Happy Towel Day. Douglas Adams, we still miss you!
Edited by Orson Scott Card
I started reading Ender’s World: Fresh Perspectives on the SF Classic Ender’s Game with high hopes. I love the Ender’s Game series. I thought it was one of the more original science fiction series of the last couple of decades. I like the characters. I especially like that Orson Scott Card didn’t baby his readers. When times got hard, his characters suffered. They grew, they learned to deal with the fallout from their wrong decisions, society’s wrong-headedness and other peoples’ bad choices. They dealt with unfairness, misjudgment by themselves and others.
They felt the pain of love that is not returned, of exile that is undeserved. Bad people transformed into much better people over time. Good people lost their edge. I read every book in the series including books that were not directly in the same timeline but concerned characters who formed the original groups at Battle School.
Ender’s Game and the books that follow are thought-provoking and on many levels disturbing. It questions our fundamental views on children, right and wrong. Our beliefs that “our species first” and by inference, “our country first” is the moral choice.
I consider myself an intelligent reader and I have a strong interest in philosophy and ethics. What’s more, I believe that the science fiction reading audience is probably as a group, the smartest, best educated, eclectic group of readers you will ever find. So when offered the opportunity to read Ender’s World, a book that isn’t part of the actual Ender’s Game series but is an analysis of the series and the issues it raises, I jumped at the chance. Oops.
By the time I was half way through the book, I wished I’d never started. I felt like I was back in high school or college lit class, over analyzing Moby Dick until I didn’t know a whale from a guppy … or care. Nothing spoils a good story for me faster than picking at its carcass.
This is a book that takes a great science fiction series and with the best of intentions, squeezes the fun out of it. It removes any sense of wonder you might have remaining, eliminates any potential surprises. It makes you feel your own thoughts are uneducated and insufficiently intellectual.
To say I didn’t enjoy the book doesn’t go quite far enough. I am certain somewhere out there in the big world of books there are those who enjoy this sort of thing. I am not one of them. Minute analyses of fictional material is a kind of dying of the light for me.
Read Ender’s Game. Read the sequels. When you are finished, if you really and truly have nothing else on your plate and want to hear what a bunch of dry academics can do to a great story and characters, read this. Otherwise, skip it.
The ultimate question about this series and every other book or series I read is twofold: did it entertain me? Did it leave me thinking about it and wanting more? If so, the book has done it’s job and fulfilled its purpose.
It’s one thing to talk about a book you love with people who love it too. It’s another thing to pick it apart until you no longer recognize it.