I am going to forgo today’s usual features to tell you about a love affair I have with a certain book and a six year old boy. The second definition of love affair, of course, meaning an intense enthusiasm for something, stop looking at me funny, you dirty minded asshats.
I don’t even know how the book landed in my hands. My father had shaped my love of science fiction and I had a bizarre obsession with theoretical physics when I was about ten years old, because the only television we were allowed to watch was the hour of Star Trek Next Generation and maybe a few reruns of the original (thanks Dad). I thought I would be a rocket scientist, until I figured out I had to be good at math. But, because of this it led me to put down those Nancy Drew books and Baby-Sitter’s Club and start looking in my parent’s library. There were two sections. My Dad’s and my Moms. My Mom’s library held authors like Stephen King, my Dad’s, Author C. Clark. It took me about a year to read their library. It wasn’t big, my mom wasn’t into clutter and she quickly donated all but her favorites and my Dad went through so many books that it was a revolving door. And while I loved reading about Rama and the humans upon that starship, they were adults, with adult problems. For an eleven year old, adult problems seemed far off and hazy. Yet, the “baby” books, where their only problems were getting a life-guard to notice you, seemed trite and uninteresting.
I don’t know if I voiced my thoughts aloud, it is a shame I don’t remember how it came about, but suddenly I had ENDER’S GAME in my hand. The novel in today’s standards would probably be classified as a middle-grade novel, maybe young adult. I couldn’t imagine a young adult series being written in this fashion in today’s book market. Ender, the main character, is only six when the book begins, twelve when the first story ends. The series though, takes Ender into old age, it is quite different from any other series that I’ve read. Yet, while he is a six year old boy, he is tasked with saving the world, because of his vast intelligence and an almost detached sense of what needs to be done. He isn’t a normal six year-old, by anyone’s definition.
Ender, is by far, my favorite fictional character ever created. He is the buddy that I met in grammar school and still hold-on to in my adulthood. I don’t know why he reached out to me when I was younger and made such an impact. The story is good, but it is a hard one to read. Ender is persecuted throughout the whole book, he is detached and analytical, the adults force his hand to make these monstrous decisions. Don’t get me wrong, the novel is one of the best ever written, it is the recipient of the Nebula and Hugo Awards for best novel, which are the TOP awards for a science fiction novel. But, what does that mean to a child at the cusp of adolescence?
For me it meant a boy that never gave up, who’s life kind of sucked, even though it was so broad, but he still bullied through. He was violent and taciturn and a bit insufferable at times, but in the end, people looked up to him. It also reinforced ideas of regiment, schedules and tactics, something I didn’t really understand at the time, but shaped the ideas, which I think led me in certain directions through my teen years. It also taught me that adults aren’t always right and that good intentions sometimes go horribly wrong. That their rules might be there to protect, but they weren’t always meant for me. All from one book. A book I read over and over and over again. I read it every year, sometimes twice a year. Each time I would find something new, each time I would like a different character better.
A silly, military, science fiction book about a boy that kills an entire alien race. Who would have thought? I sometimes feel sheepish when I admit this book is still my favorite book after all this time. Especially now that the author is making a fool of himself with his vehemently anti-gay beliefs, but I still love his books. While others claim that book like Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath and other works of literary art are their favorite modern American novel, I’ll always go back to ENDER’S GAME.
The trailer came out yesterday and it gave me chills. Asa Butterfield is ridiculously close to what I imagined Ender to be, if not a little older. Harrison Ford isn’t Graff, though, but his name alone gives the movie merit. Then there is Ben Kingsley in his role as Mazer Rackham. Rackham’s character is integral to the shaping of this whole movie, because I think the casting and the make-up of this character show the attempts of the movie-makers to stick true to the book, if not sensationalize it a bit.
Nothing is said about Rackhamn, his traits, or his description in the book, from what I can remeber. He is THE general from the Second Invasion, thought to be dead, but only going into a ship at near-light-speed to slow down his aging so he would be ready to train the general of the Third Invasion. It is stated in the book that he is half Maori, a tribe from New Zealand that is known for their elaborate tattoos. The fact that they depict this in the movie gives me a bit of hope that they’ll stick true to the book, or at least to the Enderverse, which has expanded so much past the book.
So there. That is my long and drawn out reasoning to why I am both terrified and ridiculously excited to see ENDER’S GAME the movie. Out of all the books that I’ve read, this has to be THE one. THG was big, but ENDER’S GAME is so much more, so much history. At least it wasn’t a made for TV mini-series like all my favorite King books became. Which were good, but nothing like what they COULD be.
What do you think? Are you a fan of the books? What is YOUR book?
Take a look at the trailer for Ender’s Game: