Books and Movies Reviews

Metamorphoses in Ender’s Game and Riddley Walker

Metamorphoses and transformation is a common theme in science
fiction, particularly since its speculative nature may make it that much
easier to consider novel scenarios and changes unlikely in more traditional
fiction. This theme is dealt with in a relatively practical fashion in the
two science fiction classics Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban and Ender’s
Game by Orson Scott Card. In their process of developing from childhood
into adulthood, the protagonists of both these stories stand at a cusp of
vital change, and essentially live the death of an entire way of life and
being. Each reacts to this loss by recreating themselves anew from a
synthesis of old and new, paradoxically coming into their own and
overcoming their enemies by melding with them to form new, stronger selves.
Perhaps the most important thing to realize when approaching these
two books is that in both cases the main characters are children. The
entire point of Ender’s Game, of course, is to deal with the subtle way
that brilliant young children can be unknowingly forced into superseding
the evil of adults. The youth of the protagonist is such a major plot
element that it is not at any risk of being forgotten, however it is so
prominent that it may be at risk of being ignored when it comes to
understanding the more subtle points of the work. In Riddley Walker, the
protagonist is portrayed as beinga man from the very beginning, and one
recalls that the veryfirst page describes “my naming day” on which he
becomes a man. Yet he is a very young little man, just twelve years old,
and even by the end of the book he’s hardly a month past that. Though he is
treated both as a sexual and a philosophically equipped adult, there is no
doubt that to our modern eyes he must still be a child in many ways, and
this book is the story of his slow transformation into an adult.
In both cases, the transformation int…

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