Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ender's Shadow

I'm always looking for entertainment for my commute to work. My local library completely revamped their audio section recently. Most of the tapes are gone, and a completely new inventory of books on CD replaced it. I scanned it for science fiction. I had listened to the Star Wars and Star Trek tapes in the old collection. The timing is interesting. The tape deck in my car died, and i replaced it with an mp3 capable CD player.

The new collection has two interesting items. The first of the Dune prequels: The Butlerian Jihad, and Ender's Shadow. It turns out that neither of these are acceptable for my eight year old for use during long trips. Yet both are quite interesting. I'll leave off talking about the Jihad for when i've finished the series. There are two more 25+ hour books.

Ender's Shadow is powerful, deep, and dense. The fact that the first five chapters has the principal character basically starving to death, while i was on a diet only added to the effect. It wasn't hard to identify with a starving boy while, uhm, starving. Method reading isn't a requirement for enjoyment, however. You might be put off by the introductory starving segment. The street kid segment is pretty extreme. Though the violence gets much worse later, its just war, which we've all come to accept pretty well. One on one violence is so much harder to take. Besides, when the kids are a little older, there's so much less innocence.

The book is deep. The characters have depth. Not just the heroes. The villains also have depth. Some of the villains aren't so villainous. There is nowhere any black and white characters.

The book is dense. New ideas come at you at high velocity. They just keep coming. You expect the author to run out of ideas, but it keeps not happening for the entire 15+ hours of reading. Amazing. Harry Potter is dense, but you may have to reread it to appreciate just how many ideas there are. The first reading of Ender's Shadow is clearly just full of them, back to back. They follow one after another. And yet, just a few of the ideas are telegraphed. Amazing.


Anonymous said...

When you've run through your library's collection of audio books, you should check out some of the online services that rent audio books. They're not too expensive, and pretty convenient.

Stephen said...

I've done that in the past. My local Talking Books has gone out of business, however.

Stephen said...

Oh. One problem with is that they use Windows WMA format sound files. Though i've heard that there is a WMA reader that works for Linux, i've never found it, installed it, tried it, etc. The fact that Apple's iPods don't support WMA, though they support several other formats, is another problem. My car stereo can read mp3 CDs, and that is my preferred format for the moment. My DVD player MIGHT support WMA as is. Then again, it might not. I do more than 90% of my listening in the car...