Good God - Is this really one of the best? I've been meaning to pick up a science fiction novel for some time and was told this was/is one of the best. My wife and I listened to it on a long drive and we were initially interested and then ended up so bored out of our minds that we fast forwarded to the end. Do you science fiction fans live in some kind of bubble unto themselves? Why is this considered such a great example of the genre? Maybe I should understand why people think it's great before I give up on the genre all together.
One thing no one seems to take into account when discussing Ender's Game is WHEN THE BOOK WAS WRITTEN. You must consider that, when this book was written, we didn't HAVE laptop computers, or three-dimensional video games. We did not have the internet; at least, not in the form that it is today, and not nearly as accessible. The nets and the computer "desks" that these kids had are commonplace now, so when you read it, it suddenly just feels like a story. A writer's ability to make superior technology and alternate future casual and commonplace is one of the main things that makes science fiction good. This book had that in spades, while bringing a true human element and empathy into the mix. I was engaged from the start and enjoyed every moment, and was even disappointed when the book came to an end.
I'm 41. I love Herbert, and Asimov, so I don't feel that the "science fiction level" of a book is at issue in any way here. A good book is a good book. I'm in agreement that a book should be read, and not heard, and that it makes all the difference. There's something comfortable and intimate about print, which is why it is so difficult to make a movie from a novel that captures its true essence, even from person to person. It must be even that much more difficult with nothing but a voice.
This book is usually recommended to non sci-fi readers because it is so accessible. That said, I do like Ender's Game a lot. I don't know that I would put it up with the best (i.e. I don't love to reread it), but I do recommend it to people I want to convert to sci-fi.
The problem with sci-fi (and fantasy) is that every book has a learning curve, where you have to learn the rules and conditions of the new world you're reading about. Most sci-fi readers relish this challenge, but for the uninitiated it can be very taxing (there are many standard cliches that are easily recognized once you've read a lot of sci-fi, but which leave many people feeling lost if they haven't). Ender's Game is pretty mild in this regard, which is why it gets talked up so much. But if you're willing to do more than get your feet wet and want to try some of the best examples of the genre, you can't go wrong with Dune (actually, you need to read the first three Dune books at least). Also, if your bent runs to literary fiction, you should definitely look into Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun. 1984 is one book that has affected me more than almost any other, and I would also say that about Atlas Shrugged (which I consider sci-fi, although many, if not most, people would disagree with me). Isaac Asimov's Foundation series is a staple of sci-fi, although the farther you go into the past, the more you find outdated writing styles and stories that are based more on "strange" ideas than interesting characters, and character is definitely where the genre has moved lately.
One forgotten writer I really like is Phillip Jose Farmer, especially the World of Tiers and The Fabulous Riverboat series. Those books are mostly out of print but can be easily found in a used bookstore or on Amazon. Also, if you're willing to try another Card book, you can try Treason, which is one of my favorites from him.
Don't give up on sci-fi because of Ender's Game. It is a novel that appeals mostly to teenagers and younger people. If your tastes are more sophisticated there will be plenty in the genre to interest you. I have not listened more than a few books on tape, but I must say I haven't really enjoyed the experience in this genre, so that might be part of the problem. Also, there is a blurring of the boundaries nowadays between sci-fi and fantasy, with most of the innovation (in my humble opinion) taking place on the fantasy side. Don't ignore that very rich related genre either. My belief is that centuries from now, literature students will see fantasy and sci-fi as the defining genre of our time. I very much doubt they'll still be reading Joyce or Fitzgerald.
Wow, be cautious of alienating an entire population of sci-fi readers. To be fair, you really ought to try actually reading a book sometime; especially this one. Reading versus listening are a very, very different experience. Audiobooks put you at the mercy of the voice actor, rather than the author. I remember when my mom read to me when i was a child and how it helped to put me to sleep. I imagine the audio version must have a voice actor who did something similar for you. I can't find any other link than that between your comments and the actual book.
This book is spectacular. It quite literally is never boring. There are, however, some scientifically and philisophically challenging concepts in the book that cause one to stop and think, I can see how that might be draining for you as well.
Thanks for the suggestions Wiz, that's exactly what I was looking for. I recently saw the movie "Moon" and that has revitalized me in regards to sci fi. I also recently read a couple PK Dick novels - I think that kind of bent is more my style rather than the "hard science fiction." I tried to read Spin by RC Wilson and found that even more boring than Ender's Game.
I have read and reread Ender's Game every year for 25 years. I love this book and find new ideas and new philosophical insights from it every time. I love the three books that follow Ender. It delves even more deeply into the psychology of the characters. I am a fan of science fiction and fantasy. My favorite book of all time is The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Heinlein's personal views could be considered extremely controversial too, but it doesn't lessen the quality or meaning that can be gathered from it. Ender's Game is labeled for the age group it is because adults seem to believe they cannot read books with children as the main characters. Every person I have ever given the book to has loved it.
I personally do not find Enders Game one of the best, especially if you consider books like Dune, Foundation and other classics. It is however, a great genre book. Science Fiction attempts to look into what a future might be like. In Enders game the future is one in which Earth has been invaded by an insect like creature, the Formics. The military is recruiting children for what is assumed to be the next invasion. Why? Children have no preconceived notions of warfare, they do not have a fully developed capacity for guilt and they can think out of the box..in this psychology aspect of the book we are brought into the science. In addition there is considerable discssion of "desks"' or probably tablets, which did not exist at the time of writing, the "nets" or internet, also hardley Developed at the time. Space travel is discussed in terms of when the Formics will be here next. Zero gravity warfare is considered in the games, we explore competition, bullying and sympathy from a child's perspective. Other issues dealt with are Earths population control, mind devices, this is all weaved through the story allowing us to explore the what-ifs of this world along with the development of Ender as a military leader, a human, and eventually a mass murderer.
Also, read your books. I get that listening can be done on drives and at other times when u can't read, but when you read I think you get to decide what the timber of the voice is, not an actor.
It has been 25+ years, my mid teens, since I read Ender's Game. A kid's book, no, I don't remember it being so. A few years ago I read Ender's Shadow with the same intensity and it is not a children's book. Many people hate the author and that is fine but they bring those prejudices to their reviews. I am indifferent to the personal lives of authors, musicians, directors, etc.; I enjoy the art for my own sake.
I actually found the Audible audiobook version of the 20th Anniversary Ed. extremely entertaining. The voice actors are excellent as it is done more as a "radio drama" than a reading of a novel. Almost a "space opera" yet not. Yet it is verbatim the original novel. No artistic license taken with the story to "improve" it.
Today's audiobooks are far better than those of decades past, as a general rule anyway. In fact they have become my preferred option since discovering Audible. Heck, I liked Ender's Game so much I spent the better part of 18-months gobbling up every one of the books in the Enderverse from Audible. Who knew I would enjoy them so much as I was never an OSC fan. But I am now...
I can say this though, some novels in audiobook form require more attention than one can spare while driving. Perhaps that was the case for the OP as we know Ender's Game is more subtle than many realize. Heck I put it on par with Stanger in a Strange Land which I read as a kid when it was pretty new.
Then again maybe OSC is not the OP's kind of writer. We all know that can easily be the case. It's why there are zillions of works which each of us find either to our taste or not, irrespective of how the novel is consumed.
Oh, I also bought up all the Kindle editions I could as I found them because it is fun to read the real words as well. :)
I am in agreement with the original poster. I am a long time science fiction lover. I have been jumping back into some of the more popular books that I have not read. I came across Ender game on several lists and because it had such strong recommendations, I figured I would give it a try. We'll my opinion is that this is really a book for kids. I am 45 and do try to be fair and open minded before making a judgement. But, in this case, this book is seriously over rated. I read to chpt 15 and just couldn't take anymore. The plots is so simple and and the characters are not beleivable. This is a book for a less mature audience. Ages 7 to 14. I am shocked that this book is rated so highly, when you think about authors like Asimov, Clark, HG Wells, or Dick. This books should be in the top 500 list for kids, not the top 50 of all time. Perhaps this is a reflection of the decline in our educational system.
I think, personally, it is a great example of the genre because it is purely a setup for the rest of the story. You can't really read Speaker for the Dead without the setup in Ender's Game. I find the entire series brilliant, something that I can read again and again. It captures my attention as much over a decade later as it did the first time I read it. I will admit, Ender's Game was presented to me as a teen level book, but I was also told it was worth the read for the rest of the series. I guess going into it with that mindset, of course I am not disappointed.