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Ender's Game

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Ender's Game
Cover shows a futuristic aeroplane landing on a lighted runway.
1985 first edition (hardcover)
AuthorOrson Scott Card
Cover artistJohn Harris
CountryUnited States/Canada
SeriesEnder's Game series
GenreScience fiction
PublisherTor Books
Publication date
15 January 1985
Media typePrint (Hardcover, Paperback & Ebook)
Followed bySpeaker for the Dead 

Ender's Game is a 1985 military science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card. Set at an unspecified date in Earth's future, the novel presents an imperiled humankind after two conflicts with the Formics, an insectoid alien species they dub the "buggers". In preparation for an anticipated third invasion, children, including the novel's protagonist, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, are trained from a very young age by putting them through increasingly difficult games, including some in zero gravity, where Ender's tactical genius is revealed.

The book originated as a short story of the same name, published in the August 1977 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.[1] The novel was published on January 15, 1985. Later, by elaborating on characters and plot lines depicted in the novel, Card was able to write additional books in the Ender's Game series. Card also released an updated version of Ender's Game in 1991, changing some political facts to reflect the times more accurately (e.g., to include the recent collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War). The novel has been translated into 34 languages.

Reception of the book has been mostly positive but many have criticised its politics. It has become suggested reading for many military organizations, including the United States Marine Corps.[2] Ender's Game was recognized as "best novel" by the 1985 Nebula Award[3] and the 1986 Hugo Award[4] in the genres of science fiction and fantasy. Its four sequels—Speaker for the Dead (1986), Xenocide (1991), Children of the Mind (1996), and Ender in Exile (2008)follow Ender's subsequent travels to many different worlds in the galaxy. In addition, the later novella A War of Gifts (2007) and novel Ender's Shadow (1999), plus other novels in the Shadow saga, take place during the same time period as the original.

A film adaptation of the same name, written for the screen and directed by Gavin Hood, and starring Asa Butterfield as Ender, was released on October 2013. Card co-produced the film.[5] The novel has also been adapted into two comic book series.


In the future, humanity, having begun to explore the Universe and master interplanetary spaceflight, encounters an alien race called the Formics, commonly referred to in the series as the "buggers". The discovery of a bugger base in the asteroid Eros leads to war between the species that the humans narrowly win, resulting in the discovery of advanced alien technology, including gravity manipulation. Ostensibly in preparation for another bugger invasion, an International Fleet (I.F.) is established on Earth, which creates a Battle School in Earth's orbit to develop gifted children into commanders capable of defeating the buggers in the next war.

Protagonist Andrew "Ender" Wiggin is born a "Third": a rare exception to Earth's two-child policy, allowed by the government due to the promise shown by his two older siblings. The eldest, Peter, is a highly intelligent sociopath who sadistically bullies Ender, while his sister, Valentine, is more sympathetic towards him. The I.F. remove Ender's monitoring device at six years old, seemingly ending his chances of Battle School, and he gets teased by a fellow student, Stilson. Ender beats up Stilson before the fight is broken up; unknown to Ender, Stilson dies from his injuries. When explaining his actions to I.F. Colonel Hyrum Graff, Ender states his belief that, by showing superiority now, he has prevented future struggle. Graff, on hearing of this, offers Ender a place in the Battle School.

Graff and the other leaders of the school covertly work to isolate Ender from his fellow recruits and prevent him from growing too comfortable in his environment. The cadets participate in competitive war simulations in zero gravity, where Ender quickly masters the game and dominates his opponents. The school continually tries to break Ender down, first promoting him to command a new army composed of raw recruits, then pitting him against multiple armies at once, but Ender's success continues. Ender's jealous ex-commander, Bonzo Madrid, draws him into a fight outside the simulation, and Ender, once again seeking to preemptively stop all future conflicts with Bonzo, unintentionally kills him.

On Earth, Peter Wiggin uses a global communication system to post political essays under the pseudonym "Locke", hoping to establish himself as a respected orator and then as a powerful politician. Valentine, despite not trusting Peter, agrees to publish alongside him as "Demosthenes". Their essays are soon taken seriously by the government. Though Graff is told their true identities, he recommends that it be kept a secret, because their writings are politically useful.

Ender, now ten years old, is promoted to Command School on Eros after a brief respite on Earth. After some preliminary battles in the simulator, he is introduced to a former war hero, Mazer Rackham. From now on, Ender participates in simulations created and controlled by Mazer. As the skirmishes become harder, he is joined by some of his friends from the Battle School as sub-commanders. Despite this, Ender becomes depressed by the battles, his isolation, and by the way Mazer treats him.

When told that he is facing his final test, Ender finds his fleet far outnumbered by the buggers surrounding their queens' homeworld. Hoping to earn himself expulsion from the school for his ruthlessness, he sacrifices his entire fleet to fire a Molecular Disruption Device at the buggers' homeworld. The Device destroys the planet and the surrounding bugger fleet. Mazer informs Ender that the "simulations" he has been fighting were real battles, directing human spacecraft against bugger fleets via an ansible, and that Ender has won the war. Ender becomes more depressed on learning this, realizing that he has committed genocide.

When he recovers, he learns that, at the end of the bugger war, Earth's powers fought among themselves. He stays on Eros as his friends return home and colonists venture to other worlds, using Eros as a way station. Among the first colonists is Valentine, who apologizes that Ender can never return to Earth, where he would be exploited by Peter and other politicians to fulfill their own purposes. Instead, Ender joins the colony program to populate one of the buggers' former worlds. There, he discovers the dormant egg of a bugger queen, who reveals that the buggers had initially assumed humans were a non-sentient race, for want of collective consciousness, but realized their mistake too late, and requests that Ender take the egg to a new planet to colonize.

Ender takes the egg and, with information from the Queen, writes The Hive Queen under the alias "Speaker for the Dead". Peter, now the leader of Earth and seventy-seven with a failing heart, recognizes Ender as the author of The Hive Queen. He requests Ender to write a book about him, which Ender titles The Hegemon. The combined works create a new type of funeral, in which the Speaker for the Dead tells the whole and unapologetic story of the deceased, adopted by many on Earth and its colonies. In the end, Ender and Valentine board a series of near-lightspeed starships and visit many worlds, looking for a safe place to establish the unborn Hive Queen.

Creation and inspiration[edit]

The original "Ender's Game" is a short story that 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.[6] 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.[6]

Ender's Game was the first science-fiction novel published entirely online, when it appeared on Delphi a year before print publication.[7]

Critical response[edit]

Critics received Ender's Game well. The novel won the Nebula Award for best novel in 1985,[8] and the Hugo Award for best novel in 1986,[9] considered the two most prestigious awards in science fiction.[10][11] Ender's Game was also nominated for a Locus Award in 1986.[4] In 1999, it placed No. 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.[12] Ender's Game was included in Damien Broderick's book Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985–2010.[13]

The New York Times writer Gerald Jonas asserts that the novel's plot summary resembles a "grade Z, made-for-television, science-fiction rip-off movie", but 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 criticism for violence and its justification. Elaine Radford's review, "Ender and Hitler: Sympathy for the Superman", 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.[15] 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", wherein Kessel states: "Ender gets to strike out at his enemies and still remain morally clean. Nothing is his fault."[16] Noah Berlatsky makes similar claims in his analysis of the relationship between colonization and science fiction, where he describes Ender's Game as in part a justification of "Western expansion and genocide."[17]

The U.S. Marine Corps Professional Reading List makes the novel recommended reading at several lower ranks, and again at Officer Candidate/Midshipman.[18] 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."[19] 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."[19]


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank United States Best of the Century: Best Books of the Millennium Poll[20] 1999
Locus United States Best 20th Century Science Fiction Novels: Reader's Poll[21] 2012
Modern Library United States Modern Library 100 Best Novels: Reader's List[22] 1999
NPR United States Top 100 Science Fiction, Fantasy Books: Readers' Poll[23] 2011
Publishers Weekly United States Bestselling Science Fiction Novels of 2012[24] 2012
Science Channel United States Top 10 Sci-fi Books of All Time[25] 2013

The weeks ending June 9, August 11, September 1, September 8, October 27, November 3, November 10, and November 24, 2013, the novel was No. 1 on The New York Times' Best Sellers List of Paperback Mass-Market Fiction.[26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33]


In 1991, Card 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 (2008), Card stated that many of the details in chapter 15 of Ender's Game were 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.[34]



After several years of speculation on the possibility, Summit Entertainment financed and coordinated the development of a film in 2011, serving as its distributor.[35][36] Gavin Hood directed the film, which lasts 1 hour and 54 minutes.[37][38] Filming began in New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 27, 2012,[39] and was released on November 1, 2013 (USA).[40] A movie preview trailer[41] was released in May 2013 and a second trailer[42] was released later that year.

Card has called Ender's Game "unfilmable", "because everything takes place in Ender's head", and refused to sign a film deal unless he could ensure that the film was "true to the story". Of the film that he eventually agreed to, Card said it was "the best that good people could do with a story they really cared about and believed in", and while warning fans not to expect a completely faithful adaptation, called the film "damn good".[43]

The movie starred Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin and Harrison Ford as Colonel Hyrum Graff. It grossed $125 million worldwide,[44] and received mixed reviews from critics.[45]

Video game[edit]

In 2008 it was announced an Ender's Game video game was in the works.[46] It was to be known as Ender's Game: Battle Room and was a planned digitally distributed video game for all viable downloadable platforms.[47] It was under development by Chair Entertainment, which 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 was revealed about the game, save its setting in the Ender universe and that it would have focused on the Battle Room.[47]

In December 2010, it was announced that the video game development had stopped and the project put on indefinite hold.[48]

Orson Scott Card and Amaze Entertainment also came to an agreement regarding a video game adaption of the novel but nothing ever materialized.[49]


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.[50] 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.[51]


Ender's Game Alive: The Full Cast Audioplay, is an audio drama written by Orson Scott Card, based on the Ender's Game novel. At over seven hours in length, this retelling of Ender's Game hints at story lines from "Teacher's Pest", "The Polish Boy", "The Gold Bug", Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow of the Giant, Shadows in Flight, Earth Unaware, and Speaker for the Dead, and gives new insight into the beginnings of Ender's philotic connection with the Hive Queen.

Ender's Game Alive[when?] is directed by Gabrielle de Cuir, produced by Stefan Rudnicki at Skyboat Media, published by, and performed by a cast of over 30 voice actors playing over 100 roles.[52][53].

Audible also commissioned a German language adaptation of the same script. Titled Ender's Game - Das ungekürzte Hörspiel ("The unabridged audio drama"), this adaptation was produced by "Lauscherlounge", directed by Balthasar von Weymarn and performed by a cast of 100 different voice actors including children.[54]


Ender's Game has been translated into 34 languages:

  • Albanian: Loja e Enderit ("Ender's Game").
  • Bulgarian: Играта на Ендър ("Ender's Game").
  • Catalan: El joc de l'Ender ("Ender's Game"), 2000.
  • Chinese: 安德的游戏 (pinyin:Ān dé de yóu xì) ("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, De Tactiek van Ender ("Ender Wins", "The Tactics of Ender"), 1989, 1994 (two editions)
  • Estonian: Enderi mäng ("Ender's Game"), 2000.
  • Finnish: Ender ("Ender"), 1990.
  • French: La Stratégie Ender ("The Ender Strategy"), 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001.
  • Galician: O xogo de Ender ("Ender's Game"), 2011
  • Georgian: ენდერის თამაში (enderis TamaSi) ("Ender's Game"), 2015.
  • German: Das große Spiel ("The Great Game"), 1986, 2005.
  • Greek: Το παιχνίδι του Έντερ (Tǒ pehníthi too Ender) ("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.
  • Persian: بازی اندر‎ ("Bazi_ē_Ender"), 2011
  • 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).
  • Slovene: Enderjeva igra ("Ender's Game"), 2010.
  • 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").
  • Ukrainian: Гра Ендера ("Ender's Game"), 2013.
  • Vietnamese: Trò chơi của Ender ("Ender's Game"), 2014.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Short Stories by Orson Scott Card". Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
  2. ^ "Commandant's Professional Reading List - Primary Level Enlisted". Library of the Marine Corps. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  3. ^ "1985 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
  4. ^ a b "1986 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
  5. ^ Sneider, Jeff (29 November 2011). "Asa Butterfield locks 'Ender's Game'". Variety.
  6. ^ a b Card, Orson Scott (1991). "Introduction". Ender's Game (Author's definitive ed.). New York: Tor Books. ISBN 0-8125-5070-6.
  7. ^ D'Ignazio, Fred (December 1986). "What Is Compute! Doing Here?". Compute!. p. 90. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  8. ^ Mann, Laurie (22 November 2008). "SFWA Nebula Awards". Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  9. ^ "The Hugo Awards By Year". World Science Fiction Society. 9 December 2005. Archived from the original on July 31, 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  10. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: About the Hugo Awards". Locus Publications. Archived from the original on 2010-01-03. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
  11. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: About the Nebula Awards". Locus Publications. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
  12. ^ "Books written by Orson Scott Card". 2014-09-09. Archived from the original on 2014-09-10. Retrieved 2014-09-19.
  13. ^ "Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985–2010 — Nonstop Press". 2012-05-05. Archived from the original on 2013-04-26. Retrieved 2013-05-17.
  14. ^ Jonas, Gerald (1985-06-16). "SCIENCE FICTION". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  15. ^ Radford, Elaine (2007-03-26). "Ender and Hitler: Sympathy for the Superman (20 Years Later)". Elaine Radford. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  16. ^ Kessel, John (2004). "Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender's Game, Intention, and Morality". Science Fiction Foundation. Archived from the original on 2008-12-27. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  17. ^ Noah Berlatsky (April 25, 2014). "Why Sci-Fi Keeps Imagining the Subjugation of White People". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  18. ^ "USMC Professional Reading Program (website)" (Website). Reading List by Grade. Marine Corps University. 2014-12-13. Retrieved 2014-12-13.
  19. ^ a b "Ender's Game Discussion Guide" (PDF). USMC Professional Reading Program. Marine Corps University. 2009-09-25. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-01-24. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  20. ^ "Locus Online: Books and Publishing News, November 1999, Page 3". 1999-11-23. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  21. ^ "Locus Roundtable » All-Time Novel Results, 2012". 2012-12-22. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  22. ^ Search for a Title or Author. "100 Best Novels « Modern Library". Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  23. ^ "Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books". NPR. 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  24. ^ "Ender's Game". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  25. ^ Sci Fi (2012-10-11). "Top 10 Sci-fi Books of All Time : Science Channel". Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  26. ^ "Paperback Mass-Market Fiction". The New York Times. 2013-06-09. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  27. ^ "Paperback Mass-Market Fiction". The New York Times. 2013-08-11. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  28. ^ "Paperback Mass-Market Fiction". The New York Times. 2013-09-01. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  29. ^ "Paperback Mass-Market Fiction". The New York Times. 2013-09-08. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  30. ^ "Paperback Mass-Market Fiction". The New York Times. 2013-10-27. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  31. ^ "Paperback Mass-Market Fiction". The New York Times. 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  32. ^ "Paperback Mass-Market Fiction". The New York Times. 2013-11-10. Retrieved 2013-11-11.
  33. ^ "Paperback Mass-Market Fiction". The New York Times. 2013-11-24. Retrieved 2013-11-25.
  34. ^ "Ender in Exile". Archived from the original on 2016-04-01. Retrieved 2008-12-04. Audio edition, Macmillan Audio, Nov 2008
  35. ^ Gallagher, Brian. "Ender's Game Lands at Summit Entertainment". MovieWeb.
  36. ^ McNary, Dave (Apr 28, 2011). "Summit plays 'Ender's Game'". Variety.
  37. ^ "Gavin Hood Attached to Ender's Game". "". September 21, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
  38. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (September 20, 2010). "Gavin Hood looks to play 'Ender's Game'". Los Angeles Times.
  39. ^ Christine (2012-03-01). "'Ender's Game' begins filming at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans". Retrieved 2013-05-17.
  40. ^ "Ender's Game Trailer, News, Videos, and Reviews". Retrieved 2013-05-17.
  41. ^ "Ender's Game Trailer". Summit Entertainment. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
  42. ^ "Ender's Game Trailer 2". Summit Entertainment. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
  43. ^ "Orson Scott Card Talks About 'Ender's Game' Book And Movie". Neon Tommy. 2013-04-20. Retrieved 2013-05-17.
  44. ^ "Ender's Game". Box Office Mojo.
  45. ^ "Ender's Game Reviews". Metacritic.
  46. ^
  47. ^ 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. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
  48. ^ "Ender's Game tabled by Chair". Joystiq. December 14, 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
  49. ^
  50. ^ Penagos, Ryan (May 12, 2008). "NYCC '08: Marvel to Adapt Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game Series". Marvel Characters, Inc. Retrieved 2008-09-13.
  51. ^ "Enders Shadow Battle School #1 (of 5)". Things From Another World, Inc. 1986–2009. Archived from the original on 2008-12-24. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
  52. ^ "Ender'S Game Alive – The Full Cast Audioplay By Orson Scott Card". Skyboat Media. 2013-10-01. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
  53. ^ from Skyboat Media Plus (2013-10-04). "Orson Scott Card – Author of Ender's Game Alive on Vimeo". Retrieved 2013-10-30.
  54. ^ "Ender's Game - Das ungekürzte Hörspiel von Orson Scott Card". Audible. 2013-10-01. Retrieved 2020-03-31.

External links[edit]