Senin, 02 September 2013

Ender's Game & Ender's Shadow

Title: Ender's Game
Original Title: Ender's Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher:  Tor Books (1986)
ISBN: 9780812533552
Pages:  368 pages
Original Published Date: 1985
Awards: Hugo Award for Best Novel (1986), Nebula Award for Best Novel (1985)

Title: Ender's Shadow
Original Title: Ender's Shadow
Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher:  Tor Books (2000)
ISBN: 9780812575712
Pages:  469 pages
Original Published Date: 1999
Awards: ALA Alex Award (2000), ALA's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2000)

Welcome to Ender's universe

These two books are not necessary a sequel/prequel. They are first to their own series, The Ender's Saga and The Shadow Saga which follow two amazing children soldier, Andrew Wiggins and Bean (aka Julian Delphiki) in their quest of surviving childhood while saving the earth in the year of 2170-ish. These books are just happened to be in the same universe, and later in the story, in the same Battleschool and the same battlefield when this two boys cross paths. It said that they was a companion books. It was really interesting to see the same events but entirely from two different point of views, and how both boys had their own opinion of each other, sometimes loathing sometimes longing for one another attentions.


In Ender's Game we first introduce to the earth in not-so-distance future. Human has master the interplanetary spaceflight when they found The Formics, an insectoid alien force, had been scouting the earth to made it its nest. Putting aside all political problem, the three major force of the earth, i.e Hegemon, Polemarch, and Strategos decide to fight together, and so in the second invader war, a spaceflight captain name Mazer Rackham succesfully defeat all enemy ships. To prevent the worse of these wars, all genius children from around the world has been taken asked to join International Flight (IF) organisation where they can be educated to be the best soldier that could be.

Here come Andrew (Ender) Wiggins. He was the third child (there is limitation of 2 children on each family) that was specially permitted because his brother and sister was slightly off marks of being selected to join Battleschool. They both off the charge strategic geniuses, but he was too aggresive (a chaming sociopath, reminds me of Dexter, really) while she was too submisive, so hopefully, the third one would be spot on. And he was, except for one thing, he scared to death of his eldest brother, which made The IF questioning his fighting will. But when Ender decide to face Stinson, the bully of his class, just to made his future peace, IF put off the hesitation and quickly hasten him to the orbit.

“...Kicking him in the groin, kicking him repeatedly in the face and body when he was down—it sounds like you really enjoyed it.”
“I didn’t,” Ender whispered.
“Then why did you do it?”
“He had his gang there.”
“So? This excuses anything?”
“Tell me why you kept on kicking him. You had already won.”
“Knocking him down won the first fight. I wanted to win all the next ones, too. So they’d leave me alone.”

From the the first moment in the Battleschool, Ender was made to be alienated. One reason was because of his always almost perfect test mark -although he was the youngest cadet- the other was because The Commander of the School thought it was the best way to bring all he's got. Once he stay long enough to made some friends, it was time for him to be promoted to the higher class. Always like that until he was 9 when he was choosen to join the Salamander Army, lead by a punk name Bonzo Madrid. Not knowing -or rather not wanting to know- Ender's best strategic brain, he sent him to be a motionless bait in the school war game. Ender responded by having his own extra practices which attracted much attentions from many of students and teachers.


Around this time, there is a new launchy name Bean. In Ender's Shadow, we followed his past life as a street kid in Rotterdam, where he survived hunger and bullying with the help of a girl called Poke. When Poke was killed in order to protect him, he was found by Sister Carlotta -- she's like IF scouting agents, recruiting kids from everywhere to be tested and, if sufficient enough, to be sent to join IF-- who was totally amazed by his intelligent mind and perfect memory. When she wanted to sent Bean to the orbit, IF denied it of his age. Bean was 4 year young. So Sister Carlotta took him under his wing for another year and teach him everything she knows (but with Bean's mind, a year of well fed and studying was like 5 years in school, or in Sister Carlotta's case, a seminary, where he studied not just math and english, but also French, Latin, history, biology, physics, etc,  etc, including memorize all the Bible passage she recite). In this time, Bean origin became more and more interesting to her. So when Bean finally enter the Battleschool, Sister Carlotta gone for a mission of finding Bean parents and his birth process.

Bean, more or less, has the same treatment as Ender's. The different was, Bean was always alone, so loneliness doesn't had any impact to him. It became his weapon. From the first day, his habbit from the street life made him wondering around, finding out his surround environtments, measuring the social strata, lurking for each and every strength and weakness of everyone, students and teachers, knowing his way out of every situation given. Not that the teachers did not knowing about his extraculiculer activity, but because he absolutely avoiding any psyco-analisys tools, they thought it was as good as one. Bean also get promoted as quickly -if not quicker- as Ender was. So when it's Ender time to have his own Army, Bean more than ready to choose 40 of the best underrated young student, including himself, to join in.

Dragon Army

When two giants colided, who's gonna cursed inside. Well, in this particular case, no one, except some ego got bruised in the process. I really like this part of the story. I mean I read EG, then ES, but then I read them both simultaneously just in these chapters, to see how Ender's and Bean's mind assess each other while they were -most of the time- totally wrong towards one another. Bean always thought that Ender, just like everybody else, took him just as a cute little boy, making silly remarks of his size. But Ender actually just after 10 minutes with his soldier, had picked up Bean as the  smartest of them all, and try to make everybody else respect him for this and this only. Ender though Bean being the smartest sometimes questioning his decisions. But Bean, more just than that, had suspected the teachers playing the whole another game with Ender, that they put more and more pressure and try to broke him at his limits.

Ender's POV
He woke up feeling good, jogged on out to take his shower, and did not notice the piece of paper on his floor until he came back and started dressing in his uniform. He only saw the paper because it moved in the wind as he snapped out the uniform to put it on. He picked up the paper and read it.


0700, said the paper, and it was already 0630. Some of his boys might already be heading for breakfast. Ender tossed his uniform aside, grabbed his flash suit, and in a moment stood in the doorway of his army’s barracks.
“Gentlemen, I hope you learned something yesterday, because today we’re doing it again.”
It took a moment for them to realize that he meant a battle, not a practice. It had to be a mistake, they said. Nobody ever had battles two days in a row.
He handed the paper to Fly Molo, the leader of A toon, who immediately shouted “Flash suits” and started changing clothes.
“Why didn’t you tell us earlier?” demanded Hot Soup. Hot had a way of asking Ender questions that nobody else dared ask.
“I thought you needed the shower,” Ender said. “Yesterday Rabbit Army claimed we only won because the stink knocked them out.”
The soldiers who heard him laughed.
“Didn’t find the paper till you got back from the showers, right?” Ender looked for the source of the voice. It was Bean, already in his flash suit, looking insolent. Time to repay old humiliations, is that it, Bean?
“Of course,” Ender said, contemptuously. “I’m not as close to the floor as you are.”
More laughter. Bean flushed with anger.
Bean's POV
Everybody expected to have at least a week to strut around and brag about their perfect won-lost record. Instead, the next morning at 0630, Wiggin appeared in the barracks, again brandishing battle orders. “Gentlemen, I hope you learned something yesterday, because today we’re going to do it again.”
All were surprised, and some were angry—it wasn’t fair, they weren’t ready. Wiggin just handed the orders to Fly Molo, who had just been heading out for breakfast. “Flash suits!” cried Fly, who clearly thought it was a cool thing to be the first army ever to fight two in a row like this.
But Hot Soup, the leader of D toon, had another attitude. “Why didn’t you tell us earlier?”
“I thought you needed the shower,” said Wiggin. “Yesterday Rabbit Army claimed we only won because the stink knocked them out.”
Everybody within earshot laughed. But Bean was not amused. He knew that the paper hadn’t been there first thing, when Wiggin woke up. The teachers planted it late. “Didn’t find the paper till you got back from the showers, right?”
Wiggin gave him a blank look. “Of course. I’m not as close to the floor as you.”
The contempt in his voice struck Bean like a blow. Only then did he realize that Wiggin had taken his question as a criticism—that Wiggin had been inattentive and hadn’t noticed the orders. So now there was one more mark against Bean in Wiggin’s mental dossier. It’s not as if Wiggin didn’t have him tagged as a coward. Maybe Crazy Tom told Wiggin about how Bean contributed to the victory yesterday, and maybe not. It wouldn’t change what Wiggin had seen with his own eyes

I also loved to see while Ender was busy tried to train his Army to the definite win, Bean was busy watching Ender's back -- from the teachers hidden agenda, the Salamander's Army and its leader's minions, even from the questioning remarks came from within the Army himself. Ender as a Commander did not waste time to explained everything he did to them, so more than once it may seems that he did a foolish moved, but Bean as a unexceptional strategist himself see through these moved and did just that.

But most of all, I loved when they finally admitted that they need each other. Ender asked Bean to be his special weapon toon leader and gain his trust to command the entire Army, and Bean at the end realize that he was the only one as close as a friend could be in the lonely Ender's universe.
He understood what this feeling was, welling up in him, filling his throat, making tears stand out in his eyes, making his face burn, forcing a gasp, a silent sob. He bit on his lip, trying to let pain force the emotion away. It didn’t help. Ender was gone.
Now that he knew what the feeling was, he could control it. He lay down on the bunk and went into the relaxing routine until the need to cry had passed. Ender had taken his hand to say good-bye. Ender had said, “I hope he recognizes what you’re worth.” Bean didn’t really have anything left to prove. He’d do his best with Rabbit Army because maybe at some point in the future, when Ender was at the bridge of the flagship of the human fleet, Bean might have some role to play, some way to help. Some stunt that Ender might need him to pull to dazzle the Buggers. So he’d please the teachers, impress the hell out of them, so that they would keep opening doors for him, until one day a door would open and his friend Ender would be on the other side of it, and he could be in Ender’s army once again.

A year after

Ender trained solely with Mazer Rackham himself. He knew now his future duty, half of the secret IF held so deeply, that only a handful of people knew the truth. Bean trained with a bunch of the Army Commanders from school. With his wit only he managed to find out the other half of the secret IF held so deeply. So now IF put their best effort that the two never meet, not until they gained the success with their more-than-hundred-years-old plan. But that day coming rather sooner than later. The Third Invation was finally came. So ready or not, Ender had to face his destiny, and Bean had to do what he did best, watching Ender's back while he's facing the ultimate enemy. And maybe more.


Oh but this storyline does not cover half of it. There are more, like the story of Locke and Demosthenes, the political strategist on earth that turns out to be the Wiggins siblings. I like to read how Peter analize the world's power alliance just by reading pieces of news in the internet (and how their father eagerly praise Locke writting in newspaper not knowing it was Peter's, lol). Peter Wiggins gave the phrase "reading between the line" the whole new meaning.
And Sister Carlotta investigation bringing issues like human life, eugenetics, DNA alterations, humanity and faith to the test. I was really-really-really glad it turn out to be a happy ending for Bean (for now at least). In the Battleschool, it's fun to read how Ender playing _God and Bean playing ^Graff in the system and how the students and teachers reacted to them. Furthermore, in IF organization, the morale dilema of pushing over intelligent kids soldier to their limit, and then tried to protect them all with just a sheet of umbrella of ignorance was interesting. Always sapid to watch Graff, Anderson and Dimak quarreling about Ender and Bean.

Lastly, the story ended with one remaining question. Do we ready to extinguishing an entire race just because our own human race MIGHT be in danger. Where is humanity and compassion and affection and unprejudice and all that fancy words stand against all this. Andrew Wiggins end up looking for the answer for more than a lifetime journeys, but how about us.

This is a trully epic story, or rather an episode of bigger epic story. Ender's Saga will continue for three more books and three side-story books while Ender's shadow have five more. And I planned to read them all.


Ps: I could only think that Orson Scott Card is the only person who could write about solitude and loneliness through out a series of books so beautifuly. I first noticed it in Stonefather, a novela in The Wizard anthology, and ever since, I always struck by his writing. A little melancholic maybe, but not full by sadness or tears. It's more about self contentment. People just had to do what they had to, and do it their best.

And I admire him for that.

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