Now that I’m past the horrible time suck that was Salman Rushdie, it seems like things are finally proceeding apace with my reading goal. I just finished book #8 and I’m already onto book #9: “Gun Machine” by Warren Ellis. At this rate, I’m still not at the point where I can say that I’m on track to get through all 20 books by the end of the year…but I’ll put in the hours, if that’s what it takes. My sister informed me just the other day that she’s challenged herself to read 25 books this year, and I just can’t even imagine that right now.
Book #8: “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card
How desperate are we when we say that children are the key to our future? In Card’s dystopian image of Earth’s future, desperation has grown to enormous proportions as children are recruited in their mid-single digits to get trained for military service. Years before, a savage race of aliens – known only as “buggers” – attempted to wipe humans off the face of the galaxy. Earth’s countries took this opportunity to stop aiming their weapons at each other and created a joint military service that was aimed solely at protecting the planet from the buggers. That’s where these genius children come in: plucked from obscurity after much testing and (invasive) monitoring, they’re taken away to an orbiting Battle School that prepares them for infantry, piloting or even command.
This is where we meet Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a small child of six who is destined to be so much more. Ender is not only a genius; he’s also a “third” (the third child to parents who, under strict population controls, should typically never have been born). His older brother (Peter) and sister (Valentine) are seemingly polar opposites; Peter is a psychopath who delights in tormenting others (especially Ender), and Valentine is his sweet sister who plays the salve to Peter’s acid burn. Ender is whisked away to Battle School by the manipulative Colonel Graff, where he’s tested day in, day out, by all manners of physical, psychological and emotional stresses. Graff believes Ender is the key to the humans’ survival against the next bugger invasion, and Ender – repeatedly displaced from what little familiarity he is allowed to foster at any time – is far from just any ordinary marionette.
Card’s story is another very fast read – incredibly engrossing and very hard to put down. At the same time, it’s terribly distressing. The idea that society would ever get to the point where we would willingly put small children through this kind of torture is really upsetting, and I’m glad that the movie version of the book (coming out in November 2013) shifts things by a few years so that Ender’s not quite so young when Graff gets at him. As a side note, I was further upset to find that Card spends his free time playing homophobe extraordinaire; I tend not to give financial or other support to people who clearly espouse viewpoints that make my blood boil. So, read it or not – it’s an excellent book that’s likely to make for an interesting movie. I’ll say that the only things of Card’s I’d be willing to read would be what I’ve purchased (the series that includes “Ender’s Game”). The rest of my money I think I’ll spend on authors who have a bit wider of a world view.
* * * * *
I was mostly back to normal with my eating habits last week, although the holiday and various commitments made it very difficult to get any real exercise in. I suppose *sweating* may count, and I certainly did my fair share of that. These are the days where I feel wise to have purchased a house with central air conditioning.
My weight loss is back on track, and I’m now 8lbs under my starting weight. So, I’m still behind where I should be…but it’s not worth fretting over lost time. Some of it is that I haven’t exercised more (partially my fault and partially out of my control); some of it is that I won’t stop having my ice cream a few nights a week. I know where these issues are, but since I’m looking for a lifelong solution and not just a quick way to get to my goal (which would be just as quickly lost), I need a solution that accommodates moderation over limitation. I’m sure I sound like a broken record about this, but I just have no desire to lose the weight quickly with a fad that gets undone the second I get back into “regular” eating habits. In other words, I’ll just keep my feet moving and see where I land as of 12/31.