Monday, August 28, 2023

47% → 73% → 100%

Remember 2013?

I know, it feels like several lifetimes ago. Let me help. "The Wolverine" was in theaters (remember theaters?), but we were all still coming down from our collective "Pacific Rim" high, still using that jaeger generator. Doge memes blanketed the Internet as thickly as discourse about the sketchy gender politics of "Blurred Lines." Ted Cruz was ascendant, about to shut down the government over Obamacare and not yet reduced to picking proxy fights with Ron Perlman or stoking sieges on his workplace. 

And I started reading beloved children's sci-fi novel Ender's Game

Between August, 2013 and July, 2017, I read and wrote about the book for a series I called Ender Bender, which (like every series I've tried to do for this blog—remember when I tried to watch every episode of "Silverhawks"?) started out with regular posts and an ambitious plan that petered out into very occasional posting as I got busy with other things and lost interest. I returned to draft a few more posts in early 2018, intending to finally finish the series, but never published them. 

I'm not a person who leaves books unfinished often. I've thought about the books I've abandoned for one reason or another, and I don't think there's more than two dozen across my whole life. On the Road, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, I remember nearly all of them. Some of them I intend to return to someday. 

I left Ender's Game at 47% complete on my iPad. 

Seeing a percent next to the word "game" triggers something deep in me. I'm the guy who completes every Riddler challenge in an Arkham game. So when I found myself thinking about Ender's Game recently, I decided to see if anyone else out there was talking about how much of this book is about bigoted children who are constantly naked. I understand there's a genocide later that probably dominates most people's memories, but, like, I went into It knowing about the preteen orgy, you'd think someone would have mentioned something

In searching for discourse, I came across a series by Will Wildman, also started in 2013 (and, improbably finished in 2013 like some kind of responsible blog series), at the blog Something Short and Snappy, doing something similar to what I would start a few months later. Reading the first few posts there and rereading my own posts got me to decide that I should occasionally try to finish something.

So I'm bringing Ender Bender to a close, for real this time. You can go back and read those old posts like I did, and marvel at how extremely of their times they are (I used the word "transgendered" like it's a verb! I made several references to "Welcome to Night Vale"!). And then feel free to plow ahead, because it's finally happening. The book is finished, the posts are written, and everything is scheduled (or will be before I publish this post). I hope you enjoy it, person who still reads blogs in 2020 2021. 

As you might be able to guess, I didn't write that recently. Back in 2020, when we were all going a little stir crazy, I decided to try to revive and finish Ender Bender. Obviously, I didn't succeed. I left the book at 73%  and don't have a handy screenshot because between then and now, I upgraded to a different version of Marvin on my iPad. 

This year, I've been trying to finish more things. I'm staring down the barrel of one of those round number birthdays and feeling some kinds of existential way. I don't know why Ender Bender is the project I settled on to finish this year. Maybe it's because I noticed that my first attempt to read Ender's Game was precisely ten years ago and that's another round number. Maybe it's because the culture war is currently engaged in genocidal moral panics involving book banning and accusations of child grooming, and this creepy-ass book's never going to enter the conversation because the author is on the same side as the Inquisitors. Maybe it's because of the rule of threes. 

Whatever the reason, I did it, and I did it right. I went all the way back to the beginning this time, rather than trying to rely on memories and my own posts like I did three years ago. And I'm glad I did, because I noticed so much more this time than I did before, both because I had some idea what to expect, and because I'm just more mature and knowledgeable than I was at 29.

And so, I have finished reading Ender's Game. 

Which means I need to finish writing about it. I wrote several posts back in 2020 and 2021, getting all the way up to Chapter 13: Valentine, and leaving myself cryptic notes like "remember the magicians." I'm going to lightly revise those and then bring the series to a close over the course of the next several weeks, aiming for a post each week, and wrapping up with some kind of summary. I might even watch the dingdang movie. If anyone's still out there, I hope you'll join me on this overlong journey, or at least that you'll come back when it's over. 

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