There are two types of sci-fi. One that just is; futuristic technology is a part of the plot or a distraction, a chessy distopia is also an element of the world.
The other type is Multi-layered: with deep commentary on humanity’s use of technology, the ramifications of war, humanity’s reaction to an alien threat etc.
Enders Game is so revolutionary because it falls into both of the above categories yet distinguishes itself as unique. It’s science fiction elements are rare and ill explained. The reader is never briefed on the physics of interstellar travel or the technology behind the war games that dominate a large part of the book. Rather, Enders Game is focused on telling a deeply human story that anyone from any age can relate to and cherish. It is shocking, awe inspiring and sometimes offensive, but despite all these qualities it manages to possess a deep seated and sincere charm. Enders Game is not about fighting aliens or genius space commander children. No. Enders Game is about how far human beings will go and the utterly disgusting things they will do to achieve an objective. It is about a child that is not given his due time to grow up. It is about that said child forced to commit horrific atrocities and being morally confused about it all.
Enders Game is about moral confusion, loneliness, deep seated guilt and a crippled child whose very gift becomes his curse.
You can never tell from the trailers to the upcoming HollyWood adaptation.
I was reading through Enders Game two days ago. I had started at 1 am. Lo and behold I came to a point in the book where I had to put it down. Not out of fatigue, rather out of absolute, dismal confusion and abhorrence. I could not process what I had just read and my emotions where high. I could not decide what to feel and who to pit the blame on. Who were the bad guys in this book anymore?
Ender had beaten up two bullies so far into the story. One was Stilson, a boy back on earth who had excessively bullied him. In a fit of cold rage, Ender had kicked him to the floor and broken him.
The reader is on Ender’s side. He did what was right i.e. stand up for himself.
“I had to hurt him or else he would have hurt me.” He says.
The second time was Ender’s confrontation with Bonzo, a 13 year old commander at the battle school. Utterly humiliated by Ender in a battle game, Bonzo’s spanish honor and thick head leads him to gang up on Ender in the school bathroom with only one intention, killing him.
Ender deftly wins the fight against Bonzo as well. He is horrified with guilt and shock and cries himself to sleep that very day. Ender hates himself for hurting Bonzo. He thought the teachers of the school would have protected him if it came to an altercation.
He was wrong.
Then, at the end of the chapter, Card decided to unleash the truth right into my face like a spawn of bees.
Both of the children Ender had beaten had died. Ender Wiggan was a murderer.
The sheer shock effect of this forced me to put the book down. I just could not go on. I did not know who to blame. Was Ender at fault for being bullied constantly and provoked? Were the teachers at fault for doing nothing even when they saw this coming? Did the two dead individuals deserve it? They were little kids for Gods Sake!
What would I think of myself in a similar situation.
I cannot write anymore on this topic. This entire post, I have not mentioned anything about an AI or a robot trying to take over the planet, even though you would’ve excepted that from science fiction.
This is why Enders Game is not just another “sci-fi novel”. It is much more than that. It is a deep, horrific commentary into human nature through the eyes of a 10 year old.
If you already haven’t read this book, you should be slapped. What are you doing with your life?