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It's well known that there are many discrepancies between various books in Orson Scott Card's Enderverse.

Did Card ever address those inconsistencies and discrepancies?

  • I have found a couple of cases where posting proofs of Card's opinion on the topic would be beneficial; and thus decided to create a canonical Q&A to point to in the future. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 30 '15 at 5:22
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Yes. He addressed it a couple of times (including on Hatrack forums, and in Afterword to Ender in Exile)

TL;DR:

  • They exist, and he fully acknowledges them
  • They result because he doesn't always bother re-reading past works, and because his works are complex
  • In his opinion, they are mostly minor and/or irrelevant to the point of the Story.
  • He intends to fix them in future revision. He already wrote revised Chapter 15 of Ender's Game.
  • Later works' details always trump earlier works'.

Details:

  • In 2006 post on his website (Hatrack) forums, OSC addressed this issue, and said he fully intends to resolve all those inconsistencies in future versions:

    Orson Scott Card; Administrator; Member # 209; posted February 19, 2006 10:23 AM

    Time to create a full list of discrepancies, I guess. Not here, though. I hate the discrepancies I found recently upon listening to EG and Eshadow in rapid succession. They're all meaningless and all related to the fact that I don't memorize my own storylines. They're also easy to fix. So why not create a "consistent version" that resolves the contradictions?

    It might be many years before it was eventually published, but ...

    When we're ready to start, we'll create a separate forum, with a thread for each book within a series. There will be different rules, too. Contradictions must be listed with PAGE NUMBERS or EXACT letter-for-letter quotations of marker passages so that we can find them.

    But for now ... we'll just remember that authors are human, and none of these things really happened because I made them all up ... {grin}


  • In the Afterword to 2008 "Ender in Exile", he said:

    Except for one tiny problem. When I wrote the novel Ender's Game back in 1984, my focus in the last chapter, chapter 15, was entirely on setting up Speaker for the Dead. I had no notion of any sequel between those two books. So I was rather careless and cavalier with my account of Ender's time on the first colony. I was so careless I completely forgot ...

    So while the meat of chapter 15 of Ender's Game is exactly right, the details and timeline are not. They aren't what they should have been then, and they certainly aren't what they need to be now. Since writing that chapter, I have written stories like "Investment Counselor" (in First Meetings), where Ender meets Jane (a major character in Speaker) when he is legally coming of age on a planet called Sorelledolce; but this contradicted the timeline stated in Ender's Game. All in all, I realized, it was chapter 15 that was wrong, not the later stories, which took more details into account and developed the story in a superior way.

    Why should I be stuck now with decisions carelessly made twenty-four years ago? What I've written since is right; those contradictory but unimportant details in the original novel are wrong.

    ...

    Therefore I have rewritten chapter 15 of Ender's Game, and at some future date there will be an edition of the novel that includes the revised chapter. ...

    But rest assured that nothing significant is changed in that chapter. You have not missed anything if you don't read it.

    In fact, the most important purpose for that revised chapter is to keep people from writing to me about contradictions between the original version of chapter 15 and this novel. So if you're content to take my word for it that all the contradictions are now resolved, you won't need to look it up online.

    ...

    I was once a professional proofreader. I know from experience that even the brightest, most careful readers, working in teams so we could catch each other's mistakes, still missed errors. A world as complex, with as many stories set in it, as this one is bound to contain other contradictions as yet undetected. Please post any that you find (except the ones from the former chapter 15 of Ender's Game) at Hatrack.com, and maybe I can find a way to fix them later.

    Or take it philosophically, and realize that if these were genuine histories or biographies instead of works of fiction, there would be contradictions between them anyway—because even in factual accounts of the real world, errors and contradictions creep in. There are few events in history that were recounted identically by all witnesses. Pretend, then, that any remaining contradictions are the result of errors in historical transmission. Even if it's a "history" of events hundreds of years in the future.


  • Further confirmation came from Hatrack Forums post citing a user discussing this with The First Formic War books' author Aaron Johnston:

    millernumber1; posted August 04, 2012 12:06 AM
    In terms of the first one {{discrepancy}}, I was able to talk with Johnston about it, and he confirmed my suspicion that he and Card are continuing in the "fluid continuity" and "the stories must be good, and continuity will be altered to fit those good stories" approach that marked "Ender in Exile" and "Shadow of the Giant." So they are aware of these issues, but feel that the story they're telling now doesn't contradict the important moral and emotional aspects of Ender's Game, and so they're going with that, with hopes to alter future editions of Ender's Game.


  • Please note that this changed somewhat since 2001/2003, when OSC had less of a drive to make changes:

    2003 answer:

    Q: What changes would you make in the novel if you were writing it for the first time today instead of in the mid-80's?

    A: ... To tell you things I'd like to fix if I were writing it today is a very different proposition, because of course I know now which things are reader favorites that I would not be stupid enough to tamper with. And many of the "fixes" are things that aren't actually wrong with the book, but rather would have made Ender's Shadow easier to write.

    2001 answer:

    Each book is a snapshot of the kind of writer I was at the time I wrote the book. I have nothing to apologize for, and the only reason I'd go back and rewrite now is if there is something in one of the books that has not aged well and that now interferes with the audience's ability to receive the work as I intended.

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  • 3
    Urgh. Retconning the original novel to allow more space to fit extra sequels and prequels = He's gone 'full Lucas'. – Valorum Nov 30 '15 at 10:16
  • @Richard: Meh. It's hard to get little details right the first time, especially in a large and changing universe. It's not like he's making Greedo shoot first or something that actually, y'know, matters. – Kevin Nov 30 '15 at 16:24
  • @Richard - Card has always been 100% honest and unapologietic that writing is a job for him - a way to make money to support his family etc.... As such, "going Lucas" seems like the absolutely correct course to take, even leaving aside artistic considerations. And, frankly, any retcons discussed - unlike Lucas - seem to be improvements or non-bad. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 30 '15 at 16:28
  • @Kevin - ironically, Ender did NOT always shoot first (he didn't with Arkanian Delphiki). And, in a larger sense, he didn't with the Formics either if you count all 3 wars as a single conflict – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 30 '15 at 16:39
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    @Richard - wow, did I hit the nail on the head or not? Card even explicitly said he's emulating Lucas, at least when it comes to game franchising: "My model is the way LucasArts developed and keeps renewing the Star Wars game franchise. I won't settle for anything less. So I have detached the movie rights from the game rights" – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 30 '15 at 18:01

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