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Shoot Straight: Introduction by Orson Scott Card

Hey guys! Welcome to the first installment of Shoot Straight: An Ender's Game Reread. Over the next months leading up to the release of the film (with a short break for SDCC), I'll be reading a chapter of the novel a week and reporting back here on the weekend with my thoughts. I'd love for you guys to follow along and participate in the comment section of each post.

I'll be reading from the 1994 revised mass market edition of Ender's Game. It doesn't particularly matter which edition you're reading, though if you're a lucky owner of a copy of the book published before '91, the introduction will obviously not be included.

I'm admittedly not really a huge fan of introductions in books; I find them tedious and sometimes full of spoilers so I tend to avoid them. When I first read the novel back in 1999, I remember reading the introduction to Ender's Game, but I don't believe I've made it all the way through since. I guess that's going to change now -- let's see what interesting tidbits we find!

About the Introduction

The introduction to Ender's Game was written in 1991 and first published in "Phoenix Rising," a magazine composed by a group of students at a residential program for gifted teens at Purdue University. Card sent them the intro and allowed them to publish it before it appeared in his novel as a response to a letter they mailed him in March of 1991. 

Card jokes in the first paragraph of the introduction that, while many people had written to him to exclaim over how much they loved the novel, no one had mentioned that it particularly needed an introduction. However, since the novel was being reprinted in a hardcover edition, he wrote the intro to "mark the occasion."

Summary

In the intro, we learn how Ender's story first unfolded in Orson Scott Card's mind, as well as how it transformed from a short story to a full-fledged novel. Card also speaks quite a lot about the novel's reception and the importance of fiction in society -- the latter being the part of the intro I liked best.

Thoughts

- It's very interesting to think that it was the idea of the Battle Room and not Ender himself that Card first developed, especially since it is the character that we are all so attached to now. How the gravity-free game came to him is equally as fascinating: with an older brother in the military and a love of war stories, Card began to ponder what it would be like to train soldiers in the future. He surmised, after reading Issac Asimov's Foundation triology, they would be trained in space and forced to redo their patterns of thinking with no up and down at all: the Battle Room.

- As a huge musical theater fan, the thought of Orson Scott Card beginning his career in theater and working as a playwright makes me inordinately happy.

- I know it's not news, but the thought of Ender's Game existing at first in Card's mind as a set-up for Speaker for the Dead never fails to blow my mind. They are such different novels, different stories. Sometimes I find it very hard to reconcile the weary Ender at the end of Ender's Game with the well-spoken, kind man he is in Speaker. Though, I'll admit that Ender in Exile came a long way in bridging that gap for me.

- Crystal and I actually spoke about the negative reception to Ender's Game in the most recent episode of EnderCast. Namely, one teacher's accusation that Card's "depiction of gifted children was hopelessly unrealistic."

? ---> While the story is fiction, do you believe there are aspects of the portrayal of children in Ender's Game that are spot on? Since obviously none of us are genius 6-year-olds, what is it about the story that we really relate to?

Favorite Quotes

"I learned that history is shaped by the use of power, and that different people, leading the same army, with, therefore, approximately the same power, applied it so differently that the same army seemed to change from a pack of noble fools at Fredericksburg [...] and then, finally, to the disciplined, professional army that ground Lee to dust in Grant's long campaign. It wasn't the soldiers who changed. It was the leader."

"The story of Ender's Game is not this book, though it has that title emblazoned on it. The story is one that you and I will construct together in your memory. If the story means anything to you at all, then when you remember it afterward, think of it, not as something I created, but rather as something we made together."

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