One of the key things science fiction needs to do well is world building. That should go without saying, but this is where so much genre film, TV, and writing gets tripped up. If you don’t sell the world, your audience doesn’t buy in, and you’ve built you story on a shaky, unstable foundation that may come tumbling down at any time. The best create a world so complete, so seamless, that your mind accepts it as real without a second thought. It doesn’t even have to deliver an expansive, in depth history of the world, like Tolkien, but the details and construction have to ring true. Orson Scott Card does this well in Ender’s Game, depicting a world that, while much like our own, has enough tweaks and idiosyncrasies to make is come across as authentic. With the release of Gavin Hood’s movie adaptation later this week, a new infographic charts the entire timeline of Ender’s world.
Just a head’s up, if you haven’t seen or read Ender’s Game, this image will deliver so rather hefty SPOILERS, so you may want to get off the ride now.
In the future, an alien race called Formics invade Earth. Only through the innovative heroics of Mazer Rackham does humanity survive. This, however, is a costly victory, and in order to prevent such events from happening again, the military scours brilliant young minds in search of the next great military leader. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is one of these recruits. Though small, young, and shy, he is nonetheless a tactical genius, and the most promising recruit to date.
That is the basic premise of Ender’s Game, both the book and the movie. Around this central plot is a world of other details used to prop it up. This infographic begins with the invasion and covers through the end of the book/movie, but it also contains information that, while they impact the story, aren’t necessarily mentioned in the foreground. At least not of this particular chapter of the Ender saga, for there are many. For instance, now you know when Colonel Graff was born and joined the International Fleet, or when Ender’s parents met and got married. These are important details within the fictional world, but not facts that you always need to know. This kind of background, however, is vital for the creator to know.
In Card’s novel, population laws play an integral part. Couples are limited to two children, any more must be authorized. That’s where Ender comes in, he’s a third, a child his parents had to get special permission to have. This is a topic that is broached only briefly in the film, mentioned in passing so you know it’s there, but never explained any further. Tons of other facts, like Rackham’s comings and goings, are information that exists elsewhere in the books that form the extended mythos of the Ender universe.
Ender’s Game opens everywhere on Friday, November 1.