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Ender Series Quotes

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This site contains quotes from the Ender and Shadow series by Orson Scott Card. These are my favorite quotes from these books for various reasons. Some of them make you think, some of them make you laugh, some of them are just plain weird, and others I just like.

You should have fun reading them if you have read the books or not, but some of the quotes have special significance if you have read the books.

If you have any quotes I should add or any suggestions for the page I would like to hear from you. Just sign the guestbook at the bottom of the page.


Ender’s Game

"Sometimes lies are more dependable than the truth" -Ender

"There is no teacher but the enemy." -Mazer Rackham

In all the world, the name Ender is one to conjure with. The Child god, the miracle worker, with life and death in his hands. Every petty tyrant-to-be would like to have the boy, to set him in front of an army and watch the world either flock to join or cower in fear -Col. Graff

"Welcome to the human race. Nobody controls his own life, Ender. The best you can do is choose to be controlled by good people, by people who love you." -Valentine

"Early to Bed and Early to rise makes a man stupid and blind in the eyes." - Mazer Rackham

"Ender if you're on one side of the battle, it won't be equal no matter what the conditions are." -William Bee

"You made them hate me."
"So? what will you do about it? Crawl into a corner? Start kissing their little backsides so they'll love you again? There's only one thing that will make them stop hating you. And that's being so good at what you do that they can't ignore you."
"...Human beings are free except when humanity needs them. Maybe humanity needs you. To do something. Maybe humanity needs me - to find out what you're good for." -Conversation between Ender and Mazer Rackham

"I thought you said you liked this kid."
"If the buggers get him, they'll make me look like his favorite uncle."
"All right. We're saving the world, after all. Take him."

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

"I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one."

"Ender would be pleased - every one of them was stupid."

The screen went blank, and words appeared. PLAY AGAIN?

At last he came to a door, with these words in glowing emeralds:
He did not hesitate. He opened the door and stepped through

"Well, I'm your man. I'm the bloody bastard you wanted when you had me spawned. I'm your tool, and what difference does it make if I hate the part of me that you most need? What difference does it make that when the little serpents killed me in the game, I agreed with them, and was glad."

"Forget it, Mazer. I don't care if I pass your test, I don't care if I follow your rules. If you can cheat, so can I. I won't let you beat me unfairly - I'll beat you unfairly first."

"I went back through some of the tapes. I can't help it. I like the kid. I think we're going to screw him up."
"Of course we are. It's our job. We're the wicked witch. We promise gingerbread, but we eat the little bastards alive."

"I am your enemy, the first one you've ever had who was smarter than you. There is no teacher but the enemy. No one but the enemy will ever tell you what the enemy is going to do. No one but the enemy will ever teach you how to destroy and conquer. Only the enemy shows you where you are weak. Only the enemy tells you where he is strong. And the rules of the game are what you can do to him and what you can stop him from doing to you. I am your enemy from now on. From now on, I am your teacher."

"I've lived too long with pain. I won't know who I am without it."

"We have to go. I'm almost happy here."

"Perhaps it's impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be."

"Then I'll tell the truth. We're allowed to do that in emergencies. We can't plan for everything, you know."

If you can't do it twice, you can't do it at all." - Ender Wiggin

"The power to cause pain is the only power that matters, the power to kill and destroy, because if you can't kill then you are always subject to those who can, and nothing and no one will ever save you." - Ender Wiggin

I did it, and it worked. Memorize that defense. You may have to use it yourself someday.

I won't lie now, either. My job isn't to be friends. My job is to produce the best soldiers in the world. In the whole history of the world. We need a Napoleon. An Alexander. Except that Napoleon lost in the end, and Alexander flamed out and died young. We need a Julius Caesar, except that he made himself dictator, and died for it. My job is to produce such a creature, and all the men and women he'll need to help him. Nowhere in that does it say that I have to make friends with children.

Nobody controls his own life. The best you can do is choose to be controlled by good people, by people who love you.

Speaker for the Dead

"...But when it comes to human beings, the only type of cause that matters is final cause, the purpose. What a person had in mind. Once you understand what people really want, you can't hate them anymore. You can fear them, but you can't hate them, because you can always find the same desires in your own heart."

Only one rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation. So, of course, we killed him.


“I thought: If I could just make a good family, if I could just learn to be to other children, their whole lives, what Andrew was, coming so late into ours, then that would mean more in the long run, it would be a finer accomplishment than anything I could ever do with my mind or my hands”

“The wise are not wise because they make no mistakes. They are wise because they correct their mistakes as soon as they recognize them.”

“Every day all people judge all other people. The question is whether we judge wisely.” p.149

“There can be no greater honor to a parent than to have a child who is greater.” p.150

“People revealed themselves most when they were vaguely anxious, and few things brought out nonspecific anxieties like being in the presence of a person who never speaks.” p.177

“They never know anything. They don’t have enough years in their little lives to come to an understanding of anything at all. And yet they think they understand. From earliest childhood, they delude themselves into thinking they comprehend the world, while all that’s really going on is that they’ve got some primitive assumptions and prejudices. As they get older they learn a more elevated vocabulary in while to express their mindless pseudo-knowledge and bully other people into accepting their prejudices as if they were truth, but it all amounts to the same thing. Individually, human beings are all dolts.
Collectively, they’re a collection of dolts. But in all their scurrying around and pretending to be wise, throwing out idiotic half-understood theories about this and that, one or two of them will come up with some idea that is just a little bit closer to the truth than what was already known. And in a sort of fumbling trial and error, about half the time the truth actually rises to the top and becomes accepted by the people who still don’t understand it, who simply adopt it as a new prejudice to be trusted blindly until the next dolt accidentally comes up with an improvement.
So…no one is ever individually intelligent, and groups are even stupider than individuals—and yet by keeping so many fools engaged in pretending to be intelligent, they still come up with some of the same results that an intelligent species would come up with." p.316-317

“Free will doesn’t exist. Only the illusion of free will, because the causes of our behavior are so complex that we can’t trace them back. If you’ve got one line of dominoes knocking each other down one by one, then you can always say, Look, this domino fell because that one pushed it. But when you have an infinite number of directions, you can never find where the casual chain begins. So you think, That domino fell because it wanted to.” p. 384

“Even if there is no such thing as free will, we have to treat each other as if there were free will in order to live together in society. Because otherwise, every time somebody does something terrible, you can’t punish him, because he can’t help it, because his genes or his environment or God made him do it, and every time somebody does something good, you can’t honor him, because he was a puppet, too. If you think that everybody around you is a puppet, why bother talking to them at all? Why even try to plan anything or create anything, since everything you plan or create or desire or dream of is just acting out the script your puppeteer built into you.
So we conceive of ourselves and everyone around us as volitional beings. We treat everyone as if they did things with a purpose in mind, instead of because they’re being pushed from behind. We punish criminals. We reward altruists. We plan things and build things together. We make promises and expect each other to keep them. It’s all a made-up story, but when everybody believes that everybody’s actions are the result of free choice, and takes and gives responsibility accordingly, the result is civilization.” p.384

“When you have wisdom that another person knows that he needs, you give it freely. But when the other person doesn’t yet know that he needs your wisdom, you keep it to yourself. Food only looks good to a hungry man.” p.396

“No matter how smart or strong you are, there’s always somebody smarter or stronger, and when you run into somebody who’s stronger and smarter than anybody, you think, This is a god. This is perfection. But I can promise you that there’s somebody else somewhere else who’ll make your god look like a maggot by comparison. And somebody smarter of stronger or better in some way. So let me tell you what I think about gods. I think a real god is not going to be so scared or angry that he tries to keep other people down…A real god doesn’t care about control. A real god already has control of everything that needs controlling. Real gods would want to teach you how to be just like them.” p.412

“How can I tell the good people from the bad, if the bad people all have some way of convincing themselves that they’re trying to do good even though they’re doing something terrible? And the good people can believe that they’re actually very bad even though they’re doing something good? Maybe you can only do good if you think you’re bad, and if you think you’re good then you can only do bad.
But…There’d be no sense in the world of you had to judge people by the opposite of how they tried to seem. Wasn’t it possible for a good person also to try to seem good? And just because somebody claimed to be scum didn’t mean that he wasn’t scum. Was there any way to judge people, if you can’t judge even by their purpose?” p.431

“Earthborn animals do this thing, inside their brains—a sort of firing-off of synapses, controlled insanity. While they’re asleep. The part of their brain that records sight or sound, it’s firing off every hour or two while they sleep; even when all the sights and sounds are complete random nonsense, their brains just keep on trying to assemble it into something sensible. They try to make stories out of it. It’s complete random nonsense with no possible correlation to the real world, and yet they turn it into these crazy stories. And then they forget them. All that work, coming up with these stories, and when they wake up they forget almost all of them. But when they do remember, then they try to make stories about those crazy stories, trying to fit them into their real lives.
…They change what their stories mean. They transform things so that the same memory can mean a thousand different things. Even from their dreams, sometimes they make up out of that randomness something that illuminates everything.
…Even if the vast majority of them are wrong, even if ninety-nine of every hundred is stupid and wrong, out of then thousand ideas that still leaves them with a hundred good ones. That’s how they make up for being so stupid and having such short lives and small memories.” p.437-439

"You're only so sure you're right because they're so sure you're wrong." p.509

“If you tell what you know, everybody is wiser. If you keep a secret, than everyone is a fool.” p.511

“If this works at all, if we don’t just sit there like idiots in a cardboard box wishing we could fly, then we’ll come back with peace for this world.” p.522

“-How can I tell my father that he does not see what he claims to see? I can only say that I must be blind.
-Yes, my Qing-jao, you are. Blind on purpose. Blind to your own heart. Because you tremble even now. You have never been sure that I was wrong.
-Then I’m unsure of sunrise. I’m unsure of breath.
-We’re all unsure of breath, and the sun stays in its same place, day and night, neither rising nor falling. We are the ones who rise and fall.” p.525

Children of the Mind

"All the stories are fictions. What matters is which fiction you believe."

"Your trust in rationality makes you irrational."

"Religion is tied to the deepest feelings people have. The love that arises from that stewing pot is the sweetest and strongest, but the hate is the hottest, and the anger is the most violent."

"This emotion I'm feeling now, this is love, right?"
"I don't know. Is it a longing? Is it a giddy stupid happiness just because you're with me?" "Yes," she said.
"That's influenza," said Miro. "Watch for nausea or diarrhea within a few hours."

"Isn't that the sweetest little well-balanced undergraduate-level philosophy of life."

"Knowledge is just opinion that you trust enough to act upon."

"Doesn't it make you wonder about your own sexual identity, not to mention your sanity, that the two women you love are, respectively, a virtual woman existing only in the transient ansible connections between computers and a woman whose soul is in fact that of a man who is the husband of your mother?"

"Please don't disillusion me. I haven't had breakfast yet."

Ender’s Shadow

"... Christians have been expecting the imminent end of the world for millennia." "But it keeps not ending." "So far, so good."

"I'm right here. This is who I really am. I'm not pretending."

"Trying to shock nuns is not much sport. There is no trophy."

"We could live forever, if we were willing to be stupid the whole time."
"Surely you're not saying that God had to choose between long life and intelligence for human beings!"
"It's there in your own Bible, Carlotta. Two trees — knowledge and life. You eat of the tree of knowledge, and you will surely die. You eat of the tree of life, and you remain a child in the garden forever, undying."

"And then he thought: Is this how idiots rationalize their stupidity to themselves?"

"Isn't that what it means to be civilized? That you can wait to get what you want?"

He luxuriated in the sound of high language well spoken.

Analyzing things was fine, but good reflexes could save your life.

These other kids didn't know love when they saw it.

Know, think, choose, do.

‘I'm not stupid!' In Bean's experience, that was a sentence never uttered except to prove its own inaccuracy.

Shadow of the Hegemon

"What a laugh, though. To think that one human being could ever really know another. You could get used to each other, get so habituated that you could speak their words right along with them, but you never knew why other people said what they did, because they never even knew themselves. Nobody understands anybody.
And yet somehow we live together, mostly in peace, and get things done with a high enough success rate that people keep trying. Human beings get married and a lot of marriages work, and they have children and most of them grow up to be decent people, and they have schools and businesses and factories and farms that have results at some level of acceptability—all without having a clue what’s going on inside anybody’s head.
Muddling through, that’s what human beings do." -Beans thoughts

"Like Alexander, he’ll go out with a flash of brilliant light and live forever in glory, instead of withering away and dying in miserable obscurity, getting trotted out for parades now and then. I was the kind one!
Good riddance to both of you. You would have been drags on my boat, thorns in my side, pains in my ass." -Peter’s thoughts

“It might not be Achilles who took the other kids.” -Bean
“It might not be gravity that holds us to Earth, but rather an unknown force with identical properties.” -Sister Carlotta

“…You are so convinced that you believe only what you believe that you believe, that you remain utterly blind to what you really believe without believing you believe it.” -Sister Carlotta

“You were born in the wrong century, you could have made Thomas Aquinas tear out his hair. Nietzsche and Derrida would accuse you of obfuscation. Only the Inquisition would know what to do with you—toast you nice and brown.” -Bean

"You don’t have to eat the entire turd to know that it’s not a crab cake." -Bean

“I knew you were stupid, because you became a talk-therapy shrink, which is like being a minister of a religion in which you get to be God.” -Petra to rescuer

"You look better without blood all over your face"
"But I'll never be as pretty as you"-petra to achilles in the plane

"I can do it in my clothes, I can do it naked. I can dribble it all the way there. I can write it in the snow. It takes a little more athletic skill, but we can do it."
"Or you can let me go do the bathroom"
"All right"
"Bathroom"-petra to her rescuers

"And if there's anything in that message bad about me, I'll beat the shit out of you"
"Oh, you ARE the charmer"-petra to achilles

So fine kill me tonight. But my foot going into your face, you can't take that away from me.-petra thinking to herself

"Your the winner"
"And my prize is staying with YOU???"-petra to achilles

"I'll have that someday...Someone who'll kiss me good-bye at the door. Or maybe just someone to put a blindfold over my head before they shoot me. Depending on how things work out." -Peter

"It's a good thing they brought YOU. If it had just been those other guys, I would have made my stand and fought to the death. But with you here, I had no choice but to give myself up. Good work, soldier." – Petra

"What kind of idiot was Eve, to believe a snake? But now she understood, for she had heard the voice of the snake and had watched as a wise and powerful man had fallen under its spell. Eat the fruit and you can have the desires of your heart. It's not evil, it's noble and good. You'll be praised for it. And it's delicious." –Petra

"Most victories came from instantly exploiting your enemy's stupid mistakes, and not from any particular brilliance in your own plan."

"People who understand the purpose of the rules don't become bureaucrats."

"I don't flirt," Achilles said.
"I forgot," said Petra. "You shoot first and then flirting isn't necessary."

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