I read 2 books in the series, here are some of my favorite quotes:

Ender’s Game

I really like this genre of sci-fi where a genius kid is somehow entangled in an adult situation. The high-strategy moments are plainly stated from first principles, and the innocence of the protagonist enables critical reasoning while avoiding any too-close-to-home polarizing issues.

  • He could see Bonzo’s anger growing hot. Hot anger was bad. Ender’s anger was cold, and he could use it. Bonzo’s was hot, and so it used him.

  • It made Ender listen more carefully to what people meant, instead of what they said. It made him wise.

  • …no one ever succeeded to command of the same army he was in when he was promoted.

  • …power will always end up with the sort of people who crave it…

  • …it was a power born of excellence, not manipulation. He had no reason to be ashamed of it.

  • So, boys, if any of you are thinking of being troublemakers, at least be clever about it, OK?

  • …doomed to be resented for early advancement.

  • Thank you for this, Peter. For dry eyes and silent weeping. You taught me how to hide anything I felt. [He’s talking about a complex lesson learned from his older brother. I don’t necessarily agree with the lesson as it’s stated.]

  • Take what pleasure you can in the interstices of your work, but your work is first, learning is first, winning is everything because without it there is nothing. [This quote is powerful because Ender first rejects it, then learns more & accepts it, then feels more & rejects it again.]

  • Learn where your trigger actually fires and ride the edge, so you don’t have to pull so far each time you fire.

  • I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.

  • At first it was the man of real authority they noticed, but later, where everyone had authority, it was his cargo they cared to see.

  • Welcome to the human race. Nobody controls his own life, Ender. The best you can do is choose to fill the roles given you by good people, by people who love you.

Ender’s Shadow

I liked this book better than the first. It follows a smarter, genetically-engineered, super-baby whose life circumstances caused him to constantly fall behind Ender, despite his superior merit. He’s very short, and spends most of the book waiting on those around him to overcome their bias & stop dismissing him.

  • Because these fools always look up for power.

  • The trouble was, innovation never resulted in victory over the long term. It was too easy for the enemy to imitate and improve on your innovations.

  • But finally he realized: He already understood it. He had understood it from the start. There was no secret that Bean just didn’t get yet because he was only little. The reason all these kids handled everything so stupidly was because they were stupid.

  • It meant less to them because it felt more calculated.

  • Not many people are enemies to anyone. But the ones full of greed or hate, pride or fear—their passion is strong enough to lever all the world into war.

  • She was the reason Bean was alive. She was the one who gave him a name. She was the one who listened to his plan. And now she had died for it, and he could have saved her.

  • It will do no harm to me if she believes all this. And she wants very much to believe it. So why not give it to her?

  • Just like the food lines at the charity kitchens in Rotterdam—except that absolutely nothing that mattered was at stake.

  • Calling him by his last name kept him at a distance. A microscope’s distance, anyway.

  • War was just one of the tools that the great men used to get and keep their power.

  • They already resented him for having thought of this plan that had changed their lives.

  • …for we humans do, when the cause is sufficient, spend our own lives. We throw ourselves onto the grenade to save our buddies in the foxhole. We rise out of the trenches and charge the entrenched enemy and die like maggots under a blowtorch.