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Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

 

Enders Game by Orson Scott Card

Card creates a brilliant and nuanced cosmology in the Ender quintet.

I like Science Fiction just fine but must not love it because there have been many years I didn’t read even a single SciFi title. I had read a few of the standards over the years without much prompting and recommend them all – Frank Herbert’s Dune Series, Philip Dick’s Valis Trilogy and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (became the movie Bladerunner), Asimov’s I, Robot, Ray Bradburry’s Farenheit 451, Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Arthur Clarke’s 2001: Space Odyssey, C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet trilogy, and I’m sure others.

My son Merrick introduced me to Orson Scott Card and his child genius Andrew Wiggin – Ender – in Ender’s Game. A slow start – probably because of my own low expectations – and an ending that was so unexpected that it made me want to read the book again. Immediately. I’ll leave it at that so I don’t even stray towards a spoiler. My reading of preferred genres goes in streaks I admit, but I devoured all the books in Card’s series as quickly as I could get to them: Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, Ender’s Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, and I’m sure I’m leaving something out. (Thanks Merrick!)

Ender grows up in a home with a cruel older brother, Peter, and the love of his life, Valentine, his older sister and the only one who doesn’t seem to resent his brilliance. Card does have an ability to see the future – his description of communication over the Internet before Al Gore had the thing really up and going is amazing – and in a world of overpopulation Ender wasn’t even legally allowed to be born. Peter and Valentine are both eligible to be selected for Battle School but Peter’s anger turns to lethal hatred when it is Ender who is chosen to train as a fighter to repel a hostile alien forces’s next invasion.

My description may make this sound trite but the psychological, moral, and physical conflicts are brilliant and emotionally exquisite. [Note: The movie was made after I read the novel. It just didn’t capture the psychology of the book.]

Like Frank Herbert in the Dune books, as you read through Card’s series you find an author who doesn’t just create other settings or even worlds – but whole cosmologies complete with religions, races, histories, and complex moral dilemmas, including definitions of the soul and consciousness. (Yes, there are some slow sections, particularly in Xenocide, but the whole experience is more than satisfactory.)

Just a note or two about Card. He is a descendent of Brigham Young and graduated from BYU and the University of Utah, and did doctoral work at Notre Dame. He served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While passing through Salt Lake City on a Delta flight I saw that he has also written the novels Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel and Leah, which are known as the Women from Genesis Series. The Internet says he lives in North Carolina now. I don’t know anything about his ongoing personal religious life but would simply observe that as with other author’s from a high identity religious background, there is a discipline and training of thought that seems to spawn a counter-intuitive imaginative freedom with the ability to dream up huge, comprehensive, and interconnected realities as he’s done in his Andrew Wiggin novels.

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The Day Satan Called: A True Encounter With Demon Possession

By Bill Scott. FaithWords, a division of the Hachette Book Group. Published October 2011.

We live in a culture that is skeptical of most things spiritual – but that can’t seem to get enough of dark, scary, “spiritual” movies and books – from Rosemary’s Baby to The Exorcist and a host of annual releases. So what more can be said about demons and evil spirits?

I will establish up front that I am friends with the author of The Day Satan Called and worked with him on the editorial development of the project. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be a raving fan and recognize some special contributions to our understanding of the spirit world that Bill has made through this book, does it?

I met Bill Scott and his wife Janet about a year ago to discuss a couple publishing projects they needed to work on for an organization for youth they founded and run. In the course of the conversation Bill mentioned off-handedly that he had written a manuscript (with more than a little help from Janet) of his experience with a … witch … who he had invited to live in his home in order to help her … okay.

Suffice it to say I watched Bill just a little more closely to see what kind of guy he really was. What I noticed then and have seen confirmed over and over in the subsequent year is that Bill is direct and honest to a fault. I took the manuscript home and was transfixed – and terrified. That’s the first thing I would say about The Day Satan Called – it is a well-written, fast-paced, entertaining, and incredibly scary story. Bill seems to take you to the edge of the cliff at the end of every chapter. About the time you think what he lived through couldn’t get worse – it does.

I’m not going to give away any spoilers, but I’ll note that the book has a totally unexpected ending. The story is great but it is Bill’s observations that make this book special. In the process of looking back at how things started and ended, Bill asks and answers some poignant questions about demon possession: is it related to multiple personality disorder (MPD) – sometimes? All of the time? How much of what is called demon possession is someone’s personal fantasy or even a con game? Or both? How prevalent is demon possession in our society and how concerned should we be? With all the temptations in the world that seem to work so well with so many, why would Satan even bother with “possessing” some people? Can a Christian be demon possessed – or in the case of a person suffering from MPD, can one personality be redeemed and another personality be possessed?

I mentioned that Bill is honest and direct. He doesn’t claim to know all the answers to those and other questions, but he does a great job of presenting what happened to him – even the parts that are personally embarrassing that he’d rather forget – and reaffirming the scripture: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).