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  • So, are we 'really' supposed to believe that of all the children that have ever been put through battle school. Not ONE of them ever tried to attack an annoying NPC? Seriously.
    • I think the explanation was that all the other children gave up on the Giant after awhile (except the one that committed suicide for real), but Ender never did, persisting months and months longer than anybody else had, so eventually the Game (established, especially in later books, as being basically sapient) gave in and gave him the option to attack, an option which no other kids had ever been given. But that might not have been the author's intention.
    • If they had tried, the game wouldn't have let them. The only reason Ender was allowed to was because The Formics had infiltrated his version of the game via Jane. The only reason it took Ender so long to try to attack the Giant was that he is incredibly patient. Most kids probably get killed a few times, try to attack the Giant, and then give up.
      • Jane doesn't exist at that point in the timeline. If you read the Shadows books she's reverse engineered from the Battle School computer and set to keep track of Enders finances, and becomes self aware several decades after that.
      • And if you read the sequels, she was originally conceived as a bridge between the Hive Queens and Ender via the game and while she wasn't immediately sentient was being used by the Hive Queens to mess with/learn about Ender, resulting in the game giving him options nobody else had.
        • But but but the Author's Definitive Edition, at the beginning of Chapter 9, states that Fairy Land was programmed in! The section that wasn't programmed in was The End Of The World! I think the controversy was that Ender was taking too long to get pissed at the giant and realizing that both drinks were poisoned. The giant's game is likely a test of motivation and convictiom, designed to see if the prospect will be defeated by a seemingly unsolvable riddle. Also, the giant is a test to see if the prospect will even consider Taking a Third Option.
          • Exactly. The other kid never tried for the third option, just kept at the two options that killed him over and over, and the other students just gave up the options altogether for a different set of options. Though this does bring me to another Just Bugs Me...(ctrl+F "Battle School Game interface")
  • This troper finds it hard to believe that the One World Government could have such detailed info on Ender's older siblings, yet utterly fail to realize they were Locke and Demosthenes.
    • They did realize it. After awhile.
    • When reading the Shadow books, I was shocked that there wasn't a Lampshade Hanging on this. They talk about the battle school folks influencing world politics, why not just mention they figured out Locke and Demosthenes and were protecting them because they were useful?
      • It was Lampshade Hung in Ender's Game itself. The Hegemon and Strategos (I think) discuss it briefly in one of the chapter opening segments, as well as Graff and someone else in the IF. Moreover, I believe Graff mentions it to Bean at the end of Ender's Shadow (pointing out that his letter just went to both people anyway). Besides, the thing about One World Governments is that they are... not terribly efficient. The IF would not have been the go-to organization to identify the identity of minor political pundits, but they would probably have had all of the access to Battle School Candidate Files. It just took them a while to get the departments together.
    • And besides, there was no One World Government, at least not a meaningful one. Yes, the existing nations of the world banded together to defend themselves against an extraterrestrial threat, evolving a One World Military (the International Fleet) out of NATO or something... But as we see in the book, the instant interplanetary war was over, everyone went straight back to international war.
    • As to your other question "Why didn't they do something about two rampaging teenagers who, in Peter's own words, have about three pubic hairs between them?" it's probably because, well, they kept being right. They accurately predicted the political ramifications of victory (civil war), and then brokered a peace treaty to stop that war. You can't argue with success.
    • This troper finds the fact that they accomplished all this by arguing on the Internet a transcendent WallBanger beyond all others.
      • It was a simpler time. When this was written, the Internet had not yet emerged from its cocoon, and its primary purpose had not yet been discovered. Think of it as an alternate future where only intelligent people are allowed on there.
        • Card has admitted in a recent interview that when predicting the Internet few could have thought of the porn goldmine it would become.
  • It was never explained to my satisfaction just why all the Queens were all on the one planet in the book. It was established that they had multiple Queens. It was established that they had many colonies. It was established that Queens were sent to colonies as a matter of course (and that it was in fact necessary to have a Queen on every planet to spawn workers). Ender never destroyed or even attacked any planets except the homeworld (he did in the short story, but not in the book). Why did the Formics pull all their Queens back from their colonies to their homeworld, trusting in Ender to be a decent enough person to not use Dr. Device on the basket that now held all their egg(-layer)s?
    • It's implied that the colonies' queens were in the defensive fleets, in which case they would have been killed in the smaller battles. At any rate, just because the battle ended doesn't mean the human soldiers disappeared--presumably, once Ender's part was done, they headed down to the planet and kicked some butts. Finally, remember that the buggers didn't know about Dr. Device until their first battle against Ender--the homeworld, with an overwhelming force protecting it, must have seemed like the safest place in the galaxy. Since there's no faster-than-light travel, there wasn't enough time to re-disperse once they found out about the Little Doctor.
      • There isn't faster than light travel, but the Buggers do have faster than light communication. The minute Ender used the MD Device in the first battle, the queens back on their homeworld would have been aware of it. They would have had time (at least a few months) to disperse. Instead, they knew that the humans would never stop hunting them if they knew that the Buggers still live so they hid one larval queen for Ender to find. Since all of their collective memories and experiences live on in that one queen, they're not really dying at all. The Speaker for the Dead series reveals that the queens have few qualms about dying themselves as long as their species survives.
    • It's also implied that there's a limit to the number of drones each queen can control - even with most of the queens gathered in one spot there were problems with irregular ship movement and such. Having all the queens possible closer to the battle and bringing their hives was the best they could do.
      • It was established that the queens could remotely control drone from light-years away, because otherwise the buggers would have completely depopulated all of their colony worlds when they pulled out the queens to join the defensive fleet, and they could not have built the giant where Ender found the last queen’s cocoon.
    • This is answered in the most recently published book, Ender In Exile.
      • Specifically, the Formics willingly allowed themselves to be destroyed because they knew that if humanity knew they continued to exist they would not stop trying to destroy them. They imbued the single queen pupa with all their memories and left her for Ender to find, hoping that he could help humanity understand them and bring about a time in which they could begin to rebuild their race.
  • In the sequel, why is it that the people of Lusitania have a culture practically identical to modern-day Portugal despite living 3000 years in the future? Even their language hasn't changed.
    • It could be a kind of Replacement Goldfish homeworld. That, or Write What You Know.
    • No faster than light travel. Yeah, 3000 real-time years have passed, but subjectively, how long did it take to get there?
    • Justified in Shadow of the Giant; the colony ships were deliberately made monocultural as an attempt to encourage diversity in human culture.
    • It's also implied that humans have gone and colonized an assload of worlds in the three milennia prior to the sequels, allowing for a staggering array of very specific diversities. Thus, Lusitania was for people who just happened to enjoy the 20th-century Brazilian Catholic lifestyle.
    • Plus they were Brasilian.
    • Part of the reason is because they have very strict guidelines about what they can do because they're on a planet with the only known sentient life in the Galaxy other than the (as far as they know) extinct Buggers. The rules are to prevent cultural contamination or affecting their development as an intelligent species. They're only allowed to use a certain area of land and have to keep a small population. They can't build large buildings or use any overt displays of technology. The rules they have to live by keep their way of life pretty simple (although that doesn't explain the language).
  • Are we supposed to feel sorry that Ender exterminated the Buggers? It's implied (or outright stated) that the Buggers assumed that the humans they were killing weren't sentient creatures during the First and Second Invasions. We're led to think that the first war was just a huge misunderstanding and the Buggers weren't intending to attack us again, but then they came back and tried again. Did they really expect humanity to just sit back and not do anything to assert our species' need to survive?
    • Humans were the Third Invasion. It was not a defensive effort to survive, it was a preemptive strike against a no-longer-threatening enemy.
      • They could have taken the trouble to drop an note saying "Sorry we killed you guys, thought you weren't sentient. Have a nice day." Because honestly now, when something attacks you twice, do you really think it's too irrational to expect it to attack again, and that maybe you want to take measures so you don't have to fight a defensive war?
        • This is discussed in the sequel. As natural telepaths, the Formics have no need to filter their thoughts through language, and were literally incapable of communicating anything to humanity. They were, at the last moment, able to establish mind-to-mind contact with precisely one human - Ender. The series has different words for each level of interspecies communicative and biological compatibility, but I forget what they were.
          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concepts_in_the_Ender's_Game_series#Hierarchy_of_Alienness
          • The whole series repeatedly comes back to this point - when two species are butting heads and are literally incapable of compromise, natural selection is the only way for it to end. The Formics were nearly extinct because they couldn't explain themselves to us, and because nobody wants to repeat that tragedy, the later books are all about the struggle to understand and communicate with truly alien forms of life.
            • I agree. I think that both humans and the Formics were behaving rationally given what they knew at the time (Humans didn't know whether the Formics would attack again, Formics didn't know that humans were sentient), and that they caused tragedies for the other species was unintentional on both parts, though still quite sad.
    • Original author here. The problem is, they invaded and almost destroyed us not once, but twice. With no provocation. Sorry, but once you try to annihilate an entire species twice in a row, you should see retaliation coming.
      • They did. They even came up with a backup plan once they figured out what form the retaliation was going to take.
      • OSC is on TV Tropes! Squee!
    • I think the point was more to show how truly pointless the suicide mission was.
    • Ender wiped out an entire species. It would be like exterminating every single Soviet citizen because of what Stalin did, during Gorbachev's rule. Only worse than that, because it was (as far as they knew) an entire fucking species.
    • An entire fucking species that, as far as the humans knew, was hostile. Going off wikipedia, Earth itself got invaded. So, really, it was a defensive effort to survive, because only an idiot would restrain themselves to fighting purely defensive battles. Plus, it can be argued that the various invasions were parts of the same conflict that the Buggers themselves started. Granted, it was a misunderstanding, but from humanity's POV, it was the Buggers who launched the "preemptive strike"
    • I think we're supposed to feel bad that it came to the annihilation of an entire species due to the inability for either species to communicate. So yes and no. The destruction of the Buggers I believe is both a completely rational act for the humans while at the same time being a terrible tragedy caused by the ignorance of both sides who could have gotten along well had they the ability to communicate with one another.
    • While it's a tragedy that one species had to die, think what humanity had to go through. An advanced species shows up and dissects a live crew sent over to investigate. Then, when the first group is destroyed, a second, larger force shows up. At that point, I'd be ready to wipe out an enemy species as well.
          • I have a problem with the whole premise. Even if the Buggers had no concept of spoken or written language, they had to be aware that they were entering a solar system inhabited by a sapient, technologically advanced (even if not quite as advanced as the Buggers), space-faring civilization, and they certainly had a concept of territoriality (it's established in one of the later books that their concept of territoriality is actually extreme by our standards). There's no way they didn't know that they were violently invading someone else's territory, and that they should expect a very violent response. Furthermore, there's no way they got into space without somewhere along the way discovering electromagnetism, in particular radio waves. And their ships must have had the ability to detect radio waves. So they must have known that the human ships were broadcasting radio signals to one another, and surely they must have likewise detected patterns in those signals. Did they not attribute any significance to this? At all? And did the Buggers really never encounter a species that communicated by sound before? Really? That's just impossible to credit.
          • They were aware that they were entering the territory of another sapient species, they just weren't aware that every single member of that species was a conscious self aware entity. It was speculated in book that for Buggers war was more like a chess game. They resolved disputes by combat between drone armies but didn't resort to slaying of actual Hive Queens. They thought that the humans they were killing were just drones. It took the shock of the death of Hive Queens to make them realize that humans were different. The concept was as alien to them as they were to humans. Also why would they need ships to be equipped with radio detection? They never needed to invent radios for communication. Finally, the fact that it was about 3,000 years before humans encountered piggies pretty much gives credit to the Buggers' experience.
            • Their ships had to have been equipped with the ability to detect electromagnetic radiation, and radio in particular, because how else could they navigate? They weren't detecting stars by telepathy. Secondly, while it's very clear that the piggies were the first sapient life form that humanity encountered after the buggers, it's also made clear in a number of places that these were not the first alien lifeforms that humanity had encountered. Even if the buggers had never encountered other sapients before, they had to have encountered other animals before. Heck, there had to have been other animals on their home planet. Did none of them use sound to communicate? The idea could not have been totally alien to them. And again, even if they didn't realize they were killing individual people, they had to realize that they were launching an unprovoked invasion of someone else's territory. They had to know that would provoke a brutally violent response.
            • Sure they probably encountered plenty of aliens animals that communicate via sound not a sapient one. They probably had their own version of Humanoid Aliens. They thought that a sapient alien species was one that evolved from a hive-like society such as they did. So even if they know that humans were a sapient species and one that communicates via sound, they didn't imagine that killing a single human was the equivalent to murdering a Hive-Queen. They probably saw the First Invasion as a routine battle for territory, which were more like contests of strength to them. Mindless drones are lost but the only damage the player may sustain is a blow to the ego. They did expect the humans to respond the same fashion that they, the Formics, had acted. What they did not realize initially was just how brutally violent their actions actually were to the humans. And when they finally got the message, they knew that the humans were probably going to respond just as violently. This is why they were focusing on surviving the retribution that they unintentionally provoked. Part of the reason they allowed themselves to be nearly exterminated was so that the next generation of Hive-Queens would have a better understanding of what they inflicted on the humans and may be better able to form a peaceful coexistence with alien species in the future.
    • I feel bad at the end because it turnss out that Earth was never in danger and all those children went through all that emotional stress and manipulation and were taken from home for nothing
  • So, in a whole school of freaking super generals, not a single one, before Ender himself, thought of accomplishing the mission as stated, that is, entering the gate? Also, why the heck did they needed Ender to destroy the planet? They just wanted to give traumas to the kid? Couldn't some battle hardened soldier do it? Even because they weren't doing a lot planning, Ender was just commanding battles as they went, not planning where, when and how to fight.
    • That was kind of the point of Battle school. A battle hardened soldier couldn't have won in the first place. It took a naturally talented child whose genius was at its peak to win.
    • This troper recalls that entering the gate was treated as a formality. The computer registered the team who went through as the winner, but victory was stated to be whoever beat the opposing team. Ender was notable as he basically accepted that, 'screw this', and believed in winning no matter what. The easiest way to think outside the box is to never get in the box. The kids were taken at an early age and Ender is the one who thought, "This may only work once, but hey, it works." They got thier out of the box military genius. As far as putting Ender at only the Tactical level, rather than the strategic level, its partially because that's what Battle School covered, but also might be justified as strategy is harder to pull off on truly alien entities on a battlefield you've never really fought on. How do you create blockades in 3-D space? What exactly are the Formians supply lines? Everyone was having to think outside the box, and with limited troops (It would take a long time to send reinforcements) they needed every engagement to be as efficient as possible. So Ender and his friends were put on Tactical duty, because from early childhood they were the new breed of soldier trained to fight in 3-D space, not necessarily strategize.
      • Most of the kids were thinking competitively. They were taught to think competitively, and it's probably what they would do naturally. Even among good generals that's common- most commanders' natural response is to try and defeat the enemy directly rather than try to outmaneuver them and defeat them without a major battle. And there's a reason for that: outmaneuvering the enemy usually only works if the enemy is dumb or surprised enough to let you. When it works it works wonderfully and is a much better plan than brute force, but when it fails it often fails completely. Ender's trick is an example of this. It could never have worked twice, because the other team would watch for it.
      • The rules of the Battle Room can be assumed to be "1: Defeat the enemy 2: Use four soldiers to unlock the gate and claim victory. 3: If neither team has 5 soldiers active to enact the victory ritual, the match is considered a draw." Ender is the first person to think outside of that little box. Which is the problem. Too many of us would look at the rules and the victory ritual and say "Let's just go for the gate instead of fighting it out!"
      • As to blowing up the planet (not to mention the "going for the gate" cheat), one must remember that Ender wasn't fighting the buggers during that battle, he was fighting the teachers. He'd had enough of getting Jerkass'd around by them; he wanted to flunk out and go home. So when the teachers explicitly told him not to destroy the planet, of course he did it.
      • On top of that, the teachers didn't know that Ender was going to blow up the planet. They had no idea how Ender would win the battle, or even if he could; they just hoped that it would be possible for him to somehow find a way to win against the overwhelming odds they expected.
      • As to why he wasn't involved in the strategic planning, it was because that was decided forty, fifty years ago: battle groups were simply flung at every Formic colony the IF knew of, in an order that would make them arrive within a few weeks of each other, and Ender was put in charge of them whenever they happened to get there.
    • What bothered me was that nobody seemed to pay attention to what I thought was one of the most obvious ways to gain an 'unfair' advantage to the battleroom: there's air in there. There are no airlocks; no mention of radios to communicate; nothing that would suggest anything other than perfectly normal air - indeed, I believe friction and slowing is mentioned. Air... air resistance... and no gravity. And yet, no one has noticed that a couple of big flat things will allow you to outmaneuver the best army in the school??
      • Probably for the same reason why nobody ever brought in anything resembling a shield - you couldn't get something that giant past the teachers. Bean's weird rope trick was possible because the stuff was nearly invisible and he extorted it out of a teacher. As a child I always wondered why they didn't cover their suits with some sort of grease (or better yet, sunblock) - it would have been possible to get, and would have had some benefit against enemy lasers.
      • This troper always thought that no one brought in extra stuff to give them an advantage/entered the enemy's gate prematurely because they didn't realize that the teachers were looking for people who "thought outside the box" *cough*cheaters*cough*. They were playing by the implicit rules of the game and probably thought trying to work the system would be frowned upon by the teachers (since promotion is dependent mostly on the teacher's subjective thoughts on you and not your win ratio).
    • I'm sure that several battle group leaders had attempted the go for the gate route however due to the way the traditional squads were set up and the insane gamble that is involved the few that tried probably never succeeded and decided to go with more traditional strategies in future engagements. As for why they didn't just have a veteran commander take over the final battle against the Buggers. It's because they needed Ender and his jeesh to fight the several dozen battles up until that point where they destroyed the Bugger fleets throughout their territory. And the second they saw the Bugger fleet around their home world they knew that the fight was hopeless. They knew that nobody could take on those odds and win not a veteran not Ender, nobody.
    • Here's an idea: Since college is too much work, why not show up to graduation, bribe someone to edit the list so your name appears there, and graduate without doing all that hard work? Why hasn't anybody ever thought of that? Probably because it wouldn't work--graduation is a formality at the end and nobody's going to treat you like a college graduate because of that ceremony or act like you didn't graduate if you were out of town that weekend. Ender had to have been really desperate to try what he did in that battle, because he was really lucky that anybody at all counted it as a victory. They probably only did because the alternative was admitting their star candidate had been defeated.
      • The big difference is that the battle arena is actually a game. Maybe when the book was written, the gaming scene wasn't big enough for it to be relevant, but "Go for what the computer has programmed as a victory" is what many gamers do, "Play by the rules as written" is what (some) tabletop gamers run on, and "Use everything in the game to win, even if others don't like it" is what mot competitive game players use. Ender was doing something that is clever, but the same kind of thing that plenty of people do all the time in games nowadays.
  • Did no one else have a problem with the "Think it and it appears" plot point in one of the later books (it's been too long to remember which one)? That seemed like an Ass Pull to me at the time.
    • Philotic physics was a bit of Applied Phlebotinum that fit well with the already-established canon. In the Enderverse, Philotes are the smallest fundamental building block as well as the physical (metaphysical?) expressions of will. The idea is not "Think and it appears", it's "Find your way to the unplace where philotes come from, and any pattern real or imagined will be adopted and replicated by the infinite unassigned philotes floating around Outside". For instance, no one could even go Outside in the first place before a philote that controlled a powerful enough mental system (Jane) could adopt the complex patterns of people and ships into her own philotic being. Likewise, Ela couldn't simply think "I need an organism that will perform functions necessary to the Lusitanian flora and fauna without killing humans", she had to plot out the bacteria's physical structure exactly and hold it perfectly in her mind for the philotes to assume that form.
    • Lampshade Hanging Quara wonders the same thing: "This whole solution seems awfully miraculous to me." (So, in short: yes, we did, and I think we were supposed to.)
    • Spiral Energy. Oh, and Ender is a Time Lord.
  • Why does Children of the Mind end exactly at the point when it was finally getting interesting? What's the thought process? "Well, Ender's obnoxious adopted family who don't do a god damned thing but argue about stupid shit are finally shutting up so we can meet the potentially fascinating aliens and find out the answers to several ongoing mysteries. I think we're done here."
    • I wrote the exact same thing in They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot. And if the Shadow series has taught us anything, its that Card can write a series without Ender. Maybe now that the Shadow series is done he'll finally get back to it, though I'm worried about the quality.
      • According to Wikipedia, the next shadow book "Shadows in Flight" will take place after Children of the mind, with Ender's and Bean's children meeting up for the first time; that is, apparently Bean's children pulled the same trick Ender and Valentine did, skipping 3000 years (plus the few years for the sequels to play out) and showing up after Children of the Mind ended.
    • Also, one way of looking at it: The story is about Ender. Ender just died. Story ends.
      • Actually, no. He didn't die.
      • Depends on your definition of "death". His soul survived and fled to another body, true, but Ender's body died and his personality, thoughts, memories, etc. vanished along with it. For all intents and purposes, Ender's dead.
  • So what type of weapon is the Little Doctor, anyway? Ender's Game describes it as a beam weapon of sorts, whereas the eventual plot of Children of the Mind revolves around it being launched like a missile. Ender's Shadow is vague.
    • It's exactly as it's described. During Ender's game, it's a beam weapon because it is a recently developed technology, being such, anything remotely close to the attack will get vaporized (usually, also including the attacker) for example, when the bugger homeworld is destroyed, all the attacking spaceships also got caught in the field. During Children of the Mind, the Little Doctor has been in existence for thousands of years, so they've had time to think of a way to launch the weapon without harming the person/people using it in the first place.
      • It's implied that in the earlier fleet battles, the device could be used to blow up enemy ships without destroying the ships (two sources required to make it work) that fired it. A ship that gets disintegrated creates a (relatively?) small field. But when you fire it at a planet, a lot more mass gets vaporized. The resulting field is larger than the effective range of the weapon, so you have to fire it from inside the blast radius and you get blown up too.
        • My assumption was that in Ender's Game it was a beam weapon, but later the beam weapon was incorporated into self-guided missles, the missles themselves provide the initial mass to start a reaction rather then relying on a (presumably lightspeed) projected beam hitting a target at interstellar distances. Ender's Shadow would seem to show the origin of this when Bean ordered his ships to activate the Device inside the ships rather then deploying them as weapons, targeting themselves to start the reaction going.
        • Except they specifically refer to the Little Doctor as being launched in Ender's Shadow. You don't "launch" beams. It's an obvious Retcon. Additionally, in Shadow, it's stated that the Doctor was only used in that first battle against the spherical formation and against the Bugger homeworld at the end. All other battles involved conventional weapons (i.e. nukes), precisely because the Doctor has been retconned into a missile/bomb. One Doctor is mentioned to have been launched but burned up on re-entry during the final battle.
  • What was so special about Ender's strategies for blowing up the Bugger planet in the last book? It doesn't seem to this troper that there's anything special about suicide missions, and the adults in the book were willing to utterly screw up a child, why weren't they able to send willing adults to their death which they had no problem setting up or dealing with afterward?
    • In Shadow, Bean makes several references to specific maneuvers, feints, and so on that Ender ordered. While, yes, the BIG genius was "let's go for the planet", he actually was also a micro-scale tactical genius (see: de-facto Toon Leader in Rat Army, when he was assigned to Meeker). Presumably, only Ender and Bean would have been able to actually get close to the planet, even with the suicide strategy in mind.
    • What was special is that any informed adult would hesitate before pulling the trigger on an entire race of sentient beings. Which was why they put a non-informed non-adult in charge of the trigger.
      • But that's why it was not special. Ender wasn't overcoming some moral boundary, he thought he was dealing with data. He just went with the Kill'Em All strategy. And that shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. Ender's entire schtick was ignoring the rules when pushed into a corner, and they gave him access to the bomb. What did they think was going to happen? It's almost like they were deliberately trying to create a scapegoat, but they didn't know the buggers were no longer a threat, so why would they?
        • Even worse, it's like the entire culture hasn't heard of "Lateral Thinking". Mazer Rackham is the worst example of this, as he was one of the few that would accept that the aliens were telepathic and astropathic. Yet he can't think something simple like a suicide run? It's like the entire culture has gone stupid! Or maybe the lot of them went straw.
        • It's mentioned specifically why Rackam couldn't when Ender asked him why he doesn't just command the fleets himself. It's because A. Rackam knows that this is real, and B. Rackam knows a lot of the people actually piloting the ships, making him potentially more focused on their survival than the defeat of the enemy. The fact is that they were planning on having Rackam command the fleet, but in the decades that the fleet traveled, they discovered that he wouldn't be an ideal commander for these reasons. There's a good chance the couldn't have gone through with the whole suicide run plan even if he had thought of it. Next, about Ender's strategy for the last simulation. Wasn't it obvious that most of the adults had no idea what would happen. Even if he tried to use it on the planet, the enemy forces were so overwhelming that the possibility of it actually working was minuscule. Not to mention that for every single battle up until now, Ender's entire strategy was to ensure that he had as many ships survive each battle as possible. That's what the adults saw, and that's what the Buggers saw. It wasn't the strategy of one battle so much as it was the compilation of all the strategies throughout all the battles that have been fought so far. Most people, after going through what seems to be hour long 'simulations' would probably be so fatigued that they'd just pursue the strategy that would result in victory as quick as possible, but Ender continued with his 'keep as many ships as possible'. And that's why the suicide run strategy for the last battle was so surprising and why it worked. Because as Bean notes in Ender's Shadow, the Buggers had learned the wrong lessons from the preceding battles. They learned that each human was sentient and not just the queen or something similar, and that each human life was valuable. Which is why the last strategy, in which each human life was sacrificed was so surprising. And to answer the question as to why the adults didn't just do it, it was because they didn't know if they could succeed. Ender was a legendary unbeatable genius in their eyes, they didn't know what he was going to do. They might have suspected that he was going to destroy the planet, but he might not have. All they knew is that whatever Ender tried, it would probably have a better chance of succeeding than whatever they tried.
      • Also, Rackhman personally knew the people on those ships, having fought with them during the Second Invasion. It's hard ordering your comrades in arms to their deaths.
  • It bugs me that the future-Earth in all the "Shadow" sequels doesn't seem very futuristic. They all seemed to be set about 20 years in the future at most. Weren't we building awesome starships with weapons that destroy planets?
    • Well, I guess since people have been at war with the Buggers for the past ~80 years (I think they mentioned the second invasion being that long ago, correct me if I'm wrong), most new technologies of war would be dedicated to interstellar battles, so no new major developments were made to plain ol' ground warfare.
    • There are occasional quiet references to other technology. The car that takes kids to the space port runs on a magnetic track, hovering cars and laser pistols are both mentioned in Children of the Mind. They do point out, though, that much of their jump in technology was thanks to salvaging from the Buggers.
    • When your species is on the brink of extinction from an advanced alien threat, what do you focus on: improving the technology used in daily life, or improving the technology used to defeat the threat? Improving the technology used to defeat the threat, of course. Which is why almost all of the advances were in space weaponry.
  • I can buy all the Hive Queens being on the one world at once. But how did the humans know that? With the transportation and communication technology available to them, they had no possible way of confirming that, and yet it's treated as gospel. (And yes, they were right. But the fact that it turned out to be true doesn't change the impossibility of them knowing it was true ahead of time.)
    • Graff mentions in Ender's Shadow that they were still monitoring the ground activity on defeated Bugger worlds. All the living activity on every colony stopped as soon as Ender blew up their homeworld. My guess is that they were monitoring them via the human fleet still left in orbit above each world.
  • In Ender's Shadow, Bean is too tired to take a test and writes: "2+2=π*sqrt(2+n) When you know the value of n, I'll finish this test." Is it just me, or is that a completely trivial problem to solve for anyone who's taken algebra?
    • While the answer to your question is 'yes, that is a trivial problem to solve.' Keep in mind one thing: Bean is seven when Ender's Shadow ends. When this troper was seven, I don't believe i was even doing basic multiplication.
      • I'd agree with that, except that he's clearly doing much higher level math at the time. The test he's taking involves "working out the problems of gravity near planetary and stellar masses." More importantly, I'm sure Bean ought to know that the teachers have taken algebra, even if he hadn't, and wouldn't find it at all challenging.
    • I always interpreted it as "the answer, down to the final decimal place" - which would, I believe, require knowing the whole of pi. Which isn't happening.
      • I suppose, except that pi is irrational (as is the answer), and so you could never write down the final decimal place for either of them. But it does make sense that he might want them to do an impossible act (though in that case, it would have been clearer to just say so...)
      • Any real mathematician would just leave the answer in terms of pi.
    • Maybe it was just an insult, implying that the teacher doesn't know despite it being trivial.
      • That's brilliant! That, I can accept.
  • What was the Battle School Game interface? I originally envisioned it as a sort of virtual reality thing, because of all the different things that were possible, that nobody had ever tried attacking the giant before (so it would have to be more difficult than clicking its eye, and selecting any options that come up), and the point-of-view implications, but then descriptions led me to thinking that it was more like an old Zelda II the Adventure of Link or maybe Divine Divinity (the latter sort of makes sense, now that I think about it), and further contemplation reminded me that it was played on the desks, which are horizontal, with maybe a couple of inches at most of vertical projection (if it even is 3-d, since I was basing it on the "virtual junk" incident, and a little on the extremely ambiguous text-receipt trickery Ender programmed). Unless I'm incorrect on the limit of vertical projection?
    • Ender's Shadow mentions Shen typing commands while playing the Mind Game. Of course, it brings up questions of why why Ender would accidentally type things like "kiss the snake" when he meant to kill it again.
      • Because the desks use the Dvorak layout and he made a typo?
  • In the Shadow Books, a major plot point is the whole "Bean and Petra's children might have the edited gene that causes giganticism and super-intelligence", so they have to trust a mad scientist who is obviously not trustworthy. Why not just get Nickolai's genes, since he is Bean just without the edited gene? I mean, its not as "romantic" but I'm pretty sure Petra and Bean could look past it.
    • It's been a while since I've read the Shadow Books, but wasn't Petra lying to Bean about being okay with having his kids even if they didn't have the genius gene? She wanted to have Bean's children, genius and all.
  • What happened to Wu? If you don't remember (you probably don't because she was mentioned once), in Ender's Shadow, it's revealed that Bean is the one who makes up Ender's army, and he decides to put a girl, Wu in there, saying that she was brilliant in school and great in the Battle Room, but when she was put up to be a toon leader, she stopped playing and put herself up for trading (we never find out why). But the rest of the book (and Ender's Game) makes it clear that there aren't any girls in his army. Seems like They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot to me.
  • In the Battle Room, how is Ender the first person to realize that, with no gravity, there's no reason to maintain the up-and-down relative to the hallway? It'd be like jumping into a deep swimming pool and thinking that you had to walk on the bottom instead of swimming through. Wouldn't ALL these kids be diving every which way, for speed (since there's still air, and air resistance), to avoid being shot (i.e. Ender's feet-first maneuver), and so on? It took me awhile to visualize the whole Battle Room scenario, but once I did it made no sense that they'd all be 'upright'. Think of how kids play in water, and you'll see what I mean.
    • It's not that simple. Remember the battle room is the only place on the space station that is similar to space. Every other part is similar to Earth with gravity and an up-down orientation. Imagine being a child and being alone in front of water. Without having seen any human or animal swim are you going to be able to realize how to swim on your own? Humans rely on mimicry much more than thinking for themselves. Aside from that there's also the story justification that Ender's entire life had been an acceleration of what the other kids had gone through so he would naturally be the first at everything, be it computer hacking or whatever.
      • I always saw them as propelling themselves in any angle, but then, while flying, reflexively turning so that they still had the up-down orientation they did coming in. And to the swimming pool thing: if any of the children had learned to swim (which the richer ones did, at least, since Ender could swim) they would try the opposite--to push off with their legs and go headfirst. Of course, in the Battleroom, a shot to the head actually "kills" you whereas a shot anywhere else (if I remember correctly) just freezes that part of your body, they would obviously rule this out as being stupid, and probably not think to reverse it.
    • Ender notes that any other kids that thought of it probably were in charge of the battle, and didn't want to risk losing, or were too scared of their superiors. He only got the chance to try it because in his first battle he was forbidden from fighting so he had nothing to lose.
      • It's also worth noting that human beings have an up and down naturally. A pool is probably a bad example because even in a pool up is up and down is down. And Ender didn't just walk on the ceiling which I'm sure plenty of the students were. He decided he was playing in 3D which honestly was brilliant. Granted I'm not a tactical super genius but that probably wouldn't occur to me until it happened by accident. I'm more shocked that nobody had ever accidentally done it and thought. Wait, this might work!
        • Yeah, I know that when I'm swimming, I still generally think of top of water as up and the floor as down. Even if I'm swimming parallel to the group, I keep my axes oriented the same way, I don't switch them.
  • I love Bean and the Ender's Shadow series, but did anyone else think that Card made Bean a smarter character by making Ender much, much dumber? It felt like Ender's Shadow was one ginormous Retcon of Ender's Game, to the point where I have to justify the Shadow series as not-actually-in-the-same-continuity as Ender's Game in my head to enjoy them... Also, I thought it was deeply stupid/crazy how the Wiggins parents "decided to hide their intelligence to allow their children to shine." If Peter had actually had adults he could look up to, maybe he wouldn't have been so freaking adrift and he might not have been such a gigantic bully when he was a kid.
    • Not really, no. Ender does exactly the same stuff he did in Ender's Game, we just see it from Beans perspective. Bean has far more information and pieces of the puzzle but that's because he's not being pressured and isolated and mindscrewed like Ender is.
      • Not quite. In Ender's Game, we are led to believe that Ender is stuck with an army of average (for the Battleschool) kids, albeit all younger than him. In Ender's Shadow, it's revealed that Bean handpicked them as the best of the best. At the end of Ender's Game (no pun intended) Bean makes a joke which inspires Ender to come up with his brilliant strategy, but the joke was just that, and could have been made by anyone. In Ender's Shadow, Bean later denies that he had any intention of doing this, but in the passage where he actually says it it's strongly implied that he had a strategy in mind. Furthermore, Ender's strategy might not have worked if Bean hadn't turned the MD's on the ships that were firing them. I think there's more, but that's all that comes to mind at the moment.
        • Although there really are no "average" kids in Battleschool, and most of the ones that Bean picked had problems with their commanders or authority in general. With that in mind, it's more impressive that Ender was able to gel them together into a functional army.
        • That point was specifically addressed in Ender's Shadow, The instructors and commanders at the Battle School let their petty biases affect their judgement of the children, so many of the highest rated students had excellent kissass skills, but weren't quite as good. Bean specifically looked for the battle school students who had the best skills, regardless of how much their instructors approved or disapproved of them. Ender just got to read the official reports on students he'd never met before, believed (somewhat wrongly) that they were accurate and unbiased, and assumed he was stuck with a terrible army.
        • Ender does note that the kids are all learning at a surprising rate. As for the final strategy, he was doing it out of anger to begin with, so there wasn't really much of a lowering of the accomplishment to begin with. Bean even called it SMART!
  • Is anyone else bothered by the transformation in Bean from Ender's Shadow to Shadows In Flight? I mean, in the first two books in the Shadow series, Bean is incredibly brilliant, sarcastic, logical, and unfeeling. But then he finds love and suddenly becomes a lovey dovey fool with not a care in the world and only showing the utmost compassion. Yeah yeah yeah, transformation of love or something, but still, Bean was my favorite character in Ender's Shadow and Shadow of the Hegemon, and then....bleh.
    • Yeah I too hate character development. I could talk more about how the "lovey dovey fool" saved the leader of the world's life and career, helped plan out an assault that cracked the Chinese hegemonic control over a quarter of the world's population or how he led a coalition of world armies in a series of wildly successful campaigns but I think the phrase "I too hate character development" sums it up better.
      • Character development is one thing, but changing his entire persona from a cold, logical kid to a passionate loving character over the course of a couple of years is another. I suppose it didn't really interfere with his accomplishments at all, he was still brilliant, but character development to the extreme of making a character the EXACT OPPOSITE of how he was earlier is just silly, in my opinion.
        • Except he wasn't the exact opposite. Bean had always had a deep run of compassion and illogical behavior. Pepe was the most obvious bit. He could have just ran when he realized that Achilles wanted them dead but instead he risked his life to try and get to her before Achilles did. Then on the station he could have killed Achilles any number of ways without having his fingerprints anywhere on it but he just couldn't bring himself to do it. Then we have the final battle where he risked giving up the ghost by saying a poem to the ships under his command. The romantic and illogical side of Bean was always there being with Petra just brought it out more.
    • In real life, every teenage boy or young man who finds love changes that dramatically, but it takes about ten minutes. Transformation of love, or just hormones.
    • It's been a while since I've read it, but I believe the change starts when Bean finally finds out the truth about his condition where he's destined to die early because of gigantism. Being confronted with your impending death can make you do some weird things, in Bean's case it was to hurry up and have a family.
  • It's been a few years since I read the book, but I don't quite recall the book giving an adequate explanation as to how Ender established a psychic link to the buggers. How did this happen, exactly? And furthermore, how exactly did the last hive-queen survive having its molecular bonds ripped apart by the weapon used to defeat them?
    • It's been a while for me, too, but I believe that the psychic bond was first created when Ender linked up with the Battle School game, where the queens were examining him via the program. This bond was strengthened when he started using the ansible to communicate with the fleets. As to the queen, she wasn't on their home planet. They hid her on another planet, the same one Ender is exiled to to colonize. It was one of their former colonies that was now empty of sapient life thanks to the war. How they knew that Ender would go to that particular planet, however, is unknown.
  • So what is the name of the Buggers' planet?
    • Nobody knows. Seeing as they had no language, minus their thought/speak between queens, the most likely reason is that it's untranslatable, much like how we've never learned the name of their species.
  • The Formics may have mistaken Humanity as a hivemind species just like they were, since they had no examples of independent ones. But didn't they have an animals on their home world and colonies to disprove this? Creatures like those should be able to show them autonomous lifeforms can exist on their own, and the Hive Queen appears to display some carnivorism in several of books, such as in Children where she ate cabra. Heck, we even get our own concept of alien hive minds FROM animals: ANTS! Why were we able get our minds around the alternate possibility so easily, but they were not?
    • Probably because they recognized that it's terribly inefficient for a society to have enough think in every member to lead it when most of that society will be doing mindless tasks anyway. We accept the inefficiency as "normal," but we certainly recognize it for what it is. The Formics presumably figured that useless extra brain mass would be selected against. Besides, they didn't have all the spare time/brainpower to come up with outlandish ideas like fully functioning individuals; they had drones to operate.
  • The children at Battle School had military education, but were trained to be Captains, Commanders, Commodores and Admirals, trained to be the top space-military leaders. Why did they all suddenly became classic warfare specialists after the end of the war? Why did the IF taught them to prepare ground invasion?
    • Probably an assumption of Tactics A is Tactics B, that is, that if they can command a navy in one setting, then they have the brain power to command an army in another. It's the same kind of thinking for why the kids were trained to command zero-G armies, in Battle School, then ship navies in Command School. Mostly to teach tactical thinking, rather than technique.
  • In Speaker For The Dead, it's revealed that Pipo and his son were killed by the piggies because the piggies thought they were helping them become father trees, which is granted after they do something significant. As far as I remember, in both cases, the xenologers discovered the truth behind the life cycles of the piggies moments before their deaths, and the xenologers let the piggies vivisect them because they didn't want to "kill" the piggies they were friends with. But if this happened right after Pipo and Libo had (independently) discovered that "killing" the piggies meant them moving on to their third stage in life, why would they refuse to kill the piggies, sacrificing themselves instead? From a logical standpoint, it makes perfect sense to want to help the piggies, since it would let them reach their final stage of their life. But they refused to shed blood, instead letting themselves die, robbing the piggies of becoming trees and causing Libo (in the case of Pipo) and Novinha (in both cases) to be horribly crushed by despair. Sure, cutting open their friends would have felt like a bad thing, but they would have known that they weren't killing them, and dying and hurting the people who really love you seems like a much worse price to pay (sorry if that was kind of long winded and convoluted, I couldn't think of a better way to phrase it all).
    • cutting open their friends would have felt like a bad thing, you are trying to assign a logical reason to an emotional decision: it's easier for them to die than to kill someone.
    • Also one of the points of the whole series was how disastrous results arise when people do not allow themselves to think in terms of a different context. Pipo and Libo made their choices based on their context as human beings and their Catholic upraising. They weren't able to let go of a moral compass in their action despite the fact that it was inapplicable to the piggies. This is in contrast to Ender, who was raised to consider the perspective of another living being.
  • How many of you, the readers, figured out the 'Big Reveal' at the end of the first book before it was... well, revealed? Yet the super-duper-withoutequal genius Ender couldn't?
  • The fact that no one figured out the piggies secret and a way to get the piggies to live in peace with each other and with humans for more than 100 years before Ender set foot on their planet reeks of Mighty Whitey. I mean, come on, no one else in the entire colony was remotely curious about the Descolada or the lack of biodiversity or the piggies, even after they killed two men who were supposed to be ambassadors to their tribe? It seemed like a problem that no one had applied logic to before Ender got there, with the Unfortunate Implication being that the Brazilian-cultured colonists being too emotional and not rational enough to examine their world correctly, but Ender with his superior American/White/Nordic culture was able to save the day with his rational prowess and ability to make more emotionally detached decisions, like when he "killed" Mandachuva. Also, why didn't anyone ever think of giving the piggies a written agreement to sign before?
    • You need to remember the strict rules placed on them: only observe, do not interfere. They couldn't give them a written agreement because they weren't allowed to introduce writing. And they were extremely curious about the Descolada, seeing as it was a plague on the entire village that killed hundreds of colonists. But the fact that it was a plague focused their curiosity on the curing aspect, not the biological function aspect. They also theorized the lack of biodiversity was caused by the descolada causing a genetic bottleneck. The only reason their theories moved forward after Ender's arrival was because his mindset was based on breaking the rules, while their Catholic culture places a huge taboo on breaking the rules.
      • Those are all perfectly good in-text reasons, but the original troper was critiquing a authoral choices, not character choices. The author controls the text; this is fiction, he makes the decisions of how things are handled. And, yeah, with that in mind, the whole idea that these Brazillian people can't manage in 100 years what a white guy can in only a few reeks of Mighty Whitey and Unfortunate Implications. Yeah, there are limitations on what the Lusitanian colonists are allowed to do, but the author set those limitations on them to give Ender the win, and at the end of the day it's still a white guy landing on soil owned by non-white people to show them how their world works, because they apparently couldn't figure it out due to rules they were 'too stupid and emotional' not to question.
  • I had a hard time picturing how the ansible works or what it looks like. How is it possible that only speed of light travel is possible, but ansible communication is "instant"? And it seems that they have ordinary computers in addition to the ansible. Why? Also, it's always called "the ansible" or "by ansible" but the word ansible doesn't seem to have a plural or refer to the machine but the network. Isn't there an internet that existed separately from the ansible network? Did they ever find out how the ansible was able to defy the lightspeed limit on normal communications?
    • Yes, and it's explained many times. The ansible manipulates particles called philotes on the quantum level, and those philotes are connected much like quantum strings. Manipulating one causes the others connected to react in same way instantaneously, regardless of distance, and this is used for the Enderverse's faster-than-light communication.
  • After reading through Xenocide, the idea came to me that Demosthenes' hierarchy of Alien-ness doesn't really describe different species, but actually the relationships between different species. After finishing the series, I couldn't believe that nobody realized this. For example, the buggers probably would not have had the same communication problems with the piggies as they did with humans, because the piggies use telepathic communication just like the buggers. They would never have had to commit xenocide over a huge misunderstanding. With humans, however, they were varelse for a while because there was no way to communicate and end hostilities, but when a way to communicate was found ( talking to Ender via Jane) they became raman. The buggers themselves didn't change, just their relationship with the humans. How is it that when the main cast is filled with super-genius philosophers and sociologists/"xenologists", and the main plot deals mostly with deciding whether species are raman or varelse, NONE of them realized this distinction?
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