Posts tagged fantasy
Posts tagged fantasy
In the introduction to the book Fantasy, the authors note that “by creating new worlds…fantasy authors free the reader of preconceptions and prejudices. Long standing biases may fall away, and new perspectives can be achieved, helping the reader to judge moral standards in a new and objective way.” Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card seems to be the perfect example of such an instance. Card creates a brilliant new world (albeit a bit of a dystopia) wherein he explores very real moral issues from start to finish.
In a world where big brother is completely and totally involved (which is troubling enough), Ender is manipulated to the very extreme. From before he was conceived he was under complete government control. Indeed, as Graff points out in the beginning, his parents do not really get a say in whether Ender leaves, because he was only allowed to be conceived for the government to use. This small fact alone is enough to have moral conservatives screaming in protest of government officials controlling our choices regarding children and life. To be quite frank, it should really have everyone screaming in protest at the level of government involvement period.
The main, overarching issue, however, is whether or not the end justifies the means. This concept is first raised on literally the first page of the book. We are not told who is speaking, but presumably two government officials are discussing Ender and his promise and they say, “So what do we do? Surround him with enemies all the time?” “If we have to.” “I thought you said you liked this kid.” “If the buggers get him, they’ll make me look like his favorite uncle.” “All right. We’re saving the world, after all. Take him.” Card is effectively questioning whether it is ok to lie to, manipulate, and use someone (a child, no less) for the greater good from the word go.
Of course, it seems, throughout the book, that the government manipulation of Ender is justified, because compared to the whole of mankind, what is one person? Graff even says to Ender in chapter four “Human beings are free except when humanity needs them…We might both do despicable things, Ender, but if humankind survives, then we were good tools.” But then, after Ender walks away, Graff reveals a deep concern for how horribly they are planning on treating him to shape him into a tool of worldwide salvation.
The twist at the end of the book makes the whole issue even more complicated. The war has been won. By all accounts it seems that the end did in fact justify the means: the buggers have been wiped out, the war is over and humanity is saved. Even if Ender was tricked into winning the war, the point is that he won. Humankind can breathe again because the threat is over. And, while he was enormously manipulated, Ender survived, not too much worse for wear. Just when everything seems all right and justified, we discover that the buggers were not actually evil after all. Somehow this prejudice evolved, causing the Earthly government to basically create people to obliterate the buggers, when all along the buggers were a wise and peaceful race who never meant to do harm, and who immediately forgave Ender for all but wiping them out. It was only their inability to communicate with the humans that led to the prejudice and their ultimate decimation.
In the end, though Card never comes out and says it, and though the bulk of the book is by far all about the battles and the battle school and the sculpting of Ender into the perfect warrior; though nearly the entirety of the plot seems to be resolved with the winning of the war by whatever means necessary, I would say that Card does not believe that the end justifies the means. I see in this book a message of peace and understanding. If, instead of having prejudices and fighting each other to the death, we had just taken the time to understand the unknown and unfamiliar race, perhaps they would not have needed a speaker for the dead. Though it takes place in a far off time and place, Ender’s story is one that all of us here on earth should take to heart and learn from. The lesson is patience and tolerance and understanding, lest we accidentally obliterate someone (or God forbid an entire race) that could have vastly improved our lives.
the connection here should be fairly obvious… :)
If there was one word to describe Terry Pratchett’s writing, it would have to be “unexpected.” For a book that is titled Mort and is about the apprentice to death, the story is surprisingly upbeat and hilarious. While the plot is rather heavy business: love and death and fate and mortality and wizardry and time and reality all coming head to head, it is also completely and utterly ridiculous. Death deciding he would rather try out being human is what sets the wheels in motion. There is also frequently such a casual irreverence in his tone and in the characters that it catches you off guard aand you have to laugh. More than the ridiculous plot, however, the book is uproariously funny because, I believe (or would hazard a guess anyway, never having met the man) that Terry Pratchett himself is funny. He is witty and clever and most of all, unexpected. He has an uncanny knack for telling a story in such a conversationalist style to make it familiar, but then just when you think you know where he’s going with a a thought, he turns everything upside down on you, and again, all you can do is laugh. Perhaps it is the way in which he makes such ludacris and absurd references and happenings seem perfectly normal, like when Cutwell nonchalantly sits on an old pizza, the description of Albert’s porridge “which led a private life of its own in the depths of its saucepan and ate spoons,” or the descriptive phrase “with all the apparent acceleration of continental drift” that make the book so comical. Or perhaps it is the wry sarcasm that all the characters seem to use on eachother, with comments like “You wouldn’t believe how many horses we don’t get up here.” and “What time is sunset around here?” “We normally manage to fit it in somewhere between day and night.” Pratchett is a pro at subverting expectations (even expectations that you wouldn’t think could be subverted), and it is there that his comical genius lies. Mort is a hilarious book because Pratchett himself is a casually but ridiculously hilarious person. As if his writing style and the language of his characters is not proof enough of that, the description of the author in the very back of the book stands as enough evidence to solidify the case. It reads, “Terry Pratchett lives in England, an island off the coast of France…” and goes on to explain how by writing Discworld novels on an island off the coast of France, Pratchett is full-filling a very circular “Very Strong Anthropic Principle,” and thereby proving “the whole business true. Any questions?” My only question is, which hugely entertianing Terry Pratchett novel should I read next?
inspired by a little bit Alice in Wonderland, and a little bit 5 different novels read in our fantasy lit class, we designed/created different costumes and scenes to be portraits of these 5 Alices. We call it The Floating Tea Party (or sometimes “Alice in Neverwhere”). The books we were inspired by: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling, Mort by Terry Pratchett, and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.(If you haven’t read these books, you should.)
Clothing design by Madeline Goheen. Photography by Elise Rorick. do not use without permission.