I don’t re-read too many books but Ender’s Game is one that I constantly return to.
The basic premise, from Amazon:
“In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine...young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.
Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister…
This futuristic tale involves aliens, political discourse on the Internet, sophisticated computer games, and an orbiting battle station. Yet the reason it rings true for so many is that it is first and foremost a tale of humanity; a tale of a boy struggling to grow up into someone he can respect while living in an environment stripped of choices.”
I’ve always asserted that good art makes you feel. Great art embeds universal truths to make many people, with disparate experiences and multivariate backgrounds, feel. It is a hard, hard thing to do. But the great books, great music, and great movies all succeed in this.
I mention this not because I believe Ender’s Game is an objectively great book – I can’t know this. But the themes in Ender’s Game, of living and dying alone, of looking at the alien in a new way, of bridging realpolitik and human feeling, I think these are both universal and highly applicable in the world we find ourselves today. In the book, it takes the vulnerability and openness of a child to find a new answer to the age-old problem of distrust between the different.
I’ve also noticed lately that Ender’s Game has been getting more media play:
1. As the only book listed on Mark Zuckerberg’s (founder of Facebook) Facebook profile
2. In Jesse Schell’s (CEO of Schell Games) talk on the Gamepocalyse
"I personally believe...if you've read Ender's Game...and everything else that Orson Scott Card ever wrote, he sold his soul...If you go back and read that book, this book written in the early 70's, it predicts IM, it predicts blogging, it predicts people in dorms pranking each other's desktops. It's an insane amount of things that he just nailed so right. and it's such a beautiful story. For people who haven't read it. the whole idea of it is that the perfect general has total empathy, because they're able to use that empathy to understand the mind of their opponent. But of course they need to destroy that opponent which is going to make them go insane. And that's like the whole fundamental..."
3. As an in-development movie with director Gavin Hood attached