Children of the Mind sucks large donkey balls. Just awful.
Much past EG, I found, in reading Card, that he comes across as an “agenda author” - i.e., someone who has a philosophy that *must *get worked into *all *of his storytelling. An extreme example is Ayn Rand, where her storytelling ONLY exists to bring her philosophy to life. OSC isn’t that extreme, but it is annoying, detracts from his books and ultimately put me off him…
“Speaker For the Dead” is my personal favorite of Card’s. “Ender’s Game” had a more profound impact on me, but that admittedly has a lot to do with the fact that I first read it as a shy, “gifted” 13-year old. I re-read both books about a year ago, and while “Speaker” stood the test of time well, “Ender’s Game” suffered from some serious pacing issues that I didn’t pick up on as a kid. The “big twist” also felt more telegraphed than when I first read it ten years ago (there were several points where I found myself shocked that young-me hadn’t figured it out earlier), but that didn’t really bother me since the story doesn’t really hinge on the audience being surprised by the twist. Card is focused on how the twist impacts Ender, the character; he could really care less how surprised the reader is.
Agreed. Although (and I admit I have no citable evidence for this), it has always seemed to me that Card went through a significant political reversal sometime in the late 90s. “Ender’s Game” and “Speaker” both promote some very liberal values - indeed, Ender’s overriding character trait throughout the original Ender Quartet isn’t actually his brilliance, but rather his humanism and empathy. His ability to truly understand other beings is what makes him exceptional, and throughout the later books, Card repeatedly comes back to the theme of humanism healing what dogmatism and parochialism have previously damaged.
It’s only in the past decade that Card’s novels have become thinly-veiled right wing tracts. I think 9/11 had a huge influence on Card’s views on foreign policy and economics, which shows in his “Shadow” books. His stance on ethical issues like gay marriage I’m not so sure about, as he rarely mentions such things in his pre-2000 science fiction, but I would guess that they haven’t changed much since he’s always been an observant Mormon. Still, it’s very hard for me to reconcile the Ender Quartet, some of the most overtly pro-tolerance, pro-“empathy for your fellow man” books I’ve ever read, with the vile rantings Card posts on his website (and which have since infiltrated his fiction). It’s almost like they were written by two completely different people.
I hate when people say that too, but it really is rather obvious when the “test” starts. There’s only a few pages left, not enough time to finish the test and save the galaxy. Ergo, the test has to be real.
Ender’s Game was one of my absolute favorite books when I was a kid. I read it and Speaker before any of the other dozen-or-so “Ender” books came out, and loved them both. As the other books in the series came out, I became a little disenchanted, and reading some of Card’s other works, I think I figured out why, and Time Stranger puts his finger on it: Card cannot write about any protagonist who is not a perfect untouchable exemplar. (Single tragic flaws are acceptable.)
In the “parallel” novels, which are told from Bean’s perspective, it emerges that Bean’s intelligence secretly eclipses Ender’s by orders of magnitude, and all indications to the contrary from the original story are lampshaded. Card, once again, has his protagonist as the most infallible perfect being in the story. IMO, this cheapens the original story.
And you find this in some of Card’s other works as well. In the Alvin Maker series, the world is peopled by characters with quirky little superpowers, like the ability to whistle really pretty tunes, or walk perfectly silently, or count large groups with perfect accuracy. And the protagonist? Essentially has the ability to do anything, which comes included with an infallible moral compass, physical attractiveness, and irresistible charm. Another perfect protagonist. (I also read the “Homecoming” series, where the same template holds, but with heavy messianic/Mormon overtones.)
Once you catch the pattern in Card’s works, it’s hard to un-see. The settings and plots are interesting, but the characters are all pretty one-dimensional.
I thought *Ender’s Game *was one of the best science fiction novels I’d ever read when I first encountered it some years ago. The first “Shadow” book was okay–basically a retelling of *Ender’s Game *from a different perspective if I remember correctly (and I may not–it’s been a long time). I’ve tried to read a couple of the other follow-up books and couldn’t really get into them. Of course, somewhere in there I learned some things that made me dislike the author, so, irrational though it may be, that probably made me look at his work with a more critical eye.
I also remember getting confused by the part with . . . the dead giant? Some deeply symbolic fantasy adventure he was having and which his masters were monitoring. I don’t know . . . maybe it would be obvious to me now, but that part puzzled me when I was a kid.
I was very much like the OP. I wasn’t a reader as a child and hadn’t read or heard about Ender’s Game until I read it. It was recommended to me here on the Dope in a thread I started seeking book recommendations. Also I thankfully remained entirely ignorant of Card’s political tilts.
I was faced with choosing between two 3-book bundles at the book store, one was the Bean series Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow and Shadow of the Hegemon, and the other was the Ender series Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide. Based on the book capsules I chose the Bean/Shadow series because I wanted more Battle School and less of the high minded, preachy elements of the story that Speaker for the Dead seemed to represent.
I loved Ender’s Shadow. Reading it back-to-back with Ender’s Game is a really cool experience that I think will be pretty rare. There aren’t many books written from 2 entirely different points of view in the same time and setting. I found Ender’s Shadow to be very much like the first book in style and appeal. The third book in the series however was a pretty large departure which read more like a Tom Clancy book than a Sci-Fi novel.
I still have never read Speaker for the Dead. Maybe I’ll have to look into that, but I suspect I might want to reread Game again first.
This is standard in teen-lit. Harry Potter and the Narnia books are no different. If anyone actually wanted to read what teens really reason and speak like Facebook and Youtube comments would be high art.
Well, with Ender already established as an uberkind of extraordinary proportion, that the rest of his family is equally extraordinary is kind of par for the course. Remember Ender was exiled from Earth following the War because his intellect was so potent that it would be globally destabilizing and inherently dangerous. Now that’s every bit of a stretch as the Jedi are but this is science fiction, that’s what people come in for. Within the context of the fictional world constructed it’s consistent.
I must be the only one in the world who enjoyed Children of the Mind. It’s a shame he’s leaking his politics into his books more now. I was looking forward to the book he said he plans to write, a sequel to Children of the Mind joining the Ender and Bean series … but now I’m just worried.
Oh, and Randy Seltzer, the Alvin Maker series also has heavy messianic/Mormon overtones, since Alvin Maker is supposed to be the Alternate World’s version of Joseph Smith.
A clever and enjoyable book but not something I’d extract moral guidance from.
The sequels progressively got more and more unreadable. I liked the general concept of Speaker for the Dead but, ironically, what blew it for me was when we actually heard Ender speak for the dead. Card had made such a big deal of how Ender could convey the inner life of the departed that there was no way he (Card) could actually write something as good as what he described. The last two books were just there to finish off Ender’s story and when you start getting into magic people and instant travel it just becomes ridiculous. The only person who sticks in my mind is Qing-jao and her OCD.
The Shadow series…I thought the various wars and political machinations were the most interesting part. After the first book, however, I lost interest in Bean himself.