Ender’s Game

Overview

TITLE Ender's Game
AUTHOR Orson Scott Card
PUBLICATION DATE January 1985 (First Edition)
August 1991 (Revised Edition)
CANON LEVEL Tier 1
MEDIA TYPE Novel
PUBLISHER Tor Books
LENGTH 384 pages
ISBN 0312932081
FOLLOWED CHRONOLOGICALLY BY Ender's Shadow

‘Ender’s Game’ was originally a short story published in the August 1977 issue of ‘Analog Science Fiction and Fact’. The novel version came about later in 1985.


Synopsis

enders_game“In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut–young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.”


Revisions

In 1991 Card made several revisions to the original novel. The introduction was changed. The original version referenced the Warsaw Pact, and the newer version references the New Warsaw Pact. On January 28, 1986 the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. The original version made mention of the perfect safety record for space flights. This was also changed.

This passage:

“Let’s freeze a few,” Alai said. “Let’s have our first battle. Us against them.”
They grinned. Then Ender said, “Better invite Bernard.”
Alai cocked an eyebrow. “Oh?”
“And Shen.”
“That little slanty-eyed butt-wiggler?”
Ender decided that Alai was joking. “Hey, we can’t all be niggers.”
Alai grinned. “My grandpa would’ve killed you for that.”
“My great great grandpa would have sold him first.”
“Let’s go get Bernard and Shen and freeze these bugger-lovers.”

Was changed to:

“Let’s freeze a few,” Alai said. “Let’s have our first battle. Us against them.”
They grinned. Then Ender said, “Better invite Bernard.”
Alai cocked an eyebrow. “Oh?”
“And Shen.”
“That little butt-wiggler?”
Ender decided that Alai was joking. “If you didn’t hold yours so tight it would wiggle, too.”
Alai grinned. “Let’s go get Bernard and Shen and freeze these bugger-lovers.”

Card intends to write another revised edition in the future with changed details from Chapter 15.


Critical Reception

“Intense is the word for Ender’s Game” -The New York Times

“Card has taken the venerable sf concepts of a superman and interstellar war against aliens, and, with superb characterization, pacing and language, combined them into a seamless story of compelling power. This is Card at the height of his very considerable powers—a major sf novel by any reasonable standards.” -Booklist

“Now, in this novel, Card fulfills his early promise… and more.” -Ben Bova

“Card has done strong work before, but this could be the book to break him out of the pack.”
-Newsday

“Card understands the human condition and has things of real value to say about it. He tells the truth well- ultimately the only criterion of greatness. Ender’s Game will still be finding new readers when ninety-nine percent of the books published this year are completely forgotten.” -Gene Wolf

“A gripping tale of adventure in space and a scathing indictment of the military mind. Recommended.” -Library Journal

“The games are fierce and consistently exciting. The cast… offers memorable characters… And the aliens leave an intriguing heritage to mankind.” -Locus

“An undeniable heavyweight… This book combine Card’s quirky style with his hard ethical dilemmas and sharply drawn portraits.” -New York Daily News

“This book provides a harrowing look at the price we pay for trying to mold our posterity in our own aggressive image of what we believe is right.” -The Christian Science Monitor


Awards

  • Winner: 1985 Nebula Award for best novel
  • Winner: 1986 Hugo Award for best novel
  • Nominee: 1986 Locus Award
  • Winner: 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award
  • 1999 placed #32 on Amazon.com’s The Best of the Millennium Poll
  • 1999 placed #59 on the reader’s list of Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels
  • 2000 placed #2 on American Library Association’s 100 Best Books for Teens
  • 2011 placed #3 on NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Booklist
  • 2009 included in the American Library Association’s Outstanding Books for the College Bound
  • 2006-2011 placed on the Marine Corps. Reading List

Interesting Tidbit

Twenty-two years after the story of Ender Wiggin first appeared in print, Orson Scott Card learned that the name “Ender” really exists – in Turkish. The name means “one in a million” or “something that is rarely found” – an extraordinarily appropriate name for Ender Wiggin. Card affirms, however, that he had no notion that the name actually existed in any language – he coined it only to allow the title “Ender’s Game” to be reminiscent of “endgame” in chess. The correspondent who informed Card of the meaning of the name is himself named Ender. “Many people are named Önder in Turkey,” he writes, “so Ender is a rare name even in Turkey.” via Hatrack.