Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A War of Gifts (2007)

     One of the benefits (for lack of a better term) of reading lots of shorter books is that I don't mind taking a chance on random ones picked up at the library.  Well, not exactly random.  These books tend to comes from the single aisle of Fantasy and Science Fiction – because apparently there is no difference between the two.  To date, this has not been a rewarding way to select reading material in terms of personal satisfaction but it has helped in racking up the titles read.  It also lets me ease my way in to authors who many of my peers are quite familiar (whereas I had retained my ignorance of their works).
     I am going to assume that A War of Gifts (2007) is not a proper introduction into Orson Scott Card's multi-book saga about Ender Wiggins.  It seems like some fleshed out background material that passes as a decent (if short) novella to a neophyte, whereas a person immersed in the larger story would feel that Card is giving many (I assume) of the characters a richer backstory.  I see it – in my admitted ignorance – as a reward for those who have read and loved the previous novels.
     There isn't much science in this Science Fiction story, other than the general setting.  Instead, it places the themes of religion (does it have a role in military exercise?), camaraderie (on what basis is it extended?), and opposition to stifling authority in very common situations by having it be explored by children with little control of their lives.  Sadly, Card doesn't really have much to say on the subjects that stirs too deeply.  Maybe he does in the full-blown novels and simply repeating it here would have been tedious.
     It isn't a bad book.  In fact, I was happy to enjoy it given the disappointments other blind grabs have been.  Card is much more glib that I expected him to be with his dialogue. However, the only characters who come off as not being worthy attention are Ender and Zeck (the nominal main character here).  I am somewhat confidant that I will never get around to reading the rest of the saga, but I have finally (at least) acquainted myself with Card as a writer.

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