardboard cut-outs" was the expression he used), which I thought was quite accurate - there really wasn't much character development, especially with Ender of all people; and that there was a "creepy pedophile vibe", with all the references to naked little boys, and the scene in which a naked, wet and soapy Ender fights an older boy in the showers. Hmm. Now I'm going to have trouble shaking that one off! Someone else who also gave it 1 star made a crack at the Introduction and Card's smugness (and he is very pleased with himself, and doesn't mind telling us), and that he "feels it necessary to rant about Fantasy and how derivative it is compared to Science Fiction" - I must have missed that part, but isn't it so much more fun to read negative reviews than positive ones? As long as you've already read it, that is ;)I actually marked pages in this book, passages that resonated with me while I was reading it, but now when I go back to them and read it again, I see nothing special, and I can't remember why I committed the crime of dog-earing a page. Anyway, while the book didn't amaze me or show me anything new, and I saw the "twist" coming and, to be honest, was rather disappointed that the buggers and the war were actually real and the whole Battle Game thing wasn't just some sick, cruel scientific experiment (might have made for a more interesting book?), Ender's Game was a surprisingly fun read (must be all the games, I thought they were kinda fun), and plot-wise it was well written despite several unanswered questions that could be called plot-holes if they had been more important. I just have one more quote from Card, because I absolutely agree with it and he puts it so well:Why else do we read fiction, anyway? Not to be impressed by somebody's dazzling language - or at least I hope that's not our reason. I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we known are not "true" because we're hungry for another kind of truth: The mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story. Fiction, because it is not about somebody who actually lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about ourself. (p.xxiv-v)Kyle Nakamura
This has to be, hands down, one of the best science fiction books written. Ender's Game is set in a disarmingly straightfoward sci-fi setting: a near future earth threatened by a hostile alien species with superior technology that seems determined to destroy the human race. The story centers on a young boy who is drafted into an all-consuming military training program at the age of 6. The program he's inducted into seeks to forge a new generation of military commanders out of gifted children, and it's sole purpose is to break them at any cost, until they finally discover someone who can't be broken. What follows is an emotionally complex and at times painfully familiar story of children struggling to accept their inner demons. Ender in particular is cursed with a brutal combination of profound empathy for others, and an overwhelming survival instinct that drives him to win no matter what the cost. It is this combination of gifts that may make him the commander the fleet needs in it's war against the alien invaders, but only if Ender can find a way to survive the burden of understanding his enemy so thoroughly that he can no longer see them as "the other," but as a reflection of himself. The story is fast-paced, and Card's signature style of simple, plain language and streamlined descriptiveness serves to bring the characters front and center at all times. This book is infused with a very real sense of psychological and spiritual dislocation, and treats it's young protagonists as fully realized, intelligent, 3 dimensional characters struggling with very adult questions. Card's other signature: creating drama through ethical dilemmas, is also a central element of the story, and he does a very good job of challenging the reader to find some semblance of moral high ground anywhere. The conflicts between characters are made all the more powerful by the almost total lack of mystery: motivations and intent are laid out very clearly in most cases, and it is the reader's ability to empathize with everyone's point of view that makes the story less about winning and loosing and more about living with the consequences of either. This book is thought provoking, emotionally complex, and ethically challenging. It's a powerful examination of conflict and violence, military necessity, family roles, and the ways in which we use the idea of "the other" to justify all manner of savagery.Lisa Vegan
Wow! How did I miss reading this book before now? I just loved it. It must have been brilliant because here I am extolling a book that takes place at a military school and has military maneuvers throughout the book. It’s not normally my kind of book, but I was engrossed throughout and I cared so much about the characters, especially Ender. I just loved Ender. I ached for Ender and I felt as though I understood him. I rooted for him. I loved the way all the gifted children in this book were depicted. I want to wholeheartedly thank all the Goodreads reviewers and others I know who alluded to a twist that takes place in this book and I thought knowing this might ruin it for me, but they showed restraint and did not reveal anything specific; so I did not know what would happen until I read it for myself, and I’m very grateful for that; it was so much fun to read.While I was reading, I did not want to do anything else. I wanted “free play” all the time so that I could just read this until I was finished.Per Goodreads friend Rivka’s recommendation I will go on and read at least Speaker For the Dead, hopefully within the next six months – I am so overbooked.The ending was just a bit weak but I know there are sequel and companion books following this one. Also, in some ways the ending was strong in its own way so I can’t rate lower because what seemed to me a not absolutely perfect ending.This edition says “author’s definitive edition” on the cover and contains an informative 16 page long introduction by the author, written for an edition published 6 years after original publication of the book. He says that readers don’t have to read it but can skip directly to the book, but I really enjoyed reading what he had to say.This is my favorite kind of science fiction, it’s about characters and their development and it’s thought provoking. It has some interesting things to think about re friendship, free will, perseverance, resilience, war, communication, and other conundrums.Alejandro
I decided to read the novel basically because the incoming film adaptation and I wanted to read the original book before of watching the film. I am aware of the controversial opinions about sensitive social subjects, but I want to keep that out of this and only commenting about my impressions about the book itself. First of all, I doubt highly that the film adaptation will be so crude in certain developments of the story mainly because of that the protagonist of the story is a child. And commenting about the shock made for the book, it's obvious that it's provoked due that the protagonist is a child. This very same story using an adult, even a young adult, and this book wouldn't impress anybody. However I think that establishing that this is a story set into the future of humankind, I think that how the children think, talk and act here is not far-fetched. Maybe in 1985 could be, but now? Now, children have all the access to internet just like this "futuristic" story sets, and now kids "mature" very quickly, not a real maturity but the expose to so much information in the web and the interaction on social networks, forums, blogs, etc... make them to "act like adults" before their time and also it make them to lose sensibility on how treating living things. So, that angle is very visionary. Now, the development, I found odd that in his life on Battle School, you only get the practices and exercises, and you only read about how Ender learn from his peers and never from the teachers, it's supposed to be a school but you never see how are "classes" there. It's like if he wouldn't any valuable education from adult teachers. The book was really interesting while Ender was still very young but as soon he got a promotion to commander, I think that much of the "spark" of the narrative was lost. It's kind of a rule on these military sci-fi stories that they have to battle against insect-like species? Like on Starship Troopers. I guess that it's easier to get a lot of killing without provoking so much social shock. I am sure that when Peter did some awful things to one single squirrel disturbed a lot of people, me included, but killing insects? If a kid kills an animal, it's a sure signal that they have a psychopath on their hands, but killing a cockroach? An ant? A wasp? Unless you are a monk in Tibet, you have kill an infinite quantity of insects on your life and you didn't think twice about it again. So, the easiest way to make people confortable with massive killing is convincing them that they are not killing sentient life forms but dang bugs. And, yes, that not only works here in this book but in many dark moments in history. And in the story there are a couple of different deaths that I won't get in details to avoid make spoilers but I can understand why they provoke so much disgusting, getting back again taking in account that children are protagonists in this book.UniquelyMoi ... So I Can Shine...
5+ blown away stars!What do you get when you mix Meet the Robinsons with Lord of the Flies? You get a 6 year old boy named Ender Wiggins trying to save the world from buggers. Sound like a kid’s book? Think again. Ender’s Game is one of the most thought provoking books I’ve read in a very long time. I found myself questioning my ideas about right and wrong, good and evil, trust and mistrust, and was unable to put it down. I was completely invested in Ender’s “game” and everyone and everything in this incredible world created by Orson Scott Card.So, not sure if you’d like a novel like this? Neither was I, but take it from someone who can’t stand books without romance and who really doesn’t care for science fiction – this story is incredible and I’m so, so sorry I waited as long as I did to read it. When you’re in the mood for something different, I’d encourage you to give Ender’s Game a try.Keely
I was savaged by a miniature poodle the other day--wait--no, someone protested my review of The Giver the other day. If you have any pent-up rage from that college lit teacher who forced you to think about books, be sure to stop by and spew some incoherent vitriol--my reviews are now a socially acceptable site of catharsis for the insecure.In any case, one of them made the argument that children need new versions of great books that are stupider, because children are just stupid versions of normal people. Happily-enough, The Giver is a totally stupid version of A Clockwork Orange or whatever Dystopian book (actually, it's a rewrite of Ayn Rand's Anthem). Coincidentally, in my review of Alice In Wonderland, I happen to put forth my own philosophy regarding children's books. In short: they should present a complex, strange, many-faceted, and never dumbed-down world, because presenting a simple, one-sided, dumbed-down world both insults and stultifies a child's mind.However, if someone were to say that this book were a childrenized version of Starship Troopers, I wouldn't sic a poodle on them. Both present a human/bug war, deal with the issues of death, war, the military complex, human interaction, personal growth, and all that good stuff. Also, both authors have their heads up their asses and there must be a pretty good echo in there since they keep yelling their hearts out about one personal opinion or another. However, Orson Scott Card doesn't get into his pointless author surrogate diatribes until the second book in this series, so we may enjoy the first one uninterrupted. So it's a pretty good book for children, and like romeo and Juliet, it's easy to see the appeal: kid defeats bullies and plays videogames to save the world(in one of the sequels, they save the world by making angry comments on the internet--surprising that one isn't more popular here). But more than that, it's not a bad book in general, so I guess I don't have to bother defining it as dumbed-down, or 'for kids'. Then again, a lot of grown-ups seem like they need their books dumbed-down. Just look at The Da Vinci Code compared to The Satanic Verses, or Foucault's Pendulum; or all three compared to The Illuminatus Trilogy. I'm pretty sure when it comes to stupid versions of things, adults have the monopoly.Stella ☢FAYZ☢ Chen
If I fail my exams this week, I blame this book.Ah Ender's Game, how you have sat on my bookshelf for over a year before I got to you. You have been so nicely received by the sci-fi community so why did I put you off? BECAUSE I WAS STUPID, THAT IS WHY.My stupidity aside, I hope you guys will still consider this 5-star review to be credible and valid. I'll list off the pros and cons to this novel and you can decide.Pros:An adorable main character. Ender (Andrew) Wiggins was a breath of fresh air from the strong heroine of YA literature. Being a 6 year old at the beginning of the novel, I was completely caught off guard by his maturity and how sneaky he was.The tactics used in the Game.The reason the Hunger Games was interesting to me were solely due to the tactics Katniss used to stay alive, Well, guess what? Ender Wiggins just pretty much kick this Katniss chick's butt. Ender almost reminded me of Alexander the Great or Napoleon and I LOVED IT.Oh the perceptive of Valentine and Peter was also very fascinating. The political backdrop highlighted by Demosthenes and Locke was very refreshing for a science student like me. Now, I shall move on to the cons:The lack of romance.OMG WHO AM I SUPPOSE TO SHIP NOW? NO DARK, MYSTERIOUS BOY WHO THE MAIN CHARACTER CAN FEEL SEXUALLY FRUSTRATED FOR.Haha, just kidding. I am glad the focus was on Ender and his growth to his maximum potential. The lack of romantic development is one of the best thing about this novel. I find romance takes away from such a masterpiece.Just to be clear, there are no cons to this book. I am just a fool who never listen to others' opinions and it often comes back to bite me in the rear.Joke's on me, I suppose.