Monday, February 11, 2013

Ender's Game

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I just finished reading "Ender's Game". Derek loaned his two copies to me and Benoit last week at a super bowl party. This is the second year in a row that artistic happiness has ensued from a super bowl gathering (last year, I met Elaine and proceeded to be great friends).

Fun Fact: I was one of three people reading the book for the first time last week.

I had been told since junior high that I would like "Ender's Game". I knew I would get to it eventually and on this cold, lull week between frantic events like Jubilee Conference and the Grand Opening for The CommonPlace, I did.

My long time recommenders were right. I did love it.

I do know however that I love it differently than I might have loved it when I was younger. The world did not entirely swallow me up. I had other questions running through my head. I had other analysis I was conducting. And I was oddly, profoundly disturbed and disappointed in the ending. But perhaps other fans would disagree.

If you haven't read Ender's Game, perhaps you can think of it as a quality ancestor to current popular works like "The Hunger Games". It's a strange future earth that has to be saved through the brilliance of children turned into military soldiers and strategians. There is space travel and the threats are between humans and an alien species uncleverly titled "the buggers". Ender Wiggin is a child of 6 who is called the most brilliant human being who had existed yet and was needed to command the armies in the final battle against the alien species.

What was fascinating was when this book was written. 1977. But the themes and even technological pieces were right on. The students use things called "desks" which function like highly engaging ipads and 1st person video game scenarios. They are connected to "the net" which is the internet without much difference. Email wasn't even functional until the 90s. What was happening here?

I'm wondering just how much popular science fiction shapes what we end up making. And even more specifically, how we end up interacting with it. Does the way we envision our future actively determine our future relationships with future creations and innovations?

And the manipulation of a kind hearted boy into a killer he never wanted to me. The words "he became sin who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God" floated through my mind. Yet the manipulation was so violent and involuntary on Ender's part that I could not see a true correlation to the Jesus as Savior narrative arc that exists in Western Art. The side narrative with Peter and Valentine was also beautifully written but ultimately somehow not conclusive. The ending? It was as if it was the ending the author wanted to give but maybe not the ending that was truest to the plot. Or maybe I've read too many tragedies since undergrad.

I will give this one thing: it isn't trying to be a happy ending story. I appreciate that about science fiction. It so often deals with themes, topics, situations, realities that are avoided or difficult. But add uncreated gadgets and space travel, and suddenly it is safe and good to deal with profundity and engaged with by younger readers.

Genre fiction, no matter what happens in my life and my artistic journeys, I love you dearly.

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