Orson Scott Card Literature: Enders Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind – Quotes & Take-Home Messages

Enders Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind

Enders Game

A more through list could be made but here are some things to remember:

  1. Push your trainees, push yourself
    2. Be smart
    3. Why > what
    4. THE PRESENT IS THE BATTLE, NOT THE FUTURE. Your life’s ‘ministry’ / ‘impact’ isn’t something to look forward to, it’s happening right now, so give it your best shot every day. Your test will be over before you know it.
    5. Like to win thoroughly
    6. Beware simulated scenarios becoming your reality and beware manipulation
    7. Deceiving someone for the better good will turn them against you.
    8. We can choose to use our talents for good or evil
    9. Spread ideas and they’ll become part of the debate
    10. We have good and evil in our natures; the evil must be fought against continually. To be too soft or too hard is to miss self-mastery and to fail in giving maximum service to your fellows.
    11. Only someone pure in heart will have enough insight & inner compass to win the unbeatable battles
    12. Shun violence
    13. Beware attacking an enemy you know little about, especially in offensive rather than defensive action
    14. Sometimes only isolation can push a person to their best self, the need to make it on their own without help or hope of help


“I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we know are not “true” because we’re hungry for another kind of truth: the mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story. Fiction, because it is not about someone who lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about oneself. –From the Introduction”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

“I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

“Humanity does not ask us to be happy. It merely asks us to be brilliant on its behalf.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

“There are times when the world is rearranging itself, and at times like that, the right words can change the world.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

“An enemy, Ender Wiggin,” whispered the old man. “I am your enemy, the first one you’ve ever had who was smarter than you. There is no teacher but the enemy. Only the enemy will tell you what the enemy is going to do. Only the enemy will ever teach you how to destroy and conquer. Only the enemy shows you where you are weak. Only the enemy tells you where he is strong. And the rules of the game are what you can do to him and what you can stop him from doing to you. I am your enemy from now on. From now on I am your teacher.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

“So the whole war is because we can’t talk to each other.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

“I need you to be clever, Bean. I need you to think of solutions to problems we haven’t seen yet. I want you to try things that no one has ever tried because they’re absolutely stupid.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

“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. ”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

“I will remember this, thought Ender, when I am defeated. To keep dignity, and give honor where it’s due, so that defeat is not disgrace. And I hope I don’t have to do it often.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

“The story itself, the true story, is the one that the audience members create in their minds, guided and shaped by my text, but then transformed, elucidated, expanded, edited, and clarified by their own experience, their own desires, their own hopes and fears.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

“The story is one that you and I will construct together in your memory. If the story means anything to you at all, then when you remember it afterward, think of it, not as something I created, but rather as something that we made together. ”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

“We’re all trying to decide whether your scores up there are a miracle or a mistake.” “A habit. ”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game





Speaker for the Dead


  1. Don’t unwittingly participate in bullying; lack of service to someone in need can lead that person to darkness
    2. When you know someone’s story, an unlikely character can be very lovable
    3. Help each other succeed rather than pinning foreigners in a box
    4. SPEAK TO OTHERS IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE, a language they understand. This goes beyond linguistics.
    5. Lies and secrets, unresolved issues, even if they are for trying to protect others, they do more harm than good, and the real healing comes as we speak truth.
    6. When you know what you must do, hurry and do it before you cower away
    7. When an ambassador for peace, speak to your rivalry with respect, and demand respect from them. Do not answer to commands. See them as an equal to yourself, not below, not above.
    8. You can learn from those who you consider inferior to yourself.
    9. People will become what you treat them like
    10. When we learn an unfavorable thing about someone we love which occurred in long past, don’t hate them, forgive them. You loved them before and they still had the sin then, so if you stop loving them now the only thing that’s changed is you.
    11. A different people need their own laws because of how they live
    12. There are 2 ways to be great, the evil way is to destroy anyone who appears superior to you until you have no competition. Some think others must be less for themselves to be great. The good way to power is intelligence & wisdom, lifting the whole with you, for there is plenty of room in space for everyone.
    13. Truth exists in circular paradoxes; like how you don’t know someone till you stop hating them, and you stop hating them once you know them
    14. It’s easy for people to accept the dead since they’re not a threat anymore, but people are prone to reject the living opposition/unknown.
    15. Those who actually care for their children will love and discipline them.
    16. We can face criticism if the person giving it also knows our good side
    17. We lie at funerals; instead we should be honest about who the person was, and their innocent beginnings, the pressures that brought them to where they were. We call out the sin for what it is, not excusing it, but only in being truthful are we empowered and feel peace.


“This is how humans are: We question all our beliefs, except for the ones that we really believe in, and those we never think to question.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“No human being, when you understand his desires, is worthless. No one’s life is nothing. Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“When you really know somebody you can’t hate them. Or maybe it’s just that you can’t really know them until you stop hating them.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“A Great Rabbi stands, teaching in the marketplace. It happens that a husband finds proof that morning of his wife’s adultery, and a mob carries her to the marketplace to stone her to death.
There is a familiar version of this story, but a friend of mine – a Speaker for the Dead – has told me of two other Rabbis that faced the same situation. Those are the ones I’m going to tell you.
The Rabbi walks forward and stands beside the woman. Out of respect for him the mob forbears and waits with the stones heavy in their hands. ‘Is there any man here,’ he says to them, ‘who has not desired another man’s wife, another woman’s husband?’
They murmur and say, ‘We all know the desire, but Rabbi none of us has acted on it.’
The Rabbi says, ‘Then kneel down and give thanks that God has made you strong.’ He takes the woman by the hand and leads her out of the market. Just before he lets her go, he whispers to her, ‘Tell the Lord Magistrate who saved his mistress, then he’ll know I am his loyal servant.’
So the woman lives because the community is too corrupt to protect itself from disorder.
Another Rabbi. Another city. He goes to her and stops the mob as in the other story and says, ‘Which of you is without sin? Let him cast the first stone.’
The people are abashed, and they forget their unity of purpose in the memory of their own individual sins. ‘Someday,’ they think, ‘I may be like this woman. And I’ll hope for forgiveness and another chance. I should treat her as I wish to be treated.’
As they opened their hands and let their stones fall to the ground, the Rabbi picks up one of the fallen stones, lifts it high over the woman’s head and throws it straight down with all his might it crushes her skull and dashes her brain among the cobblestones. ‘Nor am I without sins,’ he says to the people, ‘but if we allow only perfect people to enforce the law, the law will soon be dead – and our city with it.’
So the woman died because her community was too rigid to endure her deviance.
The famous version of this story is noteworthy because it is so startlingly rare in our experience. Most communities lurch between decay and rigor mortis and when they veer too far they die. Only one Rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation.
So of course, we killed him.
-San Angelo
Letters to an Incipient Heretic”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“He loved her, as you can only love someone who is an echo of yourself at your time of deepest sorrow.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“But when it comes to human beings, the only type of cause that matters is final cause, the purpose. What a person had in mind. Once you understand what people really want, you can’t hate them anymore. You can fear them, but you can’t hate them, because you can always find the same desires in your own heart.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“Sickness and healing are in every heart; death and deliverance in every hand.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“The difference between raman and varelse is not in the creature judged, but in the creature judging. When we declare an alien species to be raman, it does not mean that they have passed a threshold of moral maturity. It means that we have.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“It’s the most charming thing about humans. You are all so sure that the lesser animals are bleeding with envy because they didn’t have the good fortune to be born Homo sapiens.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“Maybe she couldn’t know who she was today. Maybe it was enough to know that she was no longer who she was before.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“We’ve devoted our lives to learning about them!” Miro said. Ender stopped. “Not from them.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“Order and disorder’, said the speaker, ‘they each have their beauty.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“Dona Crista laughed a bit. “Oh, Pip, I’d be glad for you to try. But do believe me, my dear friend, touching her heart is like bathing in ice.”
I imagine. I imagine it feels like bathing in ice to the person touching her. But how does it feel to her? Cold as she is, it must surely burn like fire.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“Quim,” she said, “don’t ever try to teach me about good and evil. I’ve been there, and you’ve seen nothing but a map.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“He is dangerous, he is beautiful, I could drown in his understanding.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“You’re cultural supremacists to the core. You’ll perform your Questionable Activities to help out the poor little piggies, but there isn’t a chance in the world you’ll notice when they have something to teach you.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“You understand that the piggies are animals, and you no more condemn them for murdering Libo and Pipo than you condemn a cabra for shewing up capim.”
That’s right,” said Miro.
Ender smiled. “And that’s why you’ll never learn anything from them. Because you think of them as animals.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“A strange thing happened then. The Speaker agreed with her that she had made a mistake that night, and she knew when he said the words that it was true, that his judgment was correct. And yet she felt strangely healed, as if simply saying her mistake were enough to purge some of the pain of it. For the first time, then, she caught a glimpse of what the power of speaking might be. It wasn’t a matter of confession, penance, and absolution, like the priests offered. It was something else entirely. Telling the story of who she was, and then realizing that she was no longer the same person. That she had made a mistake, and the mistake had changed her, and now she would not make the mistake again because she had become someone else, someone less afraid, someone more compassionate.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

“The tribe is whatever we believe it is. If we say the tribe is all the Little Ones in the forest, and all the trees, then that is what the tribe is. Even though some of the oldest trees here came from warriors of two different tribes, fallen in battle. We become one tribe because we say we’re one tribe.”
Ender marveled at his mind, this small raman [member of another sentient species]. How few humans were able to grasp this idea, or let it extend beyond the narrow confines of their tribe, their family, their nation.”
― Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead








-when someone says something to you that could make you angry, realize they are fragile at that time, and don’t make them think you are not on their side

– just because you can explain life with the biological narrative doesn’t mean there still aren’t heroes, right and wrong, good and evil.

-to be creative you must work on more than 1 project at a time

– “Let me tell you about gods,” said Wiggin. “No matter how smart or strong you are, there’s always somebody smarter or stronger, and when you run into somebody who’s stronger and smarter than anybody, you think, This is a god. This is perfection. But I can promise you that there’s somebody else somewhere else who’ll make your god look like a maggot by comparison. And somebody smarter or stronger or better in some way. So let me tell you what I think about gods. I think a real god is not going to be so scared or angry that he tries to keep other people down. For Congress to genetically alter people to make them smarter and more creative, that could have been a godlike, generous gift. But they were scared, so they hobbled the people of Path. They wanted to stay in control. A real god doesn’t care about control. A real god already has control of everything that needs controlling. Real gods would want to teach you how to be just like them.”

-we existed always and were not created

– Man has free will, he asserts, precisely and only because he has always existed: I think that we are free, and I don’t think it’s just an illusion that we believe in because it has survival value. And I think we’re free because we aren’t just this body, acting out a genetic script. And we aren’t some soul that God created out of nothing. We’re free because we always existed. Right back from the beginning of time, only there was no beginning of time so we existed all along. Nothing ever caused us. We simply are, and we always were. (386)

-Don’t blame your OCD on God.

-The benevolent government organizations may not be so benevolent

-One bad act by a person doesn’t represent the larger group. Punish the actor, not his entire ‘species’.

-In mobs, people do things they soon regret.

-“Valentine had long ago observed that in a society that expected chastity and fidelity, like Lusitania, the adolescents who controlled and channeled their youthful passions were the ones who grew up to be both strong and civilized. Adolescents in such a community who were either too weak to control themselves or too contemptuous of society’s norms to try usually ended up being either sheep or wolves- either mindless members of the herd or predators who took what they could and gave nothing.”

-If words are a weapon I am going to give them an arsenal.

-The human brain like a computer could only receive data at certain speeds, go too slow and you lose them.

-There is more to us than our bodies; something which existed before our bodies entered into our bodies, and identified the body as itself. The thing which entered our bodies at the time of our birth has always existed.

-Concerning negative feelings: Such are natural feelings they come and go as quickly, only those who make them a way of life are to be condemned for them.

-Olihado was a good father. He worked for the sake of home. Home wasn’t a side project, it was his main project.




Children of the Mind



-Ender was never very happy, he was helping, he worried about things, he felt it his duty to help, seek the quote says it better

– loving enough to inflict suffering when it was needed

-The man who has risked his life knows careers are useless. The man who won’t risk his career has a useless life.

-Everyone leaves. Everyone dies. What matters is what you build together before they’re gone.

-Not all iuas (editor’s note: basically meaning intelligences) became great, they could not or would not dare to; they let others control them, always fitting in, being a fringe of a great thing

-The mother tree loved their independence as much as their need. (editor’s note: parents love helping their children, they love even more seeing their children become independent like themselves)

-Sometimes you let go of what you really want for the sake of duty.

– Just because someone’s god is fake does not mean that all gods are fake.

-Ender was bowed down under the weight of burden.

-Ender experienced pain too deep to feel at present, which would tear at him for years to come.

-Create based on ideas. We all have theories, & we live to prove that what we believe is real. We are not rational, we get information which we don’t act on, and we take leaps.

-Even gentle people sometimes conclude that the decision not to kill is a decision to die.

-Their subconscious had already chosen, and their conscious was trying to figure out what the subconscious had already determined.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *