I can still remember the way I felt reading the last sentence of Ender’s Game by 2008 Edwards Award winner Orson Scott Card some twenty years ago. Indeed, each subsequent reading has left me with a similar sense of profound sadness, self-reflection, and an inexpressible ache to make the world a better place. I’ve since read other novels that have inspired equally, if not more complex emotions but, at the age of twelve, Ender’s Game was the first time I can recall being so deeply affected by the underlying message of a book. The story made me think not only about the ways in which human beings willfully harm others but also about my own complicity within that. It was an exercise in compassionâ€”a mirror in which I could see myself, others, and society itself more clearly. As an avid sci-fi fan, I strongly believe that the best sci-fi, the kind that stays with you, succeeds in doing just that. It makes you think both about yourself and about the world you inhabit. It entreats you to reconsider the status quo and challenges you to question where we are headed as a species. And like Ender’s Game, the very best sci-fi manages to both entertain and raise ethical issues.
As Ender’s Game finds itself in the limelight again due to the recent movie adaptation, I thought that this would be a good time to celebrate other ethical sci-fi titles. Books, whose main purpose, more than to entertain, are to explore issues that plague society today and to push us to ponder their future impact. Think 1984 versus Journey to the Center of the Earth.