Monday, July 29, 2013

Books: Ender's Game

Have you watched the Ender's Game movie trailer? Kind of confusing right? Exactly, what is the movie's premises at all? Ender stands for the kid's name, and the story is about a kid who played the game, hence the title Ender's Game. But the game itself is not named nor developed by Ender. He merely played the game. The game, that will decide the fate of all humanity.

Of course I haven't watched the movie, are you crazy? The release date for the movie to the nearest cinema is 1st November 2013, which is the next 4 month. But I did watched the trailer, and I was intrigued. Not to mention the sneak peek trailer had shown Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley. The movie was based on a novel series, a science fiction novel series. Which is exactly my favorite preference on novel series.

So I spend a few day looking exactly which book did this movie belong to. I once got my hand on the I Am Legend,  I, Robot and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and those weren't bad at all. Seeing that there is some spaceship and explosion all over the places, it could be another good read while I'm waiting for the next Horus Heresy series.

So this is what the book cover looks like. Well, one of them. Apparently there is a whole of Ender's Game Saga. I managed to get my hand on 8 of them, and yes, I've finished reading all eight of them within a week. I just couldn't help, the book is really something. Where The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a combination between science fiction and comedy, the Ender's Game novel series is a combination between sci-fi and a little bit psychological thriller, of some sort.

It didn't revolve around high-tech, sleek looking, futuristic megalopolis kind off things things that sci-fi usually about. Although when you look at the movie trailer, you kind of hoping that would be the case. Turns out, the story is much more deeper that just starships shooting lasers with each other.

The story is about a boy's life. Not just any boy, his name was Andrew Wiggins. Before his story started, the prelude (which was an entire novel book) was about another boy named John Paul. John Paul live in a world where planet Earth is united under one rule, the Hegemony. Formed after an alien invasion called the Formic, planet Earth have survived 2 devastating attack and everyone is preparing for the next one. At that time, after Earth space fleet were destroyed (they barely repelled the second invasion) the whole world were contributing everything they can to create a new fleet to counter attack the Formic. That causes the whole Earth population stuck in one place, the Earth of course. With the population numbers growing except their balls to colonize another planet, the Hegemony imposed the '2 children' policy' which causes the public unrest.

John Paul was not the first or second child. In fact their family was categorized as 'non-compliant' family rendering them stripped of public education and normal citizens privileges. By some stroke of, I have no idea what, John Paul was a unique child. Able to read at early age and have different way thinking than the people around him. When the International Fleet under the Hegemony comes by to test every child at young child to be drafted, John Paul stands out as a very brilliant kid. Except he hated the Hegemony and doesn't want to serve in International Fleet (IF).

Long story short, John Paul tricked the IF officer to make his family to be able to regain privileges as a 'compliant family'. The IF officer at time seems to screwed over by John Paul, but he actually reserved a far fetched future results, something John Paul actually already knew. The IF officer, which is Colonel Graft, was actually going for John Paul's children, where he reason that instead of having one genius, why not wait for the genius's kid where there would be more than one. Hence brought us to Andrew Widgins.

Andrew Widgins got his nickname as Ender because he was just like his father, not the first or second child. He was the third, an extra. He share his intelligence just as high as his older siblings, but it is Ender way of thinking that makes him standout. His older brother was a psychopath while his sister was too soft. When Ender was bullied in school, he killed the bully. Yes, that right, he murdered that son of a bitch. Although he didn't realize that. All he know that he had kicked that bully in the groin, face, head, and I'm sure he kicked him some more. When Colonel Graft came for him and ask why did he do what he did, he answered simply because he had to win decisively in order to avoid future conflict (which means if the bully is dead, the he couldn't bullied another soul). Hmmph.. pretty neat thinking huh.

Thus, he was brought to the Battle School in space to be trained. He did pretty well in there, manage to outwit other kids with sheer intelligence. He believe that winning battle is not enough, winning the war is what really matters. There is alot of, theological debate in the novel, really. Apparently the novel is trying to portray what would happened if the world were to unite under one rule. There other kids like Ender of course, and many of this kids were from other races and religion. So he did not just learn how to command and fight, but was also exposed to his own devises on how to win the heart of the man (or kids) under his command.

I wouldn't rambling too much about the novels (its 8 books altogether, remember?) because its too much to tell. But all I can say is that, it is really fascinating. In the movie, the game is actually a battle simulation that Ender was put under training where the objective was at first to outwit the computer programming. And then one day, the game's rule keep changing and at one point Ender's forces always outnumbered or placed at nonstrategic area. He keeps on playing and playing, winning every time, against all odds. Until one day, when he was weary, tired and almost at his breaking point, his teacher came to him and told him he has one last test before he graduated. One last game, the hardest of them all. Where he was pitted against an enemy that outnumbered him over 1,000 to 1 (ok, even I wouldn't stand for this kind of odds). If I was him, I would've have quit the academy that very day. It almost seems like they doesn't want him to graduate, ever.

Well, in the novel, he won. And he won not because of his superior intellect, exactly. But because he broke the rule of the game. He reasoned that if the game can cheat by putting him in that kind of odds, why not him. But without him realizing, the battle simulation was actually not a simulation at all. It was a holographic representation of the human fleet against the Formic forces. He was actually commanding the entirety of the human space fleet against a far superior forces of Formic all this time. But to him at that time, he was playing a game. Hence, the Ender's Game.


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