The Ender’s Game Experience at Comic-Con 2013 is part portable set visit, part museum, part prop-store, part trailer, part tent. Pitched just across the way from the San Diego Convention Center, it’s the most eye-catching temporary structure at this year’s geekiest of geeky gatherings, and what’s inside is just as intriguing.
But first, a bit of background. A minor institution in the US, Orson Scott Card’s seminal sci-fi – first published, in part, as a short story in 1977, then fleshed out into a novel proper in 1985 – is a common sight on American teenagers’ syllabuses, telling the tale of a young boy genius called Ender Wiggin (played by Hugo’s Asa Butterfield) who’s sent to a giant space satellite-cum-Battle School in the sky to train to become the best tactical mind in the galaxy. This is in order to beat the insect-like alien enemy known as the buggers (no sniggers at the back, thank you) and save the human race.
Helping him (in a hindering sort of way) are the crotchety headmaster Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford), the legendary half-Maori tactician Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) and the altogether more caring Major Anderson (Viola Davis). The story itself is an intricate weaving of military strategy, school survival and a discussion of whether the ends can ever justify the means, and it’s a damn good one. In fact, film adaptations have been on the cards since its first publication, Scott Card remaining very careful indeed about who would eventually take it to the big screen.
The man who eventually passed muster was Gavin Hood, of Tsotsi and X-Men Origins: Wolverine fame, who both wrote the screenplay and directed the film, incorporating details from the novel and its parallel piece, Ender’s Shadow, which concentrates on Bean, a peripheral character in the original book, here played by Aramis Knight.
So, to the Ender’s Game experience itself. Below is a gallery of photographs taken during the walk around, accompanied by notes that will add a bit of detail to what it was like in there, and what we can look forward to once the film finally hits cinemas in October 25 (if you’re in the UK) or, if you’re in the US, November 1.
P.S. We’ve made sure there aren’t any spoilers here, though if you are craving some, just check out the Scott Card’s books and they should do the trick quite nicely.