Retrograde: Week In Review #3

December 24, 2012 Uncategorized 2

Retrograde is a weekly meme I do to look back on my week and look back on a favorite book and reintroduce it to the world.  
Watch a special Christmas message from Junco!
This week my choice is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, which is, if you have never read it – it’s a game-changing novel about how we might interact with aliens and war.  Pretty much war, just like Watership Down. 

Ender’s Game was first published in 1985 – so the whole Vietnam hysteria was winding down just as the cold war was heating up.  If you’re too young to remember, kids in the 80’s were pretty scared of Russia and the whole nuclear bomb thing – even though most of that nuclear stuff happened decades before.  Communism was in full swing (as far as we knew, anyway) – it was a daily battle between Regan and Gorbachev and things did not slow down until East Berlin fell in 1989.  

Until then, it was pretty tense. So Ender’s Game is strange in that Ender is a very small child.  Very small.  He’s like five.  FIVE, people.  FIVE.  He’s super smart because he’s a product of some super-secret bioengineering and what-not.  And he’s a third – you see in Ender’s world, only two kids per household.  But Ender was sanctioned because they had high hopes that he could be what his other two siblings could not – a military asset of the highest caliber.  

OK, let’s back up – Ender is not like Junco  – she’s a trained killer, she always knew her job was killing, and while some of it bothers her, she’s barely human, so she’s pretty much embraces who she is and what she does. Ender is a kid who is trained to perform in simulated military battles – like souped-up video games.  He does well, very well.  In fact he makes command by age nine I think.  NINE, people. And his team mates are not much older.  

So the whole story mostly revolves around how the adults can manipulate Ender to develop into the kind of person who is able to lead them to victory over the war they are having with the aliens.  Who are, like Starship Troopers aliens, big bugs.  I’m not real impressed with the aliens in this book, but it’s not about aliens, it’s about psychological manipulation of young kids, so I give it a pass. I was just reading the reviews over at GR and I have to say – the people with the most likes on their review (putting them at the top of the list) totally missed the whole point of the novel. I sorta feel sorry for them because it went right over their heads.  And they seem to have an agenda to hate on the book due to the author’s political views – that’s just ignorance to nth degree.  Get a life, ya know?  

This book is about the human condition.  Period.  It just so happens that the study of the human condition revolves around a small boy who has a mind for tactical war strategy.  Most notably, how to maneuver and fight in zero gravity and how to think like an alien.  Card gets the gold star for this concept – he invented it – the rest of us SF writers just borrow form him when we write about (what I call in my books) free-G. But that’s OK, because Card freely admits to borrowing the ansible, a long-distance instantaneous communications device,  (sort of like the internet in space) from Ursula K. Le Guin in her 1966 novel Rocannon’s World.

I didn’t love Ender’s Game, but it was a noteworthy novel, had an original plot, and it carried SF into the future with predictions of the internet and blogging (of all things!) so I give it a five for professional reasons.  I had my son read it last year and he loved it.  There are a bunch of sequels, but most of them are about a grown-up Ender and are not as fun.  But there is another spin-off series about the team-mate of Ender – BEAN!  My son loved Bean.  I loved Bean, in fact I loved Bean far more than I ever liked Ender.  (Bean’s books are called Ender’s Shadow).  

Ender is a child during this book but his responsibilities are the nightmares of grown-ups – so I think he qualifies as new adult for this reason alone.  :) 

If you’re into science fiction or you want to write SF – this is a must read for the technology, strategy, and pretty dead-on-balls-accurate descriptions of living and training in zero gravity. There’s no romance.  Like none.  They’re kids, remember?

 If you’re OK with SF as long as it’s got some fantasy and/or romance in it – you’ll want to skip this one.

Here’s what happened at New Adult Addiction last week:
Here’s what’s coming up this week:
12/26 – BOOK TRAILER REVEAL: Eternal Hope by Frankie Rose
12/27 – COVER REVEAL –  The Camp by Karice Bolton


2 Responses to “Retrograde: Week In Review #3”

  1. Judy-Ree

    Loved the review!! I felt the same way when I read it years ago, felt the same way about Bean too. I did manage to read like the next 2 Ender books, but they just didn’t have the same ‘pow’ as that first book.

  2. J. Anne Huss

    I read them all, but i did not enjoy them as much as the first Ender and the first Bean novel. That was a really fun way to look at two points of view. :)

    Thanks for stopping by and Merry Christmas!


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