I've posted a new review for 'Ender's Game' by Orson Scott Card, I figured I'd been reviewing some pretty old and obscure book so far. I felt I needed to review something that everyone had read. I'd realized over the last couple of years that Card's stock had kind of fallen in the sci-fi community, but the research I did before writing this review really blew me away. Orson Scott Card just might be totally crazy. There are some pretty outrageous articles about him out there, as well as a few unsettling essays he's written (click Here if you want to read about Card's creepy opinion of homosexuality).
|Card- Totally Crazy?|
Which is not to say that 'Ender's Game' isn't a good book. I think too often people get caught up in the more prurient details about an author's life and forget to focus on the actual work. And I believe Game stands up to scrutiny. There are things there to complain about, and some pretty far fetched bits of criticism out there (click Here if you want to read an essay that compares Ender Wiggin to Hitler) but I believe deep down Card was just trying to write a novel that was entertaining and fun to read. Remember that the year previous to Game winning so many awards 'Neuromancer' won both the Hugo and the Nebula, and as far as literary seriousness Game is a big step down. Sometimes books win awards because they're fun to read and nothing else.
So, is this book pro-genocide? I don't know, Card makes it known that he judges people by their intent and not through their actions, and he takes some pretty far steps to justify what Ender does to survive. But I also believe Card in essays when he says the idea for the novel originated with the Battle Room, and everything about the plot came from there. He had an idea for an immensely entertaining form of combat and built the rest of the novel around that.
People have complained that Pixar's 'The Incredibles' advocates fascism. Yeah maybe, I can kind of see it if I put my pretension goggles on, but it's still really fun to watch and a great movie. I imagine those might be the same people who rail on 'Ender's Game.' Yeah, it's a little weird to advocate that hard for moral subectivity or whatever it's called, but I think the people who blast the novel so hard miss the fact that it's just a really entertaining piece of pop literature and need to get off the high horse. (And click here if you want to read one of those criticisms of Card that start off sounding reasonable and veers right into abject craziness)
I think in the end that whether or not you like 'Ender's Game' really depends on your age when you first read it. It's an easy novel for teenagers and pre-teens to love. As what teen doesn't identify with the alienation and loneliness and sense of being misunderstood that Ender Wiggin goes through. I read this book for the first time when I was about 15 and I loved it. Had I read it at thirty or forty I'd probably have a different opinion of the novel. There's nothing we can do about things like that. There are novels I know now I read too early and that's why I don't like them so much (hello 'Great Gatsby') but you have to ignore that. If you like a novel you like it.
I read a list over at the AV Club about what books their contributors read the most, not their top ten novels but which books they actually have reread the most times. All of their contributors named books like 'Finnigan's Wake' or 'To The Lighthouse' which just shows that they are much more concientous about their literature than I am. If we're talking top five desert island books I have to admit my list contains both 'Ender's Game' and 'The Stainless Steel Rat,' two books that might not have any literary merit at all, but are both absolutely great reads.