Is the morality of an act solely based on the intentions of the person acting? Moviegoers may get some insight into this question when Ender’s Game is released in theaters Nov. 1.
Orson Scott Card’s classic Ender’s Game book series began in 1985 with its most well known first installment, winning the Nebula and Hugo Awards for best science fiction novel. The book tells the story of an alien invasion, where the world’s population prepares for an imminent second attack by training as many specialized soldiers as possible. Most of these special soldiers are children, honing their skills on an orbiting space station in zero gravity simulations called “Battle School.” Ender is a potentially gifted future commander, selectively bred by the International Fleet, the organization combating the alien force. The book follows Ender’s journey through the beginning of Battle School.
In an interesting essay on Ender as a killer from the International Review of Science Fiction, John Kessel concludes that Ender is far too innocent for someone who commits murder and violent acts in the book (warning: this essay contains many spoilers if you have not read the book). John makes some good points, illustrating the expertise of Card in encouraging the reader to root for the “innocent killer.” The book’s story is even more potent when you add the fact that Ender is abused during most of his life, partly because he is a third child when couples are only allowed to have two. Does the reader root for the “murdering savior,” or is Card content in saying that committing immoral deeds in ignorance is acceptable? These questions and more are addressed in the rest of the Ender series.
…when you write without deliberately expressing moral teachings, the morals that show up are the ones you actually live by. The beliefs that you don’t even think to question, that you don’t even notice– those will show up. And that tells much more truth about what you believe than your deliberate moral machinations.
–Orson Scott Card