Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

"I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one."

Right off the bat, we have a "he's the one" moment. So whoever this is they're talking about joins the hallowed halls that Luke and Frodo walk. What follows is a dialogue between two people we know nothing about, talking about people we know nothing about. If there were dialogue tags and a name here or there, we might be able figure something out, but the author is being stingy with context. I wonder if this is where the Matrix got it's idea for it's opening? The intended effect is to be mysterious, the actual effect is enigmatic pronounology.

The dialogue sounds funny in places.

"If the buggers get him, they'll make me look like his favorite uncle."
"All right. We're saving the world, after all. Take him."

It sounds like two old perverts are chatting over a game of chess about their next victim. At least, it could be contrived like that. I mean, what would you think if you heard a conversation like that at the mall?

Dialogue doesn't get any better when the kids start swearing.

Verdict: Fail

Speaker of the Dead

In the year 1830, after the formation of Starways Congress, a robot scout ship sent a report by ansible: The planet it was investigating was well within the parameters for human life.

The date is a little confusing, but one has no choice but to assume that this is not referring to our 1830. I googled ansible. It is a fictional machine capable of instantaneous communication. Typically depicted as a lunch-box-sized object.

Chapter 1:

Since we are not yet fully comfortable with the idea that people from the next village are as human as ourselves, it is presumptuous in the extreme to suppose we could ever look at sociable, tool-making creatures who arose from other evolutionary paths and see not beasts but brothers, not rivals but fellow pilgrims journeying to the shrine of intelligence.

I guess when you have had a successful novel you can begin your next one with a personal statement based on a philosophical outlook that most people couldn't care less about. In fairness it is disguised as a letter from someone to someone, but it is still didactic no matter how you disguise it.

First thing said:

"It is another chance God has given us."

Verdict: Fail


Today one of the brothers asked me: Is it a terrible prison, not to be able to move from the place where you're standing?

This is the best opening sentence of the first three books. It presents a problem and an unusual one at that: a prison in which you have to stand and are not able to move.

This intro section ends with:

You who speak languages, you are such liars.

Again a little bit of a lesson from the author via a character, but in this case I don't mind, as it's a cool thing to say. And so with that, I think it is best to end on a high note, rather than take a look at the fourth book.

Verdict: Pass (3.5 stars)

Theodore Moracht

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