Ender’s Game

January 30, 2005

“There is no teacher but the enemy.”

A brilliant book by Orson Scott Card. No wonder readers rate this among the top five works of fiction. Beautifully crafted in a future human world threatened by an alien race known as the buggers.

There has already been two bloody wars with the buggers. Human civilization is frantically getting ready for a third one, amassing all it can in terms of weaponry and technology. At some point of time, they have realized that the greatest weapon they can have against anyone in a war is a brilliant leader, a war general. And they can only hope that Mother Earth can produce one brilliant enough.

Ender Wiggin is a ‘third’; a third child; when parents in the world are forced to have only two children legally. He is allowed to be born because the International Fleet thinks he may suit their needs perfectly, unlike his kins who are near perfect, but lack some crucial qualities.

The story is very intense at times, mostly because, one can easily identify with Ender. Ender is put under tremendous stress for his training, which brings about the best in him. You are sure to enjoy the parts of the training at the famous Battle School. The story runs in parallel with the stories of his brother Peter and sister Valentine, who are just as brilliant as Ender. There are a lot of remarkable characters along the way like Bean, Bonzo and Alai. The character of Bean is later developed into the books “Ender’s Shadow”, “Shadow of the Hegemon” and “Shadow Puppets”.

The fiction will hit you hard when you will understand these characters are all just children, and all are parallely battling loss of their childhood. This darkness/sadness and tension is always present when reading the book. Ender does not hate his enemies. All he hates is winning. But unfortunately he is created for not losing. All he wants to do is to ‘end’ the problems forever. The best way to understand this rant is to read the book.

The book ends with a brilliant chapter called the The Speaker for the Dead. Most ideas in his mind are beautifully consolidated in this. The sequel for this book goes by the same name.

(I suggest, you visit the next two links posted after reading the book due to spoilers without warning)
Here’s what some writeup in e2 says about the book “Ender’s Game is one of the best SF books ever written. If you are looking for a good book to start reading science fiction, then give this one a try. Also recommended for those who don’t believe that SF can be literature.”

After you have read the book you can check out this short story which the author wrote before developing it into the book. I got the last minute push to buy the book when I saw this book at the top at this book-list

Mort

January 16, 2005

Another brilliant Discworld novel.

Was by far, the most funniest discworld novel I read, but you can never say. Color of Magic was too good, and its a close fight.

‘Death’ who travels around in a horse named Binky, and carries a scythe, is taking an apprentice. Apparently the victim is a totally clueless young man called Mort. Hilarity ensues when he falls in love with a princess who is to be killed off. And doesnot kill her. Meanwhile Death has gone off in search of what humans call pleasure.
It becomes a total Hindi movie when Death’s foster daugher, falls in love with Mort, and completes the Love Triangle.

This book is simply terrific, and the mood is light, unlike books like Monstrous Regiment. Delicious, I will say.

The Protector

January 5, 2005

Larry Niven.

“Every human protector must wake this way. A Pak wakes sentient for the first time. A human protector has human memories. He wakes clear-headed, and remembers, and thinks with a certain amount of embarrassment: I’ve been stupid.”

Protector speaks the tale of an extraordinary species called the Pak. The species has an interesting life cycle, apart from being immortal (or lets say, no aging). The pak child grows into a pak breeder and then into the protector phase of its life. The protector is where it grows into very high intelligence (more than human) , and loses all other purpose in life except for protecting its blood line of breeders. As soon as its blood line is extinct, the protector loses its wish to eat (live) and hence dies of starvation. But at some point of time, a protector can come to accept that the survival of the whole pak race as its purpose in life.

After a bloody war in the Pak home planet and with the species facing extinction, Phssthpok Pak, heads out towards a bleak yellow star in the outer arms of galaxy, in search of a Pak expedition sent out 3 million years before.

The book is filled with references to complicated and exciting weapons/gadgets which the author as usual extrapolated from the radical ideas at the time of writing the book. Also one more thing the author gently reminds us of the style of warfare at future times. One can be assured that there may never be short range warfare, and all of the warfare that would be there will be at high Gs. You can probably detect enemy ships at light years and when your weapons are the likes of a lazer cannon, it is going to be rather interesting with warfare requiring years of planning ahead. (But again, this could be boring for some who still enjoy a good dog-fight with frigate ships and interceptors in space… which feels as dumb as sound of explosion in space warfare in startrek, starwars, etc when you read it here) . I will admit that a lot of stuff in the book, like bussard ramjet, etc I had to google for them, so that I can enjoy the book better. But I did enjoy it thoroughly.