Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nothing like a sci-fi classic

One cannot help but wonder why a lot of people look down on science fiction. It's a genre frequently overlooked in literary prizes. Maybe these people just aren't reading good science fiction, no? Yes, there are sci-fi novels that are certainly "crap," but this is also true for a lot of genres. Fortunately, there's no scarcity to well-written, engaging, and thought-provoking science fiction, and Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game is one of them.

It's surprising that Ender's Game was first published in 1977, considering that the novel reads like a contemporary one. Ender Wiggins, the 6-year-old third son of an ordinary family, has been selected by the government to be trained as a commander for a space fleet. Ender's genius proves to be an asset in the government's rigorous training in their battle and command schools, which are located in space.

When you think about it, Ender's Game is a very good coming-of-age story, with its themes of bullying, realizing one's potential, forming meaningful relationships with one's peers, and learning the importance of one's role. For all his brilliance, Ender is just a child, whom the government molds into a person capable of killing hostile, insect-like alien species which are called buggers.

It's not hard to imagine why Ender's Game won both the Hugo and the Nebula. As an adventure story, it's very engaging, most of the chapters deal with the simulation games that Ender goes through in training. One cannot help but imagine oneself being in the simulation battle room, surrounded by enemy platoons and floating in zero gravity. As science fiction, the technology that Orson Scott Card conjures is never wonky. You might even say that the author had the foresight on the workings of the Internet and virtual reality.

I hope that the other novels that make up the Ender's quartet is just as good as this first novel. Nevertheless, Ender's Game is a satisfying stand-alone novel, one which truly deserves to be included in sci-fi's rich canon.

Read this book if:
  1. You love classic science fiction.
  2. You're a big fan of Starship Troopers. (Ender's Game reminded me of it.)
  3. You know how tough it is to be bullied.


Jeane said...

Loved this book. I still read it again every few years. The rest of the series, didn't like as much. They don't focus as much on one character and I simply don't enjoy that type of storytelling as well. But my husband likes the sequels even better than Ender's Game, so it's all a matter of taste.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Jeane! I'm reminded of the Dune books. For me, the first one is still the best; the rest are just so-so.

Tina said...

Peter....I sure hope that you and your friends/family/colleagues are OK and not affected by the typhoon we've been hearing about.

We're praying for all of your countrymen.

Stepford Mum said...

Oh! I've been seeing this book a lot and never thought to pick it up. But your review convinced me to give it a try :)

Chachic said...

I'm not a big fan of sci fi but I read this book because it was recommended by so many bookish friends. I ended up loving it. I liked where it ended though but got persuaded by others to read Speaker of the Dead because they say that it's just as good as this one. I have a copy somewhere in my TBR pile although I have no idea when I'll get to read it :P

Peter S. said...

@Tina: Thank you so much for your prayers. The worst has passed and we did our best to keep safe. It wasn't as bad as the typhoon 2 years ago.

@Stepford Mum: I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

@Chachic: If ever I find a copy of that book, I will get it and read it. I'm actually curious about the quartet.