“Give us a child until he is seven and we will give you the man”.
This attitude behind this Jesuit mantra prevails throughout this science fiction novel by the Mormon author Orson Scott Card. Set in a far future in an environment where humanity is under threat from a Starship Troopers-style alien menace named Buggers (yes, really), the novel sees the child Ender Wiggin recruited as a cadet at the Battle School
We then see him go through the dehumanising effects of military training. Each chapter begins with a dialogue between two of Ender’s recruiters through whom we become aware that Ender is, in fact, something akin to a military genius.
It is an odd book, not least because so many of the main characters seem to be incredibly advanced young children. Enders’s brother and sister, for example, rather bizarrely achieve a position of political dominance back on Earth through the internet despite still being in early childhood.
First written in 1985 (and updated substantially by Card since then to take into account the collapse of the USSR) and should make a good film when it is released in the UK late in October 2013, perhaps ranking alongside other decent sci-fi movies of 2013 such as Oblivion, Elysium and Gravity.
Sadly, Card – unlike his fellow Mormon author Twilight’s Stephanie Meyer – may have harmed the film’s prospects by revealing his homophobic views to the world. Mitt Romney woudl presumably give Card the thumbs up for this but few others will.
This is a shame. Perhaps it is unsurprising Orson Scott Card decided to name his villains “Buggers”.
But there is little to offend anyone in this novel.