Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ender’s Game

Ender's Game CoverI read Orson Scott Card’s classic Sci-Fi novel Ender’s Game in a single seven hour sitting.  Upon closing the book and standing to stretch, I looked out the window, and was surprised to discover that a large amount of snow had fallen.  Clearly, I had passed through some sort of literary worm hole, traveled across time and space without ever leaving my chair.  In pondering this most pleasant phenomenon, I happened to recollect a friend speaking of the “baggage” each reader brings to the act.  That is, the notion that each of us is unique, and therefore finds their own truth and meaning in a written work.  Card alludes to just this sort of thing, when he allows that:

“…all readings of the book are correct.  For all readers have placed themselves inside this story, not as spectators, but as participants, and so have looked at the world of Ender’s Game, not with my eyes only, but also with their own.”

I must confess no special immunity here.  Just like everybody else, I read through the lens of my own life experience.  For example, I found Ender’s Game reminiscent of the headlines I peruse on a nearly neurotic basis.  This instilled plausibility, and lent the work an eerie prophetic tone.  Maybe we ought to call him Oracle Scott Card.  On a more personal level, it struck me as a space-age-spin on the warrior’s journey, a motif which has long fascinated me.  It’s a mind-set I adopted after finding myself deeply affected by Dan Millman’s New Age classic Way of the Peaceful Warrior.   In the days preceding our discussion I wondered what insights my fellow warriors of words would bring to the table.

I reconnoitered at eighteen-hundred-thirty-hours on February 11, 2013 with my prose platoon (aka The Monday Evening Book Group).  I was confident that these literary allies would assist me in my quest for a deeper appreciation of Ender’s Game.  Even better, Annette “Pedagogue” Newcomb was set to rally the troops.  That meant I could ride shotgun, sit-back and enjoy the siege from the sidelines.

I must say that the verbal volley which ensued was beautiful to witness.  Ms. Newcomb’s contemporary twist on the Socratic Method was enviously proficient, and hers is obviously a practiced hand.  Beautiful questions initiating a back-and-forth cascade of conversation, our discussion filling and forming our understanding, ever inching towards a sort of consensus take on the work.  Topics discussed include:

  • Roots of Sci-Fi
  • The Hive Mind Versus Autonomous Thought
  • Child Count Policy
  • Engineered Beings
  • Dreams as Divination
  • Sci-Fi and the Human Condition
  • A Speaker for the Dead

Linkage

Wikipedia: Ender’s Game

Salon Interview

Hatrack Interview

Quotes from Ender’s Game

Movie Watch

If you enjoyed Ender’s Game, please allow me to recommend District 9Amazon sums up this one nicely:

“From producer Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) and director Neill Blomkamp comes a startlingly original science fiction thriller that “soars on the imagination of its creators” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone). With stunning special effects and gritty realism, the film plunges us into a world where the aliens have landed… only to be exiled to a slum on the fringes of Johannesburg. Now, one lone human discovers the mysterious secret of the extraterrestrial weapon technology. Hunted and hounded through the bizarre back alleys of an alien shantytown, he will discover what it means to be the ultimate outsider on your own planet.”

Final Thoughts

EaarthI am looking forward with great anticipation to our next discussion, which is slated for March 18, 2013, features Bill Mckibben’s Eaarth, is a pot-luck gathering, and will be moderated by Richard “The Professor” Schneider.  Just two days shy of Earth Day 2013; this discussion will give participants the opportunity to explore one man’s thoughts on what existence may be like in a world already altered by climate change.  I think Time Magazine does a fine job of characterizing the work:

“What really sets Eaarth apart from other green books is McKibben’s prescription for survival. This won’t be just a matter of replacing a few lightbulbs; McKibben is calling for a more local existence lived ‘lightly, carefully, gently.’ It’s a future unimaginable to most of us—but it may be the only way to survive.”

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Love Library Style

book pages make heart

Written by Deborah Austin and Jennifer Boyer.  Photo courtesy of jcarlosn.

“Then I did the simplest thing in the world.
I leaned down… and kissed him. And the world cracked open.”
–Agness DeMille

Love can be such a dramatic diva.  But love is beyond dramatic.  It’s essential.  Love scholar Leo Buscaglia seconds such sentiment, when he sagely states: Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life.  I couldn’t agree more.  And who can argue with the notion that Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to celebrate this finest of feelings?  Not me.  In fact, may I suggest some love library style.  I reached out to several friends for recommendations.  I studied the literature late into the night.  An aspiring author made me an offer that could not be refused.  That was the process that generated the selections you’ll find below.   They explore love from a variety of perspectives, and here’s hoping that you enjoy them as much as we have.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

heart reads be mine

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
The buzz on this one is fantastic! And why not?  A man goes missing, an old love letter is found, and the resulting tale encompasses love, intrigue, sacrifice, and exotic Burma.  It’s a smash hit in Europe, and February 2012 saw it cited as one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Month, and named an IndieNext Great Read.  Prefer word of mouth?  My good friend Carol “Piano Lady” Bromley has suggested keeping a box of tissues at hand.  Still not convinced?  Check out New York Times bestselling author Caroline Leavitt’s  glowing testimonial:

“No matter what I even attempt to say, I can’t possibly capture the absolute magic of this book. Like a spell, it haunts. Like love, it’s going to endure.”

heart reads friends

Friendship Bread by Darien Gee
There are many kinds of love including filial love, the love between siblings, romantic love, and the love of friends.  Friendship Bread by Darien Gee touches on all of these themes.  We meet Julia Evarts, who is dealing with the loss of her son by pulling away from her family.  She has removed herself emotionally from her husband and daughter, as well as her formerly close sister, whom she blames for the tragedy.   One day, she finds a loaf of Amish friendship bread on her porch with some starter and instructions.  Since friendship bread is the culinary equivalent of a chain letter, she soon has a surfeit of starter.  Through the magic of the bread, Julia meets widow Madeleine Davis, who owns a tea shop, and Hannah de Brisay, a concert cellist who is dealing with a crumbling marriage.  Slowly, with the love and support of her family and new friends, Julia begins to come out of her self-imposed isolation.  As she is opening herself up to love and life, Hannah and Madeleine find themselves on a journey of self discovery.  The two friends find they are braver than they thought, and they manage to find the courage to carry on in the face of adversity.

If you enjoy Friendship Bread, then you might consider checking out the sequel, which is titled The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, and has been winning rave reviews from critics and crowd alike.

heart reads passion

Hiding in Plain Sight by Deborah Austin
Thisis a story about living with the repercussions of a troubled past. About self destruction and the struggle to overcome overwhelming fear. It takes the reader on just such a journey through the eyes of Riley Scott, a photographer whose goal in life is to avoid love at all costs, a task she’s managed for the last eight years since her divorce. When she meets Joshua Mendon, her instinct is to run fast and far even as she becomes further involved with him. He seems safe enough at first, a writer living alone with his dog and Riley accepts an invitation for coffee. When she steps behind her camera, snapping a picture of him, she is entranced with the results. Her interest swiftly enters into obsession where she fights to maintain a friendly distance even as she makes Joshua the subject of a photo study. Her attraction grows but her fear of another failed relationship causes her to balk at each new intimacy. Joshua is nothing if not patient and after a dinner with friends at his house, their relationship takes a turn that will change both of their lives in a way they never expected.

Hiding in Plain Sight is currently available only as a Kindle e-book.  In the spirit of the give-and-take that characterizes genuine love, Ms. Austin has decided to offer Hiding in Plain Sight for free, in the hopes that readers might offer some feedback.  The offer starts on Valentine’s Day, is for a limited time only, and you can check it out here.

heart reads faith

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
A plain goes down in a remote wilderness.  As a consequence, two strangers are thrust together in a desperate bid for survival.   Winter weather, predators, injuries, and a shortage of food conspire against them.  What they do have is each other.  But is their growing attraction and trust enough to save them?  Countless romance readers have raved about The Mountain Between Us, with many calling it an outright favorite.  I think that Amazon does a great job of concisely summarizing the volume’s vibe:

“Both a tender and page-turning read, The Mountain Between Us will reaffirm your belief in the power of love to sustain us.”

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