This is a quick book summary and analysis of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.
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This is a story about a boy named Ender who lives with his mother, father, and two older siblings, Peter and Valentine. All of the children are highly intelligent, but unlike his siblings, Ender shows promise as a brilliant military leader. As such, he is taken away to be trained by Colonel Graff for the war against the buggers, an alien race looking to invade Earth.
When Ender arrives at battle school, he is put through a series of tests and introduced to various battle simulators, video game-like simulations of space battles. He excels and is placed into one of the several armies. At first he is told to stay out of the war games, but he develops a superior strategy for winning. Despite his success as a tactician, Ender is further hated, but teaches those who want to learn from him on the side.
Meanwhile, Peter and Valentine create fake personas and begin political discussions on the net.
After graduating early from battle school, Ender is trained on a dedicated battle simulator. And when that becomes too easy, he trains with Mazer Rackham, an old war hero.
Under this new training, Ender is pushed to the limit and nearly breaks down as his battle simulations become increasingly more difficult.
Ender finally has one last battle simulation that involves a planet and several thousand ships. He wins the game, but then is told that all of it was real. That he was commanding real ships in what he thought was a simulation.
Ender is proclaimed a hero, but still fears Peter, who has great political influence on Earth. In the end, Ender finds a bugger cocoon and takes it with him as he travels in space with Valentine.
As always a lot can be said about this story, but what draws my interest and attention is the idea of using children in intergalactic war.
Throughout the story, it is sometimes difficult to remember that most of the main characters are children. In Ender’s society, children are often forced into maturing quickly for military endeavors.
But why children? Wouldn’t it make more sense to train more physically mature individuals to fight? The explanation given is that the military wants individuals who are willing to react to situations without thinking about the consequences. Children are able to act this way because they haven’t lived long enough to understand scope and bigger consequences of their actions.
While cruel, this type of thinking is valuable and necessary in the battle against the buggers because of how the buggers learn and adapt.
Also, a lot of the battles are battle simulations, or at least perceived as battle simulations to the children. It’s this perception of a game that allows the children to learn, strategize, and take risks that would not be possible had they known it was happening in real time, which says a lot about how children learn and how humans learn in general.
What do you think of this story? Let me know in the comments below.
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Through Minute Book Reports, hopefully you can get the plot and a few relevant discussion points in just a couple of minutes.
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