“Children, I said to her. For the first little while, they not exactly human, you don't find?”
Nalo Hopkinson

Monday, March 14, 2011


A War Of Gifts: An Ender Story by Orson Scott Card, 2007.  Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC New York. 126 pages.

Six year old Zeck’s father Brother Morgan is a physically abusive religious zealot. As the head minister of A War Of Gifts is set somewhere far in the future when the earth is being attacked by the alien ant-like Formics. If you read Ender’s Game, you know what I’m talking about. If not, I know it’s kind of out there but bear with me for a bit.

Brother Morgan, feels it is his sacred duty as a father to chasten and “purify” his son Zeck. So he regularly beats Zeck until he bleeds-all in the name of God.

Man-made modifications to DNA were put into place to hopefully create someone who could figure out how to stop the Formics and thus save the earth.  The U.S. goverment recognizes Zeck as having superior intelligence and a innate sense of decency. Zeck is removed from his parents’ custody by conscription and sent to the Battle School where he meets Ender Wiggin.

At the Battle School Zeck refuses to participate in war training because of his pacifist religion, and further alienates himself from his schoolmates by reporting their prohibited practice of Santa Claus traditions. No one wants to associate with Zeck and he is all alone. Even the instructors don’t like him.

Wiggin, another extremely bright and insightful child, attempts to help Zeck by making him face what he already knows, but is afraid to think about his father’s inability to control his own rage. Zeck reacts to hearing the truth about his father by physically attacking Ender with rage: “It was what Father must have felt, purifying him. The smaller body, helpless, complete subject to his will. It filled a certain kind of man with rage that had to tear into its prey. That had to inflict pain, break the skin, draw blood and tears and screaming from the victim” (112).  Blaming the victim has always been a very effective and simple strategy. It is difficult for children to deflect because they need parents to be loving and trustworthy.

This novella is a quick enjoyable read and a reminder that children are a blessing that needs to be supported and appreciated.

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