Once again, Earth is under attack. An alien species is poised for a final assault. The survival of humanity depends on a military genius who can defeat the aliens. But who?
Ender Wiggin. Brilliant. Ruthless. Cunning. A tactical and strategic master. And a child.
Recruited for military training by the world government, Ender's childhood ends the moment he enters his new home: Battle School. Among the elite recruits Ender proves himself to be a genius among geniuses. He excels in simulated war games. But is the pressure and loneliness taking its toll on Ender? Simulations are one thing. How will Ender perform in real combat conditions? After all, Battle School is just a game. Isn't it?
THE ENDER UNIVERSE
Ender’s Game / Ender in Exile / Speaker for the Dead / Xenocide / Children of the Mind
Ender’s Shadow series
Ender’s Shadow / Shadow of the Hegemon / Shadow Puppets / Shadow of the Giant / Shadows in Flight
Children of the Fleet
The First Formic War (with Aaron Johnston)
Earth Unaware / Earth Afire / Earth Awakens
The Second Formic War (with Aaron Johnston)
The Swarm /The Hive
A War of Gifts /First Meetings
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About the Author
Orson Scott Card is a bestselling science fiction and fantasy author. His novels Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win these two top prizes in consecutive years. There are seven other novels to date in The Ender Universe series. Card has also written fantasy: The Tales of Alvin Maker is a series of fantasy novels set in frontier America; his most recent novel, The Lost Gate, is a contemporary magical fantasy. Card has written many other stand-alone sf and fantasy novels, as well as movie tie-ins and games, and publishes an internet-based science fiction and fantasy magazine, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, Card directs plays and teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, and youngest daughter, Zina Margaret.
Hometown:Greensboro, North Carolina
Date of Birth:August 24, 1951
Place of Birth:Richland, Washington
Education:B.A. in theater, Brigham Young University, 1975; M.A. in English, University of Utah, 1981
Read an Excerpt
ENDERS GAME (Chapter 1)
"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."
The monitor lady smiled very nicely and tousled his hair and said, "Andrew, I suppose by now you're just absolutely sick of having that horrid monitor. Well, I have good news for you. That monitor is going to come out today. We're going to take it right out, and it won't hurt a bit."
Ender nodded. It was a lie, of course, that it wouldn't hurt a bit. But since adults always said it when it was going to hurt, he could count on that statement as an accurate prediction of the future. Sometimes lies were more dependable than the truth.
"So if you'll just come over here, Andrew, just sit right up here on the examining table. The doctor will be in to see you in a moment."
The monitor gone. Ender tried to imagine the little device missing from the back of his neck. I'll roll over on my back in bed and it won't be pressing there. I won't feel it tingling and taking up the heat when I shower.
And Peter won't hate me anymore. I'll come home and show him that the monitor's gone, and he'll see that I didn't make it, either. That I'll just be a normal kid now, like him. That won't be so bad then. He'll forgive me that I had my monitor a whole year longer than he had his. We'll be
Not friends, probably. No, Peter was too dangerous. Peter got so angry. Brothers, though. Not enemies, not friends, but brothersable to live in the same house. He won't hate me, he'll just leave me alone. And when he wants to play buggers and astronauts, maybe I won't have to play, maybe I can just go read a book.
But Ender knew, even as he thought it, that Peter wouldn't leave him alone. There was something in Peter's eyes, when he was in his mad mood, and whenever Ender saw that look, that glint, he knew that the one thing Peter would not do was leave him alone. I'm practicing piano, Ender. Come turn the pages for me. Oh, is the monitor boy too busy to help his brother? Is he too smart? Got to go kill some buggers, astronaut? No, no, I don't want your help. I can do it on my own, you little bastard, you little Third.
"This won't take long, Andrew," said the doctor.
"It's designed to be removed. Without infection, without damage. But there'll be some tickling, and some people say they have a feeling of something missing. You'll keep looking around for something, something you were looking for, but you can't find it, and you can't remember what it was. So I'll tell you. It's the monitor you're looking for, and it isn't there. In a few days that feeling will pass."
The doctor was twisting something at the back of Ender's head. Suddenly a pain stabbed through him like a needle from his neck to his groin. Ender felt his back spasm, and his body arched violently backward; his head struck the bed. He could feel his legs thrashing, and his hands were clenching each other, wringing each other so tightly that they arched.
"Deedee!" shouted the doctor. "I need you!" The nurse ran in, gasped. "Got to relax these muscles. Get it to me, now! What are you waiting for!"
Something changed hands; Ender could not see. He lurched to one side and fell off the examining table. "Catch him!" cried the nurse.
"Just hold him steady"
"You hold him, doctor, he's too strong for me"
"Not the whole thing! You'll stop his heart"
Ender felt a needle enter his back just above the neck of his shirt. It burned, but wherever in him the fire spread, his muscles gradually unclenched. Now he could cry for the fear and pain of it.
"Are you all right, Andrew?" the nurse asked.
Andrew could not remember how to speak. They lifted him onto the table. They checked his pulse, did other things; he did not understand it all.
The doctor was trembling; his voice shook as he spoke. "They leave these things in the kids for three years, what do they expect? We could have switched him off, do you realize that? We could have unplugged his brain for all time."
"When does the drug wear off?" asked the nurse.
"Keep him here for at least an hour. Watch him. If he doesn't start talking in fifteen minutes, call me. Could have unplugged him forever. I don't have the brains of a bugger."
He got back to Miss Pumphrey's class only fifteen minutes before the closing bell. He was still a little unsteady on his feet.
"Are you all right, Andrew?" asked Miss Pumphrey.
"Were you ill?"
He shook his head.
"You don't look well."
"You'd better sit down, Andrew."
He started toward his seat, but stopped. Now what was I looking for? I can't think what I was looking for.
"Your seat is over there," said Miss Pumphrey.
He sat down, but it was something else he needed, something he had lost. I'll find it later.
"Your monitor," whispered the girl behind him.
"His monitor," she whispered to the others.
Andrew reached up and felt his neck. There was a bandaid. It was gone. He was just like everybody else now.
"Washed out, Andy?" asked a boy who sat across the aisle and behind him. Couldn't think of his name. Peter. No, that was someone else.
"Quiet, Mr. Stilson," said Miss Pumphrey. Stilson smirked.
Miss Pumphrey talked about multiplication. Ender doodled on his desk, drawing contour maps of mountainous islands and then telling his desk to display them in three dimensions from every angle. The teacher would know, of course, that he wasn't paying attention, but she wouldn't bother him. He always knew the answer, even when she thought he wasn't paying attention.
In the corner of his desk a word appeared and began marching around the perimeter of the desk. It was upside down and backward at first, but Ender knew what it said long before it reached the bottom of the desk and turned right side up.
Ender smiled. He was the one who had figured out how to send messages and make them marcheven as his secret enemy called him names, the method of delivery praised him. It was not his fault he was a Third. It was the government's idea, they were the ones who authorized ithow else could a Third like Ender have got into school? And now the monitor was gone. The experiment entitled Andrew Wiggin hadn't worked out after all. If they could, he was sure they would like to rescind the waivers that had allowed him to be born at all. Didn't work, so erase the experiment.
The bell rang. Everyone signed off their desks or hurriedly typed in reminders to themselves. Some were dumping lessons or data into their computers at home. A few gathered at the printers while something they wanted to show was printed out. Ender spread his hands over the child-size keyboard near the edge of the desk and wondered what it would feel like to have hands as large as a grown-up's. They must feel so big and awkward, thick stubby fingers and beefy palms. Of course, they had bigger keyboardsbut how could their thick fingers draw a fine line, the way Ender could, a thin line so precise that he could make it spiral seventy-nine times from the center to the edge of the desk without the lines ever touching or overlapping. It gave him something to do while the teacher droned on about arithmetic. Arithmetic! Valentine had taught him arithmetic when he was three.
"Are you all right, Andrew?"
"You'll miss the bus."
Ender nodded and got up. The other kids were gone. They would be waiting, though, the bad ones. His monitor wasn't perched on his neck, hearing what he heard and seeing what he saw. They could say what they liked. They might even hit him nowno one could see them anymore, and so no one would come to Ender's rescue. There were advantages to the monitor, and he would miss them.
It was Stilson, of course. He wasn't bigger than most other kids, but he was bigger than Ender. And he had some others with him. He always did.
Don't answer. Nothing to say.
"Hey, Third, we're talkin to you, Third, hey bugger-lover, we're talkin to you."
Can't think of anything to answer. Anything I say will make it worse. So will saying nothing.
"Hey, Third, hey, turd, you flunked out, huh? Thought you were better than us, but you lost your little birdie, Thirdie, got a bandaid on your neck."
"Are you going to let me through?" Ender asked.
"Are we going to let him through? Should we let him through?" They all laughed. "Sure we'll let you through. First we'll let your arm through, then your butt through, then maybe a piece of your knee."
The others chimed in now. "Lost your birdie, Thirdie. Lost your birdie, Thirdie."
Stilson began pushing him with one hand; someone behind him then pushed him toward Stilson.
"See-saw, marjorie daw," somebody said.
This would not have a happy ending. So Ender decided that he'd rather not be the unhappiest at the end. The next time Stilson's arm came out to push him, Ender grabbed at it. He missed.
"Oh, gonna fight me, huh? Gonna fight me, Thirdie?"
The people behind Ender grabbed at him, to hold him.
Ender did not feel like laughing, but he laughed. "You mean it takes this many of you to fight one Third?"
"We're people, not Thirds, turd face. You're about as strong as a fart!"
But they let go of him. And as soon as they did, Ender kicked out high and hard, catching Stilson square in the breastbone. He dropped. It took Ender by surprisehe hadn't thought to put Stilson on the ground with one kick. It didn't occur to him that Stilson didn't take a fight like this seriously, that he wasn't prepared for a truly desperate blow.
For a moment, the others backed away and Stilson lay motionless. They were all wondering if he was dead. Ender, however, was trying to figure out a way to forestall vengeance. To keep them from taking him in a pack tomorrow. I have to win this now, and for all time, or I'll fight it every day and it will get worse and worse.
Ender knew the unspoken rules of manly warfare, even though he was only six. It was forbidden to strike the opponent who lay helpless on the ground; only an animal would do that.
So Ender walked to Stilson's supine body and kicked him again, viciously, in the ribs. Stilson groaned and rolled away from him. Ender walked around him and kicked him again, in the crotch. Stilson could not make a sound; he only doubled up and tears streamed out of his eyes.
Then Ender looked at the others coldly. "You might be having some idea of ganging up on me. You could probably beat me up pretty bad. But just remember what I do to people who try to hurt me. From then on you'd be wondering when I'd get you, and how bad it would be." He kicked Stilson in the face. Blood from his nose spattered the ground nearby. "It wouldn't be this bad," Ender said. "It would be worse."
He turned and walked away. Nobody followed him. He turned a corner into the corridor leading to the bus stop. He could hear the boys behind him saying, "Geez. Look at him. He's wasted." Ender leaned his head against the wall of the corridor and cried until the bus came. I am just like Peter. Take my monitor away, and I am just like Peter.
ENDERS GAME. Copyright 1977, 1985, 1991 by Orson Scott Card.
Reading Group Guide
Questions for Discussion
1. In the opening pages of Ender’s Game, Ender observes that “Sometimes lies were more dependable than the truth.” What does he mean by this? Do you think his observation is correct or incorrect? What does this observation reveal about Ender?
2. What is a “third”? Why were Ender’s parents permitted to have a third? Describe Ender’s relationships with Valentine and with Peter.
3. Are Ender’s relationships with others different because he is a third? In what ways are his relationships with his siblings similar to, or different from, your relationships with brothers, sisters, or close relatives?
4. How does Graff persuade Ender to go to Battle School? How does Ender set himself apart from the other boys before he even reaches Battle School?
5. In the schoolyard, in the shuttle, and later at Battle School, Ender kills in self-defense. Later in the story, a colonel comments that “Ender isn’t a killer. He just wins—thoroughly.” Is this a sufficient explanation for why Ender hurts people? Why doesn’t Ender turn to others for help? Do you think Ender is a killer? Why or why not?
6. What is the Giant’s Drink? What does Ender conclude from this mind game? What does his play teach those who observe him about Ender? Who do you think is manipulating this game?
7. In chapter 7, Petra tells Ender, “They never tell you any more truth than they have to.” Who are “they”? Who does Ender perceive as his enemy at this point in the story?
8. Dink Meeker discusses childhood with Ender, commenting, “We’re not children. Children can lose sometimes, and nobody cares.” Is Dink correct? Does Dink feel sorry about his observation? What are the goals of the “children” at Battle School? How are their goals similar to, or different from, the goals of children you know?
9. What techniques does Ender use to train his Dragon Army? What strategies does he take from his old commanders? What mistakes does he see himself making? What does he do about his errors?
10. Does Ender enjoy the Battle Room? Explain your answer.
11. How do the other boys treat Ender as his Dragon Army rises to the top of the rankings? Where does Ender go to learn more after it becomes clear he cannot be defeated by his classmates?
12. In chapter 11, Ender tells Graff and Anderson that he no longer plays the fantasy computer game because he won it. Is this true?
13. On page 128, Valentine notes that: “There was more Peter in her than she could bear to admit, though sometimes she dared to think about it anyway.” What is the “Peter” in Valentine? Does this same “Peter” exist in Ender? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
14. What is the special relationship between Ender and Bean? What innovations does Bean contribute to Dragon Army?
15. What does Bonzo Madrid plan to do to Ender? Why doesn’t the Battle School staff foil Bonzo’s plot? Why does Bonzo feel such hatred toward Ender? How does Ender feel about the attack? What does Ender do to Bonzo?
16. As Peter and Valentine achieve greater success in their secret roles, Valentine wonders if, “Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.” Is this musing correct? Does it ever apply to your own life? Have Valentine and Peter, in their drive to succeed as Demosthenes and Locke, created their own ideological “Battle School”?
17. When they meet at the lake, what does Ender explain to Valentine about loving his enemy? What conundrum does this create for Ender? Why does Ender decide to go back to his life of battle training? Where does Graff take him when they leave Earth?
18. Describe Ender’s life on Eros. Who replaces Graff as Ender’s teacher? What does Ender’s new teacher tell him about Eros that seems to explain his discomfort?
19. With the help of his fighters, former classmates from Battle School, what does Ender decide to do in his “final exam” game? What is different about this game? What is really happening?
20. How does Ender react when he learns the truth about his battle simulations? Does Mazer Rackham’s explanation that Ender was a “weapon” aimed by the responsible adult government officials offer the boy any comfort?
21. What happens on Earth after the defeat of the buggers? Were Peter’s predictions correct? Does Demosthenes’s position win the day on Earth, or does Locke’s?
22. Where do Ender and Valentine go after the war is over? What does Ender find on the new colony?
23. What are the books that Ender writes? Why is it important that there are two stories? Are Ender’s books, in a way, the foundation for a new religion? Why or why not?
24. Although he will always carry the weight of his crimes with him, has Ender, as a speaker for the dead, finally achieved some autonomy over his own life? What is his mission now?
25. Early in the story, Graff tells Ender that “Human beings are free except when humanity needs them.” What does Graff mean? Do you think this is a true philosophy? Does Graff ’s statement apply to human beings in our world today? Explain your answer.
26. In his introduction, Orson Scott Card states that “Ender’s Game is a story about gifted children. It is also a story about soldiers…The story is one that you and I will construct together in your memory…” In what way do you most relate to the novel? What character or perspective is most relevant to your own life? How does Card’s statement help readers understand the actions of character in Ender’s fictional universe?