If you’re anything like me I couldn’t wait to graduate from college so I could finally have some free time to read the books I wanted to read instead of the mandatory dribble dictated by my course curriculum. However after graduation I faced a problem I really didn’t think I would have… where to begin? I knew I was into anything space related so I knew Science Fiction would be the genre for me but even with that narrowed down there was still a mountain of books and authors to choose from! Luckily I saw a trailer for a movie (I know, I know, the movies are NEVER as good as the books right?) called Ender’s Game and immediately thought I HAD to check it out. Although I was a little cautious with child actors (scars from The Last Airbender movie *cough cough*) I decided I’d give it a shot mainly because it was in space and there were aliens in it, basically anything with aliens I’m checking out.
So there I was, just a small town boy, living in a lonely Sci-fi world, watching the midnight showing with a bunch of friends (or maybe I was alone). Needless to say I enjoyed the movie and many of the scientific concepts it portrayed. The concept of Battle school for starters, was this large space station that utilized centrifugal force to generate gravity (something we’re looking at accomplishing in the near future by the way link). The anisible was perhaps even more interesting still even if the movie hardly touches on it, basically it is technology that allows the humans to instantaneously communicate with any other human no matter how far in the fabric of space they were. The book does touch a little more on it and how it was reverse engineered from the formic technology but this is definitely something humans will eventually have to face when we start venturing further and further into space. Oh! How could I forget the zero gravity laser tag training room!? Who else saw that and thought forget paintball and sign me up for cramping-disabling laser pain! (I know I did!) Suffice it to say there were enough elements in this movie to get me interested in the book, so I went to my local library (those still exist) and picked up a copy… sort of.
After several trips to the library I actually couldn’t find the book (apparently more than one person had the same idea as me), maybe looking for a book right after its movie had come out wasn’t the brightest move, but lucky for me a friend of mine had a copy she let me borrow. What excited me initially about the book was that there were quite a few books in the Ender universe and I knew if I enjoyed it I would have plenty of material to keep me busy for a while (not the fastest reader here). Without spoiling too much of the book, it was actually pretty close to the movie as far as main plot line but the book painted a more in-depth picture of the entire universe. Orson Scott Card does a fantastic job developing his characters, some of which barely were mentioned in the movie (like Bean my personal favorite, he has his own series which I think is more interesting). The book also delves deeper into the different technologies and how they work. Battle School for instance is explained by using centrifugal force that creates artificial gravity by constantly rotating. They even specify how the closer to the center of the station you got, the less the force of the gravity would become (hence why zero gravity laser tag was at the center of the ship).
All this writing and I just realized I haven’t even gotten to the plot! Basically there are these aliens that invaded Earth years ago called “Buggers” (although officially they are called Formics, and you learn why in one of the prequels called Earth Unaware), Earth was barely able to fend off the first alien invasion but in the aftermath they were able to reverse engineer some fancy war technology and now they were bringing the fight to the nasty buggers. Since the alien menace works a lot like an insect hive, they can change and react to situations very quickly. In order to combat this ever adapting threat, all of humanity unifies under one banner and creates a “Battle school” where they send Earth’s brightest children (the idea being children are much better at adapting to situations on the fly, where adults are much more stuck in their ways) to get the best military training the world has to offer. Ender, coming from a family that apparently has great genetics (both his brother and sister went to battle school), is sent there as humanities last hope.
The book touches on so much more than a simple war among intergalactic neighbors though, it’s intertwined with elements of philosophy and questions relating to whether its right or wrong to kill an entire species. I especially enjoyed the twist of how the Formics communicate, the whole war basically is brought on by the fact that all attempts to communicate with the Formics had failed and they were just assumed to be blood thirsty-warmongering savages. In reality humankind in their arrogance assumed that all species would communicate more or less like humans and there lies the single most contributing factor to the war.
I definitely recommend the book and movie, they both captured my interest (one led me to the other) and I’ve began devouring the series since. Now, now, I’ll be up front and say I’m just starting to get my Science Fiction reading feet wet and am open to recommendations (once I’m finished the series) but in my ever so humble opinion, if you like space, aliens, well developed characters, and of course a good story line pick this book up.
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