Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Classic Sci Fi.
Ender’s Game is a book that would struck me much differently if I had read it when I was an adolescent. It follows Ender through his induction into the military and his training as an officer. When this begins Ender is at the ripe age of six years old. He proves himself superior to every challenge that is presented and every antagonist he comes up against.
Ender is a superman. I admired his decisiveness in combat. From the first he is an ideal general. He pinpoints his adversaries’ weaknesses and instead of working for a momentary tactical advantage he strikes quickly to forestall future clashes. If I was twelve, this would be awesome. I could imagine myself as Ender, as smarter and better than everyone around me. As an adult I find it horrifying. Ender is enslaved from before his conception. He is born and bred to be the property of the military. His sole purpose for being is to learn how to be the most effective agent of destruction that any human has ever been.
It has been written that the message of Ender’s Game is that empathy is the only true weapon. That may be a message but the one that struck me most forcefully was this. Don’t trust the man! The man will lie to you, trick you and use you. When the man is done with you you will be broken and worn out and you will never be able to go home.