Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 12th 2013 Contents A35
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Orson Scott Card s 1985 novel Ender s Game is
now a film. For most of those experiencing the story
for the first time, it will be an intense encounter
with a chilling alien invasion story that s loaded
with a quirky twist.
In an all or nothing defence of the planet, children
are being trained to direct the spaceships of Earth
against the menace of swarming insectoid invaders.
Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, the youngest of the most
recent batch of children chosen for training, quickly
emerges as the best prospect for leading this unusual
combination of teen geniuses and interplanetary mil-
Movie poster artwork for Gavin Hood's film of Ender's Game.
The book also serves up one of the most impressive
plot twists ever written, a wrenching peripeteia that s
worth at least a sharp intake of breath.
But Ender s Game is only the opening salvo in a
remarkable series of books which follow the life of
Ender Wiggin through some decidely unusual inter-
stellar adventures that are nothing like the gung ho
militarism of the book that kickstarted the series.
Another parallel series of books follows the earth-
bound life of Julian Delphiki, known only in the first
book as Bean, the bril-
liant second pick who
shadows Ender s success
throughout Ender s
A film should always
be judged on its own
merits. It may be adapt-
ed from a strong and
but it can t conform neat-
ly to the rich world that
Card developed in that novel, which itself has been
revised from a short story in 1975 through multiple
editions of the novel which have revamped and
refreshed the book s perspective on national poli-
Card is himself something of a troubling writer
for all his skill and brilliance at developing and sus-
taining worlds of compelling science fiction.
When he was announced as a writer for DC Comics
Superman, fans went crazy. Comics readers, already
a maligned and marginalised bunch, react badly to
intolerance and Card s views on LGBT issues and
same-sex marriage were instant magnets for protest.
The film itself also highlights another problem
with the Card s Enderverse, the noticeable lack of
minorities in major roles.
Ender s Game corrects this by putting people of
colour in very visible roles at the battle school, most
notably Viola Davis as the gender and race re-engi-
neered Major Anderson.
I d normally give an author a bligh on this sort of
thing, except that Card has proven skilled at intro-
ducing and sustaining character in the ten major
novels of the Ender Universe and there are notable
and quite specific characters of other races and nation-
alities in the book, including the Muslim Alai and
the Chinese national Han Tzu (aka Hot Soup).
And then, there s this: http://ow.ly/qF8FQ.
The film ramps up the excitement of the prepa-
rations for battle, an entirely predictable compacting
that any reader of the book might have expected,
but in doing so, it creates a cinematic version of the
story that s unlikely to sustain further exploration.
Too much of Card s book is actually about politics,
military strategy and the consequences of human
ambition and ego amplified by a competitive arena
of undeveloped genius and too little of that ends up
in the film.
Fans of the bookshelf s worth of writing about the
interstellar war (and its consequences) that s the
subject of Ender s game will, ultimately, be disap-
pointed by this Cliff s Notes cinematic retelling.
They are also likely to be hugely entertained by
the meta irony of a film that uses modern digital
technology to visualise a game that s supposed to be
digitally rendered as part of the school s training
But that s fair, since anyone who enjoys this film
will, in all likelihood, find himself nonplussed by the
relentless politics and ruthless inhumanity that are
such an effective counterpoint to the source novel s
story of steadily eroding innocence of the very special
children chosen for the front lines of Earth s space
If you found Ender s Game to be an exciting but
oddly thin film, then do yourself a favour and pick
up the book, which is everything the movie aspires
to be and a whole lot more.
Read an expanded version of this column online
Entering the Enderverse
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