Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Summary: Outnumbered and with inferior technology, the human race has won two wars against the aliens they call the buggers.  They fear the Third Invasion, however, and will not trust to luck to save them again.  Instead, they scour the Earth for the child who can lead them to victory.  Ender Wiggin possesses the qualities necessary to make him a formidable general.  To that end, the government places him in Battle School to train him for the upcoming war.  The race, however, is running out of time and Ender may not be ready to fight when the war comes.

Review: The words “science fiction” can conjure up images of advanced technology, strange worlds, and unfamiliar peoples—distancing images that often repel readers uninitiated into the genre.  Science fiction, however, is not about the cool gizmos and the shiny gadgets; science fiction is about what it means to be human, no matter what time or place.  By juxtaposing humanity with the intrinsically unhuman, science fiction writers make readers question the qualities that set them apart from the rest of the universe and that make them their best selves.

Ender’s Game addresses these questions by depicting the lengths to which humans will go to preserve themselves—even if it means losing their sense of moral dignity.  The necessity of preparing for battle consumes the adults, who use children as pawns in the war effort.  They force children into situations that demand the children lose their innocence and their instinct to make peace.  Card simultaneously comments on the degradation of the human spirit in times of fear and of the continual powerlessness of children in society, uniting both in a common theme of the cyclical nature of history.  In the end, the book poses the question of whether or not humans can ultimately change and break the cycle of violence.

In addressing these concerns common to all people, Card’s book speaks to the heart with rare power.  Any person who has witnessed the savagery generated by fear; who has experienced the impossible choice of survival or morality; who has ever felt degraded, trapped, or powerless will identify with Card’s characters.  In doing so, readers enter into a common humanity where they are free from judgment and free from judging.  Through the eyes of a child, they come to understand both themselves and others better.  Everyone longs to be understood.  Card grants a certain peace to his readers by assuring them that he and all those who have read his book, do.

7 thoughts on “Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

  1. David says:

    Another book that has been put on my list by a friend of mine. When I had first heard the premise, it didn’t much interest me: children fighting wars? Don’t we see enough of that in modern stories? But then a friend came back saying that Card really did a phenomenal job, and here your review sheds greater light on the themes that he addresses. I’m quite interested now; don’t know when I’ll get to it, but would really like to read it, sometime.


    • Krysta says:

      Briana tried for years to get me to read this book, but I was never a huge fan of science fiction (until Doctor Who pulled me in). The beginning of the review pretty much sums up my preconceptions about the genre. When I finally read Ender’s Game this summer, however, I was furious at myself for not having read it sooner.


  2. katkasia says:

    I loved your explanation of Science fiction:
    “The words “science fiction” can conjure up images of advanced technology, strange worlds, and unfamiliar peoples—distancing images that often repel readers uninitiated into the genre. Science fiction, however, is not about the cool gizmos and the shiny gadgets; science fiction is about what it means to be human, no matter what time or place.”

    There seem to be quite a few people out there who are a bit scared off by the perception that it is all spaceships and robots, which is just not the case! Much sci-fi (perhaps more and more) is much more character based.

    Thanks for a great review! 🙂


    • Krysta says:

      Thank you! When I was younger, I really found the thought of all that machinery off-putting; it seemed to me that the characters had gotten lost while the authors explored all these far-fetched concepts of technology to which I couldn’t relate. When I became interested in Doctor Who, however, I realized that science-fiction could focus on character development and moral choices just as any other genre (though, in fact, I think you argue that DW resembles fantasy in many ways, especially since Moffat has taken over). Science-fiction can even provide a unique platform for character development and an exploration of morality and the place of humans in the world as those “far-fetched concepts” enable authors to emphasize and exaggerate certain aspects of society to which the characters then react.

      I still have not read a lot of science fiction, so I’m sure you’re more qualified than I am to comment on the genre as a whole, but I am definitely much more interested in and open to picking up other works now that I understand authors can take their books in different directions.


      • katkasia says:

        You know, that section of Sci-Fi where authors explored far fetched concepts to the detriment of their characters was exactly the impetus for starting my book!
        I don’t know if this may be partly a social construct: that when sci-fi was really booming in the 50’s to 70’s, many hard sci fi writers were really scientists doing it on the side, so they were more interested in that aspect than the people. I’m not sure if this is the case, or just my take on it.


      • Krysta says:

        Wow! That’s great you saw a need for something and decided to take action! I wish you success!

        That’s an interesting take on the situation. I know that scientists do love to talk about their work, but conveying what they do the public in an understandable yet accurate manner concerns them. Writing science fiction would definitely allow them to focus on what they love and hopefully allow the general public a glimpse at what they do at the same time.


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