Monday, September 18, 2006

Ender's Game

I usually dislike Science Fiction-themed books but Ender’s Game written by Orson Scott Card ought to be an exception.

The future Earth is bracing itself for the possibility of the third invasion of the ant-like aliens, rightly namely the buggers. Barely surviving the first two attacks, the now-united government of Earth, the Hegemon, decrees that the third battle has to be conducted at the buggers’ home planet. Yes, the Hegemon apparently subscribes to ‘offence is the best defence’.

The Earth prepares to attack the buggers. It has the necessary technology & weaponry. What it needs is the commander of the fleet. As the journey to the buggers’ home planet may take years, it is thus logical to prepare children as the future leaders. Only selected ones are allowed to attend the Battle School, a space station where those children are trained to be soldiers & learn to be leaders as they battle each other’s army in war games.

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is one of such children. Believed to be the Earth’s best hope, the school administrators intend to make his stay in the Battle School very challenging. He’s the youngest. He’s proven to be the most brilliant among the brilliant children. Many resent losing to him. Even Ender himself at one time acknowledge that winning may not be everything. (But Ender will never realize how true it is, not until he wins his final ‘game’.)

Quoted from the book:

That's the problem with winning right from the start, thought Ender. You lose friends.

The book gives a glimpse about how it feels to be a leader, about how lonely it could feel when you reach the top and about how you deal with expectations. Readers are able to emphatize with how leaders sometimes must make a difficult decision. And live with it.

Not a surprise, therefore, that the Marine University at Quantico adopts “Ender’s Game” as a textbook on the psychology of leadership.

Quoted from the website:
When the Marine University at Quantico required students in one class to read Ender's Game, it wasn't for the strategy -- tactics in 3D space aren't really a big deal for the Marines. Rather, it was because Ender's Game is virtually a textbook in how to develop a strong relationship between a commander and his troops -- with plenty of examples also in how to fail as a commander.

For those who only read books with ‘track record’, consider this: Ender's Game was the winner of the Nebula Award in 1985 & the Hugo Award in 1986. Now, how about it?