Ender's Game and the Innocent Killer


I grew up reading science fiction.  Books by Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark, H.G. Wells, Jules Vern, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Pat Frank, and other masters of the genre filled the bookshelves of our home and therefore found their way to filling my mind.

At some point I read Orson Scott Card's book Ender's Game. For some reason it didn't make as much of an impression on me as it seemed to make on my fellow sci-fi-loving peers. Some of them looked to Ender as a hero, and at least one of them proudly admitted to actively emulating Ender's philosophy and behaviors. I recall that I enjoyed the story, but it didn't change my life in any significant way, and I certainly didn't see Ender as a role model.

A few years ago, when I found out that a movie version of Ender's Game was in production, I decided to re-read the book. And I felt uncomfortable with it in ways that I found hard to express. In his article at Business Insider, Walter Hickey points out a few reasons why he dislikes it that I can sympathize with. Card's characters don't develop much, and the author writes with the kind of blatant sexism that is unfortunately typical, and therefore somewhat ignorable, of many older adventure books. But there was something even darker, almost malignant, to the book that I didn't understand as a child and couldn't quite put into coherent words now.

When the Ender's Game movie finally came out, my social feeds were abuzz with commentary on the book and movie. Somehow in all the chatter I stumbled across this article by John Kessel"Creating the Innocent Killer:
Ender's Game, Intention, and Morality."
 Kessler is able to put my qualms about the book into clear focus, and he also points out some problems with it that I hadn't yet noticed. I would try to explain them, but you will be better off if you just read this.

I'm not saying that Ender's Game is a bad book. But I think it would benefit most younger readers if they read it in conjunction with some age-appropriate explanations of some of the topics covered in Kessler's article. 

What do you think?

photo credit: Myles! via photopin cc