Literature / Ender's Game

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For Ender Wiggin, it's not a game anymore.

"The enemy's gate is down."
Ender Wiggin

Ender's Game is the book that put Orson Scott Card on the map, and it remains his most famous work ever, with its sequel Speaker for the Dead a close second.

In the not-too-distant future, mankind has barely survived two invasions by an insectoid alien race, formally known as Formics, but called Buggers by most of the viewpoint characters. As the threat of a third invasion looms nigh, the world's most talented children are taken to an orbiting Battle School. There they study physics, mathematics, history, psychology, politics, and play a lot of games. And the biggest, best game of all is the Battle Room, where they organize into "armies" and play 41-on-41 zero-G laser tag as the adults look on, searching for future commanders against the incoming menace.

Meet Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, six-year old and third child of his family, a stigma due to the population restriction laws. He is the only one of his family to be accepted to the school, and so, leaving behind his parents, his loving sister Valentine, and his sadistic brother Peter, he leaves for Battle School... and things won't be at all easy.

The novel acted as a springboard for multiple series and other associated works, dealing with different time periods in the same canon.
  • The first, consisting of A War of Gifts: An Ender Story, Ender in Exile, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind follow Ender in the far future and focus on worldbuilding combined with a major dose of morality. By Card's admission, Ender's Game was expanded from its short story form just to set up Speaker for the Dead.
  • The second begins with Ender's Shadow, a retelling of Ender's Game from the viewpoint of Bean, one of his friends. The Shadow series then follows Bean in the Twenty More Minutes Into The Future Earth, consisting of Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, and Shadow of the Giant. The Shadow series—whose novels might accurately be described as Thrillers—is a more direct continuation of the original novel and its themes of war and politics (with Hegemon being described by its author as "a giant game of Risk"), and many more characters from the original book appear in it. Shadows in Flight loses the politics and is more contemporary with the Ender Sequels, though still a Bean story.
  • The Formic Wars series, co-written with Aaron Johnston, is a prequel series showing Earth's earlier encounters with the Formics. A trilogy of novels, Earth Unaware, Earth Afire, and Earth Awakens, has been published, with a second sequel forthcoming.

In other works, there is also a short story collection called First Meetings. Marvel Comics has published Comic Book Adaptations of Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, Speaker for the Dead, and Ender in Exile, as well as several one shots. Additionally, they launched the Formic Wars series, which function as prequels to the books.

The Film of the Book of Ender's Game came out in 2013, after languishing in Development Hell for around two decades. Card served as a co-producer, and it was written and directed by Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), starring Asa Butterfield as Ender, Hailee Steinfeld as Petra, Abigail Breslin as Valentine, Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff and Ben Kingsley as Mazer Rackham.


Ender's Game contains examples of:

  • 2-D Space: Completely subverted. In fact, Ender uses his understanding of 3-dimensional space to his early advantage at Battle School.
  • Achilles in His Tent: Ender is allowed to go on leave between Battle School and Command School. He spends it on Earth, and decides he'd rather stay there, build a raft and lie around on a lake. The teachers are afraid of forcing him to return against his will, so they eventually send Valentine to shame him into returning. She despises them for using her to manipulate Ender, but she does it anyway because she knows what's at stake.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The novel is this to the original short story. It gives Ender a family and elaborates on his life before he was sent to Battle School, and it provides details about the enemy aliens and the background of the war. In the short story, Ender has no memories of life before Battle School, and the aliens are never named or described.
  • Adults Are Useless: Justified as being part of Ender's Training from Hell. Alternatively, averted, as the adults are disturbingly good at what they do: making Ender's life suck.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: invoked Ender's combination of empathy and pragmatism leaves him constantly feeling this way. By extension, after Ender writes his book about the buggers, the whole of humanity experiences this toward them, to the extent that in the sequels, humanity considers Ender the villain for fighting them and his name is a taboo word.
  • Alternate History
  • The Alternet: The alt-Internet is called "the nets" and is depicted as several interconnecting but discrete networks, like in the old days of CompuServe and Prodigy (when the book was written). There's also the participation in important political debates on a by-invitation-only and closely moderated basis, rather than the free-for-all that politics on the modern Internet has become.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Deconstructed and subverted. Humanity believes this about the Formics, causing them to take progressively horrific and morally-ambiguous steps to defeat them in the war, but by the end it turns out that the Formics actually don't fit this trope. After Ender wipes out their entire species (an action that in most stories focused on Always Chaotic Evil species is perfectly justified), he discovers that lasting peace between humans and Formics may have been (and might still be) possible.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: In much of the later quarter of the novel, Ender and his friends believe they are playing simulations, when really they are actually in command of a full invasion force.
  • Angst Coma: Ender enters one for a few days when he discovers that he unwittingly committed mass genocide/xenocide against the Buggers while believing he was only undergoing training for it. Justified in a number of ways: physical and mental exhaustion, the fact that he was trying to convince the military that he was ethically unfit for command, and possibly psychic backlash from being connected to the Buggers themselves at the moment he killed them all.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: The Buggers did not realize that the humans they killed were individual entities rather than "appendages" of a dominant mind. When they do finally realize this, they are horrified and recognize that they have given humans ample justification to kill them in retribution.
  • Arc Words: "The enemy's gate is down."
    • "The game is over."
  • Artistic License Biology: Apparently, 1920's era eugenic breeding works really well in the Enderverse.
  • Asshole Victim: By the time that we know Ender killed Bonzo and Stilson in self defence, we're not sorry that they're gone. Ender, however, still feels guilt over their deaths.
  • Badass Israeli: Invoked and subverted. There is a legend at Battle School that Jewish generals cannot lose, and Rat Army, led by the Jewish Rose "de nose", is second in the ranking when Ender joins; on the other hand, Rose "de Nose" is portrayed as not really being that great, and it is pointed out that despite an all-Jewish triumvirate (American Jewish Hegemon, Israeli Jewish Strategos, and Russian Jewish Polemarch), it was the half-Maori, entirely non-Jewish Mazer Rackham who drove off the Second Invasion.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ender has his sister's compassion but his brother's ruthlessness (much to Ender's dismay).
  • Boring Invincible Hero: A Deconstructed Character Archetype in Ender himself.
  • Bug War: Earth's forces are fighting against insect-appearing aliens
  • Cain and Abel: The book does this in spades with the titular character and his older brother Peter. They don't reconcile until the Abel is half a galaxy away and the Cain is on his deathbed.
    • Also notable because Cain/Peter united the Earth and the Human Race while Abel/Ender obliterated an entire race of sentient beings. Well, almost an entire race.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Ender's surprise guest on Eros: Mazer Rackham.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In his first battle, the other army is able to pass through the gate even though Ender isn't frozen. In his last battle, he wins by sending a boy through the gate, even though the other army hasn't been defeated yet.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Invoked. The military commanders are searching for child prodigies specifically due to their lack of awareness of the larger picture, so they won't be subject to fatal hesitation.
  • Child Soldiers: Every Battle School participant joins under the age of 12, although they're (normally) not sent to fight until they're healthy adults, at which point they'll have been through a regular adult boot camp. Battle School is, as the name suggests, a normal military school.
  • Combat Pragmatist: There is NOTHING he won't do to win a fight and ensure it never happens again. He learned this lesson when he was five.
    Ender: It was just him and me. He fought with honor. If it weren't for his honor, he and the others would have beaten me together. They might have killed me, then. His sense of honor saved my life. I didn't fight with honor... I fought to win.
    Bean: And you did. Kicked him right out of orbit.
    • Mazer Rackham reinforces the same lesson. War is about doing whatever you can to win. There are no rules except what you can do to your enemy and what you can stop him from doing to you. (Apparently there's no Geneva Convention in a war against aliens).
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: In-Universe example. The other commanders at Battle School rely on tried-and-true strategies that have been in place for years. Ender wins by exploiting the flaws in them.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Pretty much any battle Ender walks into. Nicely justified, since Ender was born and conditioned his entire life to be the best military commander humans have ever had.
    • Mazer Rackham had one of these as well: he hit one ship (the queen's) and his war was over. The fact that he was the only human on Earth to figure out how to do this is why he was kept around to be Ender's teacher.
      • Of course, until Mazer made his move, it was the IF that was on the receiving end of this.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Let us count the ways...
    • A Kid Hero is called upon to save the world from aliens? Sounds like fun stuff...until you see the realistic treatment of Child Soldiers, with all of the brutal indoctrination and psychological trauma that accompanies fighting a war as a child. The Alien Invasion plot becomes a lot less "fun" when you realize the moral compromises that Earth's governments might make in the face of the very real threat of human extinction.
    • An hyper-intelligent child successfully manages to save the human race? Sounds cool...until you see the realistic treatment of adolescent psychology, and of gifted children in particular. Ender's intelligence makes him Earth's best hope, but it also kills any hope of his developing actual friendships, and puts him in the uncomfortable position of having to learn to bend people to his will.
    • The governments of Earth unite to build a space fleet and fight off an alien menace? Sounds like an uplifting idea...until you see the realistic treatment of global politics, written with the Cold War fresh on America's mind. Though the human race does triumph in the end, Peter and Valentine correctly guess that many rival nations have spent the decades arming for war with each other, planning for the day when they no longer have a common enemy to unite against. In the end, the International Fleet collapses into civil war the instant that the Buggers are defeated, and the political situation on Earth winds up so volatile that Ender never returns home.
  • Despair Event Horizon: It's revealed at the end that the Bugger queens crossed it the moment they lost the first battle of the Third Invasion. By then they had realized with utter horror and deep remorse that each human they had killed in the First and Second invasions was an independent, sapient being, as opposed to the Buggers' Hive Mind. Now they realized the humans were counterattacking in earnest. Summed up succinctly by the thought:
    The humans have not forgiven us. We shall surely die.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Many examples, specifically the outcome of the Third Invasion and Ender's retaliation when ambushed. Ender's philosophy revolves around this: when he's attacked, he wins the fight and all subsequent ones all at once by beating his opponent so badly that not only will they never be able to hurt him again, but none of the witnesses will dare to pick a fight with him either.
  • Dramatic Irony: Ender, one of the most compassionate people ever born, is a ruthless killer. Peter, a sociopath, gave the humans peace and unity. This is not lost on Ender. The scary part is that it makes sense, as Ender's empathy would allow him to understand and anticipate his enemies' plan and reactions and counteract them with brutal efficiency, while Peter's sociopathy would allow him to make rational judgments (once he gets over his homicidal tendencies) and ignore petty emotions that spark 90% of the human conflicts (such as nationalism, pride, or ambition).
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty:
    • In general, the teachers in Battle School are this. Ender is Genre Savvy with regard to this trope, except that his instructors take it much farther than the TV shows he's familiar with.
    • Graff also subverts this. One purpose of the Drill Sergeant Nasty is to give the recruits a common adversary: they all hate him, and it draws them together into a team. He picks on someone so the rest will sympathize with him. Graff, on the other hand, tells the rest of the recruits that Ender is the greatest soldier ever, and none of them have a prayer of measuring up to him. This turns them against Ender and isolates him, forcing him to develop the leadership and command abilities they need from him.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The "Little Doctor" device, which is indeed capable of destroying a planet, and is used for that purpose near the end of the book. (though it disintegrates a target instead of blowing it up).
  • Eating Lunch Alone: Ender at the beginning of his time at Battle School.
  • Expanded Universe: Launched with Formic Wars - first Ender-related comics that is not an adaptation, but official prequel.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: All interstellar travel is slower than light at this point in the technology of Earth and its enemies, but the International Fleet has secretly developed FTL Radio (adapted from the Bugger's technology), called the "ansible"; this is the mechanism by which Ender commands his battles without ever knowing the truth.
  • Flexible Tourney Rules: The teachers at Battle School start purposely stacking the deck against Ender as he racks up an unbroken string of wins, challenging him to adapt, and seeing how far he can bend without breaking.
  • Foreshadowing: When Enders goes off his three-month leave on earth before Command School at Val's persuasion, he thinks that she convinced him to leave earth for another four, forty, maybe four thousand years.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Ender is attacked by Bonzo and many others while he's in the shower, so Ender is naturally naked, but Bonzo takes off his clothes after Ender goads him, telling him how cowardly it is to attack a kid naked in the shower who's smaller than you, with lots of reinforcements.
    Ender: Be proud, Bonito, pretty boy. You can go home and tell your father, "Yes, I beat up Ender Wiggin, who was barely ten years old, and I was thirteen. And I had only six of my friends to help me, and somehow we managed to defeat him, even though he was naked and wet and alone - Ender Wiggin is so dangerous and terrifying it was all we could do not to bring two hundred."
  • Gag Penis: When Ender first meets Rose de Nose, he's lying naked on his bed with the holographic notepad thing over his groin with an oversized pair of genitals projecting onto it that waggle whenever he moves.
  • Genocide Dilemma: Forms a major part of the novel's theme, in a complicated and very brutal way. Lampshaded in the last book of the first series, Children of the Mind. "I'm more afraid that we're varelse. That humanity is the species that should be destroyed," for the sake of all other sentient life.
  • Going Cosmic: While Ender's Game itself is tightly focused, the sequels get progressively more and more Cosmic.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: The "Warsaw Pact" is still around and ready to threaten world peace after the Third Invasion is over. Retconned in the later books by calling it the New Warsaw Pact. (Apparently Warsaw is really unlucky when it comes to hosting conferences that involve conquest-minded Russian regimes.)
  • Groin Attack:
    • Ender does this while defending himself against bullies, on two separate occasions, and ends up killing two people - though this was during a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
    • Subverted when Ender is ambushed later, as he knows Bonzo will be expecting this and opts for a headbutt.
  • Hive Drone: The Formics, to the point that they will stop moving and die when their queen is killed.
  • Hive Mind/Hive Queen: The composition of the Bugger race.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • After being goaded by Ender over ganging up on him in the shower, Bonzo Madrid decides to fight Ender one-on-one. It doesn't go well.
    • Averted with most of the other characters. The series repeatedly plays on the fact that war isn't about honor, it's about defeating your enemy any way you can. The protagonists fight to win.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: Subverted and deconstructed. The Buggers are clearly modeled after the Xenomorphs, and used to be straight examples in their Back Story. But they're quite mortified and penitent about killing humans, even in the face of annihilation.
  • Innocence Lost: A central theme in the original novel.
  • Insectoid Aliens: There's a reason they call them Buggers.
  • Insect Queen: The Hive Queen is both this and, well, a Hive Queen. She is both the telepathic center of her species' Hive Mind and its sole breeding female.
  • Instant-Win Condition:
    • Ender wins a match at Battle School by capturing the enemy gate without "killing" the entire enemy team, which up until that point was assumed to be necessary. This was set up earlier in the novel: Salamander Army loses a battle even though Ender is "wounded" but not fully disabled.
    • Comes up when dealing with the Bugger queens, as killing her will result in the "death" of all her drones.
  • Insult Backfire: While still in school, Ender gets taunted by other kids sending covert IMs over the net-enabled school desks. Ender, who figured out how to do this in the first place, sees every message as a tribute to his intelligence.
  • Insult to Rocks: Shen and Ender on Bernard
    Shen: He's a pig.
    Ender: On the whole, pigs aren't so bad.
    Shen: You're right. I wasn't being fair to the pigs.
  • It's a Small Net After All: Averted, the "Net" in Ender's world is just about as accurate as someone in 1985 could predict. He even predicted Trolls, Sock Puppets and the blogosphere.
  • Just Following Orders: Colonel Graff and most of the other military folks don't traumatize children because they enjoy it.
  • Keystone Army: The Buggers — the queens are their keystone.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Ender does this to Stilson so the bullies will think he's too crazy/dirty-fighting to mess with again. He doesn't know it at the time, partly because he's shipped off to Battle School right afterwards, but he kills Stilson when he does it.
    • Receives an Ironic Echo later on, when Ender's new tutor Mazer takes every opportunity to sucker-punch Ender.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Very cruel at Battle School.
  • Laser-Guided Tykebomb: The Battle School is a factory for producing them.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Ender is intentionally isolated by his teachers so he'll be able to command other students.
  • Loophole Abuse: Ender's entire modus operandi is to thoroughly master the rules of any game, then reinterpret or just plain screw them in new and imaginative ways. His teachers, counting on him to become the greatest living weapon in the history of humanity, are only too happy to let him do so, and have deliberately designed the school environment to favor such thinking. An example of this is when Ender, in a simulation battle against overwhelming odds, ignores the implied rule that all enemies must first be defeated and simply enters the enemy's gate, resulting in an Instant-Win Condition. The teachers constantly force him to come up with new ways to use this trope by closing off the loopholes he explores as soon as he exposes and exploits them. In a strange twist, some of the other army leaders, angry at Ender's perfect win streak, claim that the teachers are actually helping him, despite it being blatantly obvious that it's the other way around, seemingly unable to comprehend that he's simply that good.
  • Meaningful Name: One of the Battle School leaders points out that "Ender," a mispronunciation of the name Andrew, can be taken to mean "Finisher," as they hope that he will finish the war between humans and the Formics.
  • Most Writers Are Adults: Defended by the author and justified by the children in the school being full of geniuses. What's more it's even discussed in the book itself.
    Dink: "You've been here a year, you think these people are normal. Well, they're not. We're not. I look in the library, I call up books on my desk; old ones because they won't let us have anything new, but I've got a pretty good idea of what children are. And we're not children."
  • Moving the Goalposts: Once Ender's given his own army, the school starts screwing him over as hard as they can with this. His team are perpetually put through harder battles with more and more unfair rules to try and push his strategic abilities to the limit and win against vastly superior foes. Examples include: a battle where the enemy army was allowed to get in position ahead of time; a battle where disabled enemies revive after a short time; two battles in the same day when generally armies have at least a week in between to recuperate; and a battle against two enemy armies.
  • Multi National Team: The International Fleet and the children at Battle School come from a wide array of nationalities.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The Buggers on realizing the fundamental mistake in how they had attempted first contact (that killing any human means killing a sentient person as opposed to a drone), Ender on finding out the Twist Ending.
  • Naked on Arrival / Naked First Impression: The children at Battle School have a pretty casual attitude toward nudity. When Ender first arrives in Salamander Army, Petra, the only girl in the army, is lounging around with the boys buck naked without a shred of shame.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Peter, in the spirit of Machiavelli. Ender and Bean are similarly ruthless in exploiting the weaknesses of their opponents in true Unfettered style.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Ender seems to invoke this anytime someone tries to ambush him, specifically when dealing with Stilson and Bonzo, in order to discourage others from attacking.
  • Not So Different: Ender struggles with the realization of how similar he is to his brother Peter. Likewise Valentine and Peter, which is how he coaxes her into becoming Demosthenes.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: The immediate reaction to Dragon Army winning by exploiting an Instant-Win Condition in the Battle Room game. From then on, all enemy soldiers must be killed or disabled before the gate can be opened.
  • One-Man Army: Subverted, each of the Battle School grads is dangerous precisely because of how they can work with groups.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: All over the place. Ender (childhood mispronunciation of Andrew), Rose de Nose, Bean (from another street kid saying he "wasn't worth a bean"), Hot Soup (romanization/bastardization of Han Tzu), Crazy Tom (self-explanatory), Dumper, Fly Molo...
  • Performance Anxiety: Petra suffers from this, making her much less useful to Ender than she could've been, mostly because of the sheer weight of responsibility she carries.
  • The Perils of Being the Best: It is because Ender is the best strategist at Battle School that he is targeted by enemies for attack, isolated by being singled out by the trainers, and ultimately tricked into committing xenocide against an entire alien race. Had Ender been an average strategist, none of these fates would have befallen him.
  • Poor Communication Kills: At the end we find that the buggers were not evil or xenocidal as originally thought by humans, they were simply trying to colonize the solar system and weren't aware humans were intelligent on an individual level, so in their eyes killing a few million people was just their way of formally declaring their intent and asserting their ability to do so; "Hey, scooch over, will ya?". This was a big reason for Humanity's fear and hatred of the buggers; when they happened upon a human colony, they dismantled our technology to see how it worked - after they "dismantled" the colonists to see how they worked. They didn't understand how much that would piss us off any more than they could comprehend that we would kill a sentient queen, rather than the nonsentient workers. After their first two invasions, they realize this and stop, but by this point it's too late. Only at the very end does Ender learn this. He ends up being friends with the last queen who was created to both continue on her species and apologize.
  • Population Control: Ender is a third child in a society where that's generally illegal.
  • Positive Discrimination: Ender uses this with a select few of his commanders, but in Petra's case it has unintended consequences.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Dragon Army seems like this, as none of the members really stood out from the crowd in their previous armies. Ender's leadership and empathy draws them together into the finest unit the school has ever seen.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Some people complain that the kids at the battle school are too smart, but Orson Scott Card has received letters from gifted children telling him that they found the children in the battle school to be realistic (Ender is over the top, but he's supposed to be, and he's also got some genetic engineering factoring into his intelligence).
  • Ringworld Planet: Battle School is built as a ring, though it later turns out the Fleet acquired Artificial Gravity from the Formics.
  • Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: Lampshaded by Ender himself, when reviewing war footage and noting that real-life space battles are nothing like in popular media. The ships are so far apart that they navigate and aim their weapons entirely on instruments, and never see each other except for the flash of a direct-impact nuke.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Valentine is Yin, Peter is Yang, and Ender is Yin-Yang.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Petra is the only girl ever mentioned at the Battle School; when Ender is first recruited, it is mentioned that girls rarely pass the tests to get in. However, Ender's sister Valentine proves to be an important character.
  • Sock Puppet: "Locke" and "Demosthenes" are online personas created by Peter and Valentine to serve as foils for each other and influence international politics.
  • Space Cadet Academy: The Battle School. There are also mentions of the Tactical (for those who don't wash out but also don't make it quite as high as others) and Pre-Command (exactly what is sounds like) schools. The highest school is the Command School, but only the best of the best are sent there from the Pre-Command School.
  • The Spartan Way: Although students at Battle School are not subject to physical abuse (at least, not by the instructors) they do undergo the psychological equivalent of Training from Hell.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To Starship Troopers.
  • Straight for the Commander: Mazer Rackham reveals this is how the Formic Navy was defeated, by deducing which ship had their queen. Once he destroyed it, the entire fleet became inert. Unfortunately, the Formics learn from this and try to bait Ender in his first battle into trying the same strategy, by putting their ships in a sphere formation with an expendable decoy as the "leader" in the center. Ender doesn't fall for it. Then at the climax of the book, Ender orders his fleet to charge straight in and fire their mass disintegrator weapons at the Formic homeworld, causing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom that kills all the queens there, taking out all the species under their control.
  • Subspace Ansible: Namechecking Ursula K. Le Guin, even.
  • Super Soldier: Almost everyone in the Battle School, and the best of the best move on to Tactical and/or Command training to become super-generals. Ender, being the best of the best of the best, skips a few grades here and there, graduating to effectively become the supreme commander of all Earth's (space-bound) military forces by the time he's starting to enter puberty.
  • Take a Third Option: Ender's modus operandi. One reason he's such an effective strategist is because he's a lateral thinker. Give him two options, he will find a third one. For a specific example: The game the title refers to (one of them, anyway) is a computer simulation that the teachers use to monitor the students' mental health. One scenario in the game is called the Giant's Drink, and it's Unwinnable by Design. A giant offers you a choice between two drinks, supposedly with one containing life and one containing death. But in reality, you will be killed in creatively horrible ways no matter which drink you choose. Ender plays the scenario repeatedly, to the point where the teachers worry about his obsession with it. Eventually he figures out that there's no way to win playing by the giant's rules, so he kicks over the drinks and kills the giant by digging into his eye with his bare hands.
  • Tech Marches On: Locke and Demosthenes are awfully influential for a couple of bloggers, aren't they?
  • Theme Park Version: In-verse. The entire world knows about Mazer Rackham, but the details of his victory over the Buggers/Formics is not revealed until Ender actually meets him years after he should have died. It turns out to have been a lot more subtle and a lot less grand than anything in the popular imagination could come up with.
  • Time Dilation: Responsible for the Chekhov M.I.A.. Also becomes a significant factor in later books, explaining how Ender and Valentine manage to remain alive millenia after the events of the first book.
  • Token Girl: Petra Arkanian, the only Battle School girl of any importance (until the sequels add Virlomi to the Battle School roster). Possibly justified in that, according to the novel, fewer girls have the necessary personality and levels of aggression to be chosen for Battle School.
  • Tournament Arc: Battle School is run this way.
  • Tranquil Fury: One of Ender's defining features is his emotional control - he gets angry, but he doesn't show it unless he needs to for dramatic effect. The fight with Bonzo highlights this:
    "He could see Bonzo's anger growing hot. Hot anger was bad. Ender's anger was cold, and he could use it. Bonzo's was hot, and so it used him.
  • True Companions: Subverted. Ender wishes that he could be true companions with his friends, but he finds multiple times throughout the book that as he gains more power, he becomes less of a friend and more of boss to his companions. He even notes in the Command School segment of the book that he is growing more and more distant to his friends, who have become True Companions with each other. He is mostly just the authority figure to them. Not that they don't consider him a friend at all. He is just too much of an authority figure to them to see him as a true companion.
  • Truth and Lies: Peter's campaign to manipulate the public via Sock Puppet bloggers.
  • Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: If you think Ender is playing fair, it is either a coincidence or a set up. Either way, you're screwed.
  • Tuckerization: Mazer Rackham is named after British illustrator Arthur Rackham and former Brigham Young University president Karl G. Maeser, while Hyrum Graff is named after Mormon Church leader Hyrum Smith (the brother of Joseph Smith). Both names reference Orson Scott Card's Mormon faith.
  • Twist Ending: Two of them:
    • The later battles against the buggers were real, not simulations.
    • The buggers weren't actually trying to kill humanity, they just couldn't communicate with humans and fundamentally did not understand them.
  • The Unfettered: Ender may have mercy, but you sure as hell won't see it in the Battle Room. Or if you decide to ambush him.
  • Unwinnable by Design:
    • The fantasy game mentioned under Take a Third Option. When Ender reaches the Good Ending, his instructors go into shock, because the game doesn't have one programmed into it.
    • Ender's last battles as commander at Battle School are meant to be this as Battle School staff test his ability to find a third option.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: Ender's last tests against "Mazer" at Command School seem to be approaching this. The very last test seems Unwinnable by Design, even for Ender.
  • Unwitting Pawn: At one point Petra tries to pull Ender aside in the hallway to talk to him, which would have separated him from his army and made him vulnerable to attack by students who are jealous of his unbroken winning streak. Ender sees the trap and forces her to walk with him. When he confronts her about it and asks if she knew what she was doing when she tried to stop him, she has no idea what the others had planned and is clearly shocked at Ender's implication that she was complicit.
  • The Verse: Orson Scott Card kind of, sort of, made up the term, maybe.
  • Wave Motion Gun: the Little Doctor, a.k.a. MD Device, which operates on the principle of crossing two lasers to create a chain reaction of molecular disintegration.
  • Weaponized Offspring: The Formic queen gives birth to all her soldiers, since the Formics are an insect race.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: For once, the aliens are guilty of this. By the time they realized their mistake, they knew it was too late. While they resist their destruction, they harbor no malice toward humanity.
  • Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide":
    • The "third invasion" looks like the Buggers were the aggressors. The truth is something else: the humans were committing xenocide against the Buggers, and the Buggers had no intent of attacking Earth again, but we didn't know that at the time.
    • When the Starways Congress decides to send an evacuation fleet to Lusitania (in reality, they have orders to destroy the planet), Valentine (under the name Demosthenes) publishes articles attacking the Congress and revealing the true mission of the fleet, to the point of calling it the Second Xenocide. The Congress immediately sends their State Sec to discover who is writing the articles to shut up Demosthenes, declaring whoever it is to be a traitor to the Hundred Worlds. Anyone using the term the Second Xenocide is likewise considered to be speaking treason. So much for free speech.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: During Ender's flight to the Battle School, he isn't intimidated by Colonel Graff's Drill Sergeant Nasty yells. He knows full well that it's just an act to get the soldiers to unite through the mutual anger towards their unkind commander. Unfortunately for him, Graff isn't doing the Drill Sergeant Nasty routine, he's doing a new routine where he praises Ender and tells the others how insignificant they are compared to him. Graff is uniting the soldiers through mutual anger towards Ender, forcing the poor kid to be isolated so that he has no choice but to rely on himself. Ender realizes too late that Graff has turned him into the Teacher's Pet, and therefore the team scapegoat.
  • You Won't Feel a Thing: At one point, Ender is told "it won't hurt a bit" to have his monitor taken out, but Ender knows that adults say that when it is going to hurt.
  • Zeerust: Peter gains control of the world by anonymously distributing political articles on the Internet. Nowadays we call that "blogging," which has become so common that the idea of a blogger gaining that much power seems unlikely. Parodied by XKCD here.

Alternative Title(s): Enders Game

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/EndersGame