Aug 062013

200px-Chasm_City_cover_(Amazon)A comment to my previous Ender’s Game post said it “leaves the impression that you missed the part where O.S.Card throws a heavy critique at this “ultimate solution” — at the end of “Ender’s Game” and throughout “Xenocide”. Do you make a point that he criticizes it only on moral grounds, not on rational grounds?”

No, my complaint is that I don’t believe him when he throws in that critique at the end. The entire novel is a set-up to make sure Ender can commit genocide and still be innocent of doing so. It’s been a long time since I read it, but IIRC in the end no one is held to account, there is no war-crimes tribunal, and everyone goes on their merry way.

When I read Reynolds’ “Chasm City”, I got the distinct impression that Haussman did a terrible thing. Identifying with a mass-murderer felt creepy as hell, and there were all sorts of consequences. Not once was there a heavy critique of mass murder thrown in, because it wasn’t needed. The feeling that it was awful came from the story itself, not from an excuse added on by the author. When I read “Ender’s Game” I felt a lot like Luke Skywalker after blowing up the Death Star – victorious and righteous, with maybe some sadness that this much life had to be lost.

A fiction author doesn’t make his points through explicit argumentation, he does so via an emotional narrative. If the narrative leaves you feeling like genocide was kinda cool, it’s not actually a heavy critique, regardless of what he says at the end. I didn’t read Xenocide or Speaker For The Dead, so I can’t comment on them, maybe they served as a retraction (from what I’ve heard they’re mainly more apologia, but my sources are probably biased). But Ender’s Game clearly conveys a “crush anything that threatens you” mindset.

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