War and Peace: Orson Scott Card and the Ender Universe

Introduction

1. Background

2. History and Myth

a. The Myth before the Myth: the First Invasion

b. On War and Peace

c. On the use of Pinocchio in discussing free will and life in Cyberspace

3. Social Structure

a. The crews as microcosms of society

b. The Women

c. The Social Outcasts

d. Homosexuality and Lesbianism

e. Inter-Racial Relationships

4. Forms of Government

a. Democracies

b. Dictatorships

c. Utopias/Dystopias

d. Other Forms

5. Politics and International Relations

a. Overview

b. Treaties and Conventions

6. Law and Order through Space and Time

a. Traditional ways of settling legal disputes and reaching verdicts

b. About the contemporary legal system

c. Examples of contemporary Legal Dilemmas

Protection of Privacy

Genetic Engineering/Cloning

Freedom of Information

d. About the futuristic legal system

The Prime Directive

Time Travel and Time Machines

Birth Control

Genetic Engineering

The use of Telepathy and Telekinesis

Criminal Law

Nanotechnology

Cryonics

Definition and Rights of Intelligent Life

Laws of Robotics

Corporate Laws

The Internet and the Control of Information

Election Laws and Procedures

7. Technology

Summary

War and Peace: Orson Scott Card and the Ender Universe

 

Introduction

Orson Scott Card, en educator by training, dedicates a major part of the Ender Saga to a description of the world through the eyes of children (and young adults) and the picture he paints is far from being rosy.

1. Background

 

2. History and Myth

a. The Myth before the Myth: the First Invasion

The First Invasion was exploratory

The Second Invasion

Mazer Rackham fought and won the war against the Buggers. He does so half-accidentally; near Saturn, he destroys the Formic queen. The Formics have a hive mind, and if the queen dies, all of the buggers die as well. Mazer Rackham's decisive and unexpected move allows the planning of the Third Invasion and for Earth to regroup after the long and resource-exhausting battle.

The Third Invasion

After the abrupt end to the Second Invasion, the I.F. sends a fleet to attack the buggers. With the faster-than-light communication called the ansible, Earth has more than half a century to find a brilliant group of commanders for the Third Invasion. They set up a program called Battle School, in which militarily talented six-year-olds are trained to become excellent generals. The lead commander will be taught personally by Rackham. Since he must be alive by then, Rackham is sent on a relativistic, time-slowing journey, to be brought back to become Ender Wiggin's mentor. Fifty years (Earth time) later, he ages only eight years…

b. On War and Peace

Valentine Wiggin (writing under the name of Demosthenes) developed a hierarchy of strangeness, designed to facilitate contacts between humanity and other species (in First Contact scenarios?) and to prevent misunderstandings which may lead to Genocide. In her book "History of Wutan in Trondheim" the four-staged hierarchy is described as follows:

1. Utlannings are strangers of one's own species, and from one's own world. For example, if one were to meet someone he did not know who lived in another city or country on Earth, this person would be considered utlanning. It should be noted that at the time the Hierarchy is proposed, each planet in the Ender's Game Universe (other than Earth) has been colonized by a single terrestrial culture or nation; thus, the real-world equivalent of an utlanning would be a stranger from one's own country or culture.

2. Framlings are strangers who are of one's own species but who are from another world. For example, to a human, another human living on Mars would be a framling (a classic example is Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land). Again, the real-world equivalent to "world" here is nation or culture.

3. Ramen (siraman) are strangers from another species who are capable of communication and peaceful coexistence with humanity. Some more common examples of ramen are some characters of the Star Wars and Star Trek series, including Ewoks, Wookiees, and Vulcans.

4. Varelse (pronounced var-ELSS-uh are strangers from another species who are not capable of communication and peaceful coexistence with humanity. The quasi-intelligent Descolada virus may or may not have been sentient enough to qualify in this cateogry. It was thought that the Descoladores, creators of the Descolada, were the true sentients, and it was determined at the end of the Ender quartet that it would take years of study to formulate any communication with them. The classification of a species in this category may be a ground or even a justification for its destruction. 

The Wikipedia Encyclopedia cites as examples of varelse the alien species of the Alien and Predator series, but they forget to mention that in AVPR, the Predator had a pretty good communication going with the (female) head of the human delegation, they both cooperated in destroying the monster and even saved each other's lives a couple of times. 

The reason that this hierarchy is given is that with a species designated as ramen, communication and compromise are viable alternatives to war, while if a species is designated as varelse, then we have a right to wage war on this species in self-defense. However, these definitions are open to interpretation: the Pequeninos and Formics are both considered ramen at various points in the series and varelse at other points. The change in designation did not come from a change in the species being described; instead, this change came from a change in humans' understanding of these creatures. In fact, Quara, one of the characters in the series said, "As far as I can tell, intelligence is intelligence. Varelse is just the term Valentine invented to mean Intelligence-that-we've-decided-to-kill, and raman means Intelligence-that-we-haven't-decided-to-kill-yet."

c. On the use of Pinocchio in discussing free will and life in Cyberspace

Can Pinocchio be regarded as a robot (or a "virtual creature") desperately seeking a "human body"? Or maybe he is not satisfied with just a body and he's looking for a "soul" too? And did Grandpa Gepetto even want a real boy, or was he willing to settle for a wooden doll? Card's conclusion is simple – Pinocchio will never be a flesh and blood boy. Here are a few quotes:

1. From “Speaker”

 

"Pinocchio was such a dolt to try to become a real boy. He was much better off with a wooden head." (Jane)

2. From “Childern”

He grinned. Then he touched the jewel in his ear. "Remember, Jane is listening, and she tells Ender everything."

Wang-mu fell silent, but not because she was embarrassed. She simply had nothing to say, and therefore said nothing.

"So I'm ambitious. Because that's how Ender imagined me. Ambitious and nasty-minded and cruel."

"But I thought you were not yourself," she said.

His eyes blazed with defiance. "That's right, I'm not." He looked away. "Sorry, Gepetto, but I can't be a real boy. I have no soul."

She didn't understand the name he said, but she understood the word soul. "All my childhood I was thought to be a servant by nature. To have no soul. Then one day they discovered that I have one. So far it has brought me no great happiness."

"I'm not speaking of some religious idea. I'm speaking of the aiua. I haven't got one. Remember what happened to Miro's broken-down body when his aiua abandoned it."

"But you don't crumble, so you must have an aiua after all."

3. From “Childern”

"On the contrary," said Young Val, "we decided that Gepetto did not create Pinocchio because he wanted a real boy. It was a puppet he wanted all along. That real-boy business was simply Gepetto's laziness. He still wanted the puppet to dance-- he just didn't want to go to all the trouble of working the strings."

"You being Pinocchio," said Miro. "And Ender..."

"My brother didn't try to make you," said Old Valentine.

"And he doesn't want to control you, either."

"I know," whispered Young Val. And suddenly there were tears in her eyes.

4. From "Xenocide"

Ender was still for a moment, and then he began to address her in his storytelling manner. "There's an old tale of a dollmaker who never had a son. So he made a puppet that was so lifelike that it looked like a real boy, and he would hold the wooden boy on his lap and talk to it and pretend it was his son. He wasn't crazy-- he still knew it was a doll-- he called it Pinehead. But one day a god came and touched the puppet and it came to life, and when the dollmaker spoke to it, Pinehead answered.

The dollmaker never told anyone about this. He kept his wooden son at home, but he brought the boy every tale he could gather and news of every wonder under heaven. Then one day the dollmaker was coming home from the wharf with tales of a far-off land that had just been discovered, when he saw that his house was on fire.

Immediately he tried to run into the house, crying out, 'My son! My son!' But his neighbors stopped him, s, 'Are you mad? You have no son!' He watched the house burn to the ground, and when it was over he plunged into the ruins and covered himself with hot ashes and wept bitterly. He refused to be comforted. He refused to rebuild his shop. When people asked him why, he said his son was dead. He stayed alive by doing odd jobs for other people, and they pitied him because they were sure the fire had made him a lunatic. Then one day, three years later, a small orphan boy came to him and tugged on his sleeve and said, 'Father, don't you have a tale for me?'"

Jane waited, but Ender said no more.

"That's the whole story?"

"Isn't it enough?"

5. From “Xenocide”

"Not even that," said Miro. "Because the priests say that God created our souls, and that just puts us under the control of another puppeteer. If God created our will, then he's responsible for every choice we make. God, our genes, our environment, or some stupid programmer keying in code at an ancient terminal-- there's no way free will can ever exist if we as individuals are the result of some external cause."

"So-- as I recall, the official philosophical answer is that free will doesn't exist. Only the illusion of free will, because the causes of our behavior are so complex that we can't trace them back. If you've got one line of dominoes knocking each other down one by one, then you can always say, Look, this domino fell because that one pushed it. But when you have an infinite number of dominoes that can be traced back in an infinite number of directions, you can never find where the causal chain begins. So you think, That domino fell because it wanted

to."

"Bobagem," said Miro.

3. Social Structure

I don't fully understand why a society preparing for war imposes such strict birth control measures, and not necessarily in order to prevent severe over population, that a special permit is required for having a third child. Supposedly, the exact opposite policy, of rigorous birth encouragement, would be in order, unless the assumption is that war is being waged using virtual and technological tools, and therefore there is no need for human soldiers, just for the chosen few who can operate the tools of war…

a. The crews as microcosms of society

 

 

b. The Women

In Ender’s universe there id no unusual discrimination against women. The main three female characters in Ender’s life are:

Ender’s mother

Irrelevant

His sister Valentine

His helper in times of need, if not his sidekick, at least the Woman Behind the Man

His wife Novinia

Ender had only what could be described as platonic relationships with women until he married Novinia

c. The Social Outcasts

 

 

d. Homosexuality and Lesbianism

 

 

e. Inter-Racial Relationships

 

 

4. Forms of Government

There are three primary governments in the Ender series:

1. The Hegemony

The Hegemony is described as a futuristic mix of 1984's Big Brother and the current form of American republicanism. After the events of the first invasion (circa. pre-Ender's Game), the world unified against the buggers in an alliance termed the Hegemony. It consisted of three offices: the Hegemon, Strategos, and Polemarch. However, the Hegemony only had power and influence as long as the Buggers posed a threat. After the end of the Third Invasion, the Hegemony lost influence as various power blocs on Earth began jockeying for influence and territory. For five days after Ender's final battle, the League War raged, which was finally ended by the Locke Proposal, written by Peter Wiggin.

2. Starways Congress

The interstellar government known as Starways Congress is a fictional interstellar government body described in Speaker for the Dead and its sequels. It was established 1180 years after Ender's Xenocide in Ender's Game. It then re-established the calendar based on the founding of the Congress. Starways Congress was formed some time after the colonization of the Hundred Worlds, over a timespan from Ender in Exile to Speaker For the Dead. In the series, it is an interstellar government superpower of American root that becomes the primary antagonist in the events of Speaker For the Dead. It consists of chairmen that vote on issues, like a Democracy. It ruled by controlling the ansible. Various groups (religious, nationalities, ethnic groups, etc.) were granted permits to develop colonies and allowed to rule them according to their belief systems provided they followed the laws set by the SC.

Starways Congress rules according to the Starways Code. It is known to have the power to issue and revoke the charters of planetary governments. Starways Congress also holds some level of control over the ansible network; until the discovery of Jane, they believed their control absolute. In the novel Speaker for the Dead, Starways Congress declares the planet Lusitania to be in rebellion, revokes their charter, and removes all documents from that planet. They also order two xenologers to travel to the nearest planet to stand trial for their crimes.

Starways Congress' core belief is in the survival of the human race. When they learn of the danger posed by the Descolada, Gobawa Ekimbo, the leader of Starways Congress, says, "I want to make sure that it's the other guys that disappear." They order the termination of the planet on the grounds that humanity's survival preempts the survival of the Pequeninos.

When Bishop Peregrino orders his flock not to speak or answer the Speaker, Ender (Andrew Wiggin) threatens to petition for the status of Inquisitor. If the planet is found guilty of religious persecution, then their Catholic-only license is revoked, which would lead to Starways Congress to ship enough people off of the planet to allow for a sudden mixing of religion and culture so that it is fair to everyone.

Another example of this ability to control the people is seen in Xenocide and Children of the Mind on the world of Path. Path is an all-Chinese world with its own unique religion. Outsiders are not allowed in, and those who reside on the planet are not allowed to leave for fear of angering the 'Gods' and giving away their tightly held secret. Han Fei-Tzu is credited as being the only person on the planet capable of hiding the God-Speaking from outsiders, and so he is looked at as becoming the future 'God of Path', which is inferred to mean some kind of holy guardian.

Starways Congress had their hands deep in this project, having made secret genetic modifications to some people giving high intellect, but also extreme OCD-like symptoms. These people believe the Gods are speaking to them, and thus gave birth to their religion. This shows the power of Starways Congress, for they can isolate and harbor a culture such as that without allowing it to become diluted with other facets of humanity.

3. Free People of Earth

The Free People of Earth is a worldwide government body that appears in Shadow of the Giant and succeeding novels. It is a government on Earth unified under Peter Wiggin as Hegemon.

The Free People of Earth (FPE) was introduced by Peter Wiggin, Hegemon of the Earth in Shadow of the Giant in an attempt to create a world government free of war. Peter developed a Constitution of the Free People of Earth, which indicated that only democratic countries which guaranteed civil rights would be allowed in. Before a nation was to be inducted, it was required that the nation hold a plebiscite in which the people of that nation voted to join. Unlike previous international government organizations, the Free People was intended to have a strong central government to control all armed forces and foreign affairs for its members. Peter explained to Virlomi, "We'll keep the word nation, but it will come to mean what state means in America. An administrative unit, but little more."

The Free People of Earth also recognized groups that were not previously independent, especially groups that wished to separate from their parent nations.

According to Peter, the military of the Free People consist of the combined militaries of all its member nations, though at all points during the novel it suggests that each nation's military still acts separately, though usually uthe control of a Battle School graduate with an affiliation with the Free People. As the novel progresses, though, more alliances between national militaries are clear, and it is apparent that they join forces later on during the conflict between China, Russia, and the Islamic world.

In the last chapter, Peter mentions that Petra Arkanian remains head of the defense department of the Free People; she is the last member of Ender's jeesh to remain on Earth.

Sometime after Peter's death, the Free People collapsed, and was replaced by Starways Congress. It is not entirely known how this happened. But it is possible that the FPE was merely incorporated into the Starways Congress, as the FPE is a planetary government and the SC is an interstellar one.

See: Governments in the Enderverse

 

a. Democracies

 

 

b. Dictatorships

(Inter)Galactic Empires, whether or not headed by (evil) Emperors

c. Utopias/Dystopias

 

 

d. Other Forms

Hives

the Formics

5. Politics and International Relations

Mankind ventured out into space and established self-ruled colonies, each populated by one main ethnic group (Portuguese Lusitania, Swedish Trondheim etc'). The colonies are loosely connected to a central government on Earth.

a. Overview

 

 

b. Treaties and Conventions

the Locke Proposal

the Constitution of the Free People of Earth

6. Law and Order through Space and Time

 

 

a. Traditional ways of settling legal disputes and reaching verdicts

 

 

b. About the contemporary legal system

 

 

c. Examples of contemporary Legal Dilemmas

 

 

Protection of Privacy

 

 

Genetic Engineering/Cloning

 

 

Freedom of Information

 

 

d. About the futuristic legal system

 

 

The Prime Directive

The Starways Congress established the law that no alien culture found is to be provided with superior technology or any information about the human society in order to preserve the natural development of the culture. In Speaker for the Dead, this is interpreted very strictly, to the point that the scientists studying the Pequeninos are not allowed to draw blood, for fear of giving the Pequeninos the hint that there is something to be learned from studying blood. The scientists, however, violate the prohibitions.

Time Travel and Time Machines

FTL travel according to Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

Birth Control

The law allowing for only two children per family in a society that is still recovering from a deadly war is puzzling, as I've mentioned more than once.

Genetic Engineering

 

 

The use of Telepathy and Telekinesis

 

 

Criminal Law

 

 

Nanotechnology

 

 

Cryonics

 

 

Definition and Rights of Intelligent Life

Jane

Using the character of Pinocchio, the issue of the Ghost in the Machine is discussed not just as a philosophical concept, but as a practical-existential one

Laws of Robotics

 

 

Corporate Laws

 

 

The Internet and the Control of Information

The Ender universe is one of the only ones which feature the Internet (or Nets for short) more or less in its contemporary form, and it serves more or less the same purposes - on the one hand, the dissemination and sharing of information, and on the other hand, the attempts to limit the disseminated information and control it.

However, there are several distinctive differences between Card's Internet and contemporary Internet, one of the main of which is the phasing of the right of access - minors have no access, students have passive access, only adults have the right to supervised active participation. Also, the Internet is divided into geographic areas. And yes, according to Card, apparently in the future it will also be difficult to keep children away from the Internet…

Mother commented that they were spending too much time on the nets. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," she reminded Peter.

Starting the Blogs (for want of a better word) was actually Peter's idea, inspired by the original Demosthenes and his speeches against Philip II of Macedonia, with the intention to incite public opinion against an upcoming invasion by the Warsaw pact. Interstingly enough, he didn't choose Cicero's passionate speeches calling for the immediate destruction of Carthage as a source of inspiration.

"I've been studying history," Peter said. "I've been learning things about patterns in human behavior. There are times when the world is rearranging itself, and at times like that, the right words can change the world. Think what Pericles did in Athens, and Demosthenes--"

"Yes, they managed to wreck Athens twice."

"Pericles, yes, but Demosthenes was right about Philip--"

"Or provoked him--"

"See? This is what historians usually do, quibble about cause and effect when the point is, there are times when the world is in flux and the right voice in the right place can move the world. Thomas Paine and Ben Franklin, for instance. Bismarek. Lenin."

"Not exactly parallel cases, Peter." Now she was disagreeing with him out of habit; she saw what he was getting at, and she thought it might just be possible.

"I didn't expect you to understand. You still believe that teachers know something worth learning."

I understand more than you think, Peter. "So you see yourself as Bismarck?"

"I see myself as knowing how to insert ideas into the public mind. Haven't you ever thought of a phrase, Val, a clever thing to say, and said it, and then two weeks or a month later you hear some adult saying it to another adult, both of them strangers? Or you see it on a video or pick it up on a net?"

"I always figured I heard it before and only thought I was making it up."

"You were wrong. There are maybe two or three thousand people in the world as smart as us, little sister. Most of them are making a living somewhere. Teaching, the poor bastards, or doing research. Precious few of them are actually in positions of power."

"I guess we're the lucky few."

"Funny as a one-legged rabbit, Val."

"Of which there are no doubt several in these woods."

"Hopping in neat little circles."

Valentine laughed at the gruesome image and hated herself for thinking it was funny.

"Val, we can say the words that everyone else will be saying two weeks later. We can do that. We don't have to wait until we're grown up and safely put away in some career."

"Peter, you're twelve."

"Not on the nets I'm not. On the nets I can name myself anything I want, and so can you."

"On the nets we are clearly identified as students, and we can't even get into the real discussions except in audience mode, which means we can't say anything anyway."

"I have a plan."

"You always do." She pretended nonchalance but she listened eagerly.

"We can get on the nets as full-fledged adults. With whatever net names we want to adopt, if Father gets us onto his citizen's access."

"And why would he do that? We already have student access. What do you tell him, I need citizen's access so I can take over the world?"

"No, Val. I won't tell him anything. You'll tell him how you're worried about me. How I'm trying so very hard to do well at school, but you know it's driving me crazy because I can never talk to anybody intelligent, everybody always talks down to me because I'm young, I never get to converse with my peers. You can prove that the stress is getting to me."

He was only 12 at the time and his sister Valentine was 10. He managed to convince her to go along with his plan, and gradually they each adopted an on line persona which was the opposite of their true nature - Valentine was Demosthenes, a bit of a demagogue, trying to stir up the people, while Peter was Locke, a distinctly cooler, more populist head.

The beginnings were humble, but the audiences they reached grew larger and larger and their writings had a real impact on public opinion. Soon they turned from bloggers to paid columnists, and used their writing fees to contribute to certain candidates or certain goals - without anybody knowing their real identities. Amongst other things, Demosopposed the birth control law.

Later on Valentine secretly monopolized the use of the name Demosthenes as she started writing definitive historical volumes, effectively rendering the previous owner of the name irrelevant

If someone had asked Card about this when he wrote the Saga, I'm sure he could never have imagined what a few determined young people can accomplish with posts on social networks…Or could he?

Election Laws and Procedures

 

 

7. Technology

Card describes a world in which FTL travel and instant computer communication, regardless of the distance, are a part of everyday life and the theory of relativity has practical applications, but as it turns out, the fight school whose students rely on those facts for their success is not as far from reality as one may think..

 

Michael Macedonia, director of the Army's simulation technology center in Orlando, Fla., which plans to build a virtual Afghanistan that could host hundreds of thousands of networked computers, said (quote from a article entitled "More Than Just a Game, but How Close to Reality?" By Amy Harmon, published in the NYT technology section on April 3rd 2003:

 

"Ender's Game has had a lot of influence on our thinking… The intent is to be a simulation that allows people to play in that world for months or years, participate in different types of roles and see consequences of their decisions".

Summary

Rumors about the intention to turn Ender into a Movie circulated around for a long time. During Card's visit to Israel for the Icon convention in 2003, we didn't hear about any actual progress in this project. A director was chosen (Wolfgang Petersen) but no actors, because Card insisted, as he still does, that the age of the boy chosen to play Ender should be as close as possible to Ender's age in the Novel. Meanwhile, according to the updated information in the IMDB website, a new star was chosen, a new

director (Gavin Hood), and the new release date is 2013. Let’s hope that this time it’s for real.

Virtual characters: Jane

For Ender's Hero's Journey click here.