A Look Into The "Enderverse"
An article on the stories of Orson Scott Card
Published By: Tor
By Justine Manzano
Recently, while talking to a co-worker about my science fiction addiction, she recommended to me, the only book sheíd ever enjoyed from that genre - Enderís Game, by Orson Scott Card. Wondering what kind of book could make a sci-fi lover out of a non-believer, I ran to the bookstore thatís conveniently located across the street from my job and bought my first book in my journey into the Ender Universe. Now, eight books later, I find that every one has taken a place as my favorite book ever. For this reason, I canít resist sharing my love with my fellow readers. So, here goesÖclick on the links for those things that interest you in particular....or just read the whole darn thing. Your call.
In 1977, Orson Scott Card published a novella called Enderís Game in Analog magazine and was met with critical acclaim. He later reworked this novella into a full blown novel which took place in the future of Earth, at a time where the planet has twice been invaded by an alien threat ignorantly known to Earthlings as ďThe BuggersĒ. Having just barely managed to fight off these two invasions, the Earth finds that there will inevitably be a third. They begin to enlist children to take away to a place called Battle School, where they will be molded into the perfect military commanders - at the expense of their childhood.
One of these children, the hero of the first four books of the series, is Andrew ďEnderĒ Wiggin, a young prodigy with an abusive older brother named Peter, a beloved sister named Valentine, and an uncanny leadership ability. Enderís endlessly empathetic and charismatic leadership makes him into mankindís only hope.
Enderís Game follows Enderís training and the war and by its conclusion, he leaves Earth although, if you havenít read it yet, I wonít ruin it by saying under what circumstances he leaves. The story is completed when he is about twelve and Speaker For The Dead, the next book in the series, picks up when heís thirty-five and the anonymous pioneer of a new ďreligionĒ where upon someoneís death, a Speaker For The Dead is called. A Speaker honestly, and sometimes, brutally, tells the story of the dead personís life and all that occurred within it. Ender is one of these Speakers and is called to the planet Lusitania to speak on three deaths, most especially the death of Marcos Ribeira. Upon attempting to gain information about Marcos, Ender gets engrained in the lives of his widow Novinha and their six children as well as their research on the newly discovered alien species called the Pequeninos. Determined to protect this innocent new species from the ignorance of humans, Ender and the Ribeira family work overtime (meaning through this book and its two sequels, Xenocide and Children of the Mind) to protect the new aliens and the planet itself from total destruction.
The other four books follow Enderís close friend Bean. The first book of the four book parallel tale is called Enderís Shadow and it takes place in nearly the exact same time period as Enderís Game. This book starts before Bean met Ender and gives us the complete background of this orphan who grew up alone on the streets of Rotterdam and explains how a murderous boy named Achilles came to be his nemesis. Then, it follows Bean through his time with Ender, telling it from an alternate point of view that gives us slightly more clarity on certain events in the original book. Then, it takes the story beyond what the reader knows at that point, following Bean after Ender has already left Earth.
The following books, Shadow of The Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, and Shadow of The Giant, follow Bean as he fights to try and rescue Petra Arkanian and the rest of Enderís army from the grasp of Achilles, the sadistic boy who is slowly finding his way to world dominating status. He wishes to rule the world by force and the only way Bean can see to protect it is to join forces with the one man who wishes to unite the world in peace - Enderís brother, Peter Wiggin. Itís a tough call-can Peter who has been know to Bean only as the frighteningly smart and maniacal boy Ender knew, lead a country? And in a world where the graduates of Battle School are being used as weapons, does it even matter?
Itís quite a dilemma. As a matter of fact, Cardís books are loaded with dilemmas. How do you save a species and claim itís the human thing to do, when you need to kill another living creature to save them? Do beings like Artificial Intelligence or, I donít know, someone hatched from someoneís mind, have a soul? (Youíre going to have to read the books-Iím not even going to try to explain that one without any background). Whoís the better leader - the one who brings peace through a constitution, or the one who brings peace through religion? Ender, Bean, and the rest of the characters that populate this very thought provoking collection of novels are asking themselves these very same questions as they face seemingly insurmountable odds and yet most times, in a way that Orson Scott Card seems to love to do, a new choice arises at the last moment that you would never have thought of, but alas, makes perfect sense.
The beauty of Cardís writing is its truthfulness. Things donít just happen because in the sci-fi world weird things happen. Everything, even the stranger events of the novels, seems truthful and within the boundaries of the world set forth. Cardís writing flows beautifully and his knowledge of geography and battle strategy is extensive. Card is writing about geniuses and in doing so, he comes off sounding like one.
It only took me one reading to see why my sci-fi hating friend loves Orson Scott Cardís novels. While the books about Battle School hold elements of child psychology, the later Ender books contain ethical debates, and the later Bean books hold a great deal of war strategy, Cardís writing never gets bogged down in the complexity of his subject matter. Orson Scott Card does not write Sci-fi. He writes about people who endure life in a science fiction style world. It may not seem like much, but that makes all the difference.