Timothy the Talking Cat reads “Ender’s Game”

Oh, this is one of my very best favourites! It’s a retelling of the famous fairy tale “the three little pigs” but instead of pigs, it is people and they are called “Wiggins”. People can be cute and funny in fairy tales too, not just pigs and goats and magic porridge pots.

So once upon a time there were three human children who lived in a cruel and cynical world. Everybody was fighting each other or fighting the space alien bugs from Starship Troopers. The bugs were really scary and are all like “we were in a really famous science-fiction story”.

The Three Little Wiggins were:

  • Peter: who is the hero and is basically the cat in this story but its a fairy tale so you make-believe that he is a human.
  • Valentine: who is Peter’s sister but a bit soft like a stupid puppy.
  • Ender: who is the snotty youngest brother. I don’t know why he is in the title. Maybe because “Peter is really smart” is a bit obvious.

So one day, Peter is bored with killing small mammals (and don’t we all get like that sometimes) and he says to Valentine: “Let’s use the internet to take over the world by arguing really well.” and Valentine is like “Sure, we are the best at arguing but let’s argue opposite sides.” “Sure thing!” says Peter. “Can I help!” says Ender (probably – this happens off screen I think) and the older kids are like “No, you are bad at arguing and just a snotty kid. Get lost and do something else.”

So Ender goes to battle school instead which is basically phys-ed and video games. Ender beats up some kids and then after that, he just plays video games because he is a loser. “Stop monopolising the TV with your video games!” is what Peter should have said but he doesn’t because he is on the internet being THE BEST at arguing on the internet. “I’m the best at arguing on the internet!” says Peter using his super secret internet troll name. “No, you are not!” says Valentine in a brilliant riposte. Everybody in the future is impressed by this because they’ve never seen two anonymous people arguing on the internet before.

People are SO totally impressed by how good the two of them are at arguing that eventually the whole world decides to make Peter King of the universe. “Yay!” says Peter, who built his house out of bricks. And he lives happily ever after.

Meanwhile, Ender accidentally commits genocide. “Ooops!” he says. Well that’s what happens if you spend all your time playing video games, which is the moral of the story. Any way he is sad because he wasted all that time playing video games instead of studying. “What am I going to do now!” says Ender, “I’ve got no qualifications, no marketable skills, and my only life experience is beating up kids and playing video games! What POSSIBLE career is open to someone like me?” Then Valentine shows up and she is very smart but not as smart as Peter and she says “You sound like you are perfectly qualified to be a WRITER!” Ender is like “Wow! I’m going to write a book about how those aliens I 100% murdered were really nice and also a book about how my brother Peter is great and totally misunderstood even though he is a psychopath.” Meanwhile Peter is really old because of relativity and stuff. Then Ursula Le Guin shows up and says “Did you steal my ansible?”

The End


18 thoughts on “Timothy the Talking Cat reads “Ender’s Game”

  1. Well, if I ever thought about reading Ender’s Game, this has just shut that off. The real book couldn’t possibly measure up. 😀

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  2. This is an eerily-accurate summation of the plot of Ender’s Game. Ever since I finally got around to reading the novel, I have found it really disturbing how many men idolize — and idealize — this novel, in which Ender kills a couple of different boys who were bullying him, but never has to deal with the emotional consequences of that, or accept personal responsibility for it, because he’s never told that they died.

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    1. I saw it as part of the theme of the military creating an oblivious killer instead of an amoral killer – so that Ender only meets consequences at the end… but over time feel like I misread the novel

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      1. For what it’s worth, that’s basically my reading of it as well. Ender killing another kid and being sheltered from that knowledge is meant to be disturbing, and to foreshadow the larger-scale murder at the end. For US readers who lived through the Vietnam War era, I think it was pretty clearly saying something along the lines of: “Sure, you can get people to do all kinds of terrible things in war, but unless they’re a certain kind of person, it takes a lot of trauma to get them to that point. The military would probably prefer to take humanity and ethics out of the equation by just not letting people perceive what they’re doing. Under those circumstances, is it even possible to be a moral person?”

        Now of course the problem with that statement is that Card himself didn’t think the actual atrocities of the actual Vietnam War were a big deal.

        So I guess what I’m saying is that this is a case of an artist stumbling upon a worthy theme that he can’t fully engage with because he’s an asshole… yet still managing to manifest some of it.

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      2. Eli Bishop: For what it’s worth, that’s basically my reading of it as well. Ender killing another kid and being sheltered from that knowledge is meant to be disturbing, and to foreshadow the larger-scale murder at the end.

        Remember that Ender actually kills two kids during the course of the book, and that the deaths of each of them are hidden from him.

        I’d like to believe that it was meant to be disturbing, but to me it read as a way of Card keeping his protagonist “pure” and good, and not having to deal with the consequences of his actions.

        And certainly however Card actually intended it, the fanboyz who adore the book, rave about it, and feel that it speaks to the way their own brilliance as a child 🙄 was not recognized by anyone around them, regard those killings as justifiable revenge on their bullies — and not as the horrific acts that they actually are.

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      3. JJ: This may be splitting hairs but I don’t really get how Card could believe he was “keeping his protagonist ‘pure’ and good, and not having to deal with the consequences of his actions” in regard to the deaths of Stilson and Bonzo when, in the end, Ender will find out he has actually killed billions of people and will feel utterly destroyed by this. I don’t find it plausible that he meant the second thing to be disturbing but not the first (much less that he didn’t mean for either one to be disturbing). To me the one clearly foreshadows the other—it plants the idea that Ender’s actions may be much worse than he thinks, we just don’t know what the scale of that is going to be.

        Camestros: Sure, it’s possible. I’m not sure if I’ve read any interviews with him from that time. I did hang out in his online forum about four years later, but if he said anything significant about Ender’s Game or Vietnam, I missed it (not unlikely since I was 15). I do think that what he says about it these days (basically, that the government was wrong to get into Vietnam in the first place, but once we were there, well atrocities are just a normal part of war so who cares) is a belief I can imagine him having while writing the book, even though I think what he actually wrote is at odds with that. And in general he seems to me like the kind of person who would form a pretty inflexible set of moral ideas and prejudices pretty early (possibly related to some kind of trauma which I think there are signs of in his work)… but I have no way to know.

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  3. In rehearsal for The Mikado, almost 20 years ago, I had the pleasure of watching cast member Eric, a commanding fellow, reading Ender’s Game. I don’t remember if I’d read it yet then or not, but that didn’t matter. He’d be engrossed in the book in his off-time in the green room, and from time to time, he’d look up from it with amazement. He’d put it down and walk away, shaking his head, and walk around a bit. Inevitably, he’d go back to the book and read more.

    Eric was a good guy, and he gave a virtuoso performance on the stage as Pooh-Bah, handing out business cards to the audience, turning one speech into a series of flash impressions, and speechlessly conveying an important plot point in the form of Charades. If I ever see Card again, I’ll tell him how much joy he gave my friend, and wait till later to tell him I disagree on a few things.

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    1. It’s undoubtedly a rich novel – open to a range of readings. It’s a shame Card only ever wrote that one book and then became a recluse hiding on a remote mountain communing only with forest friends.

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      1. I read somewhere that Card wanted to write Speaker for the Dead, but needed to set up the backstory for the characters in that novel, and Ender’s Game was the result. I thought Speaker for the Dead was a really, really good novel. Ironically, the fanboyz who looooove EG seem to almost universally hate SotD. My library has 12 copies of EG and only 1 copy of SotD.

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  4. I don’t know if anyone here is interested in podcasts, but in my opinion, this consider the ray gun episode from Jack Graham really delves into the story and it gave me some fascinating insights into the book.
    https://player.fm/series/wrong-with-authority-podcast/consider-the-ray-gun-episode-4-enders-game-by-orson-scott-card-1985
    I think what troubles me about the story so much is the idea that it’s okay to wipe out entire race or group of people during the war, in order to stop them from killing you.
    It’s a theme which appears in microcosm when ender killed the bully, he thinks to himself that he has to kill kill the bully to stop himself being humiliated and to stop reprisals.

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  5. “Everybody in the future is impressed by this because they’ve never seen two anonymous people arguing on the internet before.”

    *snortle*

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  6. @JJ: “I read somewhere that Card wanted to write Speaker for the Dead, but needed to set up the backstory for the characters in that novel, and Ender’s Game was the result.”

    I think Card says just that in the introduction to “Speaker to the Dead” (or possibly in his introduction to an Ender novella in Silverberg’s anthology “Far Horizons.”

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  7. The “innocent child commits multiple murders but remains innocent (and unaffected by it) because plot reasons” is a repeating feature in Card, It means something deep to him, different from what it would mean to someone, for example, who was worried about the lives of child soldiers. It’s pretty disturbing. I wish someone had the fortitude to search it out and do a deep dive on it, because I can’t.

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