Ricky ("Mr. Anderson") Anderson strongly recommended that I tackle the Ender series by author Orson Scott Card. There are more than a dozen books in this series, but the first four books are widely considered as science fiction classics. Although I had never heard of this author or this series before, Ricky is a reliable source and I added it to my list. The first book in the series, which was recently released as a major motion picture, is called Ender's Game. This book won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for science fiction in 1985. So, with all of this, what was this story all about?
Well, the story takes place in Earth's distant future. The Earth has been attacked by an alien race and dealt a serious blow. After the first attack, all nations came together to push the development of sophisticated starships capable of interstellar travel. These ships were outfitted with deadly armament that somehow led us to defeat the invaders under the direction of one Mazer Rackham. Nobody seems to fully understand how our forces were able to pull this off, especially given the advanced technology and superior numbers of the invader's army. Yet it happened and Earth has been preparing itself for several generations for the next wave. Our intelligence has made it clear that the victory that was achieved was only over an exploratory force.
Part of Earth's military planning has been the genetic breeding of military leaders. The training of these future commanders and officers begins with boys and girls at the age of 8 or 10 years old. That is when we meet up with the story's protagonist, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin. Ender is taken from his family at 6 years old and sent to battle school. From the start, the school's leadership has been watching over Ender for some time. It is clear that they believe that he has all of the necessary characteristics to be the commander of the Earth's military forces in the next great battle with the invaders. Ender, although only 6 years old and quite small in stature, quickly rises to the top of all of the training tests. There is nobody who is his equal. Yet he is utterly alone and manipulated by the school's leadership at every turn. He is not some innocent little boy, but the future leader of humanity's last, best hope for survival.
A riveting tale with well developed characters, especially Ender and his siblings. The story ends very cleverly when Ender ends up on one of the alien worlds and we come to understand what drove them to attack Earth in the first place. Well done. Now onto the second part of the story in Speaker for the Dead.