Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game seems to be further evidence that SF and I do not play well together.

I knew virtually nothing about the book before I picked it up. It was highly regarded, often talked about and  considered a bit of a ‘must read’ in the genre. I had read the Alvin Maker series by the same author, and I quite liked that, so Ender’s Game may have worked for me.

I didn’t really like it on any level. I found it very hard to buy the idea of Ender and his two siblings Peter and Valentine for a start. They’re bio engineered to be more than ordinary children, so the fact that they act and think much older than their chronological ages shouldn’t be a stretch, but it is. The problem here is that these three are so much more advanced than their peers it doesn’t make sense. If kids in this future have all been bio engineered to be better, smarter, etc… than their parent’s generation, shouldn’t they all be on a similar level? The way I read it they weren’t. You had these super beings in the form of Ender and his brother and sister and everyone else was way behind them.

Ender was also good at everything, the fact that he was so good at everything and never really encountered much more than a hiccup in his progression from gifted child to supreme hero of Earth’s struggle against the insectoid alien menace tended to kill any narrative tension. When reading through this I had the impression that the book was largely aimed at a youngish audience as everything was very clearly spelled out and explained, which meant that the reader didn’t really have to put a lot of thought into it.

Then we had the alien menace. Due to their insectoid appearance they were nicknamed Buggers. This made me chuckle every time I read it. Down here in Australia and also the UK bugger has a very different meaning. We use it as a minor swear word, and it simply didn’t work for me. It made the threat appear rather comedic, which I’m pretty certain was not intended. There was a suggestion that there was no alien enemy, it was something concocted by those in charge to keep the population scared and controlled and not question why they were continually on a war footing. That would have been an interesting angle to explore, but it wasn’t taken.

On that I found Ender’s sociopathic older brother Peter  a far more interesting complex and layered character than Ender himself. He also had more depth than the highly empathic Valentine, yet he was given the least examination in the book. I guess Peter’s Game doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Interesting because again I found Peter was playing a real game, whereas the ‘Game’ in the title is a highly advanced computer game that Ender plays while in training to become a battle commander.

Overall it was a disappointing and unsatisfying read.    

No comments:

Post a Comment