[Update, 17 July 2015 -- There are many things I want to say about Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. Too many things. Could not get everything I wanted to say into a single post, so I ended up saying almost nothing beyond noting that the book was engaging enough to keep me up all night for a re-read. I'll add a few comments, mixed into the original weak post.]
I was at Kinokuniya on a Friday night a couple of months ago looking for some new teaching materials and thinking things like, "I could make something better than this if I had the time." and "Would this save me enough time to be the limits it imposes?"
And I found a novel from deep in my past.
A really good friend gave me a copy of the original novelette more than twenty-five years ago, so I picked it up to read a few pages. I ended up reading it until closing time, buying a copy, reading it on the train, and finishing it, standing up in the light by the ticket machines at my station, before I went home at about 3:30 Saturday morning.
[One of the less important thoughts I had was to compare the relationship of the original novelette to the novel by offering a parallel with Arthur C. Clarke's Against the Fall of Night and The City and the Stars. But all that really does is to point out that authors do, sometimes, re-write their own works.]
I get lonesome for English, and, in truth, if I don't read, my English goes downhill.
But I can put Harry Potter or Heinlein or even Bradbury down. [Or Clarke.]
Ender's Game is a good book, very thought-provoking, and not badly written at all.
Orson Scott Card's prose is reasonably clean, so it should also be a good novel for non-native students of English, as well.
[I have noticed a trend, as personal computers allow people to write more and write more quickly, away from the careful editing and honing that used to be a part of the publishing process.
Scott acknowledges the imperfections in the novel. Some of them were partially addressed, to varying effect, in producing the movie.
No literary work is perfect. So what? Go read Wuthering Heights, and think about what we'd miss if we insisted on perfection.
I'd still prefer to use Word Perfect 3 for serious writing, rather than any of the word processing software we have available today, but that thought has nothing to do with Ender's Game.]
The novelette and the novel are not the same. Some differences are minor, some not so minor. But it's the same story.
I also rented the DVD. Showed it to my daughter. She thought it was interesting, but not as interesting as her anime. She isn't going to suddenly decide to try to read the novel in English, at least, not until she's finished with The Wizard of Oz.
The movie is significantly different from the novel. Some of the differences are substantial.
[But they do not interfere one of the more important messages of the book, one which becomes more and more important as our modern society becomes ever more "modern". Bad things happen when people manipulate people, even with good intent. And then we have to let the world go on without what might have been.]
The DVD shows some cut scenes that I think I agree should not have been cut. It might have made the ending more readable, but the ending should be readable to any serious science fiction fan.
[Those scenes would have made the movie more satisfying, and more understandable, I think. Spoiling the ending should not have been a concern.]
Movies do not always have to have O'Henry-style surprises.
[I think I want to emphasize one message from the book: Failing banks, failing nations, marketing wars that destroy the foundations of the industries the markets were founded on. Why are we so sure have to win it all?
And I recommend the sequel, Speaker for the Dead, as well. It is not the usual more-of-the-same that you have in sequels.]