Attention OSC and Ender's Game fans, critics, Enders (and those who just want to see the film in Nov.)
As many of you know, Ender’s Game is being released as a film on Nov. 1, 2013 with author Orson Scott Card as co-producer. After many attempts to make the novel into a film before (and it’s underwhelming release as a comic book by Marvel), this is finally happening. Fans everywhere are thrilled, but a bit…well, concerned.
One issue worrying readers is that the young actors portraying the heroes in the film are significantly older than the novel calls for (main character Ender is only six years old at the start of the novel). Beyond simple inaccuracy and unfaithfulness to the novel, older characters in the film might make for a romantic plot line (especially between Ender and Petra—the only female besides Ender’s sister, as the trailer seems to suggest). Another question is how the violence in the novel will translate to film. In the novel, Ender is put again and again into impossible situations where he uses violence to escape. With older actors, Ender’s actions might seem more justified and desperate, but the novel makes clear that Ender means to harm others in order to protect himself. This very quality (and perhaps Ender’s grief over causing so much harm) makes alienated and disenfranchised individuals everywhere identify with Ender, calling themselves “Enders.” John Kessel’s excellent article in Foundation33.90, 2004, “Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender’s Game, Intention, and Morality” tackles the issue of innocence, the adult’s role in Ender’s plight, and responsibility.
Besides violence, sexuality in Ender’s Game is another hot-button issue. The story mainly consists of adult males and young boys, so the story is a bit homosocial. Then, the aliens, called buggers, are led by a female hive-mind (if we can really think of that as gendered at all). In Science Fiction Studies 23.3 “Responses to the Alien Mother: C.J. Cherryh and Orson Scott Card,” Bernie Heidkamp discusses the complications of the relationship between Ender and the alien queen. James Campbell’s compelling article, “Kill the Bugger: Ender’s Game and the Question of Heteronormativity” from Science Fiction Studies 36, addresses some of the problems sexuality and gender cause within the novel and Card’s own politics. This is another reason movie-goers are second-guessing attending the film in theatres: many fans do not want to financially support Card due to his frequent vocalizations of his views on homosexuality, marriage equality, and religion.
So, before the film comes out, Meagan and I will be re-reading the novel (actually, listening to the version narrated by Card himself) and discussing the gender and sexuality specifically in the novel during our second Science Fiction Summer School livestream for Ender’s Game. We will be broadcasting from Colorado with special guest, astrophotographer Robert Arn.
Look for us on the Fourth of July at 7-9 p.m. Central time or 6-8 Mountain time (a bit earlier than normal so we can see some fireworks) or check out our conversation on July 5th while you nurse your hangovers. Post questions in advance to our Facebook page for Summer School, “Like” us while you’re at it, read along with us, and follow our livestream.
This is one livestream event you will NOT want to miss!