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Ender's Game | Study Guide

Orson Scott Card

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Ender's Game | 10 Things You Didn't Know


Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game beloved work of science fiction and interstellar adventure tells the story of Ender Wiggin, a young man forced into military training to combat a race of insectoid aliens threatening Earth. Painting a dystopian image of humanity's future, Ender's Game describes the difficult—and often painful—"games" Wiggin must complete as part of his training.

Since its publication in 1985, Ender's Game has been regarded as one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time and a true staple of the genre. Over the years the novel has spawned numerous sequels, as well as an entire franchise devoted to Card's fictional universe. In addition to the bizarre setting and innovative portrayal of futuristic technology, Ender's Game features a unique set of meticulously crafted and often deeply tormented characters.

1. Ender's Game originally appeared as a short story.

Card originally intended for Ender's Game to be a much shorter work. It first appeared in the periodical Analog Science Fiction and Fact as a short story. Card revised the tale into a full-length novel for publication nearly a decade later in 1985. Since then the phenomenal success of Ender's Game has led to a series of novels as well as comics, supplementary short stories, and a film adaptation. Fans refer to Card's body of work centered on the Ender's Game world as the "Enderverse."

2. Ender's Game is often credited with predicting the Internet.

The Internet—in its modern form at least—didn't exist until the early 1990s, but Ender's Game predicted the rise of a global information network years in advance. In Ender's Game the Wiggins are able to gain power through their use of a worldwide depository of information, including political essays and materials. Although Card may have been familiar with the early phases of the Internet at the time, he predicted its eventual use as a sociopolitical tool. In an interview the author stated:

People give me a lot of credit for having predicted the Internet. If you look at the first copyright date, I wasn't really predicting. However, my one prediction was that as soon as the web became open to the public, networks would become politically important. It took a while before they were, but that one I got right.

3. Card had to revise Ender's Game after the Challenger disaster of 1986.

In Ender's Game characters boarding a spacecraft calmly claim there had never been an accident in the history of the space shuttle program. However, shortly after the novel's publication, the space shuttle Challenger broke apart upon takeoff, killing all seven crew members. The accident occurred on January 28, 1986, and it forced Card to omit the conversation from his novel since it was no longer accurate. Card commented:

One of the most trivial things about the Challenger explosion was that I then had to go in and revise that statement in the novel.

4. The U.S. Marine Corps recommends recruits read Ender's Game.

Ender's Game's popularity has extended to the military world—enough to make it recommended reading for U.S. Marine Corps recruits. The novel is provided in the form of a free audiobook to Marines with a "Primary Level Enlisted" designation. Due to the novel's military themes, the Marine Corps considers it an important book to provide "lessons in training methodology, leadership, and ethics." Card has commented on the novel's use in the U.S. military, claiming:

The military has responded very well to Ender's Game. It's been used by people who are thinking through a future strategy—not because of the strategy in Ender's Game, but because of the way Ender thinks.

5. Card drew inspiration for Ender's Game from a historian's research on the American Civil War.

Despite the science fiction world of Ender's Game, Card drew much of his inspiration from a far less technologically advanced conflict—the American Civil War (1861–65). Card was always fascinated by military history, and he claimed in an interview that the historian Bruce Catton's The Army of the Potomac inspired him to write a military science fiction novel. Card explained the influence Catton's work had on his own, stating:

[Catton's work is] a trilogy of serious history that follows that one army with all of its commanders and ... Lincoln's incessant search for somebody who would use this army competently, and the suffering of the soldiers, the courage, the work that they did. And that really was the foundation of my learning about the military, was Civil War plus a little bit of updating and then staying abreast of current events.

6. Card released an updated edition of Ender's Game to acknowledge the end of the Cold War.

Card has updated Ender's Game several times in order to accommodate changes in geopolitics and current events. In addition to altering the line about space shuttle reliability, Card also changed his text to reflect the collapse of the Soviet Union. The author released an updated edition of the novel in 1991, immediately following the end of the Cold War (1947–91) between the United States and the Soviet Union. Critics have noted Card has displayed a dedication to keeping his novel relatively contemporary so it won't be viewed as a cultural artifact.

7. Card wrote a musical about Mormon pioneers in Utah.

In addition to writing science fiction, Card tried his hand at writing musical theater. In 1997 Card authored a musical titled Barefoot to Zion about the first Mormon pioneers to colonize Utah. This little-known work of Card's never gained the critical acclaim or popularity of Ender's Game, and fans of the "Enderverse" are often quite surprised to learn the author wrote on such a radically different topic. The musical premiered at the Promised Valley Playhouse in Salt Lake City, Utah, and it was described by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as "a great message of faith."

8. Card once compared Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler.

Card has made headlines for his extremely conservative—and often controversial—political views. One of his most provocative and notorious statements appeared on his blog in 2013, in which he compared U.S President Barack Obama to the Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler. Card wrote Obama was a "Hitler- or Stalin-style dictator," and he surmised Obama would ignore election results to stay in power beyond term limits. Card concluded:

That's how it works in Nigeria and Zimbabwe; that's how it worked in Hitler's Germany.

9. Some cast members went to Space Camp to prepare for filming the 2013 film adaptation.

Cast members underwent some very serious training to prepare for work on the 2013 film adaptation of Ender's Game. Asa Butterfield, who played Ender Wiggin, and Hailee Steinfeld, who played Petra Arkanian, were among the actors who attended Space Camp in preparation for the film's production. In Space Camp the actors were able to experience zero gravity in order to fully understand how the body responds to conditions outside Earth's atmosphere.

10. An LGBTQ group started a boycott of the 2013 film of Ender's Game due to Card's homophobic statements.

Among Card's more controversial political views has been his long-held conviction that homosexuality is morally wrong. Card has come under fire from numerous lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) rights groups over the years for a series of homophobic remarks—often expressing disdain for what he refers to as "the homosexual agenda." Leading up to the premiere of the 2013 film adaptation of Ender's Game, the science fiction–enthusiast LGBTQ group "Geeks Out" led a boycott due to persistent antigay remarks from Card—particularly his 1990 statement that "laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books." In response to the boycott, Lionsgate Entertainment Company released a statement assuring fans they did not "agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card."

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