Friday, August 23, 2013

Re-Read: Ender's Game

This is my third time reading Ender's Game, and I've read the previous incarnation of the novel (which began as a short story in 1977) several times over the years. I started reading it because of the upcoming movie based on the novel.

There are several things that date the novel at this point: the first of which is the superpowers of the world back in 1977 were the Russians and the Americans. Obviously, that has changed recently, and but the book doesn't reflect that. Fortunately, this background has little to do with the main focus of the novel.

The novel is compellingly readable, but it lost a bit of impact between the short story of the same name and the conversion into a novel. The short story was focused at it's core: if the horror of war could be distilled away into a child's game, then we could perhaps train children to become amoral warriors. The novel is quite a bit more nuanced, meandering into issues of xenocide, the rightness of abusing a child, no matter how brilliant and no matter how important the purpose. What's worse, the ending of the novel makes it clear that Ender's sacrifice was unnecessary.

Nevertheless, the book, when it does focus on Ender and his travails, is excellent, providing many examples of leadership that real world managers and executives would be well-advised to emulate. Highly recommended.
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