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24 of 50

  1. Alexander, Lloyd — The Black Cauldron
  2. Anthony, Piers — Letters to Jenny
  3. Cooper, Susan — Over Sea, Under Stone
  4. Proulx, Annie — Close Range: Wyoming Stories
  5. Kincaid, Jamaica — Lucy
  6. Christie, Agatha — The Unexpected Guest
  7. Dick, Philip K. — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  8. Cooper, Susan — The Dark Is Rising
  9. Cooper, Susan — Greenwitch
  10. Shaffer, Peter — Amadeus
  11. Anonymous — Go Ask Alice
  12. Cooper, Susan — The Grey King
  13. Martin, Steve — Shopgirl
  14. Cooper, Susan — Silver on the Tree
  15. Gaiman, Neil — Stardust
  16. Gaiman, Neil — Coraline
  17. Le Guin, Ursula — A Wizard of Earthsea
  18. Le Guin, Ursula — The Tombs of Atuan
  19. Le Guin, Ursula — The Farthest Shore
  20. Le Guin, Ursula — Tehanu
  21. Merton, Thomas — The Seven Storey Mountain: An Autobiography of Faith
  22. Alexander, Lloyd — The Castle of Llyr
  23. Zelazny, Roger — Lord of Light
  24. 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.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 5th, 2006 02:41 am (UTC)
I really enjoy Ender's Game and </i>Speaker for the Dead</i>, although they are very different books. After that Xenocide and Children of the Mind fall off pretty sharply--they're not even stand-alones, really. I enjoyed Ender's Shadow, the first of the Shadow series, mostly because it questioned decisions in Ender's Game that seemed inevitable from Ender's perspective and therefore made Ender more human. But Shadow of the Hegemon was a novelized game of Risk and I'm not sure whether or not I've read the other two in that series.

So I think you've picked the other two worth reading and wish you luck with them!
Jun. 5th, 2006 12:19 pm (UTC)
I generally agree with this assessment. However, I didn't really like the massive reinterpretation Ender's Shadow made to the events in Ender's Game. Mostly I thought he made these changes to bring his more conservative views about family and such into his fiction.

I've read all the rest (except Children of the Mind), because I loved the first two and I just couldn't resist more time with the characters. But, I think I would have been most happy if either I or Card had stopped 3/4 through Xenocide. The farther he goes, the less enjoyable and the more thoroughly the story serves the ideals. I think this coincides with Card becoming more active as a theologian in the Mormon community. Plus, toward the end he develops an unholy fascination with the word "babies," which just creeped me out.
Jun. 6th, 2006 05:18 am (UTC)
Ender's End
Ender's Game began as a short story. The novel added lots of padding but ended with the same one-liner type of twist. I'm not really convinced that adding all of the verbiage improved the product.

Logorrhea, however interesting it may be, can carry you only so far. Card carried on well past the limits of his story-telling ability. There is more to telling a story than having a clever ending gimick, no matter how many words can be packed in ahead of the ending. Lacking equivalent final twists, the remaining collections of words are far less memorable.
Jun. 6th, 2006 10:35 am (UTC)
Re: Ender's End
Did you not think the story interesting before the end? I thought the twist at the end that set us up for the sequel intriguing, but the story was essentially over by then.
Jun. 7th, 2006 01:27 am (UTC)
Re: Ender's End
Yes, I suppose so. He did create a universe, however strange. It is unlikely that any developments in faster than light travel will permit the building of an interstellar empire ... or justify interstellar warfare. Placing his action on a stage of more-than-planetary dimensions allowed him to write a morality play in which the cowboys and Indians fought it out someplace else than here, a common enough ploy. Everybody wants galactic empires because, historically, we are at the end of a grand period of empire building here. His scenerio was interesting, partly because of its perversity, but no more creative than hundreds of other such stories.

Having created a galactic empire, the author could make it bounce and jiggle any way he saw fit. I've seen better, I've seen worse. Lots of effort -- and words -- went into setting the stage.

The story had the flavor of wine about to become vinegar, a bit past its prime. This unlikely galactic empire with its scars from an improbable war -- and other warts -- has to be brought low (or even threatened) by an individual or small number of individuals.

Good clean fun, if you don't think about it. Yes, it was interesting.
Jun. 7th, 2006 01:35 am (UTC)
Re: Ender's End
I think you missed the point. Or maybe you're thinking of the sequels that I haven't read. Ender's War is not about some galactic empire. It's about the social alienation of über-intelligent kids, the loss of childhood and innocence, social responsibility, ethics, etc., and it takes place almost entirely within a very confined space, the small Battle School. It's a psychological tale, not a war story. If you think those first 250+ pages were merely setting the stage for the third human-versus-bugger war, then you completely missed the point. One would think the number of pages devoted to the actual conflict would have given that away!
Jun. 7th, 2006 01:42 am (UTC)
Re: Ender's End
Even Card, in the introduction, points out that his interest was to explore the psychology of leadership and of kids so brilliant they don't fit society's normal expectations.
Jun. 7th, 2006 02:56 am (UTC)
Re: Ender's End
Yes, I was commenting on the whole set as much as the first story itself. Even considering just that first story, though, the school is simply the front end of a tremendous backstory of empire and war. The focus may have been on the kids being primed for use as battle directors but it assumes a greater universe that is, in many ways, described. And remember that the gimmick revolves around the school being an illusion, with the students actually directing real battles.

You said, "It's a psychological tale, not a war story." It's both. Many war stories are told by describing the effect of war or battle on the mind. The war and the effect on individual minds are both worthy of description.
Jun. 7th, 2006 07:04 am (UTC)
Re: Ender's End
And remember that the gimmick revolves around the school being an illusion, with the students actually directing real battles.

That's only the Command School, and then only after Mazer Rackham shows up, once again a very small part of the story.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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