At the end of Ender's Game, Ender and his squadron commanders use a fleet of ships to attack the Bugger homeworld with the Little Doctor ('Molecular Disruption') device.

Then he whispered a command and the ships dropped like rocks toward the planet's surface. They were starships and fighters, completely unequipped to handle the heat of passage through an atmosphere. But Ender never intended them to reach the atmosphere. Almost from the moment they began to drop, they were focusing their Little Doctors on one thing only. The planet itself.


Then the surface of the planet, which filled half the simulator field now, began to bubble; there was a gout of explosion, hurling debris out toward Ender's fighters.

We know that Ender gave the order (verbally), but who actually pulled the trigger?

  • 3
    There are multiple ships equipped with the Little Doctors according to the quote, but do all of them have the weapon installed? I want to say the quote implies they're ALL firing their weapons at once. Feb 14, 2021 at 2:07
  • @SpaceWolf1701 - Ender seems to be watching the action from the POV of a single ship "One, two, four, seven of his fighters were blown away. It was all a gamble now, whether any of his ships would survive long enough to get in range. ... Ender took his hands off the controls and leaned in to watch what happened. The perspective was close to the enemy planet now, as the ship hurtled into its well of gravity. Surely it’s in range now, thought Ender. It must be in range and the computer can’t handle it."
    – Valorum
    Feb 14, 2021 at 2:12
  • It's been a few months since I last read the book but couldn't he switch perspectives from ship to ship? Even from one POV the pilot could still see a whole bunch more... they're beams, right? MD devices are gravitic-beam-guns that break things apart on a molecular level? A planet would probably need quite a few of them to give it the Alderaan treatment if they're on small ships. Feb 14, 2021 at 2:24
  • @SpaceWolf1701 - A single ship getting within range was all that was needed. It stands to reason that if there was only one ship left, that ship must have a pilot. Who was that pilot? Or if it was being controlled remotely by one of his squadron, which person? Or if several ships made it, who were their pilots?
    – Valorum
    Feb 14, 2021 at 2:28
  • 1
    @SpaceWolf1701 the MD energy is amplified by mass - earlier, when its used against a Bugger fleet, the energy field is described as dissipating before striking other ships and regaining intensity. Only a single beam would be required to disintegrate the planet because of how the energy field works.
    – HorusKol
    Feb 14, 2021 at 2:31

1 Answer 1


An unnamed pilot of a ship in Bean's squadron

In Ender's Shadow we get the final battle from the point of view of Bean, and there is some additional info given as to which ships actually fired it, with the implication being that it was a pilot in Bean's squadron.

The enemy understood now, and rushed to destroy the plummeting humans. Fighter after fighter was picked off by the inrushing ships of the Formic fleet. Only a few human fighters survived long enough to enter the atmosphere.

Hold on, thought Bean. Hold on as long as you can.

The ships that launched too early watched their Dr. Device burn up in the atmosphere before it could go off. A few other ships burned up themselves without launching.

Two ships were left. One was in Bean's squadron.

"Don't launch it," said Bean into his microphone, head down. "Set it off inside your ship. God be with you."

Bean had no way of knowing whether it was his ship or the other that did it. He only knew that both ships disappeared from the display without launching. And then the surface of the planet started to bubble. Suddenly a vast eruption licked outward toward the last of the human fighters, Petra's ships, on which there might or might not still be men alive to see death coming at them. To see their victory approach

Ender's Shadow - Chapter 23: "Ender's Game"

The actual pilot of the ship is unnamed, but he would have been one of the ones sent out to the bugger homeworld at the end of the Second Invasion.

There is some fan speculation that it is Bingwin, an Ender-like character in the prequel books. However the prequel books still haven't reached the point where the fleet got launched.

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