Blog post Number 42 Written:07-11-2021 Uploaded:01-06-2023
I’ll try and keep this one short, partially because I’ve spent all morning repairing my wooden fence that the storm blew down and partly because this is Orson Scott-Card, the author who got me started down my long dark path of science fiction. I figured since I started talking about other authors and my feelings about them, how they influenced me I figured I’d keep going with another on my list. I don’t remember why I picked it up, but I was in 8th grade and I checked out a copy of Ender’s Game from the school library. Perhaps because I had finished all the stuff they had in the fantasy, medieval history, and aviation history sections. So I ended up with Enders Game in my backpack.
That was a rude awakening. It didn’t have the action I was expecting, maybe that I was looking for, it was a much slower pace than I was used to reading at the time with all the hack and slash fantasy and magic I was used to. But it had intrigue. This was the first time I ever stayed with a book because of political intrigue. And then I kept reading… Because Mr. Scott-Card didn’t break the laws of physics. That right there was the big hook that I bit on to. The hook that pulled me out of the ocean of magic and fantasy and onto the dock of science, and beyond the wooden dock was the land of fiction.
I actually put the book down, I was probably 90% of the way through it, and I remember thinking, with my middle school education. “wait a minute.” This is all possible, the ships don’t go faster than light, they don’t break the laws of physics this isn’t magic, this isn’t pretend, or make-believe, this is possible, this might be the future, this could be done with our technology, with our understanding of physics. That has been the standard. Orson Scott-Card has set the standard for all other science fiction I have read since then. It was a couple of years later before I was able to get my hands on the rest of the books in the series with Bean, and the other colony full of tree people aliens, and the hive mother or whatever it was called after they defeated the evil space bugs.
I’m not sure why, because it was far less action, much slower-paced than what I normally read, but I kept reading, and I loved it. The politics, the backroom deals, the history behind the characters, that was one of the first books I read because of the people, because of the characters, not the generic hive mind insect aliens bad, must destroy them before they destroy us plot that started it all. It was how those people interacted and dealt with the situation that made it good, and it got downright philosophical.
It changed the way I looked at the world. Suddenly I wasn’t thinking of wizards and swords and magic and dragons. I was looking at the world, our world the real and tangible with the same kind of wonder and excitement that I had previously looked at the fantasy worlds with. I was taken by all the possibilities of our world, of all the things we could do with science, with technology, and perhaps just as importantly, the ethics behind whether or not we should do those things.
Orson Scott-Card and his Ender’s Game series brought me out of the past, out of idle academics and drug me all the way past the present, and threw me into the future. Solving the world’s problems, resources, overpopulation, economics, politics, medical scientific, ethical science, philosophy. Shifted my focus from imaging myths and legends like dragons and orcs to imagine the real and possible like space travel and inter solar colonization. This is going to sound really dumb, but after reading that book… That’s what changed me from a boy, into a man. Shifted my focus, my priorities and gave me a more real, but more optimistic perspective. No longer was I focused on the magic and the fantastical, but it got me looking into the science, the physics, the possible, the future, and the solutions we needed to get to the kind of future that people would be willing to accept.
It made me ask questions, both of myself, and of other people. Questions that didn’t have answers, or at least not finite yes and no types of answers. Orson Scott-Card and his writing has not influenced my writing directly. The biggest takeaway I kept after reading that series was to make it real, to make it possible, to stick to “hard sci-fi”. More importantly, Ender and his struggles both real and ethical made me think and grow as a person. I was roughly the same age as the kid in the story and it really resonated with me, I still am not sure how I feel, I still haven’t answered all the questions it made me ask, perhaps I never will, but I think the important part is not that I will find answers for them, but that I am trying to. So… go read a book, it doesn’t even have to be mine, but read something, something that challenges you, that makes you think. Read something that doesn’t agree with you, grow as a person, and maybe you can help the world, if only you let the world help you first.
Note to self: sound less like a hipster, you don’t even sip lattes.