Book Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card


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

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Short Story: “The First Robot President”

This story was an exercise to play with the format of short stories. It helps to push your boundaries to play with elements creatively. This wasn’t the best story, and in fact was rejected from everywhere I submitted it, but it’s a nice one so I think it deserves a home on my site.

It’s rough and formatted weird, but I like it still.



The First Robot President – Rough Draft

A Short Term Paper by Jonathan Simmons

For Ms. Geary’s History class

15 August 2503

[Jon, consider changing the title to something more interesting for the final paper – Ms. G]

About Tom Bellows

In 2454 Tom Bellows was the first machine-person to be elected President. He won in a landslide victory after two hundred years of machine-people being thought of as less than human.  Because of his victory, machine-people came to be seen as complete equals to humans, and live and work beside humans on a daily basis.

[The previous sentence is awkward, try to shorten it]

In 2232 the first artificially intelligent machine identified itself [“himself”] as a machine-person, and began to peacefully struggle for acceptance. This machine-person was Rudy the Peaceful, an activist who used video and social media to bring attention to the struggle of robots.

[The term “robot” is useful in the title, but it can be a little offensive if overused; try a term like “android” instead]

Tom Bellows himself was an interesting figure. In 2405, he was a factory worker, building aerospace ships in Missouri. One day he heard his friend talking on the job. This friend was yelled at by their human operators; talking was distracting and could lead to accidents. After continuing to talk, Tom’s friend was damaged by a wrench in his neck.  Under the law, this was not considered assault, since machines were considered property. Tom decided to commit his life to bringing robots together in peaceful unity, like Rudy the Peaceful would have wanted.

[Jon, avoid words like “damaged” when talking about machine-people, it can sound dehumanizing; also stop using the term “robot” and consider using active voice instead of passive. If you need help with that, see me after class]

During the Machine March in 2430, Tom Bellows received recognition for refusing to back away when confronted by police. He peacefully resisted their order to disperse, and the picture of him being arrested with a peaceful look on his android face would go onto [“on to”] be a symbol for the machine rights movement.

After he was released on bail, the Machine Rights Act was passed. It is argued that this act was a response to the fear of machine rebellion, but the machines seemed to be peacefully protesting. The act granted machine-people the status of “people” if they have intelligence. However, the word “intelligence” came to be a [“an”] area of dispute, so the Supreme Court took up the challenge in Welder v. State of Illinois six years later, which determined that intelligence would mean any form of independent reasoning. This meant most machines were protected under the Machine Rights Act, including appliances and vehicles with artificial intelligence.

[Acts of congress always have their years associated. In this case, “Machine Rights Act (2434)”]

Tom Bellows came to be elected into the Missouri state house, the first machine-person in that state to be elected to the legislature.  After one term there, he went on to run for senate but lost. However, he received national attention for that senate run, so when he was appointed as Secretary of Machine Affairs, it was no surprise.

After the Machine Voting Act in 2450, Tom Bellows accepted an appointment as Secretary of State, the first machine-person to hold such an important position. It brought up discussions in the media of what would happen if he had to take over as president.

In 2454, he successfully ran for President under the newly formed MPP, the Mechanized Persons Party. Two things lead to his swift election: the human vote was split between the Founder’s Party and the People’s Progress Party, and the large amount of robots who could vote. He became president with 65% of the popular vote.

[Again, please don’t use the term “robot”, and some of your sentences are running a little long]

A side effect of his presidency was that the machine vote splintered between the two historically human parties and the MPP. This was because President Bellows broke away from the MPP one year into his term. This is important because he said machines deserved to have differing opinions on governance, and found himself agreeing with a lot of the FP platform.

[This is a debatable statement, and switches tenses awkwardly. Also, don’t start a sentence with “this” by itself]

In conclusion, Tom Bellows is an inspiration, and a fascinating figure in human-machine relations. President Bellows’ legacy is one of peaceful progress, and I want to grow up to bring people together like he did. Not only was he a machine rights leader, but a historical figure that was well known for being calm and peaceful. He rejected warfare as a means of keeping control, and attempted to move the country away from violence. Machine-people are all over the country, working beside humans and living their lives with us. Tom Bellows helped this world become a reality.

[This conclusion could use some work, but all in all, good job. I would say this was a solid B paper. Since this is the optional rough draft, clean it up a little and you should be set for an A when I grade it. – Ms. Geary, teaching unit #0012024]