Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth


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Sure, you read Ender’s Game, but did you know it was an apologia for Hitler? You may have seen the argument floating around, but this article by Elaine Radford from a 1987 issue of Fantasy first made the case. There’s a superior, more recent follow-up, too: “Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender’s Game, Intention, and Morality,” by John Kessel, from a Spring 2004 issue of Foundation, the International Journal of Science Fiction. Here’s a brief snippet from the latter:

Card has spoken in interviews about his tropism for the story of the person who sacrifices himself for the community. This is the story, he tells us, that he has been drawn to tell again and again. For example, in justification of the scenes of violence in his fiction, Card told Publisher’s Weekly in 1990 that, “In every single case, cruelty was a voluntary sacrifice. The person being subjected to the torture was suffering for the sake of the community.” I find this statement astonishingly revealing. By “The person being subjected to the torture,” Card is not referring here to Stilson, Bonzo, or the buggers, who may well be sacrificed, but whose sacrifices are certainly not “voluntary.” Their deaths are not the voluntary sacrifices that draw Card’s concern. No, in these situations, according to Card the person being tortured is Ender, and even though he walks away from every battle, the sacrifice is his. In every situation where Ender wields violence against someone, the focus of the narrative’s sympathy is always and invariably on Ender, not on the objects of Ender’s violence. It is Ender who is offering up the voluntary sacrifice, and that sacrifice is the emotional price he must pay for physically destroying someone else. All the force of such passages is on the price paid by the destroyer, not on the price paid by the destroyed. “This hurts me more than it hurts you,” might well be the slogan of Ender’s Game.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 17, 2008 at 2:41 pm

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