Thanks to Andrea from the Little Red Reviewer for hosting #VintageSciFiMonth. The idea is to read anything that was published before 1979.
I’ve chosen Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card which squeaks in, having first been published in 1977 (as a short story and then later adapted into the full length novel).
Mr NW read Ender’s Game a number of years ago and recommended it, and I had seen the 2013 film based on the book. I was relieved to find, as is often the case, that the book was much better than the movie.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Ender’s Game is a 1985 military science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card. Set in Earth’s future, the novel presents an imperiled mankind after two conflicts with the “buggers”, an insectoid alien species. In preparation for an anticipated third invasion, children, including the novel’s protagonist, Ender Wiggin, are trained from a very young age through increasingly difficult games including some in zero gravity, where Ender’s tactical genius is revealed.
Points to like about this book:
- Mazer Rackham, the original hero against the buggers, is a New Zealander! Oh, we are so exotic (ha!). In the film he was played by some guy putting on the worst Australian accent ever.
- The sci-fi concepts: this book was written at a time when computers took up whole rooms and the internet was still just a concept really, and yet here we have personal, portable computers, with instant messaging and we have two kids using “the nets” to push their personal agenda.
- I enjoyed the battleroom training scenes, and seeing Ender progress through tougher and tougher challenges.
- The end: I won’t spoil it in case you haven’t read it, but the revelation about why Ender was chosen, why they had to use children and the whole meaning of it all was explained much more fully in the book, and therefore the whole narrative was much more satisfying than that of the movie.
Points to dislike about this book:
- This book starts off rather slowly, it wasn’t until around 100 pages in that I began to feel like I actually was enjoying reading it. Perhaps it was the very chronological telling of the tale.
- A lot of the dialogue seemed rather heavy and serious, especially seeing as most the characters are children, and I feel like a few light hearted moments could have broken it up a bit.
- If you are like me and you can’t spatially manipulate things in your mind, you will be as hopelessly lost about all the directions happening in the battleroom. Honestly, the only part I could visualise was them bouncing off the walls, the rest just drew a blank. And that is why I could never be an air traffic controller.
- Some of it seems a tad far-fetched, but generally this didn’t distract too much from the overall story.
The storyline and action scenes kept me going as I read through the book. I didn’t particularly love or identify with any of the characters, but possibly you are not supposed to. I don’t think the overall themes grabbed me enough to want to continue on with the series immediately. In general, Ender’s Game was an interesting read, even if the overall tone was a bit too serious for me.