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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Discussions About Orson Scott Card » Is Anton's key a curse or a blessing?

   
Author Topic: Is Anton's key a curse or a blessing?
urbanX
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It seems most people want Beans children to be "cured" of Anton's key. I'd rather they not. If it became known to me since birth that I would die by the age of say 21 but in the mean time lead a remarkable life, I'd be fine with it. I guess I always thought it's better to burn out, then to fade away.
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ricree101
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I certainly wouldn't. For one thing, it is unlikely that you would actually achieve anything meaningful. You would probably end up like all the other child prodigies, except that you'd die earlier. You'd probably be pushed into medicine or mathmatics. While you might finish your schooling a few years earlier than most geniuses, you would still have a very short amount of time to actually accomplish anything.

Remember, Bean happened to be born at the right time when they were looking for exceptional young people to recieve military training for the purpose of leading an army. Anything else, and he still would have been great at what he did, but he never would have been able to that large of an impact on society.

Maybe if the age was closer to 35 or 40 I would have a different answer, but at early 20's I would have to strongly say no.

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Carl Conrad Coreander
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Besides, what if you fall in love? Then you'll have ...umm...not many years together. It would be even worse for the person without Anton's key.

Hmm. This scenario sounds familiar...nah...probably just me. [Big Grin]

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1135813
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There's also the question of what constitutes a "remarkable" life: what could possibly be so remarkable that it would be worth taking sixty years off your life-span?
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Pelegius
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Mozart was only 35 when he died. Hemmigway wrote his best poetry as a young man. I wouldn't like to die at 20, but you could still use your genius by the time of your death, Bean saved humanity.
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Ramdac99
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People find purpose for their own lives. Weather they live to 22 or 122. that fact will not change, that is the whole point of life, to find meaning. It is impossible to say weather there life would be "better" or "worse" with the key on or off. It seems like the humanistic natural instincs would be to prolong life as long as is feasable. It's weather we want to go againsed our gut instinct for something that might better humanity at the risk if individual suffering. Tough question.
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Meshugener
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I think it is a blessing; a long life doesn't really mean that much. I'd rather make an impact with my life in 20 years than just settle down and do nothing for 100. In my opinion, it would be better to improve the lives of others than to be selfish and live a normal life for as long as possible.
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Ramdac99
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Ender didn't have the key on, did he do nothing with his life?
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Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged
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I'm a quality of life kind of person (this is urbanx btw.) It should be noted that Ender did most of his lifes work before he 20.
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Sid Meier
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hmm... I would rather they live a long life AND have antons key turned. After al if they do get "cured" per say what happens if the cure is only gets rid of the shortened life span thingy?
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K.K. Slyder
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I must disagree with you Wobagger. Ender finished the Bugger Wars before he was 20, and he also wrote the Hive Queen and The Hegemon. His greatest work though was restoring the Formics and getting peace between the Pequeninos, which he did as a ripe middle-aged old man.
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Meshugener
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Another point I'd like to bring up: would you rather be Bean or Nikolai? Didn't Volescu ask Bean that question? I doubt that any among you would rather be Nikolai.
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SpEeDMaSTeR
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quote:
Ender didn't have the key on, did he do nothing with his life?
Ender was one of a trillion. Bean was... one of one. I think the ratio supports that people tend to do remarkable things more often with Anton's Key turned.

quote:
While you might finish your schooling a few years earlier than most geniuses, you would still have a very short amount of time to actually accomplish anything.
Ten or fifteen years is no short amount of time for a genius. Remember, Bean was considered smarter than anyone in the world at age 6 upon entering battle school.

I myself would certainly have not mind having had the key turned. As SotG said, "It's too bad that you were trained in military and not medicine, Bean. Otherwise you would have already cured your condition by now."

People tend to glorify long lives. But honestly, after 50 or so do people actually do anything useful to society? What if you could live to be 20 and cure cancer? I think that I would consider my life much more meaningful doing so than if I had lived to be 115 working until I was 65 then living off social security and pension money.

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Just another Dharma bum
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But by living older, one can have the chance to experience anything and everything one wanted to. By living with Anton's Key and dying at age 20, sure one would acomplish incredible things, but at the cost of living a very short life. I'd rather live long and have the intelligence of a normal human being and be able to experience everything life has to offer, rather than rush through it a genius.
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SpEeDMaSTeR
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But would it really seem like rushing if everyone lived to be the same age as you? Customs would change, and I doubt the drinking age would be 21. [Laugh]
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Just another Dharma bum
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No it wouldn't, but we're speaking about being able to choose. What would you choose? You would feel like you'd have a brief life compared to humans, I wouldn't want that.
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Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged
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OK, how would humans react to aliens then? Compared to the piggies or the buggers humans live far shorter lives.
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MidnightBlue
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Does it have to be a curse or a blessing? Couldn't it be both?
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AC
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Everybody assumes that someone born with Anton's key would accomplish something great, however, in our time anyway, I don't think this is very likely.

Bean was able to because of what was going on in his "era", but nowadays, I believe that a child who has Anton's key (who I will now refer to as AK)would likely be seen to be a genius early on, and would go through accelerated schooling, and even get as far a master's degree as early possible, but beyond that, the egos of the academic/scientific world would probably hinder any great accomplishment.

The executives of companies involved in biological research, military weapons development, physics labs, etc., would probably fight tooth and nail over a contract with AK in the hope that he would develop some kind of a miracle product that would bring in enormous profits. The staff of such laboratories though, would likely be very hostile toward the idea of taking a preteen's idea seriously,and would probably make a point disagreeing with anything AK says, and attempt to discredit AK's work every step of the way.

The same would happen at university laboratories, where he might be accepted as a low level assistant, but any theories or experiments proposed by him would likely be shot down, often with the statement: "you don't have enough experience to be taken seriously yet".

The only place that I think AK might make a great impact would be in the computer business, where he would probably be accepted without much reservation, especially by a smaller company (software development doesn't require too much corporate infrastructure) that would probably give him free reign to do whatever. Because it is BUSINESS they would be more concerned with profit potential than the weirdness of a preteen working there, and many software companies were formed by "maveriks" (poor word choice, but I can't think of a better one at this moment) who had little use for stuffy, old fashioned ways of many large companies in other fields.

One other area where AK may make a big impact would be working with charity. Because of the nature of charities, they might accept someone who demonstrated that degree of intellect into a position of authority regardless of age.

Other than those two areas, AK might do a lot of theoretical work, and/or write essays and things of that nature, but I believe the establishment would probably be inherently hostile, and immediately attempt to denounce or discredit or prevent publication of his work. It would probably not begin to be accepted in the academic community until after his death.

Another thing to consider is that AK might not want to do anything of that nature. Years ago a kid set a world record for youngest to get a college degree at age 10. Ten years old with a college degree, but he didn't want to do research or work in the academic world. He wanted to be a game show host. That was the only job that he had any interest in. I have no idea what he is doing now, but AK may be like that kid. He may want to do something like be a lawyer, or a machinist, or something like that, where his intellect would likely have very little impact on the world.

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Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged
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In a post COTM universe humanities view of the universe is about to be shattered. The buggers are alive, and have spread to several worls. So have the Piggies. The intelligent AI program still exist. Throw in a potentially hostile alien race that engineers semi-intelligent virii. And if it ever gets out that the Starways Congress voted to destroy a planet filled with people, and bio-engineered the people of Path, the government could be brought down. If ever a time as the genius of Beans kids would be needed it would be then.
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