June 4th, 2006

Relax!  Grab a Book!

24 of 50

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  1. Merton, Thomas — The Seven Storey Mountain: An Autobiography of Faith
  2. Alexander, Lloyd — The Castle of Llyr
  3. Zelazny, Roger — Lord of Light
  4. Card, Orson Scott — Ender's Game

Ender's Game is, in many ways, Heinlein's Starship Troopers but (with apologies to heinleinfan) better written and more compelling.

While I liked it mostly because it was lucidly written and entertaining, I realized also that I did connect to the story's characters in a way I hadn't expected. It occurred to me as I was walking around London looking at flats that I could never go through what Ender and the other trainees at Battle School went through. I don't have the mettle. These children faced such severe and constant hardship and persevered; yet here I am, feeling sorry for myself and as if my life has been turned upside down because I've lost love and am lonely in a new country. Boo fucking hoo! People go through much greater difficulties and hurts every day and get through it with more strength and grace than I could ever muster. Successful people face far greater obstacles than I have faced and make it through because of their relentless determination. I'm not like that. But then I realized that I could be and simply choose not to.

Growing up, I was a lot like the type of kid that got into Battle School: smart, excelling at everything, socially shunned. I was never challenged in school, except maybe in P.E., and was always the best mathematician, the best writer, the best actor, the best singer…the best at whatever non-athletic endeavor I took up; and I was never well liked, except by a few of my fellow nerds, and really only by those that were, like me, at the top of every subject. Adults showered me with accolades; kids hated me. But I underwent a transformation at some point towards the end of or right after college. I realized that what really mattered to me wasn't being the best. Like Ender, I just wanted to be liked and have friends; but unlike Ender, I chose the "easy" road and became mediocre at most things while developing friendships I valued and enjoyed. Not that I like mediocrity, but I really don't like being the ruthless type that does what is needed to win at all costs. (I let that side of me come out when I play games, which—and not just that I usually win—would explain why some people don't like playing with me, but I don't want to be that person in real life.) Anyway, Ender's Game touched a nerve I didn't expect to have touched.

I also thought that Card did a fabulous job of setting up Speaker for the Dead. I know that Card is supposedly a hateful and biggoted person (some of that comes through in his writing) and that the sequels are not as well liked, but I feel as though I ought to read at least Speaker for the Dead and Ender's Shadow before I abandon the series.