Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shadow of the Hegemon

I liked this book written by Orson Card. After the space war is over, Ender is sent to colonize another planet, while his crew of child-warriors is sent back to Earth to return to their families. With the alien threat over, the nations wish to assert their sovereignty. The children who were in Ender’s army are suddenly kidnapped and only Bean is able to slip away. Bean asks Ender’s brother, Peter, for help since he already has a huge behind-the-scenes influence on the politics of Earth. Together they must fight off Achilles and attempt to achieve worldwide peace.

The whole focus of the book is on world politics about 200 years in the future. I enjoyed learning about the culture, geography and history of several countries. The two main countries mentioned in the book are Thailand and India and it was interesting to learn more about their governments. I was also interested in how several areas of the world were divided into certain loyalties.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ender’s Shadow

I liked this book written by Orson Card. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin was not the only child in the Battle School; he was just the best of the best. Bean’s past was a battle just to survive. He is abandoned as an orphan and wanders the streets of Rotterdam, Netherlands. He uses his tactical genius to gain acceptance into a children’s gang, and his ideas show the other gangs how to operate. He is discovered by a nun and is sent to the space academy where he succeeds and becomes Ender’s strategist and friend.

This is a parallel novel to Ender’s game and includes most of the same events, but it also includes the history and perspective of Bean. I thought it was fun comparing the events from the two viewpoints. Before reading this book, I was worried that it would deflate my view on Ender, but I actually came to respect him even more. Both of the kids are extremely intelligent, but Ender is a master at leadership.

The author wanted the title to be Urchin, but the publisher thought the current title would be more successful. A five-issue comic book limited series based on Ender's Shadow, called Ender's Shadow: Battle School was released on December 3, 2008.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Ender’s Game

I liked this book written by Orson Scott Card. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against aliens seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training and see how he responds.

I felt sad and even teared up for Ender’s loneliness. I was also frustrated by how controlled his life was and that he had very little knowledge of what was truly happening. The children in the book are capable of great violence and that reminded me of Lord of the Flies. One aspect of the plot that I found mildly irritating is that since the books were written in 1980s, the political divisions are based on the Warsaw Pact.

I really enjoyed the relationship between him and his sister, Valentine. Apparently some of the other books in the series explore the events from a different character’s perspective. I plan to read one more book and then see how I feel overall about the story before pursuing the rest of them.

A shorter version of the story was first published in the August 1977 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Card posted the novel on the DELPHI online service in 1984, inviting anyone to download and enjoy it. The book has been translated into 27 different languages. A movie based on the book is being considered.

Kaena: The Prophecy (2003)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable Canadian movie. On the planet Axis, a gigantic coiling vine stretches above the clouds. At its center is a village whose people are in mortal danger because Axis is withering as its sap is used up. The people beg their gods for help, but to no avail. Compelled by a mysterious dream, Kaena (Kirsten Dunst), a rebellious, high-spirited teenaged girl, will defy the High Priest and disavow her people’s ancestral beliefs to take the perilous journey to discover what dark secrets lie below the clouds.

The original movie was in French and on the DVD features there is an interview with the main character in French. Originally the story was intended to be a video game, but instead became a movie.