Ender’s Game – Review

by Daniel O'hEidhin

            Being honest I expected Ender’s Game to be brainless. A lovely, completely trashy, space novel with nice, easily digestible themes and characters. I expected straight-forward-right-to-the-point dialogue, shallow characters, and laser guns going pew-pew. My expectation was completely accurate for the most part; everything except the completely trashy presumption, where I couldn’t have been more wrong. Published in 1985 it won both the Hugo and Nebula awards.

In brief, Ender is a prodigous child born into an America that is bracing itself for another battle deep in space with an alien invasion force, affectionately called buggers. Ender, however, is no ordinary child, and neither are his brother and sister. They are examples of children with outstanding talent who could one day lead an army against the bugger force.

The most widespread criticism of Ender’s Game is the advanced nature of conversation between the large cast of children. While I would usually agree with the basis of this argument in most cases, speculative fiction is an exception for me. Ender, along with many of the children in this story, are not the children we know but rather the children that could be. Orson Scott Card sells this very, very well. Despite their acute awareness of social and political superstructures as early as six, they still jostle with the old problems of peer pressure, bullying and finding a secure place within a family unit.

Battle School, the special school for gifted children, is also quite cool. Large battles with laser guns in a constantly-changing, ever-challenging virtual environment… every kid’s dream really.

Definitely worth the read. It’s far better than I thought it would be, and has made me think twice about writing off mid to late-80s speculative fiction without giving it fair time. Light, casual read with fun action sequences, likeable characters, and some impressive thematic undertones.