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The Row Boat
"Had we but world enough, and time..." *
Let the Little Children to Come to Me12/04/2006 12:59:26
In the subject I am quoting Jesus. In the article I am referring to the science fiction classic Ender's Game. If you haven't read the book and don't want the ending spoiled, don't read any further!
The science fiction reading project continues! I can't believe it took me so long but I finally got around to reading Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. Every bit as great as it was supposed to be. I can still remember being intruiged in 12th grade English when the smartest kid in every class was reading it in the middle of English class, not paying attention to the teacher at all. Must be a smart book.
Turns out it is about that dream some of us seem to have when we are little, or I should say "sneaking conviction," that we have super-powers and are destined for greatness. This came up last summer in a conversation in a long valley in the Sierras. My dear friend put it into words and I realized how much I had done this. Particularly as an only child, when I couldn't quite figure out why I wasn't an adult yet.
So in this book, an eleven year old super genius kid saves the world from aliens. The whole thing is a lead-up to it: his family, his training, and so on. Amazing how enthralling Card makes the training. And convincing. There are things kids can do that adults can't, like learning languages. Fluency is something children have. When something needs to be done fluently (as opposed to technically or correctly), children do it best. And this idea has tremendous currency in the romantic leanings of stultified adults. One needs to go no further than Jesus or the Star Trek (TNG) episode "Rascals," where kid versions of some of the crew members save the ship.
I also can't bother noting that at the end, the whole force of the book gets channelled into a religion. The kid military genius writes the scriptures for a new religion for humanity's interstellar colonies. It is based on a revelation from the aliens whose ruins they came to live in, a story of forgiveness. As if the United States's official religion where stories about the wisdom of the Indians, telling white folks that they are forgiven for destroying them. In the book, though, it is a beautiful and moving thing. Funny how this book, along with C.S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet, seems to make the job to science fiction to somehow perfect the imperfect religions of presentday earth. While science (in some accounts) is so eager for us to do away with our religions, science fiction starts wanting them back.
Ender's Shadow - 12/04/2006 14:09:05