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colonelslime
2011-12-30, 01:45 PM
Now, I'm not trying to start a flame war, so don't take this as a personal attack if you happened to like the book. It's not a bad book by any means, but after having read it, I never understood why some of my friends love it so much. I found a copy in my stuff, and it just prompted me to try and ask the question. Why do you like Ender's Game, and how do you address my problems with it?

Problems:

- It's not stupid, but I saw the ending coming pretty far ahead. I'm not going to say what it was, since there may yet be people who don't know the ending (I didn't, having avoids spoilers) but it played out pretty much the way I thought it would

- Ender, who my friends laud as some sort of tactical genius, isn't. His final think-outside-the-box solution isn't clever, it's just desperate. Now, admittedly, it took someone to finally do it, assuming you believe that there was no other option, but I don't see why he was so brilliant in his application of it.

- Ender's character is too plainly a self-insert for any smart, precocious child who has ever felt maligned by the people around him. I can just feel people wanting to project themselves into him. For the wunderkind that supposed to save the human race, everyone around him treats him pretty poorly. I don't find that this makes sense, given what he is supposed to be. His whole character is a little to martyr/messiah from the get-go for me to take the book seriously.

- Ender's siblings are annoying extremes, which I realize was the point, but the entire book feels like a giant "Golden mean" fallacy. Peter is too angry/violent, Valentine is too soft, Ender is just right. I just don't find this a compelling theme, way too simplistic a world view.

- Finally, I just don't believe the world. Everything seems to contrived to force Ender into the climax. The whole game aspect seems like some sort of cruel psychological experiment, and the idea of trusting everything to the genius 8-year-old seems at odds with the technical complexity of the human civilization. Why it took him to do it, and why a grown man could not, since it seemed agreed that something drastic had to be done, baffles me. For me to enjoy a book, I have to believe that the world could exist the way it does, given the factors in play. Now, I understand that sometimes stories are about something different, that characters are tools of the author, etc. I don't denigrate you for liking a different sort of writing than me. But I don't believe that Ender's world makes sense.

I have never read past the first book, so I don't knwo anything about the later series. Looking forward to reading everybody's comments.

I have several more points I could bring out about all the implication in the book, but I'll shy away from them for the sake of keeping the thread apolitical.

Tengu_temp
2011-12-30, 02:58 PM
Ender's character is too plainly a self-insert for any smart, precocious child who has ever felt maligned by the people around him. I can just feel people wanting to project themselves into him. For the wunderkind that supposed to save the human race, everyone around him treats him pretty poorly. I don't find that this makes sense, given what he is supposed to be. His whole character is a little to martyr/messiah from the get-go for me to take the book seriously.

Congratulations, you discovered the reason so many people love the book and the character.

Tyndmyr
2011-12-30, 03:01 PM
- Ender's character is too plainly a self-insert for any smart, precocious child who has ever felt maligned by the people around him. I can just feel people wanting to project themselves into him. For the wunderkind that supposed to save the human race, everyone around him treats him pretty poorly. I don't find that this makes sense, given what he is supposed to be. His whole character is a little to martyr/messiah from the get-go for me to take the book seriously.

This point doesn't bother me at all. Happens in the military all the time, and since this is basically a military situation...yeah. It doesn't matter what you're slated to be, or how awesome your test scores are, your training is going to suck and nobody will be kinder to you because you're intelligent.

colonelslime
2011-12-30, 03:29 PM
Congratulations, you discovered the reason so many people love the book and the character.

Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees it. But, again, the people I know who like this book aren't stupid, and I'm always curious why my tastes don't align with theirs, especially when they pick apart other settings and stories with me all the time. If it's just a little escapism for them, eh, I'm fine with that, but some of the comment I have read online seem to put forth Ender as some sort of tactical genius/greatest military leader of all, which puzzles me greatly.


This point doesn't bother me at all. Happens in the military all the time, and since this is basically a military situation...yeah. It doesn't matter what you're slated to be, or how awesome your test scores are, your training is going to suck and nobody will be kinder to you because you're intelligent.

American style bootcamp perhaps, but that far from the norm across the world. Also, Ender is an eight-year-old child who had this role forced upon him. The conditioning they put him through doesn't seem like the best way to ensure the loyalty of your superweapon. That's the biggest problem I have with this; he's apparently the closest they've to what ever checklist they wanted in their superchild, yet they do nothing that would make him trust them or anything that would make him cooperative. This isn't a military situation in the same way recruitment is, they've already invested huge amounts of time and resources into his creation and upbringing, so why would they act antagonistic towards him. I'd have to see some sort of psychiatric program to see what it was Orson Scott Card thought they were trying to do, because to me it doesn't make sense.

Binks
2011-12-30, 03:31 PM
Why do you like Ender's Game, and how do you address my problems with it?

I enjoy it because it's an interesting sci-fi story with semi to fully believable characters, a hard sci-fi leaning, and a willingness to cop to all of its faults (see Ender's Shadow, the book that was basically about busting all the potential problems with the universe wide open and seeing what popped out).


I saw the ending coming pretty far ahead.

It is a fairly predictable ending if you've been paying attention (it's heavily foreshadowed around the halfway point, and, as someone else once put it, it's easy to guess once you see how close the end of the book you are). That said, I don't personally mind that it's easy to guess, but this is from someone who re-reads old books multiple times (I've actually read the ender series about 7 times at this point) and enjoys them just as much each time. If you're looking for a hard to guess twist, you're not going to find it here.


Ender, who my friends laud as some sort of tactical genius, isn't. His final think-outside-the-box solution isn't clever, it's just desperate...I don't see why he was so brilliant in his application of it.

The genius is more in how he pulls it off. Not sure I can explain without spoilers, but here's how I heard it explained that just made sense.
It's not about the tactic in that one battle being genius, it's about the overall strategy. He basically taught the enemy 'I will save every unit I can and never sacrifice them unless I have to.', then he threw it out the window for the last battle and just went all out. It's desperate, sure, but it's also very tactically sound.

If you were the enemy commander which would you think is more likely, the enemy, who has up till now shown great skill in saving his troops, is throwing their lives away to try and commit genocide against you, or he has some kind of secret plan that I just need to puzzle out.

It's a matter of psychologically understanding the enemy so well that he can use their own assumptions against him that makes him a tactical genius, not any sort of super impressive strategy. That and, per one of the later books (Ender's Shadow), it's stated that it's unlikely anyone else could have found a way to get to the enemy planet through the mob of ships without being destroyed. It's not so well describe, but going right through a superior force to get to your objective is pretty hard.

Ender's character is too plainly a self-insert for any smart, precocious child who has ever felt maligned by the people around him. I can just feel people wanting to project themselves into him. For the wunderkind that supposed to save the human race, everyone around him treats him pretty poorly. I don't find that this makes sense, given what he is supposed to be. His whole character is a little to martyr/messiah from the get-go for me to take the book seriously.
Meh. I can see how you might feel he's a target of projection, but I wouldn't want to be him. Everyone does treat him pretty poorly, which makes perfect sense. As far as most of the kids can tell they were told 'You're the best' coming in, then he shows up and they're told 'He's a hundred times better than you and the savior of the human race!' Bound to be some issues there.

Also not everyone was told/believes that he's supposed to save the human race. If I walked up to you today and told you this kid was destined to do the job you've been training for your whole life far better than you will ever be able to do it, and then he started demonstrating that he's better than you, would you be angry? Would you seriously believe what I said? It's easy to believe that some people would go after the kid for showing them up, it's simple pride.


Ender's siblings are annoying extremes, which I realize was the point, but the entire book feels like a giant "Golden mean" fallacy. Peter is too angry/violent, Valentine is too soft, Ender is just right. I just don't find this a compelling theme, way too simplistic a world view.
Never honestly thought of it that way, though it is kind of explained that way I guess, even almost outright stated at a couple of points either in that book or later books (or both). The way I see it it's pure desperation, they got so close to what they needed that they (being the world leaders) were willing to throw away all logic and try for a Golden mean, and they happened to get lucky. I don't see it being stated or even implied anywhere that Ender was bound to be a mean between his siblings, just that it was hoped for.

Some of this is also fixed in the sequels that flesh the characters out a bit more.


Finally, I just don't believe the world...Why it took him to do it, and why a grown man could not, since it seemed agreed that something drastic had to be done, baffles me. For me to enjoy a book, I have to believe that the world could exist the way it does, given the factors in play...I don't believe that Ender's world makes sense.

Fair enough. Possibly spoilery answer
I disagree, but I do understand how you can see it this way. I suppose it comes down to a simple question, if you know that pushing a button will save the human race, but kill a group of people you know personally as surely as shooting them, can you push the button? More importantly, can you lead them through battle skillfully, then push the button, knowing you'll have to do it the whole way through the battle? Mazer was sure he couldn't, and no one else stepped up to do it, so they got Ender to do it without knowing that it was real. It was the best solution they could come up with to get a commander willing and able to push the button and end the lives of his subordinates but also willing and able to lead them through battle as skillfully as ever.

Ender's game say you can't lead troops into battle wholeheartedly then push a button to kill them without hesitation. If you agree with that, then the whole game aspect makes perfect sense. If you don't, then it all falls apart.

EDIT:

American style bootcamp perhaps, but that far from the norm across the world. Also, Ender is an eight-year-old child who had this role forced upon him. The conditioning they put him through doesn't seem like the best way to ensure the loyalty of your superweapon. That's the biggest problem I have with this; he's apparently the closest they've to what ever checklist they wanted in their superchild, yet they do nothing that would make him trust them or anything that would make him cooperative. This isn't a military situation in the same way recruitment is, they've already invested huge amounts of time and resources into his creation and upbringing, so why would they act antagonistic towards him.
It's an American novel by an American writer, it uses American cliches and ideas about boot camp. And they don't really care about loyalty, what's he going to do, defect to the enemy? Slightly spoilery extra stuff
They almost want him uncooperative. Think about it, he thinks he's playing a game against his COs, and they do everything in their power to enforce that concept. In that type of environment, uncooperative can be beneficial if properly used, they make him uncooperative in the games and he's uncooperative to the enemy.
As for creation and upbringing, they didn't really invest much at all in that, just signed on the dotted line saying 'Yes, you can have another kid'. He was far from the only possibility, he just happened to be the one that worked best. Not sure if this is fully stated in the first book, but I know it's never said in there (in the early chapters at least) that he's the only hope. Maybe later on, once he's proven himself, but early on he's just another smart kid that might be useful against the enemy.

Bastian Weaver
2011-12-30, 03:41 PM
Because it's a good book. It's got good plot, good characters, good language, good emotional and intellectual parts. It's got lots of ideas and lots of bright, interesting images.
What's not to like?

Weezer
2011-12-30, 03:56 PM
To me the position that Ender's Game holds is one of very good introductory Young Adult science fiction. It certainly has many flaws, which you've pointed out, but no major flaws in respect to a young adult audience. This isn't to say that it's not suitable for adult readers, I enjoy reading young adult fiction all the time, but it stands up better if you keep in mind its intended audience.

Jahkaivah
2011-12-30, 04:11 PM
- Ender's siblings are annoying extremes, which I realize was the point, but the entire book feels like a giant "Golden mean" fallacy. Peter is too angry/violent, Valentine is too soft, Ender is just right.

"But this child prodigy is juuust right" said Goldilocks.

hamishspence
2011-12-30, 04:21 PM
In the Shadow series, we find out that "Peter is too angry/violent" is a lie that they told Peter, Ender, etc.

The real reason was that he lacked personal warmth- the ability to evoke loyalty and devotion.

Joran
2011-12-30, 04:40 PM
Now, I'm not trying to start a flame war, so don't take this as a personal attack if you happened to like the book. It's not a bad book by any means, but after having read it, I never understood why some of my friends love it so much.


ZOMG, those are fighting words! :smallwink:

Anyway, my hackles tend to get raised whenever someone says something like "Not that good" when they really mean "I did not enjoy it".

Ender's Game won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award, which are the most prestigious awards for science fiction. The sequel "Speaker for the Dead" managed to win both awards as well. So, it's not just your friends.

I read it in high school, then read it again in college. In my memory, I enjoyed it mostly because of the Battle School. I had the same issues with putting the fate of humanity into the hands of little kids, but the Battle School chapters were engrossing and believable.

Cespenar
2011-12-30, 04:49 PM
Read the second book, it is better. Way different than the first. None of the OP's "problems" (very little sarcasm intended) exist in the second book either, or at least from my point of view.

Soras Teva Gee
2011-12-30, 05:18 PM
- It's not stupid, but I saw the ending coming pretty far ahead. I'm not going to say what it was, since there may yet be people who don't know the ending (I didn't, having avoids spoilers) but it played out pretty much the way I thought it would

I personally have never heard this before. I mean I wasn't "zomg what a shock" or anything but what precisely gave it away to you.


- Ender, who my friends laud as some sort of tactical genius, isn't. His final think-outside-the-box solution isn't clever, it's just desperate. Now, admittedly, it took someone to finally do it, assuming you believe that there was no other option, but I don't see why he was so brilliant in his application of it.

Of course he is, the problem is that actual tactical genius isn't about a couple clever tricks. The best tricks aren't terribly clever they are just knowing what a specific situation calls for. Ender's genius is in being able to manage an entire team of high-intellects to work together and then adapt to a changing situation.

Even in the original book (Shadow series is bad fanfiction) its fairly obvious that Bean is probably smarter then Ender in raw thought ability, but he lacks the inspiration and flair to manage a group effectively, which is why Bean was used as a scalpel.


- Ender's character is too plainly a self-insert for any smart, precocious child who has ever felt maligned by the people around him. I can just feel people wanting to project themselves into him. For the wunderkind that supposed to save the human race, everyone around him treats him pretty poorly. I don't find that this makes sense, given what he is supposed to be. His whole character is a little to martyr/messiah from the get-go for me to take the book seriously.

So what? Since when are protagionists not near messiahs


- Ender's siblings are annoying extremes, which I realize was the point, but the entire book feels like a giant "Golden mean" fallacy. Peter is too angry/violent, Valentine is too soft, Ender is just right. I just don't find this a compelling theme, way too simplistic a world view.

The problem with logical fallacies is they often turn out to be right. The answer of course is that people confuse their purpose, stating that such a line of argument is not guaranteed. This should not itself be confused with meaning something can't happen. If you had two promising but slightly flawed candidates from the same source, then allowing a third attempt is not horrible.


- Finally, I just don't believe the world. Everything seems to contrived to force Ender into the climax. The whole game aspect seems like some sort of cruel psychological experiment, and the idea of trusting everything to the genius 8-year-old seems at odds with the technical complexity of the human civilization. Why it took him to do it, and why a grown man could not, since it seemed agreed that something drastic had to be done, baffles me. For me to enjoy a book, I have to believe that the world could exist the way it does, given the factors in play. Now, I understand that sometimes stories are about something different, that characters are tools of the author, etc. I don't denigrate you for liking a different sort of writing than me. But I don't believe that Ender's world makes sense.


Well the game is a psychological experiment. Because it is intended to be a pressure cooker for the students playing them to see if they break. And remember that this isn't just about Ender at all. For starters Ender has the support of his entire group because he couldn't do everything himself. And beyond that there is every other student not with him, they are for example crewing ships across the galaxy. Ender is far from the only product of his environment present.

This all doesn't exist for Ender, he's simply the best case available for the timing needed. If cornered on the matter every leader but Graff would probably say they would prefer someone older for their purposes, but they don't have someone older. Now sure there's still an element of magic psychology to this, but that a fairly common idea in sci-fi being the idea that science can make everything better applied to the person.

And Graff himself is operating on the idea that childrens brains work best because they are young and creative and not bogged down by what they know, I recall at least one allusion to Alexander the Great. But hey its not like Graff wasn't questioned in his thinking just from our POV we can't see a lot of it directly.

Tirian
2011-12-30, 05:34 PM
To me the position that Ender's Game holds is one of very good introductory Young Adult science fiction.

I totally agree, and yet at least some of the fans of the series seem to lift it up as transcending YASF. To give one concrete example, Ender's Game placed #3 in NPR's list of Top 100 SF/Fantasy books (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/139085843/your-picks-top-100-science-fiction-fantasy-books) without any competition from any of the other outstanding series about children who are forced to save the world as a metaphor for adolescence.

I also read Ender's Game about four months ago and decided that it had been overhyped. It's fine for science fiction, but pretty marginal if you go into it expecting literature.

Bastian Weaver
2011-12-30, 05:54 PM
I'm sorry, but science fiction is literature. It may be good, it may be bad, just as mystery stories may be good or bad, or romantic novels, or pornography. The only difference is that it adds a fantastic element.

Dienekes
2011-12-30, 06:15 PM
ZOMG, those are fighting words! :smallwink:

Anyway, my hackles tend to get raised whenever someone says something like "Not that good" when they really mean "I did not enjoy it".

Ender's Game won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award, which are the most prestigious awards for science fiction. The sequel "Speaker for the Dead" managed to win both awards as well. So, it's not just your friends.

I read it in high school, then read it again in college. In my memory, I enjoyed it mostly because of the Battle School. I had the same issues with putting the fate of humanity into the hands of little kids, but the Battle School chapters were engrossing and believable.

Now I love Ender's Game, but I'm not sure that just stating awards is the best way of showing quality. I mean sure, it's a better benchmark than nothing but hell Titanic won awards. Titanic sucked. Not just I didn't like it. It sucked.

And on that note, I hated Speaker, though it's been too long since I read it for me to remember if I just didn't like it or if I actually thought it was bad.

Anyway, to me Ender's Game requires that you take 1 thing at face value: that the great movers, shakers, and strategists of Earth all agree that they'll trust an 8 year old to save the world. While that's a pretty big pill, I've accepted bigger.

Bastian Weaver
2011-12-30, 06:29 PM
I suppose it's not such a big pill if you put it that way - "the great movers, shakers, and strategists of Earth all agree that they can't defeat an enemy that has more ships, weapons, troops, and one that they can't possibly understand, so they created a way big secret program to find an eight years old kid that would be smart enough, tough enough, and caring enough to understand the enemy and then help them destroy it. Because kids are, you know, more sensitive to some important things".

Weezer
2011-12-30, 06:30 PM
I'm sorry, but science fiction is literature. It may be good, it may be bad, just as mystery stories may be good or bad, or romantic novels, or pornography. The only difference is that it adds a fantastic element.

Actually, I disagree. I really dislike the terminology 'literature' and 'genre' (mostly due to the connotation that the former is superior to the latter) but it does make a valid distinction. I qualify 'literature' as any book where the use of language, linguistic devices and quality of writing is exceptional and is one of the focuses of the author in writing the book. There are many novels that a strict critic would place in 'genre' that I would classify as literature. Some examples that spring to mind are Donaldson's Gap Cycle and Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, both books are clearly sci-fi (mixed with fantasy in Wolfe's case) but the authors have crafted a work of such objective linguistic quality that they qualify as 'literature' in my book. Ender's Game does not do this, by any stretch of the imagination. It's a damn good book, it's entertaining, contains a great message for both young adults and (to a lesser extent) adults and has some pretty unique elements in it. However the language and quality of the writing is far below that of 'literature'.

It is perfectly fine for Ender's Game to not be literary, genre is not necessarily worse than literature, just like the literature is not automatically superior to genre. They are simply very different things that attempt to accomplish very different goals.

Bastian Weaver
2011-12-30, 06:41 PM
Well, that's your definition and your impression about Orson Scott Card's works. I cannot agree with both, but hey, people are different, and that's cool. Otherwise the world would be a pretty boring place.

Weezer
2011-12-30, 06:45 PM
Well, that's your definition and your impression about Orson Scott Card's works. I cannot agree with both, but hey, people are different, and that's cool. Otherwise the world would be a pretty boring place.

I'm wondering, what are your definitions/opinions? I did post that in hope of generating discussion, because I know that it's just opinion and it's through having that opinion challenged that I can refine my opinions. So, please, tell me why you disagree :smallsmile:

Cespenar
2011-12-30, 06:47 PM
Titanic sucked. Not just I didn't like it. It sucked.

Hmm. I had a different opinion, but since it's apparently an universal truth, give me a minute or two to go and reforge my memories.

Ravens_cry
2011-12-30, 06:49 PM
I liked the book well enough, but as xkcd (http://xkcd.com/635/) points out, Locke and Demosthenes, looks a little silly now that we actually have the Internet. The one part I didn't like was OSC decision to make Ender the Speaker for the Dead in the extended version.
It just felt off to me, at least how it was handled.

Weezer
2011-12-30, 06:54 PM
Hmm. I had a different opinion, but since it's apparently an universal truth, give me a minute or two to go and reforge my memories.

Well from a cinematographic standpoint it wasn't particularly good, the camera was pretty meh, the writing was generally uninspired and it was too long for the story it was trying to tell. However, saying that, I can see how it can be entertaining (for people who like that type of story), but in a cinematic sense? I don't really think so.

Bastian Weaver
2011-12-30, 07:10 PM
About definition of literature - as I've said, I consider pretty much all fiction works to be literature. Even the apocrypha (I just hate the term "fanfiction").
I guess my word for what you call literature would be "masterpiece". There are masterpieces, and there's also worthless junk. There's good literature and bad literature.
As to Card's language - I like the way he uses different speech patterns for different characters. That's important for me. He might not use big words to describe the spaceship that flies Ender to the Battle School or stuff like that, but Petra's short quips help me create a nice, solid image of that girl in my head.
Something like that.

Soras Teva Gee
2011-12-30, 07:11 PM
I liked the book well enough, but as xkcd (http://xkcd.com/635/) points out, Locke and Demosthenes, looks a little silly now that we actually have the Internet.

Umm given that it was written in 1985 it holds up really really well. While obviously internet pundit as route to global domination hasn't worked the entire notion of using you know the net to effect the IRL opinions at all is quite literally ahead of its time. While still small the impact of the internet on the flow of ideas is expanding all the time. So it was much sillier in its day.

And mostly its hard to name anything involving computers in sci-fi that holds up half as well. Heck look at Neuromancer, its not even accurate to the behavior of dead television stations now.

Ravens_cry
2011-12-30, 07:18 PM
Umm given that it was written in 1985 it holds up really really well. While obviously internet pundit as route to global domination hasn't worked the entire notion of using you know the net to effect the IRL opinions at all is quite literally ahead of its time. While still small the impact of the internet on the flow of ideas is expanding all the time. So it was much sillier in its day.

The Internet existed in 1985, or at least the ancestors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulletin_board_system) of the forum we are using to communicate right now existed then.


And mostly its hard to name anything involving computers in sci-fi that holds up half as well. Heck look at Neuromancer, its not even accurate to the behavior of dead television stations now.
It's not a question of technology, it's how it was used. Despite getting technology desperately wrong, the societal impact in a story (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Logic_Named_Joe) written almost two score year before Enders Game is much closer to what eventually occurred

Weezer
2011-12-30, 07:38 PM
About definition of literature - as I've said, I consider pretty much all fiction works to be literature. Even the apocrypha (I just hate the term "fanfiction").
I guess my word for what you call literature would be "masterpiece". There are masterpieces, and there's also worthless junk. There's good literature and bad literature.
As to Card's language - I like the way he uses different speech patterns for different characters. That's important for me. He might not use big words to describe the spaceship that flies Ender to the Battle School or stuff like that, but Petra's short quips help me create a nice, solid image of that girl in my head.
Something like that.

I guess I just like more categories to place things in, allows for better differentiation and organization when I think about books I've read. I see no reason to change the term "literature" from that with a specific meaning, to a generic catch all term for a written work. I like very specific, well defined jargon when I talk about things, but that may just be my philosophical and scientific background talking.

Also, it's not about the vocabulary he chooses to use that makes it not literary in my eyes, it's that Ender's Game is pretty much completely void of allegory, symbolism or any truly complex literary device. Which is fine, he focuses on the plot, writes a very engaging one and produces an overall well written novel. But it's obvious he didn't place any focus on the language in and of itself, which for me is the distinguishing feature of literature.

This focus on language and linguistic devices is a character that Card shows more in the later books in the series, I would say that Speaker for the Dead (as well as Xenocide and Children of the Mind despite the fact that they were less enjoyable and not as 'good' as Ender's Game) is far more literary than Ender's Game.

I'd like to make it clear that the distinction between literary and not is more of a spectrum than anything else, there is no clear cut line that I've been able to find.

And yes, people can try to focus on language and end up producing a literary work that is really, really bad. Just because someone uses complex devices doesn't mean they use them well or correctly.

Soras Teva Gee
2011-12-30, 08:06 PM
The Internet existed in 1985, or at least the ancestors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulletin_board_system) of the forum we are using to communicate right now existed then.



It's not a question of technology, it's how it was used. Despite getting technology desperately wrong, the societal impact in a story (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Logic_Named_Joe) written almost two score year before Enders Game is much closer to what eventually occurred

I'd say, precisely.

The overwhelming majority of sci-fi in the time never brings up anything like what would occur after the WWW launched in '91. If computers are brought up as a plot device, how many stories deal with the their social media as societal transform force versus simply a source of exposition or dealing with the never realized idea of true AIs as people. Nevermind say a couple of kids using computers casually as a normal thing that's not particularly odd.

As for the story, that's phenomenal I can expand my list to two depictions that resonant as predictive. What this isn't a zero sum game, another case can be prescient without detracting anything from this case.

(Heinlein still is probably my champion of being actually predictive for predicting the all volunteer professional military structure. And preventing the waterbed from being patented)

colonelslime
2011-12-30, 08:33 PM
Woah, threads really jumping!

To answer some of the questions comments directed at me:

As soon as Ender enters the command school, I pegged the ending pretty well.
The first mention of the M.D. Device, sealed my certainty (and added the xenocide angle to it).
That's the thing that confuses me about why people like the book so much. Just from reading it, and the way Ender reacts to being picked on, you got the sense (or I got the sense) that the book was finding ways to justify Ender's anger and retribution to those who harm him. Everything to do with the buggers seems to indicate this as well, which is how I saw the end coming. Thematically, the book telegraphs itself. That's not necessarily a terrible thing, but it wasn't the "OMG, WOW" super ending my friends made it out to be.

Also, while Ender is said to be a good leader, I never really feel like it's shown, nothing he does is that innovative or unique. In a day and age when we already have asymmetric and unconventional warfare, breaking down conventions (which, for the most part, is what Ender does) doesn't strike me as amazing. These are also all children, and I don't see what makes them so unique that no one could have broken the mold before them.

As to the fact that this book is meant for young adults: I can accept that as a reasoning. I probably missed the window when I would have really enjoyed the book, but not everything has to be tuned to my particular demographic. And hey, I watch MLP, so I know what it is to see good in something not targeted to you.

As to the book's literary merit, I would say that I agree with Weezer. The language is simple, and the structure isn't particularly complex. It's not a poorly written work, but it's not literature. And I tend to ignore awards, since I can't see the reasoning behind why they were given. An opinion I can read, to see if I can understand and agree/disagree with it, means more to me than an award does, since it's the equivalent of saying "it is good".


One last thing, on the book's predictive capacity: While I won't say that it got everything wrong, it's hardly the only book to come up with social networks or blogs prior to their appearance on the scene. And what the net is used for in Ender's Game is a little absurd, creating the next protestant schism out of a someone's anonymous postings on the internet. From that point of view, Card got it wrong.

Ravens_cry
2011-12-30, 08:34 PM
I'd say, precisely.

The overwhelming majority of sci-fi in the time never brings up anything like what would occur after the WWW launched in '91. If computers are brought up as a plot device, how many stories deal with the their social media as societal transform force versus simply a source of exposition or dealing with the never realized idea of true AIs as people. Nevermind say a couple of kids using computers casually as a normal thing that's not particularly odd.

If I remember correctly, it wasn't a "normal thing", they had to basically steal their dads password to log on, at least to the upper level stuff. Even when it was published and (presumably) written, it was at least possible for kids to use BBS. It honestly doesn't feel that "predictive" to me as it is largely, at best, an extension of technology that existed in much the form presented. It is like saying Countdown (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countdown_%281968_film%29)"predicted" the moon landings that occurred a year later, as Project Apollo had been at work for most of the decade, and the goal of a moon landing was publicly known.


As for the story, that's phenomenal I can expand my list to two depictions that resonant as predictive. What this isn't a zero sum game, another case can be prescient without detracting anything from this case.

(Heinlein still is probably my champion of being actually predictive for predicting the all volunteer professional military structure. And preventing the waterbed from being patented)
Of course it isn't a zero sum game, I just don't feel Enders Game is much of an example.

Fri
2011-12-30, 08:45 PM
I don't really see any problem about ender's siblings nor the child leader project. For the project, they're specifically engineered to be super leader, it's not that much different than any other super soldier project like captain america or whatever. And isn't it just what they supposed to do when their project didn't manage to make good result? First they made an intelligent guy with too little empathy. Then for the second attempt they made a leader with too much empathy. From the result of the two project, they tweak it a bit to make a guy more perfect. I never see it as anything other beyond that.



- Ender, who my friends laud as some sort of tactical genius, isn't. His final think-outside-the-box solution isn't clever, it's just desperate. Now, admittedly, it took someone to finally do it, assuming you believe that there was no other option, but I don't see why he was so brilliant in his application of it.

The problem is, writers are not actually tactical genius/genius detective/whatchamalit. This is not only problem to Ender's Game, but a lot of other stories about people that are supposed to be super genius. Another example would be sherlock holmes, code geass, death note.

What I always see it is this. It's not supposed to be the point, I put it to suspension of disbelieve. How to explain it...

It's like, we're not supposed to scrutinize it too much. Most of the time, if the author know what's he's doing, the point of the story should be more about the effects of the tactics in the story, rather than about the nitty gritty of the tactics itself.

An example I like to give is if any of you have ever read Death Note. Some people say it's badly written because you're never shown how people got the conclusion in their mind. I say, it's not the point. The comparison is like a mecha show. You're not supposed to mind about the mech's technical technology that much rather than how the mecha if used except if the technical realistic technology or whatever of the mechs/setting is the point of the show. For example, gundam. You're given the basic premise, minovsky particle or GN drive or whatever, then you see it for robots duking it out. Scrutinizing about whether it's realistic is missing the point.

Fri
2011-12-30, 08:46 PM
I don't really see any problem about ender's siblings nor the child leader project. For the project, they're specifically engineered to be super leader, it's not that much different than any other super soldier project like captain america or whatever. And isn't it just what they supposed to do when their project didn't manage to make good result? First they made an intelligent guy with too little empathy. Then for the second attempt they made a leader with too much empathy. From the result of the two project, they tweak it a bit to make a guy more perfect. I never see it as anything other beyond that.



- Ender, who my friends laud as some sort of tactical genius, isn't. His final think-outside-the-box solution isn't clever, it's just desperate. Now, admittedly, it took someone to finally do it, assuming you believe that there was no other option, but I don't see why he was so brilliant in his application of it.

The problem is, writers are not actually tactical genius/genius detective/whatchamalit. This is not only problem to Ender's Game, but a lot of other stories about people that are supposed to be super genius. Another example would be sherlock holmes, code geass, death note.

What I always see it is this. It's not supposed to be the point, I put it to suspension of disbelieve. How to explain it...

It's like, we're not supposed to scrutinize it too much. Most of the time, if the author know what's he's doing, the point of the story should be more about the effects of the tactics in the story, rather than about the nitty gritty of the tactics itself.

An example I like to give is if any of you have ever read Death Note. Some people say it's badly written because you're never shown how people got the conclusion in their mind. I say, it's not the point. The comparison is like a mecha show. You're not supposed to mind about the mech's technical technology that much rather than how the mecha if used except if the technical realistic technology or whatever of the mechs/setting is the point of the show. For example, gundam. You're given the basic premise, minovsky particle or GN drive or whatever, then you see it for robots duking it out. Scrutinizing about whether it's realistic is missing the point.

thedarkstone
2011-12-30, 08:58 PM
Actually, I disagree. I really dislike the terminology 'literature' and 'genre' (mostly due to the connotation that the former is superior to the latter) but it does make a valid distinction. I qualify 'literature' as any book where the use of language, linguistic devices and quality of writing is exceptional and is one of the focuses of the author in writing the book. There are many novels that a strict critic would place in 'genre' that I would classify as literature. Some examples that spring to mind are Donaldson's Gap Cycle and Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, both books are clearly sci-fi (mixed with fantasy in Wolfe's case) but the authors have crafted a work of such objective linguistic quality that they qualify as 'literature' in my book. Ender's Game does not do this, by any stretch of the imagination. It's a damn good book, it's entertaining, contains a great message for both young adults and (to a lesser extent) adults and has some pretty unique elements in it. However the language and quality of the writing is far below that of 'literature'.

It is perfectly fine for Ender's Game to not be literary, genre is not necessarily worse than literature, just like the literature is not automatically superior to genre. They are simply very different things that attempt to accomplish very different goals.
Read Orson Scott Card's foreword in the 10 Anniversary Edition. He states that he wrote it using the language he used on purpose; he wanted it to be understandable to the masses, nor an elite few, the way Hamlet or Heart of Darkness or The Great Gatsby are. So, the reason it doesn't qualify as literature for you is he wanted language to not be a barrier. As for quality, he's gotten much better as he's written more. I will agree that his quality of writing in the first two, at least, wasn't so hot.


Also, while Ender is said to be a good leader, I never really feel like it's shown, nothing he does is that innovative or unique. In a day and age when we already have asymmetric and unconventional warfare, breaking down conventions (which, for the most part, is what Ender does) doesn't strike me as amazing. These are also all children, and I don't see what makes them so unique that no one could have broken the mold before them.
Well, that comes from Orson Scott Card himself not being an excellent leader and strategist. He couldn't write it because he doesn't know it. So, he didn't delve into the details of it. If he were to be able to, you would see it to a higher degree.

EDIT: Yeah, see the above post.


One last thing, on the book's predictive capacity: While I won't say that it got everything wrong, it's hardly the only book to come up with social networks or blogs prior to their appearance on the scene. And what the net is used for in Ender's Game is a little absurd, creating the next protestant schism out of a someone's anonymous postings on the internet. From that point of view, Card got it wrong.
...you know, he didn't actually "get it wrong". This is an example of universe disproportionism; when we read it now, we go in with out bias about what we know. So, just because our internet can't be used like that, we assume it is wrong. In-universe, though, the net isn't used for blogs. It is used by adults for things they need to do for work, or for educational purposes, or what have you. It isn't used for fun that we can tell. So, this is an example of "our internet is different," not "OSC got it wrong".

colonelslime
2011-12-30, 09:04 PM
@fri&thedarkstone, but more in general: That's a fair point, but it doesn't explain why people laud the book as an example of tactics and leadership. This isn't just my friends, googling gets you reports of how businessmen cite it as a leadership teaching tool. If people were treating it as a competent, if not superbly written, sci-fi hero's journey, I'd be willing to leave it at that. But they don't, they laud it as the one of the best sci-fi books ever. And that's where I disagree. I don't like putting works in hierarchies, but I can think of many works that I would place above Ender's Game. And treating it as an example of leadership qualities is a little absurd.

Also, @thedarkstone: No question, his net works for his story, but I don't think you could call it predictive of what came later. That's all I meant by got it wrong.

thedarkstone
2011-12-30, 09:11 PM
@fri&thedarkstone, but more in general: That's a fair point, but it doesn't explain why people laud the book as an example of tactics and leadership. This isn't just my friends, googling gets you reports of how businessmen cite it as a leadership teaching tool. If people were treating it as a competent, if not superbly written, sci-fi hero's journey, I'd be willing to leave it at that. But they don't, they laud it as the one of the best sci-fi books ever. And that's where I disagree. I don't like putting works in hierarchies, but I can think of many works that I would place above Ender's Game. And treating it as an example of leadership qualities is a little absurd.
Well, you'd have to ask those people what they think. Neither of us are qualified to say it isn't, I don't think. They have their reasons. I don't know as it might be an excellent military strategy book, but as for traditional leadership, Ender does show quite a few. I'd have to read the book again to show you the examples and what have you, but yeah. Us arguing is going to get nowhere fast, because we'll go back and forth with nothing on either side to back claims.


Also, @thedarkstone: No question, his net works for his story, but I don't think you could call it predictive of what came later. That's all I meant by got it wrong.
Oh, yeah, that's true. Don't know why you'd feel the need to point it out though. xD

Weezer
2011-12-30, 09:20 PM
Read Orson Scott Card's foreword in the 10 Anniversary Edition. He states that he wrote it using the language he used on purpose; he wanted it to be understandable to the masses, nor an elite few, the way Hamlet or Heart of Darkness or The Great Gatsby are. So, the reason it doesn't qualify as literature for you is he wanted language to not be a barrier. As for quality, he's gotten much better as he's written more. I will agree that his quality of writing in the first two, at least, wasn't so hot.


Okay? That just means that he made a conscious decision (or decided to say 10 years later that it was conscious) not to write literature for whaterver reason. And that kind of choice is a perfectly valid one, especially if you are (as he was) writing for young adults.

colonelslime
2011-12-30, 09:22 PM
Well, you'd have to ask those people what they think. Neither of us are qualified to say it isn't, I don't think. They have their reasons. I don't know as it might be an excellent military strategy book, but as for traditional leadership, Ender does show quite a few. I'd have to read the book again to show you the examples and what have you, but yeah. Us arguing is going to get nowhere fast, because we'll go back and forth with nothing on either side to back claims.

That's true. I'll just say though I've never seen a good rationale for why it would serve as a teaching tool given by anyone who made such claims. But, I bet somewhere, somebody has made a handbook based on it.



Oh, yeah, that's true. Don't know why you'd feel the need to point it out though. xD

Ehh, discussion on the first page. Otherwise, I wouldn't have.

Elfin
2011-12-30, 09:26 PM
No, it really isn't a very good book. You're completely correct.

thedarkstone
2011-12-30, 09:28 PM
{Scrubbed}

Elfin
2011-12-30, 09:34 PM
The plot is contrived and generally unbelievable. It is not very well written, nor is the characterization anything more than mediocre at best. It also, frankly, reads as a right-wing reactionist fantasy.

It is hard not to see the "hive mind" aliens as a thinly-veiled analogy for the Soviets.

Murska
2011-12-30, 09:38 PM
Well, definitions and connotations tend to be troublesome at times. For me, literature means, basically, written stuff. Books and the like. So calling something 'not literature' basically sounds like 'it's trash'. I know this is not what you mean, though, so it's no problem.

As for Ender's Game, I enjoyed several aspects of the book. I liked the Locke and Demosthenes part not so much for the super-realistic portrayal of the internet or the awesome characterization (seeing those arguments myself would've been great) but for the underlying principle of how public opinion is easily manipulated. Similarly, I liked the leadership parts of Ender himself for I'm always interested about different portrayals of leadership and psychology. And I enjoyed the tactics that were shown not because they were particularly super-inventive but because I really, really like tactics and because of the importance of getting people to look at what they're doing and actually think about whether it makes sense to do it this way.

And the story wasn't bad either, really. Not anything that would amaze me, like, say, Ever17, but still entertaining. What I'd have wanted is, mainly, more detail.

Anyway, about teaching leadership... well, some basic principles, sure. But you can't really teach it like that, by reading what leaders should do from books. You can't teach tactics or strategy like that either - specific instances yes (what should Napoleon have done at Waterloo) but not the dynamic decision-making that goes into a real battle. I love tactics and strategy, I play a ton of strategy games because of that reason. And books on strategy and tactics tend to only work if the principles shown are on the very basic level, to break preconceptions about how things work.

For example, Sunzi's Art of War and Machiavelli's Prince both mainly have guidelines that are rather obvious, at least to me. Stuff like, avoid getting ganged upon by a lot of powerful people, avoid destroying what you can capture, don't let the enemy know what you're up to. Why it is important to keep these things in mind is first, because the important thing is remembering to think about these obvious things when applying a plan to a situation, and second, because giving advice on specific situations wouldn't be useful for a book. You're never going to fight the same battle twice, let alone need to know minutiae on what exactly should've been done in some exact situation in the past. Things change.

Ender's Game isn't like the aforementioned two books in that it isn't even meant as a guidebook on leadership. But it's got a bunch of useful pointers that are a bit akin to what can be found in those - mainly behind the lines. Manipulation and leadership are even more difficult qualities to learn from books than strategy and tactics, as the way we interact with other people is really ingrained within our personalities and habits, though. So I wouldn't give it to anyone wishing to know how to lead. Instead I'd point that person to video games, tell them to form a clan in Battlefield 3 or something.

thedarkstone
2011-12-30, 09:49 PM
{Scrubbed}

Elfin
2011-12-30, 10:10 PM
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When used as an adjective, "contrived" means "artificial" or "forced". (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Contrived)

{Scrubbed}


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Maybe that's true. It does not change the fact that the writing is poor – and good writing is not the same thing as complex writing. The best writing is very often the simplest.


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They are rather shallow and not very engaging – though the latter bit is obviously subjective. I don't know where you saw me saying that the children are too smart.


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I mean precisely what I said.


I don't mean to come off as harsh or confrontational. You're free to enjoy the book, but I dislike it. I am certainly not trolling. I definitely don't wish this to escalate.

colonelslime
2011-12-30, 10:21 PM
Not to start the argument up again, but I agree with Elfin.

Mild Spoilers follow
Part of the thing that bothers me about the book is that Ender has this righteousness about his actions when he hurts another student or kills stuff. The hive mind, while an interesting premise, does give him a sort of moral leeway in his final attack, since its kind of implied he's not really killing "many" buggers by detonating the M.D. device. Not that this should necessarily be read into, but it does feel like a convenient moral justification for why Ender isn't an inadvertent monster for doing what he did. What's more, from what I understand (read wiki'd) about speaker of the dead, it seems that he gets the chance to morally absolve himself of the act by saving a formic queen egg. So really, the author contrived of a way for a military order to detonate a super atom bomb and get off without the moral consequences about wiping out another culture

pffh
2011-12-30, 10:28 PM
Not to start the argument up again, but I agree with Elfin.

Mild Spoilers follow
Part of the thing that bothers me about the book is that Ender has this righteousness about his actions when he hurts another student or kills stuff. The hive mind, while an interesting premise, does give him a sort of moral leeway in his final attack, since its kind of implied he's not really killing "many" buggers by detonating the M.D. device. Not that this should necessarily be read into, but it does feel like a convenient moral justification for why Ender isn't an inadvertent monster for doing what he did. What's more, from what I understand (read wiki'd) about speaker of the dead, it seems that he gets the chance to morally absolve himself of the act by saving a formic queen egg. So really, the author contrived of a way for a military order to detonate a super atom bomb and get off without the moral consequences about wiping out another culture

Actually Ender is devistated about what he did and spends the rest of his live trying to make up for it.

Whiffet
2011-12-30, 10:34 PM
I liked the book back when I first read it. I don't like it as much now, but it's still pretty decent. I'm annoyed by people who think it's the best book EVER!! but that doesn't have an effect on the actual quality.


It also, frankly, reads as a right-wing reactionist fantasy.

It is hard not to see the "hive mind" aliens as a thinly-veiled analogy for the Soviets.

I find that hilarious. See, I have family members who are extremely right-wing and they hated the very end.

(spoilering to avoid even hinting at the end in case someone hasn't read it and is reading the thread anyway for some reason)Can't have Ender regretting all those necessary deaths, after all. Sometimes you have to do horrible things to win a war, and you can't encourage sympathy for the enemy in the books you give to children.
Opposing interpretations like that is one reason I have trouble taking "political bias" in certain works seriously. And also why I've never had trouble analyzing literature for classes. :smallbiggrin: That's just one of several directions to pursue when stumped.

thedarkstone
2011-12-30, 10:34 PM
When used as an adjective, "contrived" means "artificial" or "forced". (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Contrived)



{Scrub the post, scrub the quote}



Maybe that's true. It does not change the fact that the writing is poor – and good writing is not the same thing as complex writing. The best writing is very often the simplest.



They are rather shallow and not very engaging – though the latter bit is obviously subjective. I don't know where you saw me saying that the children are too smart.



I mean precisely what I said.


I don't mean to come off as harsh or confrontational. You're free to enjoy the book, but I dislike it. I am certainly not trolling. I definitely don't wish this to escalate.
You're just not really delving into the why of it. You're just saying short little nothings that I can't read anything out of. If you think something, tell me what you think and why you think it, or else I just think you're trolling, because if you have no reason for something, that makes it rather worthless, in my opinion. But, whatever. If you don't have anything to add to actually make this an intellectual discussion, then I'm done talking with you.


Not to start the argument up again, but I agree with Elfin.

Mild Spoilers follow
Part of the thing that bothers me about the book is that Ender has this righteousness about his actions when he hurts another student or kills stuff. The hive mind, while an interesting premise, does give him a sort of moral leeway in his final attack, since its kind of implied he's not really killing "many" buggers by detonating the M.D. device. Not that this should necessarily be read into, but it does feel like a convenient moral justification for why Ender isn't an inadvertent monster for doing what he did. What's more, from what I understand (read wiki'd) about speaker of the dead, it seems that he gets the chance to morally absolve himself of the act by saving a formic queen egg. So really, the author contrived of a way for a military order to detonate a super atom bomb and get off without the moral consequences about wiping out another culture
I'm just gonna spoiler this in case.Ah, I see where you are coming from with that. But, in his mind, he justifies it because of that, which is another part of OSC's wonderful writing ability and characterization; he justifies his actions because that is what humans do. When he discovers there's a living hive queen, I'm pretty sure--no, absolutely certain he cries. He was carrying the burden of knowing he had destroyed an entire civilized race, but now, he finds (years later) that he didn't actually wipe them out.

I mean, he views his own actions as monstrous, but he keeps himself sane by justifying them in his own mind, and then, after that point, makes a vow not to willingly harm another being like that again. And then keeps that vow, even almost getting beaten to death to do so. Sorry if that seems off topic, it seemed relevant to me.

And, to rebut that the author contrived a way for the military to get away with it without the moral consequences, Ender doesn't let anyone know about the Hive Queen, including the universe, until several thousand years (three thousand, actually) in the future (due to space travel and subjective time and all that relativity junk). So, they really didn't get away with it, except justifying to themselves that it was to keep humanity alive that it was done.

Soras Teva Gee
2011-12-30, 10:36 PM
Not to start the argument up again, but I agree with Elfin.

Mild Spoilers follow
Part of the thing that bothers me about the book is that Ender has this righteousness about his actions when he hurts another student or kills stuff. The hive mind, while an interesting premise, does give him a sort of moral leeway in his final attack, since its kind of implied he's not really killing "many" buggers by detonating the M.D. device. Not that this should necessarily be read into, but it does feel like a convenient moral justification for why Ender isn't an inadvertent monster for doing what he did. What's more, from what I understand (read wiki'd) about speaker of the dead, it seems that he gets the chance to morally absolve himself of the act by saving a formic queen egg. So really, the author contrived of a way for a military order to detonate a super atom bomb and get off without the moral consequences about wiping out another culture

My God you need to read Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind.

Put simply: you are wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

Weezer
2011-12-30, 10:40 PM
My God you need to read Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind.

Put simply: you are wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

He's wrong on that count, yes. But on the other hand Card's political ideology does start to come through more and more as the series progressed.

Soras Teva Gee
2011-12-30, 10:42 PM
He's wrong on that count, yes. But on the other hand Card's political ideology does start to come through more and more as the series progressed.

No it doesn't there are only four books in the series.

For that exact reason among other, the Bean turds are excrement. He broke what didn't need fixing.

Weezer
2011-12-30, 10:47 PM
No it doesn't there are only four books in the series.

For that exact reason among other, the Bean turds are excrement. He broke what didn't need fixing.

When did I say anything different?

EDIT: Just saw the white text, I was mostly talking about the last two books of the Ender series. Sure it doesn't get quite near as bad as the Shadow series, but the subtext is still there.

Fri
2011-12-30, 10:50 PM
To put it simply, and I think this is not enough of a spoiler, in the future, ender's name become a curse word, he's thought to be one of the worst villain in history, and he spent his whole life trying to redeem that genocide.

Soras Teva Gee
2011-12-30, 10:53 PM
When did I say anything different?

Right well then I disagree on the for, its nothing I'd sort strictly politically. Mainly because there is still a level of subtlety and balance to everything, which is frankly the death of political author tracts.

Elfin
2011-12-30, 11:05 PM
You're just not really delving into the why of it.

You could say that perfectly well without slinging around insults as you do.

And you're right, I am not. In-depth discussion of the book is not my interest, because frankly I do not think it a book worth serious discussion. Our aims are different: I merely wished, after reading the thread, to pitch in my support of the OP's arguments. Perhaps I misjudged the thread's temperament; I did not anticipate or desire the engagement that you seem insistent on seeking.

thedarkstone
2011-12-30, 11:13 PM
You could say that perfectly well without slinging around insults as you do.

And you're right, I am not. In-depth discussion of the book is not my interest, because frankly I do not think it a book worth serious discussion. Our aims are different: I merely wished, after reading the thread, to pitch in my support of the OP's arguments. Perhaps I misjudged the thread's temperament; I did not anticipate or desire the engagement that you seem insistent on seeking.
All right then, I respect that. Apologies for any insults; I usually assume that people want to add towards a more meaningful conversation more often than not. I did not realize you intentionally did not delve into the why; that possibility eluded me as a choice.

H Birchgrove
2011-12-31, 03:32 AM
Technically, SF is a sub-genre to the genre prose novel, which is a form of epic (originally poetic, like the Iliad).

That literature is easy to understand doesn't mean it's "less" literature. The Nobel laurate of this year, Tomas Tranströmer, has been applauded for his relatively easy to understand lyrics.

Lord Seth
2011-12-31, 03:37 AM
Read Orson Scott Card's foreword in the 10 Anniversary Edition. He states that he wrote it using the language he used on purpose; he wanted it to be understandable to the masses, nor an elite few, the way Hamlet or Heart of Darkness or The Great Gatsby are.Wasn't Hamlet written for the masses?

Drolyt
2011-12-31, 04:58 AM
Well, personally I loved Ender's Game. Point by point. I also saw the ending coming, but I still loved it. Obviously he isn't really a tactical genius, because Card isn't really a tactical genius. This is a universal problem with all genius characters in fiction, unless you go the Hollywood route and just say they are smart and let them magically find the answer to everything without explanation. Especially if you are yourself intelligent you kind of have to just go with it or you will never be able to accept smart characters in fiction. Oddly, I never saw him as a character I could relate to. Not because I wasn't a super smart child, I was. But Ender is unrealistically so, he's just a child but somehow he and his siblings are the smartest people in the world. I can see how some people would project onto him, but really I think that requires a rather massive ego, I am confident in my abilities but I'm fairly certain that no matter how bright a child you are you can't surpass an adult expert in their own field. Ender's siblings were my least favorite part of the book. Really, the world and the situation is rather contrived, but that doesn't bother me. It serves as a vehicle for the story of Ender and his psychology and struggles, and that is what the story is all about.

So I guess what I'm saying is that while everything you say is essentially true, I'm not getting how it is that they make the story any less awesome. They are just hangups you have that are preventing you from enjoying the story. Note that I don't mean that negatively, I've never known anyone, even myself, that doesn't have some things he fails to enjoy for completely stupid reasons. I just don't think those reasons are valid criticisms of the work, but it is fine if you don't like the book.

Newman
2011-12-31, 05:26 AM
One last thing, on the book's predictive capacity: While I won't say that it got everything wrong, it's hardly the only book to come up with social networks or blogs prior to their appearance on the scene. And what the net is used for in Ender's Game is a little absurd, creating the next protestant schism out of a someone's anonymous postings on the internet. From that point of view, Card got it wrong.


Since you're bringing up protestantism, how is what his brothers did different from Luther nailing his protests on the door of a church?

Tirian
2011-12-31, 05:27 AM
That literature is easy to understand doesn't mean it's "less" literature. The Nobel laurate of this year, Tomas Tranströmer, has been applauded for his relatively easy to understand lyrics.

My personal lack of affection for Ender's Game is not so much about the writing style as the artificial construction. The concept that the world is in a peril that can only be relieved by abusing children across the physical and emotional spectrum is an extraordinary claim. I suspect I would have been more engaged reading the book if it had been made clear to me exactly why it was necessary, what the game had to do with the larger cause, and the genius that Ender was showing that made him such a good fit for the ultimate problem. There is evidently a large audience that is willing to grant these points to Card and who in turn adore this book. I don't fault them for suspending their disbelief, but neither do I fault the readers who couldn't.

Anteros
2011-12-31, 07:06 AM
The problem with writing a book about someone who is supposed to be a genius, is that the author is not. It's hard to even comprehend the thought processes of someone who is much smarter than you. Much less portray them realistically to an audience. Ender's genius is something we have to accept simply because the author tells us to.

Personally I enjoyed the school bits, but thought the actual war was ham-fisted and obvious. It's good entertainment, and that's about it. I'd honestly put it on a literary level with something like Twilight, except it appeals to a vastly different audience.

Tyndmyr
2011-12-31, 08:37 AM
In the Shadow series, we find out that "Peter is too angry/violent" is a lie that they told Peter, Ender, etc.

The real reason was that he lacked personal warmth- the ability to evoke loyalty and devotion.

Yeah. I really feel that some of the criticisms are at least partially negated in the sequel. For instance, the whole specialness of Ender is rather less unique that it may appear there. The Bean books are pretty awesome.

On the topic of Card...he's great when writing about children, generally speaking. When he's not, he's entirely skippable.



It's not a question of technology, it's how it was used. Despite getting technology desperately wrong, the societal impact in a story (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Logic_Named_Joe) written almost two score year before Enders Game is much closer to what eventually occurred

I got as far as "developed sapience" before breaking into laughter.

The idea that people can parley intelligence into power by using the internet for an audience isn't all that weird to me. People do this thing now. Having lots and lots of readers IS power. See also, Penny Arcade. Sure, the book may have overestimated that, but it's still a helluva lot more realistic than artificial intelligence at this point.



Also, while Ender is said to be a good leader, I never really feel like it's shown, nothing he does is that innovative or unique. In a day and age when we already have asymmetric and unconventional warfare, breaking down conventions (which, for the most part, is what Ender does) doesn't strike me as amazing. These are also all children, and I don't see what makes them so unique that no one could have broken the mold before them.

It's a helluva lot easier to describe something than it is to do it. This basically a cross between air traffic controller and battlefield commander. Most genius things that have been done in the past are on this level. Most generals are unable to do anything really amazingly genius...not because they're dumb, but because they are dealing with a LOT of problems.

It's pretty reasonable for anything written by someone who isn't a master strategist themselves. It at least makes sense. So often, the "out of the box" ideas meant to show a heroes brilliance are...brain dead. Nobody would use them because they are trivially stupid. Now that can ruin a book/movie for me.


@fri&thedarkstone, but more in general: That's a fair point, but it doesn't explain why people laud the book as an example of tactics and leadership. This isn't just my friends, googling gets you reports of how businessmen cite it as a leadership teaching tool.

Businessmen also treat the Art of War as a leadership teaching tool. Have you read this book? I suspect you'll also be greatly disappointed, as the things it covers are...extremely basic for anyone interested in strategy. I'm sure that, at the time, they were great, and thus it's an important historical book and a useful tool for those who DONT understand strategy...but "learning tools for business leadership" include such ridiculous things as "who took my cheese". I suspect your expectations are rather higher than the standards of reality.


The plot is contrived and generally unbelievable. It is not very well written, nor is the characterization anything more than mediocre at best. It also, frankly, reads as a right-wing reactionist fantasy.

It is hard not to see the "hive mind" aliens as a thinly-veiled analogy for the Soviets.

Sooo....you haven't read the sequels, I take it?

I'm tempted to go further here, but it's really hard to argue against an inherently political argument without pushing the boundaries of political discussion. That said...if you're seeing it as a right-wing reactionist fantasy, you must see a LOT of things that way, since you're using some very, very broad stuff to make it vaguely fit that mold. This ain't Atlas Shrugged, here.


Someone who finds the book engaging certainly has no genius in any sort of literary sense.

Let's avoid the personal judgements based on what people like, please? Just because I enjoy a specific thing does not make me less intelligent or literary than you.


Not to start the argument up again, but I agree with Elfin.

Mild Spoilers follow
Part of the thing that bothers me about the book is that Ender has this righteousness about his actions when he hurts another student or kills stuff. The hive mind, while an interesting premise, does give him a sort of moral leeway in his final attack, since its kind of implied he's not really killing "many" buggers by detonating the M.D. device. Not that this should necessarily be read into, but it does feel like a convenient moral justification for why Ender isn't an inadvertent monster for doing what he did. What's more, from what I understand (read wiki'd) about speaker of the dead, it seems that he gets the chance to morally absolve himself of the act by saving a formic queen egg. So really, the author contrived of a way for a military order to detonate a super atom bomb and get off without the moral consequences about wiping out another culture

Most people do. People who do violence, etc generally justify it in their own minds. Very, very few people see themselves as a bad man. Humans follow very notable patterns after doing something they believe to be wrong, and justification, at least to yourself, is a HUGE part of that. Someone not doing that would be far, far more notable and strange.

Also, you really, really need to read the sequels before coming to this conclusion. These things you feel are avoided or skipped over are...pretty frigging central to the sequels.

Megaduck
2011-12-31, 09:58 AM
Ender's Game is one of those books that I used to really like but now that I'm older I see a lot more of the flaws in it. Not that it bad, it's just a young adult children's book and I've outgrown it.

If your willing to shut your brain down and just enjoy the ride it's pretty good.

The big problem I have with it now is that Ender is he doesn't have to take responsibility to anything in the book, might be intelligent but isn't wise (Understandably given his age.), and worst of all, has the people skills of a rock. All of which means he's rather annoying to my adult self, I want to shake him a few times in the book and say grow up!

Drolyt
2011-12-31, 10:14 AM
I want to shake him a few times in the book and say grow up!
He's like ten. The fact that he actually comes across as a kid is something I praise the book for.

H Birchgrove
2011-12-31, 10:16 AM
My personal lack of affection for Ender's Game is not so much about the writing style as the artificial construction. The concept that the world is in a peril that can only be relieved by abusing children across the physical and emotional spectrum is an extraordinary claim. I suspect I would have been more engaged reading the book if it had been made clear to me exactly why it was necessary, what the game had to do with the larger cause, and the genius that Ender was showing that made him such a good fit for the ultimate problem. There is evidently a large audience that is willing to grant these points to Card and who in turn adore this book. I don't fault them for suspending their disbelief, but neither do I fault the readers who couldn't.

This is highly probable. :smallsmile:

I haven't read the book yet. :smallsmile:

Megaduck
2011-12-31, 10:25 AM
He's like ten. The fact that he actually comes across as a kid is something I praise the book for.

Yes, I know. As I mentioned in my post I understand why he often acts immature, doesn't make it any less annoying to read through.

Brother Oni
2011-12-31, 10:59 AM
I recently read the book for the first time and there's only one real niggle I have:

Ender apparently being able to accidentally kill other children in hand to hand combat (twice!). If all playground fights were as lethal as that, schools would be scenes of carnage (well more so than they are now with the various shootings and murders).

As for why the whole world seems to be pinning their hopes on a specially trained child, bear in mind he's been subjected to harsh tactical and physical training from a very young age, plus that training has been specifically in zero gravity tactics and strategy.

You may say that he doesn't have the experience of a properly trained adult military analyst/strategist, but I'd argue that he doesn't have the same intellectual baggage as the aforementioned adult.
I think somebody else mentioned Mazer and the reasons why he didn't take command were explained in the book.

Anteros
2011-12-31, 09:00 PM
I recently read the book for the first time and there's only one real niggle I have:

Ender apparently being able to accidentally kill other children in hand to hand combat (twice!). If all playground fights were as lethal as that, schools would be scenes of carnage (well more so than they are now with the various shootings and murders).

As for why the whole world seems to be pinning their hopes on a specially trained child, bear in mind he's been subjected to harsh tactical and physical training from a very young age, plus that training has been specifically in zero gravity tactics and strategy.

You may say that he doesn't have the experience of a properly trained adult military analyst/strategist, but I'd argue that he doesn't have the same intellectual baggage as the aforementioned adult.
I think somebody else mentioned Mazer and the reasons why he didn't take command were explained in the book.

One of the first things you learn when you take command of troops is the concept of acceptable losses. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief on this because otherwise the book falls apart...but honestly it's completely unrealistic and falls apart if you examine it even within the confines of the book itself.

What about the ships that Ender was ordering? Who was piloting them? Who was actually following the orders? Apparently someone who was able to accept the idea that he was going to have to lead others to their deaths for a greater goal. Unless you think those ships were staffed with children as well?

readsaboutd&d
2012-01-02, 08:01 AM
About the lack of military genius, I've read a fair bit of military history and I find that most great strategists just made strings of pretty good and fairly clever decisions as opposed to some incredibly convoluted and unexpected "strategical genius". Also, Ender is in a simplified tactical situation for the entire book so its appropriate that his plans are fairly simple, he doesnt have as many factors to manipulate as a real general would.

Brother Oni
2012-01-02, 09:14 AM
What about the ships that Ender was ordering? Who was piloting them? Who was actually following the orders? Apparently someone who was able to accept the idea that he was going to have to lead others to their deaths for a greater goal. Unless you think those ships were staffed with children as well?

Technically speaking, Ender was in command of the overall strategy, all the tactical level stuff he left to his sub commanders.

He's fully aware of acceptable losses from back in his time in the school (charging out legs first to prevent the shooting arm being immobilised, or sending 'suicide' troops in madly spinning around to deal enough damage/distraction to get the rest of his people into position).

It could be argued that the top level strategist shouldn't be burdened with the knowledge that there's real people represented by those little icons he's directing round, especially since his emotional maturity, while carefully monitored, is still of a relatively unknown quantity.

Again, the individual ship captains are part of those who put their entire faith into the command and strategy abilities of a group of children. The crews have their faith in the captain, or at least, follow the chain of command.

Soras Teva Gee
2012-01-02, 10:45 PM
Technically speaking, Ender was in command of the overall strategy, all the tactical level stuff he left to his sub commanders.

He's fully aware of acceptable losses from back in his time in the school (charging out legs first to prevent the shooting arm being immobilised, or sending 'suicide' troops in madly spinning around to deal enough damage/distraction to get the rest of his people into position).

It could be argued that the top level strategist shouldn't be burdened with the knowledge that there's real people represented by those little icons he's directing round, especially since his emotional maturity, while carefully monitored, is still of a relatively unknown quantity.

Again, the individual ship captains are part of those who put their entire faith into the command and strategy abilities of a group of children. The crews have their faith in the captain, or at least, follow the chain of command.

I might argue whether Ender had any strategic involvement. He never had to pick say when, where, or if to attack.

The level he was generally at was a tactical one, just a higher layer of it. He was obviously capable of taking over any particular part directly just that doing so would reduce his ability to manage the whole battle. Given the amount of persons involved we can probably discern a couple of layers of command present.

Also he did have to work up to that level.

Caewil
2012-01-03, 10:12 AM
I might argue whether Ender had any strategic involvement. He never had to pick say when, where, or if to attack.

The level he was generally at was a tactical one, just a higher layer of it. He was obviously capable of taking over any particular part directly just that doing so would reduce his ability to manage the whole battle. Given the amount of persons involved we can probably discern a couple of layers of command present.

Also he did have to work up to that level.
Given the limitations of FTL in that universe, Ender couldn't have made those decisions, nor could anyone else at the time they began attacking. The decisions of when and where to attack were made 20 years earlier and without much knowledge of the disposition and size of bugger forces. Those ships had to attack or they would be wasted - none could be re-deployed in time to make a different attack.

Soras Teva Gee
2012-01-03, 11:09 AM
Given the limitations of FTL in that universe, Ender couldn't have made those decisions, nor could anyone else at the time they began attacking. The decisions of when and where to attack were made 20 years earlier and without much knowledge of the disposition and size of bugger forces. Those ships had to attack or they would be wasted - none could be re-deployed in time to make a different attack.

True but I think my point remains, Ender was still ultimately a tactical commander.

Anteros
2012-01-03, 11:58 AM
Technically speaking, Ender was in command of the overall strategy, all the tactical level stuff he left to his sub commanders.

He's fully aware of acceptable losses from back in his time in the school (charging out legs first to prevent the shooting arm being immobilised, or sending 'suicide' troops in madly spinning around to deal enough damage/distraction to get the rest of his people into position).

It could be argued that the top level strategist shouldn't be burdened with the knowledge that there's real people represented by those little icons he's directing round, especially since his emotional maturity, while carefully monitored, is still of a relatively unknown quantity.

Again, the individual ship captains are part of those who put their entire faith into the command and strategy abilities of a group of children. The crews have their faith in the captain, or at least, follow the chain of command.

My point was that those captains are entirely capable of performing their duties, and then sending their crew to their deaths when needed. Thus the entire concept of needing someone who is unaware that they are commanding people to their deaths to be effective is silly. It contradicts itself right in the book.

Newman
2012-01-03, 03:55 PM
My point was that those captains are entirely capable of performing their duties, and then sending their crew to their deaths when needed. Thus the entire concept of needing someone who is unaware that they are commanding people to their deaths to be effective is silly. It contradicts itself right in the book.

No it isn't, if you don't want that person to be either an amoral sociopath or completely torn up on the inside, which is explicitly the sort of profile they wish to avoid. Schneizel "We Have Reserves" El Britannia types may be an awesome strategists, but I'd never trust him with leadership.

Binks
2012-01-03, 04:15 PM
My point was that those captains are entirely capable of performing their duties, and then sending their crew to their deaths when needed. Thus the entire concept of needing someone who is unaware that they are commanding people to their deaths to be effective is silly. It contradicts itself right in the book.

Mildly spoilery
It is never once said in the books that someone who is unaware of the that they're commanding people to their deaths was needed. Just that Ender couldn't know. It's clearly stated that Mazer led the fleet to victory with the knowledge that he was ordering people to their deaths years ago, and that he doesn't think he could do it now. It's also stated that they don't believe Ender, a 10 year old kid, could order people to their deaths, an entirely reasonable assumption.

It's not 'We need a kid who doesn't know' but rather 'We need a genius, and if it's a kid we probably don't want to tell them'. It's Ender's genius that makes him the commander, not his lack of knowledge that it's not a game, that's just to make him better by distancing him from his subordinates.

Weezer
2012-01-03, 04:24 PM
No it isn't, if you don't want that person to be either an amoral sociopath or completely torn up on the inside, which is explicitly the sort of profile they wish to avoid. Schneizel "We Have Reserves" El Britannia types may be an awesome strategists, but I'd never trust him with leadership.

The thing is that we have throughout history had military strategists willing to make the sacrifices necessary to win campaigns while both not being amoral sociopaths and avoiding crippling guilt (at least until later). It's just an odd (and empirically wrong) message, the idea that only someone being kept ignorant of the sacrifices they are ordering their men to make can actually give those orders is downright false. It has happened time and time again in history, from Grant in the Civil War to Rommel in WWII. Otherwise stable people have given orders resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians.

thedarkstone
2012-01-03, 05:24 PM
The thing is that we have throughout history had military strategists willing to make the sacrifices necessary to win campaigns while both not being amoral sociopaths and avoiding crippling guilt (at least until later). It's just an odd (and empirically wrong) message, the idea that only someone being kept ignorant of the sacrifices they are ordering their men to make can actually give those orders is downright false. It has happened time and time again in history, from Grant in the Civil War to Rommel in WWII. Otherwise stable people have given orders resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians.
See Binks' post. It will help you a lot.

Drolyt
2012-01-03, 07:55 PM
The thing is that we have throughout history had military strategists willing to make the sacrifices necessary to win campaigns while both not being amoral sociopaths and avoiding crippling guilt (at least until later). It's just an odd (and empirically wrong) message, the idea that only someone being kept ignorant of the sacrifices they are ordering their men to make can actually give those orders is downright false. It has happened time and time again in history, from Grant in the Civil War to Rommel in WWII. Otherwise stable people have given orders resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians.
What? There was never any suggestion that commanders couldn't know they were ordering people to their death. After all that is essentially what all the higher ups were doing. They just didn't want a ******* child to know that he was being made to do that.

Weezer
2012-01-03, 08:11 PM
What? There was never any suggestion that commanders couldn't know they were ordering people to their death. After all that is essentially what all the higher ups were doing. They just didn't want a ******* child to know that he was being made to do that.

Actually, that's exactly what Newman said in the post I quoted. But yes, protecting kids from knowing they are actually sending people to their deaths makes a lot of sense (which is then undermined by the fact that Card lets everyone else know in Ender's Shadow, but that's besides the point).

Drolyt
2012-01-03, 08:14 PM
Actually, that's exactly what Newman said in the post I quoted. But yes, protecting kids from knowing they are actually sending people to their deaths makes a lot of sense (which is then undermined by the fact that Card lets everyone else know in Ender's Shadow, but that's besides the point).
Fair enough, I must have missed that. I'm not sure where Newman got that idea, it wasn't in the book.

Newman
2012-01-04, 05:38 AM
Fair enough, I must have missed that. I'm not sure where Newman got that idea, it wasn't in the book.

It wasn't? Strange, I could have sworn it was the whole point...


Otherwise stable people have given orders resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians.

Monkeysphere factor aside, I'm really not too sure about that. "Otherwise stable" can mean a lot of things: there are torturers and career killers and terrorists that have incredibly stable family lives.

Killer Angel
2012-01-04, 07:36 AM
I've read the short story (1977) and i was never particularly interested reading the remake in book form.
Still, there's someone who knows both the versions and can give an evaluation of the differences (pros and cons)?

Binks
2012-01-04, 01:12 PM
(which is then undermined by the fact that Card lets everyone else know in Ender's Shadow, but that's besides the point).

Everyone? Unless my memory is off, the only one who knew was Bean. Most of the others may have suspected, but they never outright believed it until it was all over.

Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't there a scene where Bean tells the others this is real and they all deny it or something? I may be misremembering, Shadow is probably the look I've read least recently, but that was always the impression I had, that the others may have had the possibility it was real closer to mind but didn't actually believe it.

thedarkstone
2012-01-04, 02:10 PM
I've read the short story (1977) and i was never particularly interested reading the remake in book form.
Still, there's someone who knows both the versions and can give an evaluation of the differences (pros and cons)?
I would say it is worth it to at least read the novel; the writing style is not the best (he improves greatly in his later works), but the novel itself is, at the very least, worth reading. Even if you decide you don't like it, it is worth your time to read. Another can give you direct pros and cons; I've never been that great at it.

Again, not saying it's the greatest book in the world, but it is an engaging read, and I think it is worth almost anyone's time to read.

Weezer
2012-01-04, 02:45 PM
Everyone? Unless my memory is off, the only one who knew was Bean. Most of the others may have suspected, but they never outright believed it until it was all over.

Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't there a scene where Bean tells the others this is real and they all deny it or something? I may be misremembering, Shadow is probably the look I've read least recently, but that was always the impression I had, that the others may have had the possibility it was real closer to mind but didn't actually believe it.

I'm almost certain that Bean tells them all and they believe it, I think it was right before the final battle.

pendell
2012-01-04, 03:13 PM
Re-reading this thread several days into it, I have a few comments:

1) Ender's game is general-interest SF, not military SF. I just wiki'd, and OSC has no military experience.

So it shouldn't be surprising that Ender isn't recognizable as a military genius by people with real military experience. OSC himself isn't a military genius, or even necessarily competent in a military sense. For that you have to look at authors like David Drake. His 'military genius' is something that's part of the suspension of disbelief.

2) While the idea of using online writings to influence world opinion was a little over-the-top, it is true that both political blogs and social media have had a massive effect on our politics. Case in point: Back in February 2008, in the American presidential election, one candidate used social media for his fundraising while his opponent used traditional fundraising. The social media candidate raised $55 million to $11 million.

While forum rules prohibit me from discussing things in more detail, surely everyone with access to news media is aware of major protest movements in the past few years. Those protests, regardless of location, have owed much of their success to social media. And of course everyone has heard of flash mobs.

So I don't think OSC was wrong in his portrayal of Demosthenes and Locke. If anything, I think the idea of a few people in their basement influencing world political opinion to be at least as believable as an eight year old military genius.

3) One glaring flaw in Enders' game is the willingness of humans to accept Demosthenes, Locke, and Ender as leaders. All three of them are faceless, voiceless characters who interact with other people primarily through communications devices or computers, yet somehow inspire fanatical loyalty. Real humans don't do that -- real humans prefer face-to-face.

4) Ender's Game as leadership training? Really? What mad person thinks that psychologically wrecking an eight-year-old child could possibly be training for anything?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

The Glyphstone
2012-01-04, 03:43 PM
Re-reading this thread several days into it, I have a few comments:

1) Ender's game is general-interest SF, not military SF. I just wiki'd, and OSC has no military experience.

So it shouldn't be surprising that Ender isn't recognizable as a military genius by people with real military experience. OSC himself isn't a military genius, or even necessarily competent in a military sense. For that you have to look at authors like David Drake. His 'military genius' is something that's part of the suspension of disbelief.



While I don't disagree with your premise (Ender's Game isn't military sci-fi), you are making a somewhat fallacious connection here in equating 'military sci-fi' with 'writer has military experience'. To pick another prominent Baen author, I doubt anyone would seriously argue that David Weber doesn't write naval sci-fi despite his never having served in the Navy.

Brother Oni
2012-01-04, 03:55 PM
4) Ender's Game as leadership training? Really? What mad person thinks that psychologically wrecking an eight-year-old child could possibly be training for anything?

It's not the overall theme of breaking down an 8 year old but what that 8-year old undergoes.

The book goes into quite a lot of detail about how Ender was treated and how he subsequently treats those under his command (Ender even comments on it himself when he gets his own group and how he treats Bean), which is probably what the leadership insights are derived from.

pendell
2012-01-05, 09:11 AM
While I don't disagree with your premise (Ender's Game isn't military sci-fi), you are making a somewhat fallacious connection here in equating 'military sci-fi' with 'writer has military experience'. To pick another prominent Baen author, I doubt anyone would seriously argue that David Weber doesn't write naval sci-fi despite his never having served in the Navy.

I concede the point. My fallback is that Orson Scott Card is not David Weber. David Weber ripped off the Horatio Hornblower series down to the initials of the protaganist and launched it into space. So naturally the Honor Harrington series has a much harder naval edge than Ender's game does. David Weber Did The Research in a military sense. I don't get the same impression from Ender's Game. It looks as if the insights were based primarily on game theory and on his experiences in school environments rather than the actual military, whether that is derived from first hand experience or extensive research.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

The Glyphstone
2012-01-05, 09:40 AM
I concede the point. My fallback is that Orson Scott Card is not David Weber. David Weber ripped off the Horatio Hornblower series down to the initials of the protaganist and launched it into space. So naturally the Honor Harrington series has a much harder naval edge than Ender's game does. David Weber Did The Research in a military sense. I don't get the same impression from Ender's Game. It looks as if the insights were based primarily on game theory and on his experiences in school environments rather than the actual military, whether that is derived from first hand experience or extensive research.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Fair enough - any quibble I could make to that would be the dividing line between 'ripoff' and 'loving homage' (said protagonist reads a Horatio Hornblower novel at one point, after all), which isn't the topic of the thread. EG uses the military as a framing device or background element rather than any actual plot-critical aspect - if anything, EG would be 'military school fiction'.

I don't know if OSC derived his ideas from first-hand experience or research, but I do remember from one of the author's forewords (in either the anniversary edition of EG itself or Ender In Exile) that he had gotten a lot of letters from readers praising how accurately he depicted genius children and how they interacted with each other. While his story's military foundations are bunk and the basic premise of the story is questionable, he apparently nailed the psychological aspects dead-on.

Newman
2012-01-05, 10:18 AM
It looks as if the insights were based primarily on game theory and on his experiences in school environments rather than the actual military, whether that is derived from first hand experience or extensive research.



I don't know if OSC derived his ideas from first-hand experience or research, but I do remember from one of the author's forewords (in either the anniversary edition of EG itself or Ender In Exile) that he had gotten a lot of letters from readers praising how accurately he depicted genius children and how they interacted with each other. While his story's military foundations are bunk and the basic premise of the story is questionable, he apparently nailed the psychological aspects dead-on.

What are the odds of someone having both backgrounds?

Kris on a Stick
2012-01-05, 10:21 AM
I'm almost certain that Bean tells them all and they believe it, I think it was right before the final battle.

It was right after, actually. Someone (Crazy Tom IIRC) wonders whether a planet blowing up like that could ever happen in real life, and Bean tells them it just did. No one believes it at first, until Graff confirms it.
Bean was the only one who knew (barring adults of course) what was going on during the battle itself.

Alex Star
2012-01-06, 10:49 AM
The main problem with Enders Game is that it's really an infant narrative comparitively.

Think of it in terms of the first 50-100 strips of OoTS or the first Harry Potter Book, naturally these are lacking much of the refinement and development that is seen in later books in the Enderverse.

Anteros
2012-01-06, 12:55 PM
Fair enough - any quibble I could make to that would be the dividing line between 'ripoff' and 'loving homage' (said protagonist reads a Horatio Hornblower novel at one point, after all), which isn't the topic of the thread. EG uses the military as a framing device or background element rather than any actual plot-critical aspect - if anything, EG would be 'military school fiction'.

I don't know if OSC derived his ideas from first-hand experience or research, but I do remember from one of the author's forewords (in either the anniversary edition of EG itself or Ender In Exile) that he had gotten a lot of letters from readers praising how accurately he depicted genius children and how they interacted with each other. While his story's military foundations are bunk and the basic premise of the story is questionable, he apparently nailed the psychological aspects dead-on.

So he says. Personally, that little bit came off as if not an outright lie, at least needless bragging. It definitely made me roll my eyes when I read it.

deuterio12
2012-01-06, 01:35 PM
So he says. Personally, that little bit came off as if not an outright lie, at least needless bragging. It definitely made me roll my eyes when I read it.

Indeed, since Ender's game is the story about a kid who'll murder his own colleagues with his naked hands out of petty grudges. Since when does that qualify as "nailed the psychological aspects dead-on"?

Synovia
2012-01-06, 02:11 PM
Indeed, since Ender's game is the story about a kid who'll murder his own colleagues with his naked hands out of petty grudges. Since when does that qualify as "nailed the psychological aspects dead-on"?

Who does he murder out of a grudge? The only times I remember him killing were in self defense, and in cases where it was the only way it was going to end.


And if you don't think kids are spiteful, you don't know kids.

The Glyphstone
2012-01-06, 02:22 PM
So he says. Personally, that little bit came off as if not an outright lie, at least needless bragging. It definitely made me roll my eyes when I read it.

Um, he didn't say that, I did. He said the bit about fan letters praising his depiction of genius children.


Indeed, since Ender's game is the story about a kid who'll murder his own colleagues with his naked hands out of petty grudges. Since when does that qualify as "nailed the psychological aspects dead-on"?

If you think either of Ender's murders were from a grudge, either you've never read the book or...I don't know, you think the author and the character are both lying about his motives? Stilson was psychological dominance over the other bullies, winning the current fight and every other fight with them in the future right then - utter near-sociopathic ruthlessness is not 'a petty grudge', though it is abhorrent to see in a young child. Bonso was literally and self-admittedly intending to murder or permanently cripple Ender...it was his 'petty grudge' that Ender was defending himself against, and it wasn't even the extended brutality of Stilson either, just a single fatal strike.

Stick pre-pubescent children in an isolated environment with harsh discipline and enforced competitiveness, particularly children who were pre-selected for both brilliance and a certain degree of sociopathy, and you would get something more like competing packs of wolves than a rational human society, which sums up Battle School pretty well.

Drolyt
2012-01-06, 04:11 PM
Indeed, since Ender's game is the story about a kid who'll murder his own colleagues with his naked hands out of petty grudges. Since when does that qualify as "nailed the psychological aspects dead-on"?
Um... I'm not positive what book you've read, but that never happens. He only ever killed two kids, in self defence, by accident (he doesn't even know he killed them), and they weren't his colleagues.

thedarkstone
2012-01-06, 04:18 PM
Um... I'm not positive what book you've read, but that never happens. He only ever killed two kids, in self defence, by accident (he doesn't even know he killed them), and they weren't his colleagues.
Didn't. At the time, he didn't realize he killed them. But he finds out, what, the end of the book? At the time of the personal attack against him disguised as a court martial against Graff?

The Glyphstone
2012-01-06, 04:48 PM
And when he does find out, it screws him up pretty bad for a while.

deuterio12
2012-01-06, 04:49 PM
Stick pre-pubescent children in an isolated environment with harsh discipline and enforced competitiveness, particularly children who were pre-selected for both brilliance and a certain degree of sociopathy, and you would get something more like competing packs of wolves than a rational human society, which sums up Battle School pretty well.

Except wolves fight among themselves for dominance, not for killing each other. That goes doubly when there's a common enemy.

The fact that Ender falls to killing with his naked hands when there's a bazillion other things he could've done to solve the problem shows that, if anything, his "brilliance" is lower than a savage animal.

The fact that he doesn't even notice what he's done makes him even more idiotic. You're puting in charge of the military the kid who can't tell someone alive from someone dead? Really? What definition of "brilliant" are you using again?

Soras Teva Gee
2012-01-06, 05:23 PM
Except wolves fight among themselves for dominance, not for killing each other. That goes doubly when there's a common enemy.

Humans kill, its something of a fundamental point of the series really. Also our nearest animal relatives (chimps) also kill and even cannibalize each other. And wolves kill wolves too (http://www.wolfsongnews.org/news/Alaska_current_events_3015.html), nor more generally is murder uncommon in the natural world. Let's not sugarcoat the natural world, it knows not an ounce of mercy or compassion.



The fact that Ender falls to killing with his naked hands when there's a bazillion other things he could've done to solve the problem shows that, if anything, his "brilliance" is lower than a savage animal.

Really now care to give a specific example so I can mercilessly shoot it down?

When confronted with physical violence you only have three options. They are run, fight, or talk. So help me Ender I recall Ender trying to talk but his opposition isn't exactly in a talkative mood. Talk only goes so far. Now running, not going to work in either since he's outnumbered (and well cornered) plus he goes through why this is only a limited solution. Even if he got protection from adults (and he suspects rightly they wouldn't give it) his opponents only have to get lucky once.

So he's left with fighting and unlike too many wishy washy heroes he doesn't **** around once he's decided to. Its simple efficiency, Ender isn't so unrealistic as to think he can throw a punch and get a human to back off so he goes as brutal and nasty as he can to put the old fear 'o tha lord in his opponents.

(Yes this is still a little sociopathic, that's of course the point)


The fact that he doesn't even notice what he's done makes him even more idiotic. You're puting in charge of the military the kid who can't tell someone alive from someone dead? Really? What definition of "brilliant" are you using again?

You missed where he'd figured that out anyways yes?

Besides Ender has medical knowledge, and he stopped to check a pulse. Because you know blunt force trauma is on the list of obviously fatal at a glance items right.

Certainly the text is such that you would not be surprised to have one show up a couple of chapters later all beat up

Weezer
2012-01-06, 05:28 PM
And don't forget that it's this child who accidentally killed two people that is being held up as a leadership example. Ender is certainly a great example of the effect of guilt on those who unknowingly commit horrific acts, but not really a good (or well adjusted) leadership example.

pendell
2012-01-06, 05:41 PM
Um, he didn't say that, I did. He said the bit about fan letters praising his depiction of genius children.



If you think either of Ender's murders were from a grudge, either you've never read the book or...I don't know, you think the author and the character are both lying about his motives? Stilson was psychological dominance over the other bullies, winning the current fight and every other fight with them in the future right then - utter near-sociopathic ruthlessness is not 'a petty grudge', though it is abhorrent to see in a young child. Bonso was literally and self-admittedly intending to murder or permanently cripple Ender...it was his 'petty grudge' that Ender was defending himself against, and it wasn't even the extended brutality of Stilson either, just a single fatal strike.

Stick pre-pubescent children in an isolated environment with harsh discipline and enforced competitiveness, particularly children who were pre-selected for both brilliance and a certain degree of sociopathy, and you would get something more like competing packs of wolves than a rational human society, which sums up Battle School pretty well.

In Ender's defense, in both cases he was a lone child facing off with much larger opponents. I should also point out that one thing he was not taught in battle school was any kind of unarmed personal self-defense. He wasn't a martial arts black belt who so thoroughly dominated his opponents that he could afford the luxury of using just enough violence to disable his enemies.

To my mind, that's a key point of any martial arts training -- not only do they teach how to split bricks with your hand, they also when and why it's a good idea. They teach you to hold back in sparring and they teach you other techniques besides the killing ones. It gives you a toolset Ender did not have.

I once knew a small child much like Ender, and that child survived bullying by being willing to do *absolutely anything* in a fight. He had no intermediate tools -- it was either totally peaceful or no-holds-barred.

If anyone is to blame for Bonzo's death, it's the adults who had the entire sequence under observation the entire time. They COULD have trained Ender in proper self defense, or they COULD have transferred Bonzo off the station, or they COULD have wandered down to the shower room and just made their presence known.

They did none of these things. Instead, they deliberately put Ender in a position where he had to either kill or be killed, and he had the ruthlessness, the determination, to do exactly that.

Which is exactly what they wanted.

The Battle School didn't exist to produce well-adjusted citizens. The Battle School existed to take children with potential and turn them into ruthless, hard-edged monsters who would do whatever it took to win. They took a child and turned him into a monster. The next couple of books, including 'Speaker for the Dead', is concerned with Ender trying to turn himself back. To step back from the monster he'd been made into and find some measure of ... redemption? Of peace?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

thedarkstone
2012-01-06, 06:33 PM
In Ender's defense, in both cases he was a lone child facing off with much larger opponents. I should also point out that one thing he was not taught in battle school was any kind of unarmed personal self-defense. He wasn't a martial arts black belt who so thoroughly dominated his opponents that he could afford the luxury of using just enough violence to disable his enemies.

To my mind, that's a key point of any martial arts training -- not only do they teach how to split bricks with your hand, they also when and why it's a good idea. They teach you to hold back in sparring and they teach you other techniques besides the killing ones. It gives you a toolset Ender did not have.

I once knew a small child much like Ender, and that child survived bullying by being willing to do *absolutely anything* in a fight. He had no intermediate tools -- it was either totally peaceful or no-holds-barred.

If anyone is to blame for Bonzo's death, it's the adults who had the entire sequence under observation the entire time. They COULD have trained Ender in proper self defense, or they COULD have transferred Bonzo off the station, or they COULD have wandered down to the shower room and just made their presence known.

They did none of these things. Instead, they deliberately put Ender in a position where he had to either kill or be killed, and he had the ruthlessness, the determination, to do exactly that.

Which is exactly what they wanted.

The Battle School didn't exist to produce well-adjusted citizens. The Battle School existed to take children with potential and turn them into ruthless, hard-edged monsters who would do whatever it took to win. They took a child and turned him into a monster. The next couple of books, including 'Speaker for the Dead', is concerned with Ender trying to turn himself back. To step back from the monster he'd been made into and find some measure of ... redemption? Of peace?

Respectfully,

Brian P.
Indeed, excepting that he did take some self-defense courses once he realized he may need it. Just not enough. But, close enough.

And, as someone said earlier, Ender's name is reviled in-universe as far as three thousand years into the future. That means that SOMEONE found his actions morally reprehensible. After he finds out he killed two children and an entire race, he resolved to never kill again, and followed through with that resolution to what was almost his death at another's hands (see Ender in Exile). That is not the result of a savage human; that is the result of someone who knew his actions were necessary in the past, but still morally inexcusable, thus, now that he doesn't need to save humankind from an alien species (or so we thought), he won't kill again. It is no longer ever necessary for him.

Tavar
2012-01-06, 11:13 PM
3) One glaring flaw in Enders' game is the willingness of humans to accept Demosthenes, Locke, and Ender as leaders. All three of them are faceless, voiceless characters who interact with other people primarily through communications devices or computers, yet somehow inspire fanatical loyalty. Real humans don't do that -- real humans prefer face-to-face.


At least regarding Ender, that's false. He at least builds relationships with his followers before the actual battles start, not after. As for the men in the ships...I'm not sure how much connection they needed. They'll probably all a bit fanatical, what with making a one way trip.


As for Ender's lack of medical knowledge making him unfit to command...what? Why does he need medical knowledge? He's not on the front line, or anywhere near combat. Plus, since it's all space combat, what does it matter? If they ship is blown up, the person's dead. If it's not, it's still there. No biological knowledge necessary there.

pffh
2012-01-06, 11:47 PM
The fact that he doesn't even notice what he's done makes him even more idiotic. You're puting in charge of the military the kid who can't tell someone alive from someone dead? Really? What definition of "brilliant" are you using again?

It is very hard to tell someone that's going to survive a blunt trauma from someone that's not going to survive blunt trauma at glance.

Starwulf
2012-01-07, 01:36 AM
Hmm, ya know, I've been wondering this for some time, and have gotten conflicting information in the past, so I figure I'll go ahead and ask here on this thread: What is the proper order for reading the Ender books? Not including the "Enders Shadow" set(though feel free to factor that in as well if you want).

thedarkstone
2012-01-07, 01:59 AM
Hmm, ya know, I've been wondering this for some time, and have gotten conflicting information in the past, so I figure I'll go ahead and ask here on this thread: What is the proper order for reading the Ender books? Not including the "Enders Shadow" set(though feel free to factor that in as well if you want).
(Chronologically) Ender's Game, Ender in Exile, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind.

There's also short stories and less connected works, I think, but those aren't as integral.

Tavar
2012-01-07, 02:01 AM
The original series...okay, it's a bit tricky. There's the old and the new set. The old set is the following, and should be read in order. Xenocide is the weakest of the 4.
Ender's Game
Speaker for the Dead
Xenocide
Children of the Mind
The newer stuff, well, I can say that the story "First Meeting's" is decent, having read it myself. Can't say anything about the others, though I haven't heard much good stuff about them. I have to say, Empire(different series) and his stuff from the Shadow Series kinda put me off his works. Earlier stuff's still good.

I believe the following should tell you where they fall:


Earth Unaware
"Mazer in Prison"
"Pretty Boy"
"Cheater"
Ender's Game

-Set in Ender's Game
-A War of Gifts
-"Ender's Homecoming"
-"A Young Man with Prosects"
"Ender in Flight"
"The Gold Bug"
Ender in Exile
"First Meetings"
Speaker for the Dead



The Ender's Shadow Series goes
Ender's Shadow
Shadow of the Hegemon
Shadow Puppets
Shadow of the Giant
Shadows in Flight
Shadow's Alive


Of the Shadow Series, I can only strongly recommend Ender's Shadow. Shadow of the Hegemon is okay, but simply that. The others...eh. Note, the last 2 haven't been released yet(the second to last will be released on the 17th).

thubby
2012-01-08, 11:37 PM
ender's game was a lot better 20 years ago.

the rest of the ender series i found incredibly mediocre.

i disliked ender's shadow for the needless ret-conning. to the point i didnt care to read the rest of that series.
that said, it was well written.

The Glyphstone
2012-01-09, 10:04 AM
Of the Shadow Series, I can only strongly recommend Ender's Shadow. Shadow of the Hegemon is okay, but simply that. The others...eh. Note, the last 2 haven't been released yet(the second to last will be released on the 17th).

I'd have to agree - Ender's Shadow is great because it lets you see/replay the events of Ender's Game, for the most part, from a completely different angle (and a more dispassionate one, for that matter) outside Ender's own bias. The more Bean becomes a central character, the less he really carries the story, though that may be because Achilles is a rather uninteresting villain despite being the mutant clone hybrid love-child of Moriarty and Machiavelli.

MLai
2012-01-14, 08:57 AM
@ The conversation about Ender being an unrealistic child psychopath or somesuch:

I find it hard to believe that no one here had a childhood period where he was actively bullied against? I had one, being a child immigrant who moved right into a terrible neighborhood. And additionally, being a child who thought a lot about things rather than acting on impulses. Personally I found Ender's reaction to Stilson and Bonzo perfectly believeable, and entirely coinciding with my own "survival gameplan" which I came up with as a kid.

After trying different strategies out in response to bullies, my final gameplan as a child, was this:

(1) Grovel. Be as compliant and self-demeaning as the bully wants.
(2) If this doesn't work. Kill him in the first strike (and then I planned out various ways of killing a person with the first hit).

Fortunately I never had to act that out. Keep in mind I'm not actively seeking out "victims" once I cemented my survival strategy. It was a last resort gameplan --after lots of trial and error involving unsuccessfully dealing with bullies-- which I repeated to myself daily as a mantra, so that it can become reflex should the final need ever arise. I was a 13 y/o nerdy kid.


the rest of the ender series i found incredibly mediocre.
Speaker for the Dead was pretty good AFAIC. It's not what you'd usually think of as space sci-fi, though. It was more like a small town Western drama, with fantasy natives thrown in.

Incidentally, I credit reading the Ender's Game series for making me buy and get completely addicted to Sword Of The Stars: The Complete Collection. Big bonus that SotS basically has both of the Enderverse alien species in it.