On Ender's Game

How It Should Have Ended

By Eric James Stone

I grew up reading science fiction. My dad had a large collection of books written by authors from the Golden Age, so I read short stories and novels by Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, A. E. van Vogt, and more. Stories about space flight and interstellar wars held a particular fascination for me—a fascination that continues to this day, as I love reading the Honor Harrington series by David Weber and the adventures of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan, among others.

One of the authors I enjoyed the most when I was young was Eric Frank Russell: the first science fiction novel I read was The Space Willies, and Wasp has remained one of my favorites to this day. Both those novels (and many other stories I read) involved clever humans outwitting aliens. The aliens might be more technologically advanced, they might have special powers, they might be more numerous, but in the end, we humans always figured out a way to defeat them. John W. Campbell’s novella “Who Goes There?”—the basis of the movie The Thing—is a perfect example of that sort of story.

And that was the sort of story I thought I was getting when I started reading Ender’s Game.

Actually, what I started reading was Il gioco di Ender. I first spotted the book in a train-station bookstore in Naples, and I picked it up to practice my Italian. Later, on reading the novel in English, I found that minor details came across differently in translation. For example, the  …

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