In a lovely city in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Kevin J Anderson delivered the keynote address at the always-entertaining “Life, The Universe and Everything” symposium. The celebrated author, widely known for his Star Wars series and the Dune saga, took us back to his early childhood in an engaging talk about his first encounter with the classic sci-fi movie, The War of the Worlds. The movie stole his heart—and launched him into a most colorful career.
One dark February night, my tribe gathered to watch the landmark 1953 film. Swarms of Martian ships descend on unfortunate Earthlings the world over, destroying Paris, eradicating San Francisco. Terrified Californians flee to the hills as Martians close in on Los Angeles. When even an atomic bomb fails to stop the alien attack, those left behind in the doomed city gather in the churches and pray to God for a miracle.
Thirty two years after the release of the War of the Worlds, Orson Scott Card published his memorable book, Ender’s Game. The novel is an inquiry into what it takes to be a great leader—a galactic hero. Where are heroes found? Can they be formed? Young Ender is only a boy when he leaves his family to begin military training in null gravity. Aliens had nearly annihilated our forces. All now live in peril of final destruction. Ender endures brutal training in a battle school where students and teachers alike live at the edge of terror. In a world where the rules for survival always change, Ender must learn to adapt, instantly, without becoming heartless.
Ender is stripped of every significant relationship as his commanders prepare him for the ultimate confrontation with bugger aliens. Herein lies the darkest side of life. What are we, without our connections with each other? Ender, drifting in space without family or friends, is thrown into chaos. The love of his sister remains a distant memory—and the one thing that drives him to make every sacrifice. The love we share for each other is the beauty shining in the depths of human beings, drawing us far beyond our small existence. The great heroes see these bonds everywhere, transcending ordinary human experience. Ours is a most remarkable journey.
. . . To reach the far side, walk beyond the mirror . . .