It was a longstanding gap in my reading of science fiction literature that I had never read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. With my religion and science fiction class soon to begin, and Ender’s Game being turned into a movie, I knew it was time to rectify things. I already owned a copy, and so it was just a matter of doing it (but I should mention that buy the book for Kindle on Amazon for less than $4).
I won’t summarize the book, to minimize spoilers for the movie. But I will say that the way religious themes and characters are woven into the story is fascinating. Religion is suppressed in this time and context, but the influence of people of faith – Catholic, Mormon, Muslim – is felt, and is positive. The Bible is sometimes studied, but as part of the study of Classics. And in the end, we see a new religion emerge, as a result of contact with new biological forms, and the new ways of communication that human beings intersect with as a result.
The story explores many important questions about the nature of humanity, and unlike many stories featuring humanoid aliens, envisages beings that are sentient in ways so fundamentally different from us that we find it impossible to communicate. Or nearly all humans find it nearly impossible. Deep questions about morality are raised.
I know that Card has made headlines recently for his rather bizarre views on a number of subjects. I find that I can’t dismiss literature on that basis, any more than I can dismiss films because of the problematic views of the producer, or music because of the views of the composer. It seems as though the very creative are particularly prone to this, although it clearly isn’t a general rule. Perhaps they are no more and no less prone to being wrong, to unjustified hatred, to falling victim to the mentality of conspiracy theories, than anyone else – we just notice it more because they are famous, and are more disappointed because their compositions would lead us to expect better of them.
Have you read Ender’s Game? If not, you should. I haven’t read the sequels – if you have, would you recommend them?
Here is one of the trailers for the movie: