WHAT IS CLASSIC REMARKS?
Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.
HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE?
Leave your link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. And feel free to comment with your thoughts even if you are not officially participating with a full post!
(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)
THIS WEEK’S PROMPT:
Tell us about your favorite science fiction classic.
I admit I am not the strongest reader science fiction. While many readers appreciate the strange worlds and advanced technology science fiction can offer, I prefer stories that focus on the characters and their relationships, and what it means to be human. But science fiction is often the perfect genre for this! And my favorite science fiction classic, Ender’s Game, addresses this question masterfully by juxtaposing humanity with the unhuman. Is humanity truly different from or better than other species? What makes humans their best selves? The book delves into these issues through the eyes of Ender, a child taken from his home to be transformed into a warrior.
Ender’s Game ultimately depicts 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 as well as 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. Each time I return to the story, I am hurt anew by the way in which the adults use Ender as a means to an end, forgetting both his humanity and theirs in pursuit of the “greater good.” But the book ultimately suggests that clinging to one’s humanity is what gives a person true power, and the ability to do the greatest good. Fear closes people to the possibility of understanding, change, and forgiveness. In contrast, vulnerability opens the doors to peace and new life. Ender’s Game may be an older book, but it is a book that continues to speak to me.