Home > Recommendations > _Ender’s Game_, by Orson Scott Card

_Ender’s Game_, by Orson Scott Card

I feel like I’m cheating by recommending Ender’s Game.  It’s not free, it’s not short, it won the Hugo and the Nebula, and you’ve all already heard about it.  I’d be very surprised if less than 75% of you have read it already.  So this week, I’m speaking to the very few people who’ve missed it somehow.

What are you waiting for?  There’s a reason it won the Hugo and the Nebula!  It’s very very good, and it’s important to the history of science fiction, and it’s even considered an important novel outside the genre.  And it’s very very good.  Did I mention that?

Ender’s Game is the story of Andrew Wiggin, nicknamed Ender.  As the novel begins, he’s at the tail end of a period of consideration for military service.  He’s been watched by a “monitor” in the back of his neck, and he has it removed  pretty much as the novel starts.  Shortly after that, they decide that he’s a fit candidate to go to Battle School and learn to fight, to lead men, to be the next Genghis Khan.

Did I mention that he’s five?

Humanity is facing an opponent that they can’t defeat, and so they need a new kind of general, and they need him fast.  They’re starting with children, and exposing them to carefully constructed games that teach them, shape them, and allow their talents to be seen.

Ender is very good at these games.  Very very good.

The book is the story of his training and what he goes through during the effort to make him the general they need.  If you think you can subject a child, eventually a pre-teen, to the stresses of military school without effect, well, you’re wrong.

Ender’s Game spawned off three direct sequels, a parallel series focussing on one of the other characters, and several other works featuring Ender.  You don’t have to read any of them.  To some extent, I’d suggest you don’t.  This book stands best on its own.  Most all of the other works in the world are fine reads, but none of them is as important, or as good, as the original.

Copies of Ender’s Game are trivially easy to find new, only slightly less easy to find used, and available in every library in the known universe.

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