Saturday, January 03, 2015

Ender's Game

A lot of science fiction has been written in the last 100 years. Also a lot of science fiction has been made into movies and television. The original sins perhaps are Asimov's Foundation Series in books, and Star Trek on television. There is an episode of Star Trek, first aired sometime in the late 1960s, in which James T. Kirk, alias Jim, is tried by a military court for dereliction of duty. Now Star Trek series on television had many new and remarkable science things. However what it really talked about was leadership. Jim's showed leadership of a commander amidst lots of unknown and previously unseen problems, not to mention a mountain of data which was often contradictory. Jim is the quintessential leader among men. The essence of a good leader, as depicted, is to assess the risk and make a decision. In this particular episode of Star Trek, Jim's lieutenant Spock (the one with the funny ears) vouches for the countless times in which Jim has led from the front, been decisive and saved the ship and in turn the federation (human race). Now, the folks who created Star Trek of course had a first hand view of the World War II and so they inherently understood leadership in the direst of times, when even survival is at stake. That is of course hard to say in the modern times. However, I recently saw a film which went back to this original definition of leadership in the science fiction realm. Ender's Game is a year 2013 film based on an older short fiction story first written in 1977 and then later in 1985 as a book. What is perhaps the shrewd post modernistic charm of the story is that Andrew Wiggin, alias "Ender", the military commander and master strategist, is a young boy of about 12 years age.

Wikipedia Link - Ender's Game
IMDB Link - Ender's Game

What Ender ultimately achieves is that he becomes a leader amongst his peer children. He outshines them during basic and advanced training. He also starts to anticipate the future and makes course corrections accordingly. The basic premise is really very simple. Modern warfare, as we know and have learnt since the Iraq war of 1991, is won by geeks in front of computers. A good warrior is effective at strategy. She uses the resources offered by modern science to win against the enemy. Technology, weapons and minions are ultimately pawns for winning the grand objective (the War) Ender is not only the best player of his generation but, through war games and strategy lessons, he is learned military strategist. With his youth he does not have any inhibitions or guilt or indecisiveness. Perhaps like the alien enemy, the Formics, he takes violent action first and then thinks of the consequences later. Film is phenomenally written. Very well executed.

More on Foundation Series
If you have kids they should read these books. Nothing fires your imagination more as a 12 year old!