Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Genre Character of the Week: Andrew "Ender" Wiggin

Compared to most of my SF-loving friends growing up, I got on the Ender's Game train very late. While they were going on and on about how awesome Orson Scott Card's books were with little kids being used by the military to become super soldiers, my personal favourite SF at the time was Ray Bradbury or maybe Phillip K. Dick. A few years ago (I was 31) I finally decided to give the book a try, and now I can definitely count Andrew "Ender" Wiggin as one of my favourite characters of Genre fiction.

Like Miles Vorkosigan, Ender is the type of character who grows over the course of his series, as well as making some significant career changes along the way. I've only read the first four books of this 12 book series, but the later books appear to be following Ender's story from a different point of view, so I feel pretty confident that I've got a good hold on what the character is like.

Ender's journey begins at age six, where we witness him brutally attacking a schoolyard bully. His internal logic simply dictates that this is the best defense he has against such an attacker. Soon after he is picked up by the military and his training begins. The first book feels a lot like the opening training montage in 300 mixed with the film Real Genius, where we get to witness the child becoming the military genius he appears destined to become. The end of the book takes a pretty interesting twist however (even though most of you have probably read it, I'll try to stay away from spoilers) and the later books move in an entirely different direction.

I think the character of Ender actually has a lot to offer in a role-model capacity. He is, at heart, a problem sovler, and in later books when those problems stop being military ones he literally changes entire civilizations with his ideas. You can't really ask for a better role model than that.

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