A War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card

 

Science FictionA War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card A War of Gifts: an Ender StoryOrson Scott Card; Tor 2007WorldCat Zech’s father is the preacher for a small, very strict evangelistic Christian group. Zech is just turning six-years-old. He is now at the age where he must be tested for Battle School. His family are pacifists. Zech’s father refuses to allow Zech to be tested, but has no legal choice. Zech is high on the scale and is taken for the school orbiting Earth. The students there are training to fight a war against the buggers.

Dink Meeker is a commander in the Rat Army where Zech is now assigned. No religious observance is allowed at Battle School. Dink is Dutch. One of the other members of Rat Army is also Dutch, so Dink gave him a small gift on Sinterklaas Day. Although Dink claims it is for national cultural reasons, Zech tries to claim it was a religious observance. If Dink could celebrate a symbol from a Christian holiday, why can’t Zech observe his religious practice and be returned home?

Soon most of the student soldiers are celebrating Santa Claus, the secular character. From there, Battle school becomes chaotic. Before everything is settled, Dink and Zech, along with Ender Wiggins,know themselves a little better.

A War of Gifts is a novella about a time when Ender was still in his early years at Battle School in the Ender’s Game saga. Orson Scott Card only uses Ender’s character in the background, focusing on Dinker and Zech.

Although short, A War of Gifts pulls some punches at personal and religious beliefs. Zech parrots everything his father ever said. It’s only when he talks with Ender that he realizes that there are parts of his home life and schooling he must re-examine. Card shows how religious beliefs and secular beliefs are intertwined. Man people, especially in Anglo centric countries, celebrate Christmas whether they are Christian or not. Christian believers often complain that the true meaning of Christmas is disappearing. A War of Gifts shows that the secular celebration still reflects religious beliefs. The beliefs may be ignored, but the origins are there.

Card also illustrates how the best intentions or beliefs can be twisted. Zech’s father strictly follows the words of the Bible. Or at least the parts he wants to follow. It’s amazing how pulling bits of phrases and ideas from a religious holy book (the Bible in this case) can be twisted to justify almost anything.

Unfortunately, A War of Gifts also tells a bit of Peter Wiggins’ story back on Earth. It may further the Ender saga, but detracts from A War of Gifts. It only highlights Peter’s personality and doesn’t have any special part of the story focus.

Enjoy Dink and Zech’s story in A War of Gifts.

More books by Orson Scott Card

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