Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Review: Ender in Exile

I was thrilled to get a review copy of this book from Julie with FSB Associates.

Rating: 4.5/5
Grade: C - 14 and up (for some sexual themes, mild profanity, and war themes)

For any of you who have read and enjoyed Ender's Game and the other books in the Ender's series, Ender in Exile gives answers and details to what happened to Ender after he saved humankind from the buggers. It explains the political and personal reasons that Ender never returned to the earth, but made his home journeying from planet to planet.

For me, this book brought back the reasons why I believe that Orson Scott Card is one of the greatest writers of our time. His insight into human nature is incredible. And I believe that it is this insight which makes his books so widely readable. He knows what his readers are really searching for: challenge, growth, affirmation that there is hope for mankind, belief in exceptional intelligence and ability. When I read Card's books I feel a bit of the genius of his characters rubbing off on me. If I can read and understand Andrew Wiggin, then there must be something great in me, also.

One example of this in the book was the total arrogance of Ender's brilliant brother and sister thinking that their parents have no clue what is going on. Because they have such higher IQ's than their parents they think they must know better what needs to be done, while the parents are subtly manipulating these feelings to get their children to do exactly what they want them to do. It was hilarious, and so very true to life. Even these genius teens, are still teens.

Ender's Game was the first book I ever read that was classified as Science Fiction. I had to read it for a class in college, and I was not looking forward to it. Suprisingly I enjoyed it so much that I soon found all of the other books in the series, and then all of Card's other works. Ender in Exile has the same wide appeal which takes Card's novels out of the genre and lets them stand on their own as great writing.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Ender in Exile : Chapter 1

To: jpwiggin@gso.nc.pub, twiggin@uncg.edu
From: hgraff%educadmin@ifcom.gov
Subj: When Andrew Returns Home

Dear John Paul and Theresa Wiggin,

You understand that during the recent attempt by the Warsaw Pact to take over the International Fleet, our sole concern at EducAdmin was the safety of the children. Now we are finally able to begin working out the logistics of sending the children home.

We assure you that Andrew will be provided with continuous surveillance and an active bodyguard throughout his transfer from the I.F. to American government control. We are still negotiating the degree to which the I.F. will continue to provide protection after the transfer.

Every effort is being made by EducAdmin to assure that Andrew will be able to return to the most normal childhood possible. However, I wish your advice about whether he should be retained here in isolation until the conclusion of the inquiries into EducAdmin actions during the late campaign. It is quite likely that testimony will be offered that depicts Andrew and his actions in damaging ways, in order to attack EducAdmin through him (and the other children). Here at IFCom we can keep him from hearing the worst of it; on Earth, no such protection will be possible and it is likelier that he will be called to "testify."

Hyrum Graff

Theresa Wiggin was sitting up in bed, holding her printout of Graff's letter. "'Called to "testify."' Which means putting him on exhibit as -- what, a hero? More likely a monster, since we already have various senators decrying the exploitation of children."

"That'll teach him to save the human race," said her husband, John Paul.

"This is not a time for flippancy."

"Theresa, be reasonable," said John Paul. "I want Ender home as much as you do."

"No you don't," said Theresa fiercely. "You don't ache with the need for him every day." Even as she said it she knew she was being unfair to him, and she covered her eyes and shook her head.

To his credit, he understood and didn't argue with her about what he did and did not feel. "You can never have the years they've taken, Theresa. He's not the boy we knew."

"Then we'll get to know the boy he is. Here. In our home."

"Surrounded by guards."

"That's the part I refuse to accept. Who would want to hurt him?"

John Paul set down the book he was no longer pretending to read. "Theresa, you're the smartest person I know."

"He's a child!"

"He won a war against incredibly superior forces."

"He fired off one weapon. Which he did not design or deploy."

"He got that weapon into firing range."

"The formics are gone! He's a hero, he's not in danger."

"All right, Theresa, he's a hero. How is he going to go to middle school? What eighth-grade teacher is ready for him? What school dance is he going to be ready for?"

"It will take time. But here, with his family -- "

"Yes, we're such a warm, welcoming group of people, a love nest into which he'll fit so easily."

"We do love each other!"

"Theresa, Colonel Graff is only trying to warn us that Ender isn't just our son."

"He's nobody else's son."

"You know who wants to kill our son."

"No, I don't."

"Every government that thinks of American military power as an obstacle to their plans."

"But Ender isn't going to be in the military, he's going to be -- "

"This week he won't be in the American military. Maybe. He won a war at the age of twelve, Theresa. What makes you think he won't be drafted by our benevolent and democratic government the moment he gets back to Earth? Or put into protective custody? Maybe they'll let us go with him and maybe they won't."

Theresa let the tears flow down her cheeks. "So you're saying that when he left here we lost him forever."

"I'm saying that when your child goes off to war, you will never get him back. Not as he was, not the same boy. Changed, if he comes back at all. So let me ask you. Do you want him to go where he's in the greatest danger, or to stay where he's relatively safe?"

"You think Graff is trying to get us to tell him to keep Ender with him out there in space."

"I think Graff cares what happens to Ender, and he's letting us know -- without actually saying it, because every letter he sends can be used against him in court -- that Ender is in terrible danger. Not ten minutes after Ender's victory, the Russians made their brutal play for control of the I.F. Their soldiers killed thousands of fleet officers before the I.F was able to force their surrender. What would they have done if they had won? Brought Ender home and put on a big parade for him?"

Theresa knew all of this. She had known it, viscerally at least, from the moment she read Graff's letter. No, she had known it even before, had known it with a sick dread as soon as she heard that the Formic War was over. He would not be coming home.

The above is an excerpt from the book Ender in Exile
by Orson Scott
Published by Tor Books; Nov 2008;$25.95US/$28.95CAN; 978-0-7653-0496-4Copyright © 2008 Orson Scott Card


Beth F December 3, 2008 at 9:45 AM  

I've never read anything by Card. Maybe I should think about adding him to my list. I'm not usually a SciFi fan, but I do like fantasy.

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