Friday, July 17, 2015

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game: A Book Review

While dwelling in the Sci-Fi genre, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game confronts the duality of man, and Jung is on full display throughout the text as Andrew “Ender” Wiggin works to walk the tightrope between good and evil for the sake of humanity. In the future, man has survived two waves of invasion from buggers (eventually identified as Formics in a later set of books). These “bugs” think differently, look differently, and have far superior technology to that of man. They represent the classic other, the creature that is not us and therefore the enemy. Humanity is on a mission of kill or be killed, but this mission is largely concealed from the reader throughout the text.

Instead, we witness the battle school in all of the glory that Scott intended. This school and the games that take place there started as a short story where he reimagined battle and military training in general. At zero gravity, orbiting the earth, in constant competition that would make any fantasy sports geek drool, and pushed to their limits—these are the rules governing the commanders of the future. Thus children are plucked from their mothers’ arms at the age of five after being monitored for the years prior, and once placed in school, they are pushed to think and understand the world in a way that no one ever has before, and in doing so they can take down the bugger enemy, if and when the invasion fleet arrives.

Told from two narrative perspectives, the first being that of Graff who is pushing and molding Ender to live up to his name and commit the mass genocide that is to come, and that of Ender himself (flowing in an out of first/third person), the narrative prompts the read to question the costs of the safety of humanity, what would we do to protect our planet, and should the other be destroyed. Ender himself dithers on the last thought, for what makes him perfect for this job, what will allow him to standout in the battle against the buggers and in later chapters of this saga, is the fact that while he is ruthless, Ender possess the capability to think like his enemies and in the process become them. When attacked in the shower, he responds as his advisory would, working to fight in the same way, in the same manner. When pushed to his limits, he ends things, because well he is tired and wants the games to end, the confrontation to be over.

Outside the main story arc rests the cold war era theme of west vs. east, the quest for world dominance that seemingly never ends. While humanity fights the common enemy of the buggers, they merely wait to fight each other as well. In such a place, with such a universe, the purpose and meaning of everything is questioned as the pages rapidly fly by.

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