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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Discussions About Orson Scott Card » Anyone else feel like Ender's Game was a fluke?

   
Author Topic: Anyone else feel like Ender's Game was a fluke?
ThePygmalionEffect
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So you have Card who says that he had this idea for the battle room and wanted to have something to connect to Speaker for the Dead, and boom! Here's Ender's Game, in my opinion, the best book ever written (and I've read a lot of books). so I read Speaker for the Dead, very good, still doesn't touch Ender's Game. I read Xenocide and Children of the Mind, they were alright. I moved on to the Homecoming series and praised god when I finally finished Earthborn due to complete lack of enthusiasm and plot that was even half way interesting. I then read the Alvin Maker series which only impressed me with Red Prophet, considering the plot seemed to be made up along the way with the other books in the series. The Shadow series I still love to death, not because of great story telling but because I love the characters so much. Card made characters that you will take with you for the rest of your life with Ender's Game. so all this leads me to the conclusion, was Ender's Game just a fluke? Did he get lucky and write the best book ever? If so kudos to you Card, do it again and give us another rememberable book.
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Zotto!
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I think OSC writes wildly diffferent books, and so while it's cool that you love Ender's Game so much, I don't think it means his other books lack something. Ender's Game just happens to be the kind of story you care most about.

Personally, I think the Speaker series is about as varied as a series can get while still involving the same characters; I love all the books, but each for utterly different reasons. The Alvin series is just plain fun to read. Same goes for the Homecoming series, which I thought was fantastic, especially the relationships as shown in The Ships of Earth. And while I love Ender's Game, I hold Hart's Hope, The Worthing Saga, Wyrms, Lost Boys, Enchantment, and Saints in even higher regard.

In other words, no, I don't think Ender's Game was a fluke in the slightest, and I'm not sure why you think being so callous towards many of the works that Mr. Card has spent a good portion of his life writing would encourage him to write more "rememberable" works. I just think that Mr. Card writes such different kinds of stories that whatever subjective element that pleased you in one book won't necessarily be in another. I'm amazed that Mr. Card has written so very many works that I appreciate so much; I'm really quite picky about what I read, and I've never been let down by a Card book yet. [Smile]

[ May 07, 2006, 06:02 AM: Message edited by: Zotto! ]

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Orincoro
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I spend alot of time composing "period" music. I write alot of material down, and I usually have some wonderfully awe inspiring moment of tonal granduer or transendency or something in my mind that I keep saving for the end.

Anyway I go to meetings and workshop my peices, and come up with expansions of "along the way" material that my teacher liked, cutting out some of the flotsom that didn't really go anywhere. Ussually by the time I get to that wonderful gleaming moment, I realize that I've written something over the weeks of composition that stands taller than anything i have the ability to accomplish.

Its like I am composing as part of a collective of myself at my best moments. Every best idea I had in a span of a month is on paper, and its all together. I am not equal to the work, I do not understand how it can happen that way, but it does, and that is the path my work has always followed.

I think that everything I am really proud of comes from that place in my life. It is not my design or my intention of any one moment, however by the time I arrive at a complete work, every part of it is the best expression possible, from me. I think Ender's Game is alot like that. Alot more than many other books, it feels like the product of a mind at its best and most fluid moments. Every part of it is balanced and studied, and it is the product of a thousand moments of intuition and creative outburst.

That isn't a fluke- its a resounding success.

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MightyCow
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I think good writers are bound to write some work that is fantastic (if they're lucky) and a lot of work that's good, maybe great, but doesn't stand up to their opus.

Stephen King writes a lot of complete crap, but his Gunslinger books are absolute genius. Some are better than others, but the story as a whole is a masterpiece.

I loved A Prayer for Owen Meany, but I've read quite a few of Irving's other books, and I think only The World According to Garp comes close, of those I've read.

I'm with you in thinking Ender's Game was a fabulous work of fiction. I have only read half a dozen of OSC's other books, but I didn't like the others half as much. They were well written, and I enjoyed them, but I didn't feel that any of the others had the same magic.

Part of that is my own opinion. Part is my taste in stories. Part may be that OSC, like all writers, has some books that are simply better than others. I'd never say his other works aren't good, because all the ones I've read have been great stories, even the ones I didn't like so well. At the same time, I too hope that he writes another book that works for me as well as Ender's Game did.

On the other hand, I just with Stephen King would stop publishing so much crap. [Wink]

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Lucky_Sean
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My opinion is that from OSC's Theatre training, comes the depth and power in his writing. The connection of characters, the depth of characters, all things prevolent in theatre. This is something many writers lack - they have stories, but without the human connection.
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Dagonee
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See, I think Speaker was far and away better than Ender's Game. And I like Ender's Game very much. It's an excellent book. (I also think most of Dark Tower doesn't land in King's Top-10.)

I thought Homecoming as a series was good to very good, but Earthborn was my favorite by far.

Card is one of only a few living authors who is still on my "I'll read it just because it's by him" list. It's a hard list to get on and an easy one to fall off of: more people have fallen off of than are on it now. It usually takes a run of two or three bad books with no compensating excellent books by an author to drop him off that list. Grisham fell off after one book, The Partner. I relented and read Runaway Jury because it sounded interesting, but now he's on the "I won't read it if it's by him until I get independent verification that it's good" list.

Although there are a couple of books of Card's that I thought were merely OK, most have been fabulous and none have been a waste of time. The "reveal" scene in Speaker was as moving as any piece of fiction I've ever read (Green Mile came close). That's an incredible track record. I certainly haven't achieved that kind of consistency in my professional work.

In short, it's possible that your liking Ender's Game was a fluke. Most of the elements I like about Card's fiction are present in Ender's Game, and the features unique to Ender's Game aren't it's best features in my opinion. Perhaps it's those features which made you like it.

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Will B
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I think it's a fluke in this sense: you write several stories, each of them good, and one resonates with the public. I think Speaker for the Dead, Pastwatch, and Lovelock are just as good; this is the one that really clicked with a lot of readers.
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ThePygmalionEffect
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I guess it does all come down to taste. I think the main thing for me is that I don't get into some of the other genres that Card writes, such as fantasy, as much as I do scifi.
And I agree about the scene in Speaker, that was genious.
And ALL of Ender's Game was genious.

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Luet13
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There have only been two, maybe three, books by OSC that I didn't care for, and yet they were still fun reads. I usually enjoy his series works better than his single books, the exceptions being Songmaster, Wyrms, The Worthing Saga, Magic Street and Enchantment. I still haven't gotten to the Women of Genesis, but I will.

The great thing about OSC is that he is versatile in his stories. While there are certain symobls that return, (the tree with the white fruit is the most prominent in my mind. Is that from the Book of Mormon?) each story is unique, and most importantly his characters are so real. Each one is struggling within to try to be the best that they can be.

I love that OSC refuses to limit himself to one specific genre. In that way he is like The Beatles to me, constantly evolving and coming up with something different, if not better, each time.

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Dagonee
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BTW, "aren't it's best features in my opinion" leaves a lot of room for those features to be very good - and they are.
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Pythian%Legume
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Hey all, here to drop an opinion:
While Ender's Game and the Ender books are amazing in their own respect, OSC really strayed a bit from speaker on. I felt like the story was interest and unique, but I didn't quite feel the same "this is the world, this is the destruction, this is how we shape it" vibe that I got from Ender's Game and the Shadow quartet. But it definitely wasn't a fluke; all of the books following Bean's amazing but tragic story are powerful. Each boasts ideas that are sad and commanding. We followed the characters we knew we wanted to.

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GodSpoken
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I loved them all, but the series deal with different topics. Speaker and on deal with people--problems, solutions, attitudes, religions, philosophies, how we justify our errors, how we recover and take responsibility for errors, how we gang up into societies, etc.-- and really could have been set anywhere anytime. The SciFi/Fant genre just offers endless fodder with which to demonstrate ideas safely for those of us with minds that dont like to be told. Easier to be gently reminded and forgiven, something OSC does magically.
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Scooter
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I suppose I will agree with the "fluke" notion only to the extent that this particular work caught on with so many different people when his other books haven't to the same extent--perhaps because it had appeal for both younger and older audiences. I don't think that necessarily reflects that it is better written or otherwise more ingenious than any or all of his other works.

As far as personal preference, I probably think more fondly of Speaker, and really enjoyed Treason, Pastwatch, Xenocide, Ender's Game, and Enchantment about as much, followed closely by most of the rest of what he has written.

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Pythian%Legume
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I think there's alot of great social commentary in these books. It touches on alot of good ideas while still being readable and enjoyable. Big issues, good way to deal with them.
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Numinor West
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I consider Alvin Maker and Pastwatch to be on the same level as Ender's Game.


For example, I wept profusely when Alvin was forced to experience betrayal and sudden death from the perspective of the cockroaches.

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BlackBlade
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I enjoyed Enders Game immensily, and it was initially hard for me to read SOTD, but after a few chapters I was engrossed in it, and I loved reading the entire speaker series. I read the entire shadow series and enjoyed even more than the speaker series.

I started Alvin Maker and I liked it as well for many of the same reasons but there were still many different aspects of it that I enjoyed. I have reached a point where I will read books by OSC just because he wrote them. I didn't get too far into Magic Street before I lost interest.

I read through Songmaster, and though I probably won't read it again, I appreciated that OSC could write what in many respects was VERY different yet still had some of similarities to EG, yet it was worth my time to read. I have very much appreciated OSC's attempts to write differently for different stories. If you read Enders Game and Magic Street and you didn't know they were both OSC you would have a VERY hard time picking it up from the text alone.

I am sorry you feel OSC other literary contributions lack the quality of EG, I personally do not expect OSC to write some book of such amazing scope it decimates EG, I expect him to keep writing his compelling stories and interesting characters and I will go on the journey with him.

and I was forced into putting the Earthbound series on hold, but I plan on picking it up again very soon. I still have Wyrms, Saints, and the Worthing Saga to read and I am excited to get to them.

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BaoQingTian
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I think one reason that it appears to you as though Ender's Game is the pinnacle of OSC's works is its accessibility. It's fairly short, straight-forward, non-vocabulary intensive, and the plot really moves along. Your average 16 year old can read it in a high school sci-fi class and just love the story. Teachers love it because there are enough moral question to make an interesting discussion. Adults continue to enjoy it not only because of the story because of the dynamics between characters.

I personally liked Speaker better- but not when I was 16.

So to repeat what others have said, perhaps it just has either a more widespread appeal, or it just appeals to you more.

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Hebedee
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I wish MY high school had a sci-fi class. =)

The best book he's written? Maybe - I enjoyed it immensely, but I cannot discount the incredible enjoyment I gleaned from its followups, as well as the Shadow series. I did not dig the return to earth ones that much (I have forgotten the titles, forgive me), but the Alvin Maker series was excellent.

The critical element to appreciating his works is to not go into it thinking about the battle room or the characters of Ender's Game - the depth is there in Alvin or the Shadow series, you just cannot look for it in the same places.

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Jqueasy
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Everyone and there mom loves Coldplay, I enjoy Coldplay. But there is a lot better music in my opinion than said band.
Just because EG is his most popular book, does not make it his best book. I like the Speaker - Children of the mind more. When it comes to EG vs ES to me there is no contest. Enders Shadow is the better novel. But it is all a matter of oppinion anyway. I also love Weird Al so there. [Taunt]

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CRash
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I also enjoyed Speaker more than Ender's Game. I read them both at fourteen. While I will say that EG is easier for the younger audience to read, I think more of its appeal is the fact that it centers around children, particularly Ender, and it deals with the battle room and destruction of humankind, and the surprise ending. Plus it was the first of the Ender books, introducing this new setting.

That's why I feel Ender's Shadow didn't catch on in the way that EG did--it wasn't a book with a new setting, it dealt with Bean (who I felt was harder to identify with than Ender) as a main character, and the surprise ending was spoiled midway through the book. Oh, and there was no siblings-plotting-world-takeover substory, either. I really liked that.

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doh
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Will Enders Game go down as Cards crowning achievement? Yes. It will define his writing career. Has he ever wrote something since that will have more or equal success on a professional level, and be so widely read and loved? No. Does this in anyway diminish him as a writer? No. Orson Scott Card has done something many of us will only dream of doing. He wrote something powerful. His story rose above the masses of average garbage that is published every year, to touch the lives of millions of readers. What was this genious, it was the creation of Ender Wiggin. He was able to a create a compelling character that many could empathize with. This character was so well developed that he could put that character in a completely different set of books from his original work. Very, very few writers, have ever caught the lightning in a bottle that is Ender Wiggin once, even less have got that lightning twice. I have read every work in the Enderverse, I have not yet read his other series, but I intend to. In the Ender series however, I believe Enders Game is one book, and then the next three are all one book. If you take Speaker, Xenocide and Children of the Mind as one book, the story that is told is much more powerful, and reaches many more levels than Ender's Game.
However, I digress. The point made before was that Ender's Game must be a fluke, becuase Orson Scott Card has never wrote something on the same level. I disagree 100% with that statement. Far from proving that he is an average writer who simply got lucky with one novel, Ender's Game should always be a testament to the genious that is Orson Scott Card. You do not write something as great as Ender's Game by accident. You have to have a story to tell, and the ability to tell it. That never happens by accident. However, even a genious can only have so many "original" breakthrough thoughts that can touch and impact millions. One is more than enough.

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Tresopax
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I think that if you look at the history of books, very very few authors have ever been able to consistently write great books that connect with nearly everyone. Only a handful have more than two - and most have only one that truly stands out. I have to believe that those who can repeatedly create true masterpieces each time are the greatest masters of storytelling.

I don't think OSC is at this level yet. He consistently writes very good books, but I think Ender's Game is really his only classic, of that unique caliber. The others have more of a niche following, connecting with certain readers. However, he still has plenty of time in his career left. Who knows what may be next from him.

And I don't think it is ever possible to be "lucky" when writing a novel. Novels are long - you can't just accidently write one that is amazing. It requires too much thought, effort, and personal input from the author to be a game of chance.

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jeniwren
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I think OSC is consistently very good as well...so I can't call Ender's Game a fluke by any means. If anything, I think Lost Boys is far more powerful. I also like his Bible history novels, particularly Stone Tables. He's written some things that didn't resonate with me, but inevitably, someone else loves it, and that's just the audience that's different.

OTOH, I look at authors like Emma Bull, who wrote one really great book (War for the Oaks) and then one okay book, and then almost unreadable books after that. I call War for the Oaks a fluke if ever there was one. I like Emma Bull, and for the sake of her one really good book, I pick up others as they show up, but so far, no luck. [Frown]

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jeniwren
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I think OSC is consistently very good as well...so I can't call Ender's Game a fluke by any means. If anything, I think Lost Boys is far more powerful. I also like his Bible history novels, particularly Stone Tables. He's written some things that didn't resonate with me, but inevitably, someone else loves it, and that's just the audience that's different.

OTOH, I look at authors like Emma Bull, who wrote one really great book (War for the Oaks) and then one okay book, and then almost unreadable books after that. I call War for the Oaks a fluke if ever there was one. I like Emma Bull, and for the sake of her one really good book, I pick up others as they show up, but so far, no luck. [Frown]

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David C.
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One thing I've come to realize over the years is that there is rarely much connection between popularity and quality.

The most popular songs on the radio are rarely showcases for songwriting talent and performing skill. And the works that demonstrate the most ability rarely achieve great popularity. I'm sure you all know of examples here, and they probably disagree with what I have in mind, so I won't get more specific than that.

With respect to OSC's novels, Ender's Game is without a doubt his most popular work, and this might never change, but it doesn't say a thing about the quality of everything else. It doesn't mean the other books are inferior, and it doesn't mean that one book is superior. It just means that this one story struck a chord with the general public.

I may think other novels are better, but that simply means that my chords are different from the majority of the world's, so it takes something else to strike them. And that's about all it means.

The curious thing about popoularity and celebrity is that it is often dependent on factors completely beyond the writer/performer's control. For instance, if Ender's Game was published five years later, or five years earlier, it might not have become as popular. Or maybe it would. There is no way to know, and there's usually not even much of a way to make an educated guess.

And after reading the above, I'm sure I had a point to make, but I'm not sure where it is anymore. [Big Grin]

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Joey
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
See, I think Speaker was far and away better than Ender's Game. And I like Ender's Game very much. It's an excellent book. (I also think most of Dark Tower doesn't land in King's Top-10.)

Agreed with all of that.
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