Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (ebook)

As always, Tor.com has a fantastic post about the process behind the cover, and showcases the reaction of several people close to the project. Most interesting, perhaps, are the comments of Beth Meacham, the editor of the novel, who had some concerns when she first found out that Tor was creating a new cover for the novel:

When Irene told me that she’d been cleared to create a new art package for Ender’s Game for the eBook release, I confess that I groaned. Covers for this book have always been a problem. It’s not a children’s book, but when you ask for a painting of a ten year old boy, it’s hard not to get something that looks like a children’s book. This can lead to problems, like the email I recently got from a school librarian who was sure that there was some mistake; this children’s book had “bad words” in it.

Gallo, however, wasn’t so concerned:

I had no doubt Sam could portray a boy who wouldn’t put off older readers. I have often felt a number of his paintings show a cool exterior while suppressing some kind of underlying trouble or anxiety; if anything describes Ender, that’s it. When I contacted Sam, I wasn’t surprised to hear that Ender’s Game is one of his favorite novels.


In the end I was intrigued by Sam’s use of scale in the chosen sketch. I loved seeing Ender large with an entire planet underfoot—whether it’s Earth or the alien planet, the fate of both worlds depend on this small boy. The weightlessness, of course, refers to the Battle School exercises so memorable in the book. The flat-color triangles, representing the holographic game pieces, set against the realistic rendering of Ender and the planet, enhance the lie of the game.

Upon seeing the final art, even Meacham was sold:

The sketches that I saw were very good. The artist is wonderful, and it looked very promising, though again the sketches were of children. Irene and Sam heard me when I said that if we were going to put a child on the cover, that child had to have old and wary eyes, had to look like a real child who had been under great stress. The finished art has that quality in spades. My reaction to seeing the finished art was “Oh! That’s Ender!”

The composition is spectacular, too—it actually illustrates something that is such a powerful part of the novel: Ender has been separated from Earth and humanity even as he is being forged as a weapon to protect them.

Also interesting are some of the early sketches, which are a bit more experimental:

Early Sketches for the Ender's Game ebook cover

Though I’m not a fan of Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game remains one of my very favourite novels and I’m glad to see it getting the treatment it deserves from Tor. The typography alone makes me giddy. Now, if only they’d release the retail edition with this cover!

The wonderful art is courtesy of Sam Weber.

  • Adam Whitehead April 21, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Some of the sketches are very good. The final cover, unfortunately, does make it look just like a kid’s book.

  • aidan April 21, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    You aren’t suggesting that a publishing company produce a cover with some balls, are you?

  • The Evil Hat/Nat April 21, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    I’m not saying that it has to be ground breakingly original, but, in this case, there’s no reason to do anything at all. The cover looks like it could be advertising a Disney movie…

  • -ink April 21, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I am perturbed by how much larger the girl’s head looks when compared to shoulders and body.
    Oh, is that supposed to be a boy?
    I am perturbed by two things, then.

  • aidan April 21, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    @Nat – What’s the problem? Disney doing Ender’s Game would be amazing.

    @-ink – I can’t really argue with that, my first thought was that he looked like a girl. As for the head being bigger, I think his body is floating at a slight angle, causing it to look a bit funny.

  • Jeane April 22, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Well, I like it! I think it looks cool, and much better than this one. Although I couldn’t figure out what those glowing triangles were supposed to be until I read the description. I like the second sketch, too.

  • Lauren P. April 26, 2010 at 5:21 am

    i dont understand what is wrong with people not liking this cover. i imagine it’s people who have never read the book. if you have actually read Ender’s Game you’ll know this just absolutely captures ender wiggin and the really complicated tones of the book…bravo Irene & Sam.

  • murf61 April 28, 2010 at 8:21 am

    The new cover, to me, indicates the rise of the YA market, as it would appear that Ender’s Game is now being aimed at the older teenage market. No bad thing in my view as it brings classic SF to a new generation of readers.

  • Read5times December 8, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    this is pretty freaking sweet not a fan of cars but the ender saga is amazing. they’ve been talking about doing a movie for enders games since the early 90’s….i think it’s about time they did something with that idea.
    btw i really like the flash suit on this ender, but it does look a bit girlish with the hair and eyebrows but overall i love it