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How Ender Meets Jane
December 1998

When Robert Silverberg invited Orson Scott Card to contribute a story set in the Ender's Game universe to an anthology called Far Horizons, Card immediately knew that the only possible story was the first meeting of Ender and Jane, his computer companion.

The concept of Far Horizons is brilliantly simple: Silverberg has invited the authors of leading science fiction series to contribute a new short story that is part of that series, but which will not appear in any other book.

Coming in June 1999 from Avon, Far Horizons therefore will include the story "Investment Counselor," which takes place when Ender arrives on the planet Sorelledolce and, because he has achieved legal adulthood during the previous starflight, has to pay taxes on the trust funds that have been accumulating for him for the past centuries of skipping through time.

With a tax collector set to cheat him and tax laws designed to baffle him, he is an obvious target for a well-designed interactive software ad. Here's an excerpt from the story "Investment Counselor" - the exact moment when Ender meets Jane for the first time:

      A woman's head appeared in the display space above his computer. "You think I'm just a program unspooling on your computer," she said. "But I'm not. I'm the friend and financial adviser you've been wishing for, but I don't work for money, I work for you. You have to talk to me so I can understand what you want to do with your money, what you want it to accomplish. I have to hear your voice."
      But Andrew didn't like playing along with computer programs. He pressed the Page key to get past this talking-head intro.
      "Ouch," said the woman. "What are you trying to do, get rid of me?"
      "Yes," said Andrew. Then he cursed himself for having succumbed to the trick. This simulation was so cleverly real that it had finally got him to answer by reflex.
      "Lucky for you that you don't have a Page button. Do you have any idea how painful that is? Not to mention humiliating, Mr. Wiggin."
      "If you're going to force me to use a verbal interface," said Andrew, "at least call me something other than Mister."
      "How about Andrew?" she said.
      "And you must call me Jane."
      "Must I?"
      "Or I could call you Ender," she said.
      Andrew froze. There was nothing in his files to indicate that childhood nickname.
      "Terminate this program and get off my computer at once," he said.
      "As you wish," she answered.

Of course, there's a lot more to the story than this - and a lot more to the anthology than just this one story. And even though Card is hard at work on a new novel set in the Ender's Game universe, this story will not be part of that or any other novel. It stands alone, and can only be found in the Silverberg anthology Far Horizons.

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