This is topic Original setting of "Ender's Game" in forum Discussions About Orson Scott Card at Hatrack River Forum.

To visit this topic, use this URL:;f=1;t=005244

Posted by kassyopeia (Member # 12110) on :
Hi board,

(Note: I can't quite decide if the following is very obvious or highly debatable...)

I just read the "Ender's Game" short story for the first time and got the distinct impression that, unlike the Enderverse canon, the world it's set on is not Earth. I'm basing this on two main factors (there are probably others that I can't put my finger on, though): Firstly, the outlandish (heh) heraldic choice of gray and green uniforms, representing "gray [...] sky" and "great forests". Both are found on Earth, no doubt, but neither is particularly characteristic of it. Secondly, the conspicuous avoidance of the terms "human"/"humanity" and, well, "Earth".

If one accepts this impression, it has an interesting effect on the story's atmosphere, especially one's perception of the characters and ethics.

I'll leave it as vague as that, for now, in hope of broader feedback. [Wink]
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
"The Enemy" in that story is not formic, either.

Yeah, I did get the impression of an interstellar civilization, and it's definitely possible that the setting was not Earth. I think it was about humans, though.
Posted by Tara (Member # 10030) on :
That's interesting what you said about the colors. One thing OSC is really good at is not using stereotypes for things such as futuristic space culture, nomenclature, etc. He doesn't just use the standard, cliched vision of life in space, he makes it uniquely his own. It's smart, because the future will probably NOT conform to our usual image of it, it will probably be random and different like OSC's future is.
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
Actually I think OSC's vision of life in space is pretty much Asimovian.
Posted by kassyopeia (Member # 12110) on :
I did get the impression of an interstellar civilization
Ah, that's not what I meant but is also a possibility. My impression was that "the planet" is the homeworld of "the people", and yet isn't Earth. Which could mean that "the people" aren't humanity but a similar humanoid species, or that they an alternate-reality version of humanity.

The literary effect, and probably the main intention of the author in creating this impression, is that the reader's perspective is much closer to the protagonist's than it would otherwise be. This Ender is even more isolated than the novel-version, having lived in Battle School for as long as he can remember. It's his whole world because he knows next to nothing about the outside. Just as, by changing the setting from Earth to "somewhere else", the story universe is strongly confined to what is directly described and not embedded in a familiar environment. I think this technique succeeds beautifully.

But there is a secondary result, which affects where we bestow our sympathies. In the novel, the war is a definite case of "us against them", humans versus aliens. So we tend to accept or at least forgive e.g. Graff's morally questionable acts, because the end of ensuring species survival justifies any means.
In the short story, it's less clear-cut, both because "the people" aren't necessarily "us" and we know nothing about "the enemy", which thus may be no more alien than "the people" are. We still sympathize with Ender as an individual, both because he acts very much like a human and because one always tends to sympathize with the protagonist, but the cause he's fighting for (made to fight for, rather) doesn't really become ours.

Unless I overlooked something, there isn't even anything in the story that prevents us from taking this all the way: What if WE are "the enemy", and Ender is one of "them"? Pure speculation, of course, but no less plausible than the opposite assumption. Try re-reading the story with this premise and note the changes in emotional impact that result... [Evil]
Posted by Catalyst (Member # 12119) on :
Interesting thoughts, though everything I have read where Card writes about the origins of Ender's Game and the ideas and reasons for the story never gives any indication that he meant it to be taken that way, so I doubt he had your version in mind.

I will have to wait until my copy of the original short story is out of storage and reread it. I never thought about it before, simply assuming Earth was the planet.
Posted by kassyopeia (Member # 12110) on :
The text is available online right here, if you want it. As I said, a big part of my impression rests on the exclusive use of "his planet" and "his world" ("his" being Ender) to an extent that suggests deliberation rather than coincidence.
Posted by Boon (Member # 4646) on :
So when the enemy came to our worlds, we fought back, hard, and spent the finest of our young men in the fleets.
Definitely could make the case for at least one human world, at any rate.

Edit: More than one human world is what I meant...long week. Sorry.

[ June 27, 2009, 09:31 PM: Message edited by: Boon ]
Posted by kassyopeia (Member # 12110) on :
Aha, nicely caught. You're forcing me to admit that I didn't actually read the story but listened to the audio book, otherwise I probably would have noticed that too. Thanks. [Smile]

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2