“I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one.” – Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

In the last couple posts, we have looked at great sci-fi book openers. Obviously, Card is one of the masters, but what makes this sentence such an award winner? For starters, Card uses a reference to a character being “the one”. This in itself packs a punch. Ender is some type of savior we know from the start. Moreover, he’s being watched. The character talking has somehow looking from inside Ender’s head. There is also a distance. It reads like Ender does not know that he’s been watched. So before we know anything about Ender, we know that he’s an important person and a savior.

Read the whole first section of Ender’s Game now and you’ll be hooked. Notice how Card avoids using dialogue tags. This only adds to the suspense and pulls us into the scene. Really, the whole book is in this opening scene. We instantly know Ender is going to save the world, fight the buggers, and will be trained surrounded by his enemies. This is great writing!

“I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one. Or at least as close as we’re going to get.”
“That’s what you said about the brother.”
“The brother tested out impossible. For other reasons. Nothing to do with his ability.”
“Same with the sister. And there are doubts about him. He’s too malleable. Too willing to submerge himself in someone else’s will.”
“Not if the other person is his enemy.”
“So what do we do? Surround him with enemies all the time?”
“If we have to.”
“I thought you said you liked this kid.”
“If the buggers get him, they’ll make me look like his favorite uncle.”
“All right. We’re saving the world, after all. Take him.”