Thursday, July 13, 2006

The World According To Ryan

So, I finished Ender's Shadow. I blogged about it not long ago, if you recall. Anyhow, great book. Also, I'm a member of this writer's board, Backspace. On the forums they have a section for book reviews and discussions. So, I posted about my undying love for author Orscon Scott Card and his two "Ender's" books.

Then something interesting happened. Turns out, there are some others who have read Ender's Game as well. Not only that, but a couple of those didn't really like it all that much.

Uh...hello! We're talking about Ender's Game, right? What's not to love? I then go into why they must be mistaken, or must have missed something, and why anyone who has any taste in great science fiction literature should love this book...not to mention a great deal many who don't have great taste in science fiction literature.

But they aren't convinced.

So it occurs to me...could I be wrong? Could it be that Ender's Game (and Ender's Shadow, for that matter) are simply mediocre books? Maybe I'm a geek for enjoying them. Then I think to another science fiction work I absolutely love: The Matrix trilogy. Because you see, I think I'm in the minority of folks who found all three movies, as a set, to be some of the greatest science fiction movies ever made. Still can't ponder why that is, and so anytime I get any resistence to the idea that Reloaded and Revolutions are incredible works of art, I feel the need to educate the person as to what they are missing.

Usually they stare at me blankly when I'm done and say, "Huh."

That's it. And so I'm convinced that my apparently superior intellect is the reason they didn't grasp the layers of symbolism embodied in the movies, and it isn't their fault at all. I'm happy believing that, because it means I'm smarter than everyone else.

But, see, it is happening again with Ender's Game. There are people who don't get what I get from it. But these are smart people. These are writers, who comprehend literature often at a level far beyond my own understanding. So I can't use the "I'm smarter" card.

Which means I'm not smarter. In fact, it could mean quite the opposite. I'm stupider. Or worse, naiver. (Yes, I realize that isn't a word.) Maybe I'm finding things that aren't there. Which means I'm not naive at all, but a hallucinator!

And I know who to blame for this (because it can't possibly be my own fault). It is the fault of one Eric Rabkin. Also known as Professor Rabkin.

See, I took his science fiction literature class back when I was in college. I thought it would be fun, you know? A class where you get to read science fiction? How hard could that be?

Well, aside from the fact that I couldn't keep up with the book-a-week pace, due to how slow I read, it turns out that science fiction had a whole lot more depth than I ever imagined possible. So, I struggled. Came really close to failing the class, too. But something clicked. By the end of the class, Professor Rabkin had opened my eyes to a new level of understanding. He had shown me how to dig deeper, beyond the surface of the story.

But it is only now that I see that what really happened was he made me see things that aren't there.

Thing is, I rather enjoy the hallucinations, I think. I rather enjoy finding deeper meanings that may or may not actually be there. So, while I may blame Professor Rabkin...I also thank him.

And just where does this leave me? Well, I see that every one of us gets something different out of what we read or watch. Just as the humor in the Monty Python and the Holy Grail eludes me, despite the lectures I've been given by countless friends insisting it is funny, perhaps I get something from The Matrix and Ender's Game that eludes others. Perhaps it isn't about anyone being smarter than anyone else at all, but rather a reflection of life's influences and experiences and beliefs, not to mention a side of personality (or lack thereof).

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