I had been thinking about reading Ender’s Game for ages, but it was never in the library when I remembered to look for it. Recently desperate for something absorbing to read, I gave in and bought the most retro-covered paperback at the book store.
This book was so, so great – no surprise to anyone else who has read it over the last 20 years. I did not really love the introduction that Card wrote some years after first publishing the novel – it was kind of self-congratulatory and off putting. I am not sure I need my authors to refute their critics in later editions of their books, with supporting documentation from fans.
The story itself was great, however. It focuses on a young boy nicknamed Ender, selected by Earth’s military establishment for an elite training program, designed to find a leader to lead an attack against a species that had previously attacked Earth. The training program is for children as young as 6, and all of them are enormously intelligent and talented. The novel is really tightly plotted – there are virtually no description of any physical characteristics, the isolation of the children feels oppressive throughout the novel, and the framing device of each chapter beginning with conversations amongst the adults about how they are knowingly damaging Ender for a particular purpose adds a developing sense of foreboding throughout the novel.
About 3/4 of the way through the book, I went onto Wikipedia to read a bit about Orson Scott Card, and was a dismayed to read about his very work with conservative organizations, most notable those advocating against same-sex marriage and previously those working to keep homosexuality illegal. I know that Card is a conservative Mormon, and these views are in line with his religion, but I had to consciously keep my focus on the story and off his politics when finishing the story. It was a bit strange, and I have to think more about how to reconcile my personal feelings about Card’s politics with my enjoyment of his novels.