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Top Teen Title #8

#8 Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Tor, 1985. Tor Science Fiction, July 1994. Revised Edition, ISBN:  9780812550702, 324 pp.

Macmillan Publisher’s Description:

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

Quotes from Readers:

Classic and brilliant.

The USMC (Marines) train leaders with this book.

If you really want students to experience science fiction, you’ve got to read this.

The following books were not exactly my taste, but I may have been slightly young for them. This one, on the other hand, was only slightly disturbing amidst the space-having.

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari.

Awards: Hugo Award for Best Novel, 1986; Nebula Award for Best Novel, 1985; ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 1985; ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2000; The Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels: The Reader’s List; ALA Outstanding Books for the College Bound, 1999; Tähtivaeltaja: 1900-luvun tieteiskirjallisuuden TOP-50, 2000; 100 Greatest Science Fiction or Fantasy Novels of All Time; Locus 1998 Poll, All-Time Best SF Novel Before 1990; Classics of Science Fiction; ISFDB Top 100 Books – Critical List; ISFDB Top 100 Books – Popular List; The SF Book Club’s “The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years From 1953-2002″

Diane’s note: Card’s novels Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead both won Hugo and Nebula Awards in consecutive years. Card is the only author who won the two most prestigious awards in science fiction consecutively. When I went back to reread Ender’s Game, I found myself contemplating other science fiction and fantasy titles that throw children into combat situations for the entertainment or salvation of the adults. (Hunger Games, Starship Troopers, Alex Rider books, etc.)

What would it take for society to rely on children or military dictators? The famous essay by Elaine Radford comparing Ender to Adolf Hitler adds to intellectual curiosity and controversy. It’s easy to find her essay, but not Orson Scott Card’s response unless you access the database for: Orson Scott Card, “Response”, Fantasy Review 102 (1987) pp. 13-14, 49-52.

Another article worth considering is by John Kessel “Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender’s Game, Intention, and Morality” which appeared originally in Foundation, the International Review of Science Fiction, Vol. 33, Number 90, Spring 2004. If you follow the blogs from Orson Scott Card’s Hatrack River website, there are passionate rebuttals to both essays.

Ender’s Game consistently appears at the top of greatest science fiction lists. I’ve seen requests from teachers for resources to teach Ender’s Game for 10-12th grade and even some for sixth graders. The SparkNotes from Barnes & Noble remain one of my favorite sources in contemplating which titles I want to share with students.

My question for you, oh wise readers, is how do you share Ender’s Game? Do you include copies in your libraries and classroom libraries for recreational individual choices only? Do you read-aloud and to what age group? Since Ender’s Game doesn’t appear on the or website, is Ender’s Game still drawing rabidly passionate readers or has it been shoved to the side? If it truly is a #1 Science Fiction title, why isn’t it more popular now?

Your turn, readers. How about some answers?