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Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

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“Ender’s Game” is a 1977 science fiction novelette by Orson Scott Card. It is about an eleven year old boy who is drafted to command other kids in a very important military game.

Non-Spoiler Summary In A Nutshell:
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Ender Wiggins has recently been given command of the Dragon army at the military school he attends. He is the youngest commander ever, and the boys in his platoon are all under nine years old. That is no problem for this military genius as he trains his team to be not only the best it can be, but to come up with new and original strategies as well. Not only is he the envy (and enemy) of all the other commanders, but the big brass are keeping their eye on his as well. He is given a brutal schedule with a battle everyday – and sometimes more than one in a day. He comes through shining, and that is when he is given the most important and brutal assignment of all.

“Remember,” he went on, “they can’t see you till you get through that door. But the second you’re out, they’ll be on you. So hit that door the way you want to be when they shoot at you. Legs up under you, going straight down.” He pointed at a sullen kid who looked like he was only seven, the smallest of them all. “Which way is down, greenoh!”

“Toward the enemy door.” The answer was quick. It was also surly, as if to say, Yeah, yeah, now get on with the important stuff.

“Name, kid?”

“Bean.”

“Get that for size or for brains?”

My Two Cents:
Chances are good that you’ve heard of Orson Scott Card’s award winning novel Ender’s Game, but did you know that it started out as a novelette? I wasn’t aware of this until recently. If you’ve read the novel then you’ll recognize this story, and if not then you’re in for a good surprise!

• The good:

  • A very engaging story about children being trained by the government to become soldiers in their war with the Buggers.
  • A superb surprise ending!
  • Believe it or not, but the story of Ender Wiggins is quite inspiring – how he takes his brutal training schedule in stride and beats everyone, even when the odds are stacked against him.

• The bad:

  • Some of the dialog seems a little advanced to be coming out of the mouths of children – but it isn’t too bad.
  • I’m warning you now – you may experience an emotional roller coaster as you read the end of this story!

Fact Sheet:
“Ender’s Game” garnered the following awards:

  • It was nominated for the 1978 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.
  • “Ender’s Game” placed ninth on the 1978 Locus poll for short fiction.
  • It also won the 1994 Ignotus award for foreign short story (awarded by the Spanish Science Fiction Association.)

Where you can find “Ender’s Game”:

  • This short story first appeared in the August 1977 issue of Analog.
  • “Ender’s Game” has been included in several anthologies, most recently in Orson Scott Card’s book First Meetings in Ender’s Universe – a collection of four stories which describe important “first meetings” in Ender’s life.
  • You can read a free online version of this short story at Hatrack River – the official web site of Orson Scott Card.

Related Yet Still Interesting Links:

  • In case you didn’t know: This short story evolved into a Hugo and Nebula award winning novel also named Ender’s Game. And that novel led to an entire series of books and short stories set in Ender’s universe. You can learn more about the Ender’s Game series at Wikipedia.
  • You can learn more about Orson Scott Card at his website.

Craving More Stories?
If you enjoyed this story then you may like Kin, a story about a small boy who enlists the “services” of a dreadful alien, by Bruce McAllister.

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