The Freedom of Failure in Ender’s Shadow Jun05

The Freedom of Failure in Ender’s Shadow...

After reading the novel Ender’s Game, I discovered Ender’s Shadow, a parallel story about Bean’s journey through Battle School and the war against the Formix. There was a surprising lack of repetition for two novels that covered the same events; the protagonists had such different backgrounds, attitudes, and personality that each novel told a very different story. And I was surprised to realize that the story I preferred was Bean’s. I think the main reason for my preference is that if I had to choose to be one of the two characters, I’d pick Bean. For one thing, Bean’s story has an upward arc that ends with him gaining a family, while Ender’s continually dips down in fits of despair, and he is finally banished from Earth and his family; for another, Bean shows mercy to his enemies whereas Ender destroys them; and though Bean struggles with acceptance, he eventually becomes part of a team, while Ender is continually isolated. When there’s no way to win, Ender stops; only way not to lose is not to play. But the biggest reason I’d rather be in Bean’s tiny shoes is because unlike Ender, who must never lose, he has the freedom to fail. This is drawn into sharpest relief when Ender confides to Bean his struggle to remain undefeated. Bean asks him why it matters if he loses one game, and Ender’s reply speaks of desperation: “That’s the worst that could happen. I can’t lose any games. Because if I lose any—” We, along with Bean, are left to speculate what the consequences could be. In Ender’s Shadow, we see Bean wonder if Ender fears the loss of his reputation as the perfect soldier, of the confidence his army has in him, or of the confidence...

7 Female Roles that were Written for Men Apr28

7 Female Roles that were Written for Men...

Men might be the harbingers of action and combat in many sci-fi movies, action shows, and video games, but some writers are stepping up to challenge these notions. Taking over a role that was originally intended for a man is one way to break the mold, and make us wonder why we need molds in the first place, since so many are lying about in pieces at these women’s feet. Here are seven roles originally written for men, but portrayed by women instead. 1. Samus Aran, Metroid The plot twist at the end of the first Metroid game reveals that the person in the armour (who you’ve been kicking ass with so far) is, in fact, a woman. But a lesser known fact is that the game developers hadn’t planned this surprise from the start and decided to add it in halfway through development, creating one of the most iconic women characters in video games today. “It is true that in developing the original Metroid, we were partway through the development processes when one of the staff members said, “Hey, wouldn’t that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?” So that’s how we decided on that. We’ve tried to express her femininity a little more without trying to turn her into a sex object.” —Yoshio Sakamoto 2. Toph Beifong, Avatar, the Last Airbender Known as the tiny blind girl who can throw boulders around with her earthbending prowess, this Avatar: The Last Airbender star was originally intended to be a large, muscled jerk. They even elude to this in the episode “The Ember Island Players,” where Team Avatar attend a play about their journey so far, and Toph is portrayed as a buff man. She was...

When You Treat People as Things Jan09

When You Treat People as Things...

There wasn’t supposed to be a war that day. Captain Jankowski of the Earth Alliance cruiser Prometheus was exploring to expand Earth’s territory. He never expected to come nose-to-nose with a flotilla of Minbari warships. For their part, the Minbari hadn’t been expecting a war either. Theirs was an errand of investigation, an attempt to confirm recent sightings of a feared and ancient enemy, the dreaded Shadows. But naturally, when they encountered Captain Jankowski’s ship, they offered a greeting of respect as their tradition demanded: they opened their gunports. As a warrior and a man given to quick judgements, Captain Jankowski misinterpreted the intent of the Minbari and fired. He couldn’t have known that the ship he attacked contained the Grey Council—the ruling body of the Minbar Federation. Dukhat, a beloved leader, was killed in the attack and the council reacted with instant hatred. In a unanimous vote, they declared war upon the Earth Alliance. This battle and the ones that followed formed an important part of the backstory for Michael J. Straczynski’s series Babylon 5. A misunderstanding sent two races stumbling toward Armageddon. We mentally classify people, neatly sorting them into the boxes we have in our minds. This story isn’t the first tale of interstellar conflict born from misunderstanding. When Ender’s Game opens, humanity has survived two major wars with the alien Buggers. In the most recent engagement, the hero Mazer Rackham defeated them when he realized that they operate as a hive mind. Fearing a third invasion, the governments of Earth built an international fleet headquartered on the asteroid Eros. The stated purpose of the fleet was to defend Earth from a third invasion. In truth, the governments of Earth were preparing to end the war permanently by taking the fight...

Loving the wolves and buggers Nov20

Loving the wolves and buggers...

War. The word drenches up images of carnage, of good guys and bad guys, of friends and foes. The definitions differ depending on which side is telling the story. We are always the good guys of course. The other side is the enemy. We must hate the enemy, for if we are the good guys, that makes the enemy evil. In our world today, if I were to simply go by the media’s reports, I would conclude that there are enemies around every corner. A disgruntled teenager, a particular people group, a certain political party, zombies. Well, maybe not that last one. I can see that wars are going on everywhere. Refugees are fleeing by the millions from places like Syria and finding the doors of their countries of hope slamming shut in their faces. So it seems to me that this idea of figuring out who is the good guy and who is the bad guy is pretty important. Who is the enemy? Someone who looks a little different? Someone who doesn’t believe the same things I do? Why are we so afraid of the different? Why do we make what is different into the enemy?Perhaps foes can live side by side and even become friends. In Orson Scott Card’s book Ender’s Game, Ender is taught to hate the Buggers (the alien race that invaded Earth). Despite the prevailing mindset of pretty much every other human being Ender knows, he finds himself drawn to understand this alien race and, in doing so, learns to love them. It is this love that ultimately gives him the understanding of how they live and operate, and that allows him to destroy them. It is also this love that drives him to write a book that helps...

Why we named our son after science fiction characters Aug12

Why we named our son after science fiction characters...

“You named your son what?” You heard right. Ender Hoban Helo Rudge. That is my, now two-week-old, son’s name. I have always been fascinated by names. I love looking up name meanings. I love experimenting with which names go well together, and contemplating how my feelings about certain names are influenced by people I know. As a child, my dolls had to have extensive extended families just so I could name them all. Naming children though—you know, real live babies— well, the stakes are a bit higher. Not just any name will do. All three of these characters have a powerful story to tell. There is something beautiful about naming a child after a treasured family member or valued friend. I mean, my husband and I did that with kid number one! The problem with baby number two was that nobody had a name we liked enough to pass on. Plus we wanted something unique (not weird, unique). So we turned to the things we love for inspiration: science fiction, fantasy, video games, books, TV shows, movies. And when our son was born on July 27, 2015, we gave him his science fiction-inspired name. Here is why these three names made the cut: Ender In the book Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Ender spends his childhood being trained to fight an alien race called the Buggers. Despite obstacles, he manages to win by obliterating the entire alien race during what he believes to be a training exercise. I am not saying our son will grow up to save the entire human race from alien invasion (although, hello, that would be COOL). But Ender was able to defeat the enemy because he understood them and he understood them because he loved them. If he had realized the training exercise was real, he would not have been able to do what he did because he truly loved the Buggers. This compassion is what also leads him to later become the Speaker for the Dead. Ender, as Speaker for the Dead, was also instrumental in shaping my husband’s thinking around how he sees other people and interacts with them. Hoban Hoban “Wash” Washburne (ironically, the character who hates his first name and so goes by a nickname—our son can thank us later that we put this as a middle name) is the pilot of the ship Serenity in the TV show Firefly. Serenity’s crew takes what jobs they can find, sometimes legal, sometimes not. These folks also live in a world where right and wrong are often muddled by simple factors like wanting to survive and eat the next day. Into this, Wash speaks as the voice of reason, often questioning decisions made by the others on the ship, including the captain. While he respects the authority of those in charge, he is not afraid to speak up against it when he feels the situation warrants it. Wash is also a character of compassion and integrity, as demonstrated when he shows compassion to the poor soul in “Bushwacked,” who witnessed a Reaver attack and went mad. Helo Battlestar Galactica is a show littered with a multitude of complex, dynamic characters. Most of them live within some shade of grey as they navigate ethical and moral dilemmas of epic proportions. In this world of grey, Helo shines as the moral compass of the show. His sense of right and wrong doesn’t waver and he speaks out when he senses that others are veering from what is right. You heard right. Ender Hoban Helo Rudge. Helo shows compassion to the Cylons, and is the first human to selflessly love a known Cylon. He changes everything when he and his Cylon partner have a baby. No longer can humans look at Cylons as “Toasters.” They are living creatures, breathing, bleeding, procreating. All three of these characters have a powerful story to tell within their mediums and have impacted me in profound ways. When the movie Serenity came out, I was...

Ender Wiggin Changed My Life Feb23

Ender Wiggin Changed My Life...

Recently on Facebook I was invited to list five books that changed my life. I mentally listed my five and immediately felt like a bad Christian because the Bible was not my number one. What topped my list was Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead, the sequel to Ender’s Game. The story of Ender is a powerful one. He is a young boy bred to save humanity from a potential future alien invasion. His youth was filled with bullying and bravado. He was manipulated to commit xenocide (an eradication of an entire species) of an alien race. Where the story of Ender changes from a movie like Independence Day is that Ender takes the time to learn, understand, and love his enemy. Rewind a few thousand non-fictional years and we find me, a 4-year-old boy sitting at the kitchen table with my father, learning the 12 multiplication tables. That’s the earliest memory I have of my father and as quaint as it may be, there is one thing that I left out: a highball tumbler in my father’s right hand, filled with likely more Canadian Club whisky than water, his constant companion for years to come. The next years of my childhood were filled with an increasingly distant father who spent more and more time drinking in the garage and less and less time at the kitchen table. Emotional, verbal, and at times physical abuse all took place in my home. When outside was filled with the monsters of life, I had no safe place to retreat to because of the monster at home. Long after I had become a semi-stable adult and moved on with my life, I am ashamed to admit, my father remained this monster at home. “That’s the story...