In the last bugger war, humanity was nearly wiped out by their insectoid enemies. They were stopped by humanity’s greatest military mind. Decades later, that mind is dead and the leaders of the Earth need to find someone to match his prowess.To that end they have built a massive space station called the Battle School.’
In this school the best of planet’s children are schooled, trained and evaluated in the art of war. The best of these students is Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a child prodigy who wins battles like Beethoven composed music.
Games within Games
Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game is a brutal, brilliant book which tells the story of its main character’s twisted, dark childhood. It starts with Ender’s beating of a neighborhood bully. The bully had picked on him time and time again and one day six-year-old Ender decided he’d had enough. He fought the bully, but he knew that beating him wasn’t enough. He had to beat the bully so badly that he and all his friends would never think about picking on him again.
The bully ended up in the hospital. He never bothered Ender again.
Ender hated himself for the beating and for doing what he had to do. Soon after the military decided that he was exactly the kind of boy they were looking for they recruited him into battle school. There he was separated from his family and indoctrinated into The Game.’ The Game’ was a zero-gravity skirmish room where students fought each other in mock battles. Ender, naturally, excelled at The Game’ even as his advisors made it harder and harder.
But what made it harder wasn’t just the increase difficulty of the game. It was also the psychological blockades and traps that his instructors through down around him.
Their techniques demanded that Ender be shown no mercy and that he never be allowed to think that someone would save’ him in a battle. Ender had to believe he was completely and totally alone in the world and that the only one he could count on was himself.
Childhood Horrors Revisited
Ender’s Game can be a horrific novel. No one can read it without feeling Ender’s loneliness or feel anger at the cruel adults running the Battle School.’ But this isn’t a two-dimensional book Card provides glimpses of the adult world and shows us that they hate themselves for what they’re doing to the children, but they can see no other way to save the planet. What’s the childhood of a few kids when the fate of billions is on the line?
Card also introduces two secondary characters Valentine Wiggin, Ender’s older sister, protector and confidant, and Peter Wiggin, his power hungry, and perhaps evil, older brother. These characters show us what is happening on Earth during Ender’s training and it also shows how two genius kids could take over the world using little more than well-written columns and the Usenet.
Ender’s Game is the first of several novels set in the universe of Andrew Wiggin. Those other novels Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind are interesting, compelling reads, but they don’t have the same emotional, gut-wrenching impact of Ender’s Game.
- Ender’s Game
- By Orson Scott Card
- Publisher: Tor Science Fiction
- 384 pages
- ISBN: 0812550706
- Buy it from Amazon.com