In the movie version of Ender's Game, there is a scene where Col. Graff is in his office, and they show a big HUD with all sorts of data - including

28 days until the attack on the Formics

This implies a much more rapid and accelerated rate of training for Ender - it would appear that the amount of time between his arrival at Battle School and his "training" at Command School is much shorter than the 7 or so years which it is in the book. Is there a way to explain this in-universe? Why would they change this in the movie to such a radical extent? Could Ender have really be trained in this amount of time?

  • I'm fairly sure he wasn't at Command school for 7 years in the book
    – The Fallen
    Feb 10, 2014 at 11:35
  • In the film you see him piloting ships on a tablet at the very start of the film
    – Valorum
    Feb 10, 2014 at 12:57
  • 5
    How can you explain "in-universe" the out of universe decision to violate in-universe facts for the sake of making something filmable? Feb 10, 2014 at 14:37
  • 1
    Yes, but he was 6 when he went to Battle School. It's not clear how old he is at the end of the book, but he says Valentine is 14, so he's probably 12-13. The asker is asking about the full time -- Battle School and Command School. Seven years sounds about right for the book.
    – Plutor
    Feb 10, 2014 at 19:20
  • 1
    @Plutor I didn't see the movie so I'm guessing I misunderstood. I figured that the 28 days couldn't possibly have been at the beginning of the movie and just somehow assumed that it was at the beginning of command school. I remember that Ender was promoted around 3 years early, so I thought that made up the difference.
    – Paul
    Feb 11, 2014 at 1:12

2 Answers 2


This isn't something that can be explained in-universe, because the two works don't take place in the same universe. There are lots of other differences: Bean and Ender are in the same launch group is a very obvious one. Another is that there was no Second Invasion (or no First Invasion?). And no one uses the word "bugger" at all, only "Formic", despite the fact that the former is used frequently in the book.

Since there are some basic facts that are different between the two universes, it's impossible to come up with an in-universe explanation for their differences. It's like asking "In-universe, why does Professor X look so much like Captain Picard?"

To answer some comments other people made about "7 years", I don't think that's too far off for an estimate of the entire length of the book.

When Ender is transferred to Salamander, he states his age very exactly:

The boy took the paper in a swift, sure movement, without touching Ender's hand. "How old are you, Wiggin?" he asked.

"Almost seven.”

Still quietly, he said, "I asked how old you are, not how old you almost are.”

"I am six years, nine months, and twelve days old.”

By the time he's transferred to Command School, he's just over 10. While goading Bonzo into fighting him alone, he says:

"Yes, I beat up Ender Wiggin, who was barely ten years old, and I was thirteen."

At the end, when Val told him about Demosthenes and the colony ship:

"You're telling everyone that you're Demosthenes? A fourteen-year-old girl?”

We don't know Val's exact age at the start of the book, but she was older than Ender. So he's probably 13 or less. So he probably spends somewhere from 5-7 years altogether in training.


In the enders game universe (and possibly the real universe) when you travel at near light speeds time 'slows' for you but continues to progress at the same rate for those stationary (ie. on a planet).

So, take 2 people 1 on a planet and 1 travelling at near light speed. In the space of (say) 22 days of travel, the person at near lightspeed will have aged 22 days (and seen 22 days pass) but the person on the planet will have aged 22 years (and seen 22 years pass).

So, probably the HUD in the film is refering to the time as it is passing for the attack force on the way to the buggers homeworld.

So, as Ender spent 7 years training, it can be surmised that the attack force was sent on it's way many years before the attack and many years before ender was even born.

As a footnote, Maser Rackham spent some time at near light speed to preserve his life so he'd still be around when a suitable commander was found.

It would also explain why Ender spent a number of months at the lake before heading off to command school:

Seeing as how when he got to command school he was fighting real battles therefore he would have had to wait until the attack force reached their first objective.

The difference in time between near light travel and 'stationary' time is expanded somewhat in the books in the rest of the series.

More info on time dilation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation

  • 2
    The idea that Graff's HUD would show him this time from the fleet's point of reference is hard to swallow. I think it's simpler to assume that the timeline is compressed in the film. (It wouldn't be the most significant change there.)
    – Plutor
    Feb 10, 2014 at 13:41
  • "possibly the real universe"? Sorry to nitpick, but time dilation is a well established scientific fact.
    – Dima
    Feb 10, 2014 at 18:32
  • Read the wikipedia article. Now my head hurts. Thanks.
    – Mike Clark
    Feb 11, 2014 at 15:55
  • @MikeClark - No problems ;o)
    – Pat Dobson
    Feb 11, 2014 at 16:25

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.