Denver Rocky Mountain News
October 10, 1999
Reviews by Mark Graham
Among the most beloved of science fiction novels is Orson Scott Card's
Ender's Game (1985). What makes the story of 7-year-old Andrew (Ender)
Wiggin and his battle to save the world from the "bugger" invaders from space
unique is that its popularity transcends age divisions. While the book was
marketed (and intended by the author) as an adult novel, children as young as the
protagonist share a fierce loyalty to the book with older siblings, their parents and
even their grandparents.
In the results of a recent online poll, Random House's Modern Library
named Ender's Game No. 11 of the best 100 books of the century, just behind
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, and two spots ahead of James Joyce's
Ulysses (No. 1 on the widely debated list published earlier this year).
While Ender's tale seemed to be finished in the four-book series that
followed, Card has felt for some time that there were aspects that still needed to be
told. Thus, the publication of Ender's Shadow, a "parallel" novel. In my
experience, this is the first time an author has gone back to tell the same story
from the point of view of another character.
A somewhat minor character in Ender's Game was Bean. While he didn't
make his appearance until late in the narrative, his importance was significant. In
the new book, Ender actually is in the shadows, and Bean takes center stage.
I hadn't read Ender's Game until last month. I had read more than a dozen
Orson Scott Card novels, but somehow I missed his signature work. So, I read
Ender's Shadow first. Immediately after, I had to find out what I had been
missing, and I read the original.
Unlike most books in series, you can read in either order, or only one of
them. But you will be amazed when you read them both. There really are two
stories here, and both are wonderful. And, in case you are curious, I liked Ender's
Whenever Orson Scott Card speaks to groups, he credits his family with his
success, and he frequently mentions his concern over the disintegration of the
family in modern times. So, it is not surprising that his "fable for adults" tells the
story of a dysfunctional family.
Using a typical fair tale format, Card and Pinnock present us with a king too
busy with affairs of state to care or communicate with his wife and children, all of
whom are enslaved by a magic mirror. Only this time, the magic mirror is a
computer screen; the queen becomes addicted to chat rooms, the young prince to
computer games. The disenfranchised daughter joins dark-robed young people
like herself and loses interest in the rest.
The book is frighteningly close to reality and an apt metaphor for the
problem that seems to concern the author most.