Saturday, March 28, 2015

Reflections: Ender in Exile

Orson Scott Card has a good gig.  He has been writing about the same characters and essentially the same conflicts for decades.  Although some authors may tire of spending so much time in the same setting and with some of the same characters, Card seems to be perfectly content and is willing to explore the most obtuse and banal motivations and circumstances his characters can experience.  And me?  Yeah, I'm okay with it too.

In my reflection of the last book I read in the Enderverse, which was First Meetings, I wrote: "Jumping back into the Ender universe is a little like going home."  I still stand by that having read Ender in Exile.  Yet, a book like Ender in Exile, in my opinion, doesn't really have any need to exist.  Card insists in his afterward that the book was needed to tell the story of the soldier, Ender Wiggin, after the war.  Ender's struggles in this book, however, aren't that much different from his struggles in other books.  Furthermore, Card sets up some fairly bland conflicts.  Fumbling Admiral Morgan barely represents a threat to Ender and the entire duel of wits lacks any real sense of suspense.  In addition, the majority of the book surrounds that stand-off; it's a lot of wasted time.  Ender in Exile probably would have been better served as loosely connected short stories which deals with some of the key events, to wit: Admiral Morgan, reaching the colony, discovering the Formic's message, and Bean and Petra's lost son.  A few of the characters, such as Alessandro or Dorabella Toscano, don't really have any reason to exist.

Card's signature psychology and historical commentary is on display here.  From a science fiction standpoint, there are some interesting things to be found.  I was especially intrigued by the exploration of the idea of colonizing new worlds and all that it means for the generations of human beings involved.  Card, being a student of history, doesn't treat these ideas flippantly, and I appreciate the thought and reasonable conjecture he instils into this book.  (It was from an afterward that Card wrote that I learned about Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel; agree or disagree with Card, he is working with established ideas and projecting them into the future).  Like in other Ender books, the constant psycho-analysis between characters can become tiresome, but it's a well-established theme throughout each of the Ender books. 

In the final analysis, I liked Ender in Exile fine, but it's not a particularly strong addition to the canon.  This is now the 11th book I have read in this series, and I have a few more to look forward to.  And I do look forward to them for whatever unexplainable reasonable.  With so many books and so many authors in the wild to enjoy, I'm not exactly sure why I keep coming back to the Ender well.  Regardless of whether I figure it out or not, I'll be back to take another drink and more than likely enjoy the taste just fine.

Other Topics of Interest:
Memorable Moments: Ender's Game - Terrible Reality
Reflections: First Meetings in Ender's Universe
Reflections: Guns, Germs, and Steel

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