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stories in the Enderverse
on 25 August 2004
This book is a collection of three short stories set in the universe of Ender's Game. Ender's Game is one of my favorite books in any genre and the Ender series is one of the few actual science fiction that I read (I tend toward fantasy). I wondered how short fiction set in this universe would fare. I was pleasantly surprised. This was a very enjoyable volume to read.
The first story was "The Polish Boy". This is a story of Ender's father, Jean Paul. Jean Paul was not even six years old, but was incredibly intelligent and gifted. He was living in Poland, with his family in defiance of population control laws. Families were only permitted two children, but Jean Paul's family is Catholic and they obey God not man. This is the story of the interest that Battle School took in Jean Paul and hints at the future of Ender and how he to go be who he is. This felt like the weakest of the three stories and I liked it the least. It was little more than a prologue to Ender's Game and an unnecessary one at that.
The next story is my favorite of the bunch, "Investment Counselor" is the story of how Ender met Jane (Jane is the computer program that appears in Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind). I liked seeing Ender not having yet become a Speaker, yet having written both Hive Queen, and the Hegemon. Ender and his sister Valentine have arrived on a new planet. Ender has just turned 20 (due to the slow aging in interspace travel) and now has to pay taxes on his revenue from his service in the Formic Wars (from Ender's Game) and also from his books. As 400 years have passed (again, because of interspace travel, Ender and Valentine age very slowly while traveling), Ender has quite a bit more money that he would have imagined. Enter Jane. Some people may not find this story as interesting, but I always found Jane to be one of the most fascinating characters in the entire Enderverse.
The third and final story is the original "Ender's Game". This was the story that Card wrote first and later expanded to the award winning novel Ender's game. This story is quite a bit rougher and not nearly as polished as the novel. It is still a good story (it was nominated for a Hugo), and it is interesting to see the evolution from this story to the novel. Because this is the same story as the novel, only rougher, I didn't enjoy it quite as much as "Investment Counselor". On the other hand, this could be a very good introduction to the Enderverse if someone has not read Ender's Game (the novel).
I am aware that this book has been republished with a fourth story "Teacher's Pet", dealing with Ender's mother. This particular collection did not include that story, so I can't comment on it. I finished this book a couple of hours after starting it, and I really enjoyed reading it. It is a nice little collection, and I'm glad that I got the chance to read it and see how Ender met Jane (for me, this was the story that meant the most).