On Ender's Game

A Teenless World

By Mette Ivie Harrison

I was at a bar following a SFF convention a few years ago, chatting up an editor I had hoped to interest in a new adult fantasy novel of mine. The conversation turned to my previously published YA novels, among them The Princess and the Hound. The adult genre editor, not surprisingly, had never heard of the title. I mentioned that it had been given a good review by Orson Scott Card, and the editor’s interest seemed to perk up. But it wasn’t my book he was interested in. Instead, he asked me point blank, “Why is Orson Scott Card so interested in torturing children?” Ender’s Game was at the top of his list of proofs for his assertion. I goggled at him, but he wouldn’t let it go as a rhetorical question. He wanted me to defend child torture in Ender’s Game, it seemed.

I tried to say that, as far as I knew, Orson Scott Card was not a sadist or a child-hater. His books showed characters who faced difficult things, and it seemed to me that one of the reasons many readers fell in love with his books was that he didn’t take it easy on younger characters, whether children or teenagers. Because life doesn’t take it easy on the young, and books that coddle them in the way that parents sometimes seem to want may be comforting, but they are not the books that seem real and lead readers to feel intimately attached to them. In short,  …

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