Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reading Materials: Ender's Game

Reading Materials is my series of reviews of books and other things I find while trying to learn to become a better writer... and further my descent into madness too.  Its going to be double post today, to make up for not having posted on Thursday night.  Enjoy!

I had been listening to Ender's Game on Audible for the last two or three days- it was a snap pick for my monthly Audible audiobook.  I've never read Ender's Game before.  I've read Orson Scott Card and have digested my own fair share of dark and gritty.  So I figured I should add Ender to my list.

Yeah, I know a movie version is up and coming.  Ender's Game is a short novel, compared to my usual listening- between Song of Ice and Fire and the Dresden Files, I'm used to looong novels.  There is a twist at the end, but overall, I found a dark pit in my stomach most of the time in Ender's Game.

Oh, I like the dark stuff in novels, but there is a grim question in this novel I can't get my head around, and I keep trying to find a right answer for it.  It reminds me of the bombing of Dresden or the bombing of Hiroshima... "Necessary Acts of War"...

Yeah.  Thats the justification for using a boy as a weapon of mass destruction.

There is a metaphor there for all wars, I guess.  You use the young.  I feel a contrasting theme here with Old Man's War.  Whereas Ender's Game strongly suggests that power is justified to use others, Old Man's War has the same thing happen... but the protagonist doesn't do what those in power tell him what to do.  In Old Man's War, the main character still fights and commits to conflict, but he wins fights on his own terms.

Ender is, in Ender's Game, a tool.

I think I'm comparing apples to oranges here, but the universe of Ender's Game is in dire straits, and the Humans in it are convinced the only way to be safe is to "make sure they never attack us again."  A strike strong enough to discourage any further antagonism, to pacify the enemy.  This motif occurs again and again in the novel.

More frightening, and the part that made me fixated with the novel, was how Ender handled it.  Ender feels.  Ender doesn't just kill, nor does he justify himself.  Having killed the enemy, Ender mourns the enemy.  He feels sorry for it and wishes he'd never been used to kill them.

That is the truly sad part of the novel, that it reflects that horrific cost of war.  Or at least, what a few convince themselves is a cost of war.

I'm reminded of the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US.  Its a more extreme choice, to decide to use a boy to kill off a species.  And I still can't see the why of it.  That's where I end this.  I don't understand why Ender had to be used that way.

Now to see how the movie does with this.  Should be dark.  Should remind us of our own past decisions.  shouldn't it?