Book Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

{9220CD7B-7CA8-4202-AF3A-620105706D98}Img400

I used the cover I was used to for this book, growing up. It caught my eye because of how goofy it looked, and as a kid I wanted to see other kids in science fiction situations.

Honestly, Orson Scott Card’s most well-known book is one of my favorite books of all time, so it’s worth going through as a book review.

The main character is Ender Wiggin, a “third”. In this society parents are typically limited to two kids at a time. As a result, kids who are “thirds” are disrespected and treated poorly. Of note are his two siblings: Peter and Valentine. Peter is a kind of sadistic sociopath, while Valentine is a kind and loving person.

The story starts with Ender being tested for his capabilities. He is enrolled in battle school to learn to fight the “buggers”, aliens who apparently attacked Earth long ago, and Ender does progressively well. There’s a cast of interesting characters from across the planet (this was released in 1985, and one of the characters is from the Soviet Union). Of note are the zero gravity games, and their mechanics. Then, the twist at the end is widely regarded as one of the best in science fiction.

Critical reception was fairly positive. The novel won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, a rare achievement.

I think my only problems with the novel have to do with the characters. Ender is interesting enough, but Peter is purely evil and Valentine purely good. I always hated that. Real people aren’t like that, and maybe you can argue that from Ender’s perspective that was the case, but Peter should have had something redeemable about him.

Likewise, I take issue to the 3/4 mark in the book, when Ender is established at battle school and they start to throw whatever they can at him to beat him. At that point it felt like there was little to no tension. Then, moving him to another kind of school with other characters felt pointless (at first). There was no tension in the simulated fights, because they were simulated to the character. He wasn’t risking anything by fighting simulations.

Overall, I hope you don’t take away that I dislike this book. It’s honestly one of the best science fiction books I’ve ever read. I have recommended it to friends who aren’t into science fiction and they loved it. It isn’t perfect, by any means.

(NOTE: Card himself has come to be something of a pariah in the science fiction community. I have no interest in his political opinions, and as such am reviewing this purely on the book’s merits. However, I think context is important: Card is a devout Mormon. As such, he has taken the Mormon position on homosexuality and gay marriage, and though I may disagree with him, I won’t burn his books because of it. )

Once again, I highly recommend Ender’s Game for anyone who is interested in science fiction.


 

Check out my other reviews!

Book Review: “The Lost Fleet” Series by Jack Campbell

Book Review: Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon

Also check out my posts on writing:

How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving

When To Completely Rewrite

Also make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

Advertisements

Book Review: “The Lost Fleet” Series by Jack Campbell

112292

I’m reviewing all six books in the Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell because the stories all sort of blended together in my mind. As far as sci-fi goes, especially military sci-fi, the books are fairly short. I also got addicted to them in a way and binged on them for a few months straight.

So with that in mind, let me give you my thoughts…

This series is great. If you like fleet strategy in a faster-than light science fiction universe you can find no better series of books. It also has some of the most convincing space combat of any book series I’ve read.

The detriment of this series are the characters. John Geary is an interesting Captain/Admiral, but he’s also a stereotype. He’s the same grizzled sailor you’ve seen a thousand times in a reluctant command situation. I would say he has no flaws, but I think his weak skills with women might be one.

Speaking of that… the lack of characters means two romantic relationships spring up and flourish without any kind of watering or care. More care is given to the combat and strategy than the people involved, and don’t even get me started on the antagonists. Geary is always one step ahead of his antagonists, which gets old quickly. Problems spring up in a chapter and are addressed in that same chapter. It’s irritating.

Don’t get me wrong. This series is fantastic, and I burned through it in a few months of obsession. I just emphasize the lack of character because it feels like this universe (and author) has so much potential. The combat situations are well-thought out and realistic. The struggle of a changing military and a relic of the past is an interesting one, but squandered. I hope that the two spin off series have more development.

Book Review: On Basilisk Station by David Weber

onbasiliskstationDavid Weber’s On Basilisk Station is widely considered a masterpiece of military science fiction. The main character Honor Harrington is very much a sprout from the same seed as Hornblower, and the setting is a rich and interesting one.

As far as the story goes, the novel explores Honor Harrington, a Captain in the Royal Manticoran Navy, an imperialist and aristocratic institution. Honor and her crew are assigned to Basilisk Station, a dead-end job of sorts, but while there discover a plot that they intervene in.

The space action is well-written and the political situation is explored robustly, but I feel like this book needed to develop some of the ideas it had before actually implementing them. In some cases, entire ideas in the technology and strategies employed were introduced the chapter before they were used (this is a problem of writing I see in MSF as a genre).

That’s not to say that the book isn’t remarkable. Weber is a skilled writer, and Honor is a fascinating character. I know she isn’t as developed in this book as I would have liked, but this is a series and likely intended to be one from the start.

If you like books like that, you will like On Basilisk Station.