Tuesday, May 05, 2009

This is Why I Love Sci-Fi

As a card carrying geek, I'm almost ashamed to admit that I read Ender's Game for the first time a few days ago. Apparently, reading Ender's Game is a Geek right of passage, right up there with writing your first text-adventure in BASIC, getting picked last for any team and arguing Kirk vs. Picard.

Anyway, better late than never, I read it and I liked it. I don't exactly like all of Card's politics, but when taken just as a story, Ender's Game is entertaining, interesting and asks some fairly deep philosophical questions.

However, one of the things I absolutely adore about 'vintage' sci-fi (by my definition, any sci fi over 15 years old is 'vintage') are the predictions of the future. Sometimes these predictions are scarily accurate, others are just plain wrong, some are hopelessly naïve and others are just slightly skewed.

For example, Ender's Game very accurately predicted wireless laptops (in the book they're known as simply as 'desks'), but Card's vision of what wireless internet technology would mean was comically naïve.

One of my favorite bits of the book is when Peter and Valentine, Ender's genius siblings, decide to take advantage of the current political situation to try and take over the world. How do they do it?

Blogging and posting to forums.

Of course, in the book it's not referred to as blogging, the two kids adopt fake personas and post articles to forums which are then picked up by the 'news nets'. It's unintentionally really funny because Peter talks about his plan like a true evil genius, that no-one would ever think about pretending to be someone else on the internet. The bigger misunderstanding is that it's possible to convince anyone of anything that they don't want to believe.

Had Ender's Game taken place in real life 2009, Peter Wiggins' master-plan would have ended right after he wrote his first blog post. He'd have written a long, well thought out article on the political climate and instead of people thinking "Hey, this guy's making a lot of sense, let's listen to him!" It would have ended with a fourteen year old kid responding with 'OMG! U R A F4GG0T!'

If you haven't read Ender's Game, I'd recommend it. It's one of those books that a twelve year old would enjoy as a 'cool adventure story' while adults can enjoy it for the questions it raises.


MC Etcher said...


They've been working on a movie version for years.

I've read a few of the sequels, and I have to say, they don't measure up in my opinion.

marie said...

The scariest thing is that I read that years ago and I liked it! Its still on my bookshelf, not packed away in a box. Combine that with my ever expanding terry pratchett collection and Im a bit worried. Your geekiness is contagious. :) Although Star Wars still sucks...

Paulius said...

Etcher: I don't think I'd be interested in a movie version...the book has too much subtext for it to work on the screen. It'd be a cool adventure story, but not really 'Ender's Game'.

Marie: Liking Star Wars isn't compulsory...I personally thought the prequels sucked ass myself.

marie said...

just kidding you paul, i wouldnt really know. never watched them. Just like giving you a hard time.