Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Excerpt: Kill the Giant

Now Playing: Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori - Guardians Lost (Destiny OST)

Before anything: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!! :D When I started this Monday challenge, I completely forgot my mom's birthday would land on a Monday. It's good, then, that I'm featuring from a book we both love (and an author we both despise).


Yeah, I wasn't going to escape Orson Scott Card for too long.

It's so weird to know how influential Ender's Game is, to the world and to me, and to know the kind of person Card is. It's a testament of so many things: how much a book and its creator can differ, the complexities of individuals (and writers), how you can love a story and still hate a homophobic jerkface with all your heart.

There's a lot in Ender's Game that I really adore, and I think this passage is great for many reasons--one in particular I can't exactly discuss because I refuse to give away the end of the book. (If you've read it--or even seen the movie--you'll know exactly what I mean).

I don't usually give context for these things (since that's not what matters for this weekly showcase), but fyi, he's playing a video game here. In case you were confused as to why a military sci-fi book suddenly had giants, talking bats, and Fairyland.

If you're a writer, pay attention to the use of repetition. Most of us (I really won't exclude myself) would be clawing and fighting for ways out of repeating "Giant" so much, but he fully embraces it, and it still flows perfectly. It also works because of Ender's age--using repetition when writing from the POV of children helps capture their voice a little better.

He stared at the two liquids. The one foaming, the other with waves in it like the sea. He tried to guess what kind of death each one held. Probably a fish will come out of the ocean one and eat me. The foamy one will probably asphyxiate me. I hate this game. It isn't fair. It's stupid. It's rotten. 
And instead of pushing his face into one of the liquids, he kicked one over, then the other, and dodged the Giant's huge hands as the Giant shouted, "Cheater, cheater!" He jumped at the Giant's face, clambered up his lip and nose, and began to dig in the Giant's eye. The stuff came away like cottage cheese, and as the Giant screamed, Ender's figure burrowed into the eye, climbed right in, burrowed in and in. 
The Giant fell over backward. The view shifted as he fell, and when the Giant came to rest on the ground, there were intricate, lacy trees all around. A bat flew up and landed on the dead Giant's nose. Ender brought his figure up out of the Giant's eye. 
"How did you get here?" the bat asked. "Nobody ever comes here." 
Ender could not answer, of course. So he reached down, took a handful of the Giant's eyestuff, and offered it to the bat. 
The bat took it and flew off, shouting as it went, "Welcome to Fairyland." 
He had made it. He ought to explore. He ought to climb down from the Giant's face and see what he had finally achieved. 
Instead he signed off, put his desk in his locker, stripped off his clothes and pulled his blanket over him. He hadn't meant to kill the Giant. This was supposed to be a game. Not a choice between his own grisly death and an even worse murder. I'm a murderer, even when I play. Peter would be proud of me.
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.