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Ender's Game

In Ender's Game, Card portrays futuristic situation in which children are recruited in order to help fight a war against an alien race known as the buggers. The children's activity is framed as a simulation, and Ender proves to be a genius at this game. Eventually, though, it is revealed that the game may be something more than mere simulation. In any event, this novel has received general critical acclaim and won science fiction awards.  

Ender's glance into the future

Ender's Game is a 1985 sci-fi novel by American writer Orson Scott Card (b. 1951). Set in a far distant future where mankind has mastered interplanetary travel, the novel centers on a child who gets selected for his advanced skill to lead an intergalactic war effort against an alien species of colonizers.

After a remarkable show of courage, 10-year-old Andrew "Ender" Wiggin is sent to Battle School for the International Fleet (I.F.), which was established to combat a third attack by insectoid aliens ("buggers") against human space settlements. Excelling at a series of increasingly difficult battle games in zero gravity, Ender is promoted to the highly advanced Command School on the asteroid colony Eros. While led to believe that the battles are simulated, the boy leads victory after victory against bugger fleets. Following his ultimate test, where he eliminates a vast swarm of buggers around their queen, Ender is informed that his battles have been real. Opting not to return to Earth, he explores former bugger colonies, where he learns that the aliens had never meant any harm; the buggers thought humans were non-sentient all along.

While led to believe that the battles are simulated, the boy leads victory after victory against bugger fleets. Following his ultimate test, where he eliminates a vast swarm of buggers around their queen, Ender is informed that his battles have been real. Opting not to return to Earth, he explores former bugger colonies, where he learns that the aliens had never meant any harm; the buggers thought humans were non-sentient all along.

Political themes

Ender's Game turns many concepts of adult/child relations on their head. Some of the child characters, like Peter and Valentine, gain tremendous control and influence over the adult political world. Ender, meanwhile, has no desire to dominate others; consequently, he's often manipulated by adults. However, because of his advanced skill and intelligence, he is promoted past years of training to lead an intergalactic fleet over a much larger alien colony. The adults, in essence, have placed the entire fate of mankind in the hands of Ender. In Card's world of the future, the thoughts, emotions, strength, and ingenuity of children are to be taken every bit as seriously as those of adults. 

The concept of friendship versus rivalry is also challenged in the novel, where loyalties are hard to determine in some cases. Ender's friendships to Petra and Dink are frequently questioned because he's often put in doubt about each individual's frame of mind. Meanwhile, Anderson, Graff, and Rackham appear at times to be rivals of the tween fighter, despite their undoubted loyalty. Elsewhere, Peter tries to get Valentine to his side, but she can't be swayed from her stance on the matter. Ironically, the buggers—the perceived enemy of all humanity—actually turn out to be friendly in the end.

Entering the film and video game arena

The idea behind Ender's Game originated in a title-sake short story that appeared in the August 1977 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Card expanded on the themes and characters with a subsequent series of novels, which also includes Speaker for the Dead (1986), Xenocide (1991), Children of the Mind (1996), and Ender in Exile (2008). The first book was also updated in the early 90s to reflect changing political realities, such as the fall of communism throughout Eastern Europe.

The late noughties saw the franchise spread to other media. In 2008, Marvel Comics unveiled Ender's Game: Battle School, the first in a pair of five-issue volumes dedicated to Card's series. A proposed video game by Chair Entertainment failed to materialize, but 2011 saw the announcement of a motion picture adaptation by Summit Entertainment. 

Hitting theatres in late 2013, the Gavin Hood-directed Ender's Game stars English actor Asa Butterfield in the titular role. Despite his initial reluctance over the story being taken to film, Card gave it his blessing, though its release met with controversy over the author's then-newly surfaced anti-marriage equality statements; a stance he has since neutralized.

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