Salon: The twisted mind of "Ender's Game"

by Rachel Baker on October 31, 2013

Ender’s Game and subsequently, Speaker for the Dead, in my humble opinion are amazing books and should be required reading. So when I ran across this article by Laura Miller at Salon, I thought I’d share it here.

There’s a short story by Tom Godwin, famous in science fiction circles, called “The Cold Equations.” It’s about the pilot of a spaceship carrying medicine to a remote planet. The ship has just enough fuel to arrive at that particular destination, where its cargo will save six lives. En route, the pilot discovers a stowaway, an adolescent girl, and knowing that her additional weight will make completing the trip impossible, the agonized man informs her that she will have to go out the airlock. There is no alternative solution.

This story was described to me by a science fiction writer long before I read it, and since it contains lines like “she was of Earth and had not realized that the laws of the space frontier must, of necessity, be as hard and relentless as the environment that gave them birth,” I can’t honestly call it a must. The writer was complaining about some of his colleagues and their notions of their genre’s strengths and weaknesses. “They always point to that story as an example of how science fiction forces people to ask themselves the sort of hard questions that mainstream fiction glosses over,” he said. “That’s what that story is supposed to be about, who would you save, tough moral choices.” He paused, and sighed. “But at a certain point I realized that’s not really what that story is about. It’s really about concocting a scenario where you get a free pass to toss a girl out an airlock.”

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