By Kiel Phegley
The novel "Ender's Shadow" hit bookshelves 14 years after the original Orson Scott Card novel "Ender's Game" took the sci fi world by storm, but the novel represents far more than a mere sequel. Rather than follow up on the original story, "Shadow" provides a new view into the events of the original hit, making it a perfect fit for Marvel's BATTLE SCHOOL adaptations of Card's work.
"'Ender's Shadow' takes things in a completely different direction," explains writer Mike Carey, who picks up scripting duties on ENDER'S SHADOW: BATTLE SCHOOL, working with artist Sebastian Fiumara, when the limited series debuts on December 3. "It returns to the events of 'Ender's Game' but tells the story from the point of view of a supporting character, Bean, and from there it follows the events on earth in the immediate aftermath of 'Ender's Game.' So 'Ender's Game' has actually spawned two completely separate and self-contained sets of sequels."
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A major fan of the original novel and its early sequels himself, Carey read "Shadow" for the first time in prepping for this series, but dove into the books thanks to a connection from his second life as a mystery novel writer.
"My publisher on my Felix Castor novels is also Orson Scott Card's British publisher, and I mentioned I was doing the 'Shadow' adaptation, so they sent me a complete set of all the books," Carey explains. "So I'm working my way through them now with great pleasure."
Longtime fans of "Ender's Game" as well as new readers hooked by Chris Yost and Pasqual Ferry's ENDER'S GAME: BATTLE SCHOOL will find new layers in ENDER'S SHADOW. Additionally, the staggered publishing of the two series invites a new kind of reading experience.
"It works very well I think because there's an enormous amount of overlap," the writer relays. "When Bean arrives at Battle School, Ender is already there and making waves. Some of the key events of the first novel are already underway. Bean sort of comes to the party late and initially has no direct contact with Ender but he's always aware of what Ender is and what Ender is doing. There's a very enjoyable kind of build up
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when Bean is learning about the systems of Battle School and deliberately avoiding Ender, building up his own picture of what's going on, so when they do finally meet it's terrifically rewarding.
"[ENDER'S SHADOW is] full of beautiful little Easter Eggs that arrive out of your knowledge of the book. 'Ender's Game' works towards a couple of absolutely terrific, mind-blowing set pieces. You already know all of that stuff when you come to read 'Ender's Shadow'-some of the big twists are not surprises to the surprise has to come from a different direction."
Focusing on Bean, a character more subdued in ENDER'S GAME: BATTLE SCHOOL helps Carey to open up an entirely new take on the expansive world Card created throughout all his novels:
"The difference between Bean and Ender is that Bean has a fuller picture very early on of what's at stake in the story. With Ender you make the journey of discovery one step at a time. With Bean, you stand outside it. It's a very different perspective so the decisions that Bean makes are differently motivated and work out differently than the decisions that Ender makes."
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Another unique synch up between the two series presents itself in the artistic connection between the work of Pasqual Ferry and Sebastian Fiumara. Ferry's work to develop a strong visual look for the whole Ender's saga reflects throughout ENDER'S SHADOW: BATTLE SCHOOL, and Carey, his former collaborator on ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR, sounds excited by the results.
"I think what Pasqual has done with the Battle Room scenes, the way he's brought those concepts to three dimensional life is very exciting," he enthuses. "There will be one unified vision in the various books. It's fascinating looking at the way Pasqual is approaching this. It is very reminiscent in many ways of the art that he used in the cosmic acts of ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR. You could regard our Ultimate Thanos stories as the proving ground upon which he developed this style."
The writer adds that his first joy in working on SHADOW comes as a reader blown away by the tightly plotted sister series.
"After you've read SHADOW, you definitely have a different set of insights into what's happening in GAME," concludes Carey. "It's impossible to know whether that was always in Scott Card's mind or whether it was something he came back and created later because it reads so organically."
ENDER'S SHADOW: BATTLE SCHOOL #1 cruises into stores on December 3.
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