Ender's Game (1985) is one of the best-known novels by Orson Scott Card. It is set in Earth's future where mankind has barely survived two invasions by the "buggers," an insectoid alien race, and the International Fleet is preparing for war. In order to find and train the eventual commander for the anticipated third invasion, the world's most talented children, including the extraordinary Ender Wiggin, are taken into a training center known as the Battle School at a very young age. Its sequels Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, A War of Gifts, and Ender in Exile follow Ender to different worlds as he travels far into the future.
The book originated as the novelette "Ender's Game" published in the August 1977 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Card later expanded the novel into the Ender's Game series, dealing with the long-term effects of the war. A slightly updated version was released in 1991 to keep political facts accurate (such as the decline of the Soviet Union).
It is in this world that six-year-old Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives. Ender, his nickname, was given to him by his older sister, Valentine; he also has a brother, Peter. As third child of his parents, Ender is an exception to the population restriction laws, his conception having been permitted only by a special sanction of the government, with the hope that he would be a combination of his sadistic older brother and his kind-hearted sister. The International Fleet (IF) was seeking the next brilliant military commander among Earth's children, as they needed an exceptional leader to help them fight the buggers. Young Ender is approved by the government for training at the elite Battle School, a space station where only the most brilliant children were trained. After a confrontation with a school bully, Stilson, that (unknown to Ender for the majority of the novel) leaves Stilson dead, Ender chooses to accept Colonel Graff's offer to attend Battle School, leaving behind his world with the hope that he could save its future.
Upon departure for Battle School, Ender is immediately singled out by the administration as the most intelligent student, causing most other students to hate him. Despite the attempts to keep him isolated, Ender does make a few friends. However, he is promoted early, so that he finds himself surrounded by kids much older than him, most of whom despise him. He again finds a way around his isolation and frustration, however, by forming his own nightly practice wargame sessions with his old friends, as well as any other new students who wish to be instructed by Ender. He finds, however, that they no longer regard him as a friend, but rather as a superior.
Ender is quickly promoted to commander of a brand new Dragon Army in the school's zero-gravity wargame league, and he molds his young soldiers into an unbeatable team, despite the teachers' stacking of every game against him. Some time after an especially brutal victory against one of Ender's former commanders, Bonzo Madrid, Ender is cornered by Bonzo along with several of Bonzo's soldiers. Unable to escape the situation without violence, Ender convinces Bonzo to fight him alone and unknowingly kills him. Ender learns the lesson that there is no rule book in war; he throws his own concepts of the game away. This clever circumventing of an impossible situation causes Ender to be promoted to Command School, six years younger than anyone else in the history of the system. Ender fears he is becoming like his brother Peter, using violence to reach his goals and refuses to go. He is taken briefly to Earth to visit his sister Valentine, who helps him see that he is not like Peter and convinces him to go to command school.
Ender is taught at Command School by Mazer Rackham, who has been kept alive into his own future by being sent away at near lightspeed and then brought back in the same manner. Ender is told that the military sent ships to attack the bugger planets many years ago, and outfitted them with new technology, like the ansible, making superluminal communication possible. Mazer instructs Ender in a game very similar to the Battle Room, only this time instead of commanding soldiers, Ender will command ships in a 3-D space battle. At this point, Ender is reunited with the people closest to him from battle school as his subordinates in this battle game. Ender commands them directly, and it is up to them to carry out his commands. Each day the games become more and more grueling, and Ender is slowly being worn down to psychosis, along with his fellow commanders. Waking and sleeping blend together as Ender loses his sanity, but he maintains his military brilliance.
Finally Mazer confronts Ender, telling him that he will face an extremely grueling final exam. The game begins, and Ender is outnumbered 1,000 to 1. When the enemy is finally in range, Ender orders the use of a special weapon, Dr. Device, against the planet itself, destroying the simulated planet and all ships in orbit. Ender consciously makes this decision knowing that it is expressly against the respectable rules of the game, hoping that his teachers will find his ruthlessness unacceptable and remove him from command, and allow him to return home.
After he wins it is revealed to Ender that all the simulations were real battles taking place in bugger space as the human ships sent long ago reached their destinations. Ender realizes that he had just ordered the actual destruction of an entire race, and the guilt of the massacre forces him into a five-day coma.
When he awakens, it's revealed to Ender that he is being heralded as the savior of the human race, and that the bugger threat has been eliminated, mankind is expanding into the empty bugger planets and repealing the population limit laws. Valentine arrives at command school and convinces Ender to go with her on the first ship leaving for colonization. She tells him of the impending announcement that he is to be the governor of the colony. There he discovers an unborn bugger queen who can communicate with him through a psychic link. She tells him that her race was not aware that humans were sentient creatures. It was through their defeat in the Second Invasion that forced them to realize humanity's true nature; and had resolved to never attack the Earth again. He resolves to atone for his destruction of the bugger race by finding a place to resurrect the queen, bringing the alien race back into existence. Ender writes a book under the pseudonym "Speaker for the Dead" entitled The Hive Queen, wherin he tells of the compassion and pain of the bugger race. At Peter's request he also writes The Hegemon to tell the truth of his brother's troubled life. These books become the basis of a new human religion.
In his 1991 introduction to the novel, Card discussed the influence of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series on the creation of the novelette and novel. Historian Bruce Catton's work on the American Civil War also influenced Card heavily. He also derived the name and basic function of the ansible from Ursula K. Le Guin's works.
Many schools around the world have adopted Ender's Game as required reading, some for its psychological aspects, others for its science fiction background. Some examples include the Marine Corps University at Quantico, as a textbook on the psychology of leadership, and the state of New South Wales, Australia, Higher School Certificate.
Ender's Game was the very first novel given away online before its publication. Card posted the novel on the DELPHI online service in 1984, inviting anyone to download and enjoy it.
While Ender's Game is officially in pre-production, according to IMDb, there is still no financier for the movie rights to the book. Nothing has been released on the content of the approved script, or casting; however, based on information from Orson Scott Card's previous scripts, it will be a fusion between Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow, both of which take place in the Battle School at the same time, but the former from Ender's point of view, and the latter from Bean's point of view.
Little is known about the game save its setting in the Ender universe, and that it will focus on the Battle Room.
The Original October 8, 2008 release is titled "Battle School" and is the first in a series of five graphic novels to be released monthly.