Ender's Game

Ender's Game
Ender's Game  
Cover shows a futuristic aeroplane landing on a lighted runway.
1985 first edition (hardcover)
Author(s) Orson Scott Card
Cover artist John Harris
Country United States
Language English
Series Ender's Game series
Genre(s) Science fiction
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date 1985
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 324
ISBN 0-312-93208-1
OCLC Number 22909973
Followed by Speaker for the Dead

Ender's Game (1985) is a science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card.[1] The book originated as the short story "Ender's Game", published in the August 1977 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.[2] Elaborating on characters and plot lines depicted in the novel, Card later wrote additional books to form the Ender's Game series. Card released an updated version of Ender's Game in 1991, changing some political facts to accurately reflect the times.

Set in Earth's future, the novel presents an imperiled humankind who have barely survived two conflicts with the Formics (an insectoid alien species also known as the "Buggers"). These aliens show an ant-like group behavior, and are very protective of their leader, much like Earth ants protecting their queen.

In preparation for an anticipated third invasion, an international fleet maintains a school to find and train future fleet commanders. The world's most talented children, including the novel's protagonist, Ender Wiggin, are taken at a very young age to a training center known as the Battle School. There, teachers train them in the arts of war through increasingly difficult games including ones undertaken in zero gravity in the Battle Room where Ender's tactical genius is revealed.

Reception to the book has generally been positive, though some critics have denounced Card's perceived justification of his characters' violent actions.[3][4] It has also become suggested reading for many military organizations, including the United States Marine Corps.[5] Ender's Game won the 1985 Nebula Award for best novel[6] and the 1986 Hugo Award for best novel.[7] Its sequels, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, and Ender in Exile, follow Ender's subsequent travels to many different worlds in the galaxy. In addition, the later novels A War of Gifts and Ender's Shadow take place during the same time period as the original. Ender's Game has been adapted into two comic series.


Creation and inspiration

The original novelette "Ender's Game" provides a small snapshot of Ender's experiences in Battle School and Command School; the full-length novel encompasses more of Ender's life before, during, and after the war, and also contains some chapters describing the political exploits of his older siblings back on Earth. In a commentary track for the 20th Anniversary audiobook edition of the novel, as well as in the 1991 Author's Definitive Edition, Card stated that Ender's Game was written specifically to establish the character of Ender for his role of the Speaker in Speaker for the Dead, the outline for which he had written before novelizing Ender's Game.[8] In his 1991 introduction to the novel, Card discussed the influence of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series on the novelette and novel. Historian Bruce Catton's work on the American Civil War also influenced Card heavily.[8]



In the book, humankind experiences large-scale confrontations with a largely unknown alien species called Formics (often referred to as "buggers") who nearly wipe out humanity. As a result, humankind enters a shaky alliance to combat the Formics with the formation of an international military unit, the International Fleet (IF). In the futuristic setting, humankind develops interstellar travel, faster-than-light communication (named for the ansible from Ursula K. Le Guin's works), various new weapons and defense mechanisms, and control over gravity. Earth is governed by three separate bodies, the Hegemon, Polemarch, and Strategos, which compete for dominance during the war.

Most of the story focuses around the Battle School, a space station used as a military training complex for children. The IF tests all children on Earth and selects the brightest for the Battle School for military training. Students are organized into armies with 40 members with a commander and assigned to conduct simulated battles in zero gravity (called "null gravity" in the book). Upon graduation, students move on to either Tactical School, Combat School, Pre-Command School or Command School with three years in Pre-Command. The Battle School forms in response to the need of highly skilled officers for the wars against the Formics, and most of the officers in the IF pass through the school at one time.

Plot summary

In the novel's opening, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin has a device removed from his neck which was used to monitor his thoughts and activities. No longer under Government surveillance, another boy, Stilson, attacks him. Ender severely injures the boy, believing that this will prevent his friends from attempting to continue bullying him. Because of the logic behind his decision making, he is selected for training at the elite Battle School. After some deliberation, Ender accepts out of a sense of duty and a desire to escape from the torment he suffers at the hands of his psychopathic older brother Peter. At Battle School, the commander Hyrum Graff publicly recognizes Ender as the most intelligent attendee. This acknowledgment causes other students to resent Ender, isolating him from most of the other children. Ender soon ranks among the school's elite child soldiers, eventually achieving the school's top rank. Even after his success the other children continue to ostracize him. Ender attempts to escape his isolation and frustration in various ways, but experiences little comfort until he receives a letter from his older sister Valentine, reminding him of his reasons for attending Battle School in the first place.

Meanwhile, Valentine and Peter form an uneasy alliance. Under the aliases of "Locke" (Peter) and "Demosthenes" (Valentine), they publish scholarly essays advocating, respectively, diplomacy and all-out war with Russia. The end goal is to create a global emergency so that Peter can seize power. Valentine, who sees Peter for who he truly is, is horrified at first, but relents when he unexpectedly reveals that he truly believes he can make the world a better place. Their writings find audiences at the highest levels of government, powerful people who (at first) have no idea they are reading the works of children. Graff eventually figures it out, however, and resolves to use Valentine as a tool to keep Ender under their control.

The Battle School brass soon promote Ender to commander of a new army called "Dragon Army" in the school's zero-gravity wargame league. He molds his young soldiers into an undefeated team, despite working with an inexperienced army. Ender's army implements innovative tactics, abolishing old methods like the use of formations in the battle room. Eventually the other commanders begin to resent him, and Ender is forced to defend himself from an assault by one particularly malicious commander, Bonzo de Madrid, whom Ender unwittingly kills. At this point, it is revealed to the reader that Ender also killed Stilson, though Ender is unaware of the fact.

The Battle School administration promotes Ender to Command School ahead of schedule, bypassing the three years of Pre-Command School entirely. In Command School, and under the tutelage of Mazer Rackham, the legendary hero of the Formic wars, Ender plays a game very similar to the Battle Room, where he commands ships in a 3-D space battle simulator. His subordinate officers are fellow students advanced early from the battle school who later become known as "Ender's jeesh". Each day the games become increasingly grueling, and Ender is slowly worn down to exhaustion. Waking and sleeping blend together as Ender nearly loses his mind, while still maintaining his military innovation and leadership. During his restless sleep he has recurring dreams of a fantasy game he played early in his training, as well as visions of the Buggers vivisecting him and removing his memories.

Ender's "final exam" consists of a scenario where bugger ships outnumber Ender's fleet a thousand to one near a planetary mass. Ender orders the use of a special weapon, the Molecular Disruption Device, against the planet itself, destroying the simulated planet and all ships in orbit. Ender makes this decision knowing that it is expressly against the respectable rules of the game, hoping that his teachers will find his ruthlessness unacceptable, remove him from command, and allow him to return home.

Soon after Ender's destruction of the "simulated" Formic fleet, Rackham tells him that all the simulations were real battles taking place with real fleets, and that he had killed all the queens on their home planet. After Ender realizes that he is responsible for the destruction of an entire species (as well as the "simulated" I.F. pilots with which he was careless at times), the guilt of the xenocide sends him into depressive sleep. He also learns at this point that he had previously killed two humans, Bonzo Madrid and Stilson, which only adds to his depression.

When Ender recovers, his sister Valentine explains that war has broken out on Earth, and been resolved. Ender will not be allowed to return to Earth because his special skills are too dangerous to fall under anyone's control, namely Peter. Ender is made Governor of the first human colony on a Bugger world, and they leave together on the first colony ship. While scouting out locations for future cities, Ender discovers a message from the Formics (expressed in the form of terrain matching that of the key fantasy game Ender played while in school) that leads him to an unborn Formic queen who can communicate with him through a psychic link. She explains that her species was initially unaware that human individuals were sentient creatures, because they didn't conceptually understand that a species that wasn't based on a collective hive-mind (like the Formics themselves) could be sentient. The Formic defeat in the Second Invasion awakened them to humanity's true nature, and they resolved not to attack Earth again. With direct communication impossible between the species, the only connection they were able make was with Ender's dreaming mind, but he did not know who was reaching out to him.

Ender realizes that the Formics left one Queen behind for Ender to find. This was the purpose of their communications with him, through his dreams; the Queen was left behind for Ender to ultimately understand, forgive, and establish in a new home to re-populate the Formic population. Selectively withholding the fact that one 'Bugger' still lives, Ender writes a book in the Queen's voice under the pseudonym "Speaker for the Dead" entitled The Hive Queen, wherein he tells the story of the Formic species. Peter, now the Hegemon, also contacts Ender, claiming to know that Ender wrote it, and that he wishes for Ender to write a similar book, detailing Peter's life. The book is titled 'Hegemon'. Publication of both books as "The Hive Queen and the Hegemon" results in the formation of a new religion on Earth and its colonies.

In the end, Ender and Valentine board a starship and start visiting many worlds, looking for the right one for the unborn Queen.

Critical response

Critics have generally received Ender's Game well. The novel won the Nebula Award for best novel in 1985,[9] and the Hugo Award for best novel in 1986,[10] considered the two most prestigious awards in science fiction.[11][12] Ender's Game was also nominated for a Locus Award in 1986.[7] In 1999, it placed #59 on the reader's list of Modern Library 100 Best Novels. It was also honored with a spot on American Library Association's "100 Best Books for Teens". In 2008, the novel, along with Ender's Shadow, won the Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors an author and specific works by that author for lifetime contribution to young adult literature. [13]

New York Times writer Gerald Jonas admits that the novel's plot summary reads like a "grade Z, made-for-television, science-fiction rip-off movie", but then says that Card develops the elements well despite this "unpromising material". Jonas further praises the development of the character Ender Wiggin: "Alternately likable and insufferable, he is a convincing little Napoleon in short pants."[14]

The novel has received negative criticism for violence and for the way Card justifies Ender's violence. Elaine Radford's review, "Ender and Hitler: Sympathy for the Superman", criticizes the novel on several points. She posits that Ender Wiggin is an intentional reference by Card to Adolf Hitler and criticizes the violence in the novel, particularly at the hands of the protagonist.[3] Card responded to Radford's criticisms in Fantasy Review, the same publication. Radford's criticisms are echoed in John Kessel's essay "Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender's Game, Intention, and Morality". Kessel reasons that Card justifies Ender's righteous rage and violence: "Ender gets to strike out at his enemies and still remain morally clean. Nothing is his fault."[4]

The U.S. Marine Corps Professional Reading List makes the novel recommended reading at several lower ranks, and again at Officer Candidate/Midshipman.[15] The book was placed on the reading list by Captain John F. Schmitt, author of FMFM-1 (Fleet Marine Fighting Manual, on maneuver doctrine) for "provid[ing] useful allegories to explain why militaries do what they do in a particularly effective shorthand way."[16] In introducing the novel for use in leadership training, Marine Corps University's Lejeune program opines that it offers "lessons in training methodology, leadership, and ethics as well [....] Ender’s Game has been a stalwart item on the Marine Corps Reading List since its inception."[16]


In 1991, Card revised the book. He made several minor changes to reflect the political climates of the time, including the decline of the Soviet Union. In the afterword of Ender in Exile, Card stated that many of the details in chapter 15 of Ender's Game have been modified for use in the subsequent novels and short stories. In order to more closely match the other material, Card has rewritten chapter 15, and plans to offer a revised edition of the book sometime in the future.[17]



Orson Scott Card released the latest of his author-written screenplay adaptations to Warner Bros. in May 2003. David Benioff and D. B. Weiss were later signed to write a new script, working closely with director Wolfgang Petersen. Four years later, Card wrote a new script not based on any previous one, including his own.[18] Following the departure of Petersen from the project and Card's self-described refusal to "condescend to green-screen Hollywood," Card finally completed a script for Odd Lot Entertainment in 2009, then they began assembling a production team.[19]

Gavin Hood has been involved in the project as both screenwriter and director,[20] [21] whereas Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are producers of the film and would begin presenting the script to prospective investors.[22] On April 28, 2011, Summit Entertainment picked up the film,[23] while Digital Domain joined as a co-producer.[24] In September 2011, it was announced that casting calls had gone out for several of the lead roles. [25] In October 2011, the release date was announced as March 15, 2013 alongside several other movies for the 2013 season. [26] In November 18, 2011 Asa Butterfield was offered the role of Ender.

Video game

Ender's Game: Battle Room will be a digitally distributed video game for all viable downloadable platforms.[27] It is currently under development by Chair Entertainment, who also developed the Xbox Live Arcade games Undertow and Shadow Complex. Chair had sold the licensing of Empire to Card, which became a best-selling novel. Little is known about the game, save its setting in the Ender universe and that it will focus on the Battle Room.[27]

In December, 2010, it was announced that the video game development had stopped and the project put on indefinite hold.[28]


Marvel Comics and Orson Scott Card announced on April 19, 2008 that they would be publishing a limited series adaptation of Ender's Game as the first in a comic series that would adapt all of Card's Ender's Game novels. Card was quoted as saying that it is the first step in moving the story to a visual medium.[29] The first five-issue series, titled Ender's Game: Battle School, was written by Christopher Yost, while the second five-issue series, Ender’s Shadow: Battle School, was written by Mike Carey.[30]

Parallel novel

The story of Ender's Game was retold by Card in a "parallel" novel, Ender's Shadow, featuring many of the same events from the point of view of a different character: Bean.[31] This was then followed up with a distinct shadow series following the life of Bean, Petra, and other battle school graduates in the books Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, and Shadow of the Giant.


Ender's Game has been translated into 28 languages:

  • Albanian: Lojra e Enderit ("Ender's Game").
  • Bulgarian: Играта на Ендър ("Ender's Game").
  • Chinese: 安德的游戏 (Āndé de yóuxì) ("Ender's Game"), 2003.
  • Croatian: Enderova igra ("Ender's Game"), 2007.
  • Czech: Enderova hra ("Ender's Game"), 1994.
  • Danish: Ender's strategi ("Ender's Strategy"), 1990.
  • Dutch: Ender Wint ("Ender Wins").
  • Estonian: Enderi mäng ("Ender's Game"), 2000.
  • Finnish: Ender ("Ender"), 1990.
  • French: La Stratégie Ender ("The Ender Strategy"), 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001.
  • German: Das große Spiel ("The Great Game"), 1986, 2005.
  • Greek: Το παιχνίδι του Έντερ (To paichnídi tou Enter) ("Ender's Game"), 1996.
  • Hebrew: המשחק של אנדר‎ (Ha-Misḥaq šel Ender) ("Ender's Game"), 1994.
  • Hungarian: Végjáték ("Endgame"), 1991.
  • Italian: Il gioco di Ender ("Ender's Game").
  • Japanese: エンダーのゲーム (Endā no Gēmu) ("Ender's Game"), 1987.
  • Korean: 엔더의 게임 (Endaŭi Geim) ("Ender's Game"), 1992, 2000 (two editions).
  • Latvian: Endera spēle ("Ender's Game"), 2008.
  • Lithuanian: Enderio Žaidimas ("Ender's Game"), 2007
  • Norwegian: Enders spill ("Ender's Game"), 1999.
  • Polish: Gra Endera ("Ender's Game"), 1994.
  • Portuguese: O jogo do exterminador ("The Game of the Exterminator") (Brazil).
  • Portuguese: O jogo final ("The Final Game") (Portugal).
  • Romanian: Jocul lui Ender ("Ender's Game").
  • Russian: Игра Эндера (Igra Endera) ("Ender's Game"), 1995, 1996, 2002, 2003 (two editions).
  • Serbian: Eндерова игра (Enderova igra) ("Ender's Game"), 1988.
  • Spanish: El juego de Ender ("Ender's Game").
  • Swedish: Enders spel ("Ender's Game"), 1991, 1998.
  • Thai: เกมพลิกโลก ("The Game that Changed the World"), 2007.
  • Turkish: Ender'in Oyunu ("Ender's Game").

See also


  1. ^ "Ender's Game". Hatrack River Enterprises Inc.. http://www.hatrack.com/osc/books/endersgame/endersgame.shtml. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  2. ^ "Short Stories by Orson Scott Card". Hatrack River Enterprises Inc.. 2009. http://www.hatrack.com/osc/stories/enders-game.shtml. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  3. ^ a b Radford, Elaine (2007-03-26). "Ender and Hitler: Sympathy for the Superman (20 Years Later)". Elaine Radford. http://peachfront.diaryland.com/enderhitlte.html. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  4. ^ a b Kessel, John (2004). "Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender's Game, Intention, and Morality". Science Fiction Foundation. http://www4.ncsu.edu/~tenshi/Killer_000.htm. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  5. ^ "Marine Corps Professional Reading List". Official U.S. Marine Corps Web Site. http://www.marines.mil/unit/tecom/mcu/grc/library/Pages/mcrl.aspx. Retrieved 2011-04-06. 
  6. ^ "1985 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1985. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  7. ^ a b "1986 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1986. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  8. ^ a b Card, Orson Scott (1991). "Introduction". Ender's Game (Author's definitive ed.). New York: Tor Books. ISBN 0-812-55070-6. 
  9. ^ Mann, Laurie (22 November 2008). "SFWA Nebula Awards". dpsinfo.com. http://www.dpsinfo.com/awardweb/nebulas/#1985. Retrieved 3 January 2009. 
  10. ^ "The Hugo Awards By Year". World Science Fiction Society. 9 December 2005. Archived from the original on July 31, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080731112501/http://www.worldcon.org/hy.html#86. Retrieved 3 January 2009. 
  11. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: About the Hugo Awards". Locus Publications. http://www.locusmag.com/SFAwards/Db/Hugo.html. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  12. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: About the Nebula Awards". Locus Publications. http://www.locusmag.com/SFAwards/Db/Nebula.html. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  13. ^ http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/booklistsawards/margaretaedwards/maeprevious/ALA_print_layout_1_526904_526904.cfm
  14. ^ Jonas, Gerald (1985-06-16). "SCIENCE FICTION". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950CE2DF1339F935A25755C0A963948260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  15. ^ "USMC Professional Reading Program (brochure)" (PDF). Reading List by Grade. Marine Corps University. 2009-09-25. http://www.mcu.usmc.mil/lejeune_leadership/LLI%20Documnets/2010ProReadingBrochure.pdf. Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  16. ^ a b "Ender's Game Discussion Guide" (PDF). USMC Professional Reading Program. Marine Corps University. 2009-09-25. http://www.mcu.usmc.mil/lejeune_leadership/LLI%20Documnets/Enders'%20Game%203.pdf. Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  17. ^ "Ender in Exile". http://us.macmillan.com/enderinexile.  Audio edition, Macmillan Audio, Nov 2008
  18. ^ "Card Talks Ender's Game Movie". "IGN Entertainment, Inc.". April 18, 2007. http://movies.ign.com/articles/781/781573p1.html. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  19. ^ "Movie production team being assembled". "Taleswapper, Inc". February 25, 2009. http://www.taleswapper.net/movies/endersgame/endersgame_update.html. Retrieved 2009-03-01. 
  20. ^ "Gavin Hood Attached to Ender's Game". "comingsoon.net". September 21, 2010. http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=69974. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  21. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (September 20, 2010). "Gavin Hood looks to play 'Ender's Game'". Los Angeles Times. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/movies/2010/09/orson-scott-card-enders-game-gavin-hood.html. 
  22. ^ "Kurtzman and Orci Producing 'Ender's Game'". Slashfilm. http://www.slashfilm.com/kurtzman-orci-involved-enders-game/. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  23. ^ Gallagher, Brian. "Ender's Game Lands at Summit Entertainment". MovieWeb. http://www.movieweb.com/news/enders-game-lands-at-summit-entertainment. 
  24. ^ McNary, Dave (Apr. 28, 2011). "Summit plays 'Ender's Game'". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118036112. 
  25. ^ Wilkins, Alisdair. "Has the long-awaited Ender’s Game movie found its young star?". io9. http://io9.com/ender.s-game/. 
  26. ^ Billington, Alex. "Gavin Hood's 'Ender's Game' Adaptation Set for March 2013 Release". FirstShowing. http://www.firstshowing.net/2011/gavin-hoods-enders-game-adaptation-set-for-march-2013-release/. 
  27. ^ a b Croal, N'Gai (January 29, 2008). "Exclusive: Chair Entertainment's Donald and Geremy Mustard Shed Some Light On Their Plans For 'Ender's Game'". Newsweek. Archived from the original on June 3, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080603193919/http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/levelup/archive/2008/01/29/exclusive-donald-and-geremy-mustard-discuss-plans-for-ender-s-game.aspx. Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  28. ^ "Ender's Game tabled by Chair". Joystiq. December 14, 2010. http://www.joystiq.com/2010/12/14/enders-game-tabled-by-chair. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  29. ^ Penagos, Ryan (May 12, 2008). "NYCC '08: Marvel to Adapt Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game Series". Marvel Characters, Inc.. http://www.marvel.com/news/comicstories.3185.NYCC_~apos~08~colon~_Ender~apos~s_Game_Coming_to_Marvel. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  30. ^ "Enders Shadow Battle School #1 (of 5)". Things From Another World, Inc.. 1986-2009. http://www.tfaw.com/Profile/Enders-Shadow-Battle-School-1-%28of-5%29___333429. Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  31. ^ Rosen, Michael (31 August 1999). "Book Review: Card Creates Intriguing Parallel to Ender's Game". Imaginova Corp.. http://www.space.com/sciencefiction/enders_shadow.html. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 

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