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Can hardly wait: ‘Ender’s Game’ anticipation invades SLC Comic Con

Published: Tuesday, July 28 2015 12:42 a.m. MDT

This publicity photo released by Summit Entertainment shows Harrison Ford, center, and Asa Butterfield, right, in a scene from the film This publicity photo released by Summit Entertainment shows Harrison Ford, center, and Asa Butterfield, right, in a scene from the film "Ender's Game." (Richard Foreman Jr SMPSP, AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — On the opening night of Salt Lake Comic Con the panel discussion “Ender's Game: 30 Years of Books and Comics to the Big Screen” attracted a sizable crowd hungry to revisit a 28-year-old book and look ahead to an imminent movie release.

A five-person panel including authors Aaron Johnston, Eric James Stone and Mette Ivie Harrison regaled an audience of approximately 150 people with analysis, anecdotes and musings concerning all things “Ender’s Game,” the bestselling and award-winning science fiction book that Orson Scott Card wrote in 1985.

With the Nov. 1 release of the big-budget “Ender’s Game” movie now less than two months away, seemingly the biggest question on everyone’s mind Thursday was why such a popular book took so long to make its way onto the silver screen.

“First and foremost, ‘Ender’s Game’ is a difficult book to adapt because much of the conflict takes place in Ender’s head and film is a visual medium,” said Johnston, an associate producer for the forthcoming “Ender’s Game” film and Card’s co-author on several “Ender’s Game” prequels.

Johnston’s insight dovetailed well with something Card told the Deseret News in an interview last week. “During the prep for the movie, I wrote 20 versions of the script myself trying to figure out how to solve the problems,” said Card, who ultimately had no hands-on involvement with the film’s final script. “It’s a devilishly hard book to adapt to film, because it’s all inside Ender’s head.”

Stone spoke about his essay “How It Should’ve Ended,” which serves as the first chapter for the book “Ender’s World” that was published earlier this year.

“What happens after the final victory is what gives (Ender) the chance to redeem himself,” Stone said. “So I end up concluding that actually Orson Scott Card knew what he was doing when he ended it the way he did.”

Like Stone, Harrison also wrote a chapter for “Ender’s World.” She explained Thursday that her essay “A Teenless World” explores the significance of Card’s decision to write “Ender’s Game” in such a way that even young children are regularly afforded adult treatment.

“To me the teenage years are those years when you’re the size of an adult and you’re perfectly capable of behaving like an adult but everybody tells you you’re not allowed to,” Harrison said. “I think one of the great things about ‘Ender’s Game’ is that there are no teenagers — there’s nobody that’s stuck in this place where you’re told what you can’t do.

“Ender is a child for a while, but as soon as he is capable of becoming an adult he is really treated like an adult.”

After the session ended and as the audience filed out into the crowded halls of the Salt Palace, Johnston paused to reflect about why the “Ender’s Game” discussion — and dozens of other panels at Salt Lake Comic Con — resonate with experts and audience alike.

“I feel like I’m a fan — I’m a huge fan of ‘Ender’s Game’ and the whole (Ender’s) universe,” he said. “And so I’m immensely grateful to be able to meet fellow fans. We have this common bond and all of us congregate to this thing we love — something that has inspired us, usually in our youth, and that has had an impact on our lives.

“This is not just something that we like and enjoy. It’s actually something that moved us, that influenced us in some way. And as a result we value it more than something we just enjoy; it has intrinsic emotional value to us.”

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company