I 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
If you enjoyed Ender’s Game, please allow me to recommend District 9. Amazon 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.”
I 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.”