Tuesday, August 28, 2012

am liking Ender's Game

Orson Scott Card's 1977 Ender's Game, a more left-leaning response* to Heinlein's Starship Troopers, is proving to be quite a fascinating ride. As with Troopers, the distant alien enemy is called a "bugger" (cf. Heinlein's "Bugs"), and the book's focus is on the path of one recruit-- in Card's case, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, boy genius. Ender is six at the beginning of the story, and already well acquainted with tactical and strategic thinking. As the plot unfolds, Ender proves himself capable of leading troops into mock battle after mock battle, cutting his opponents to ribbons. Dispensing with traditional formation-based maneuvering and a centralized command structure, Ender trains his troops to work in small, independent groups that fight by modest increments toward a larger objective. Ender's trainers are impressed with his thinking, and the youngster is promoted again and again.

I'm about two-thirds of the way through the novel and plan to talk about it further. We'll have to add Ender's Game to the list of promised reviews ("Inception" and "The Hunger Games" are already in the queue).

*Whereas Heinlein's protagonist, Johnnie Rico, idolizes the military and lionizes his teachers and trainers, Card's Ender is more like a put-upon Harry Potter, struggling to survive in a brutal world of genius kids by showing that he is orders of magnitude smarter, braver, and more talented than his classmates are. Card's attitude toward the military is obviously negative, and his novel reads like a critique of the military mindset.



Elisson said...

Wait, what? You've never read Ender's Game??!?

It's about frickin' time, dude! (the original short story version is worth a read, too - this is one of those rare instances of a short story being successfully expanded into a novel.)

John from Daejeon said...

Wow, if you are just now delving into the "Ender" series, just wait until you find out the Andrew Wiggin is not "really" the main hero in Card's "Ender/Shadow" saga. As much as you think you are enjoying Ender, Bean, Petra, Achilles de Flandres, and Peter Wiggin will blow your mind.

Hell, from what I've been reading concerning the upcoming film (with geezers Harrison Ford as Graff and Ben Kingsley as Mazer) is that this is just the precursor to establishing (Hailee Steinfeld as Petra, Aramis Knight as Bean, and Jimmy Pinchak) in the lucrative Bean franchise (like the "Hunger Games," "Twilight," and "Harry Potter") to bring in the younger generation in droves to movie theaters.

Kevin Kim said...

Harrison Ford as Graff, eh? In the novel, Graff starts out overweight and becomes downright obese (fat rolls dripping over both arms of his armchair) over the course of four years. The fatness strikes me as a minor but significant plot point: Graff is pushing Ender to his limits, but he, Graff, has moral qualms about the cruelty of training a mere child so brutally. The stress of this internal conflict takes its toll on Graff's body, hence the extra weight. Will Ford play it fat? I'm guessing that Hollywood will find some other way of portraying Graff's internal distress.

Ford recently turned 70. I have trouble imagining him playing someone both old and fat.