Ender’s Game Alive (Full Cast Audioplay)

Summary: Interesting as a new version of the classic, but not as good as the full book.

I am not an objective listener to Ender’s Game Alive.  I have read Ender’s Game more than any other books (I would guess around a dozen or so times.)  I usually say it is my all time favorite book.

So when Orson Scott Card started promoting a full cast audioplay (an old fashioned radio drama) I picked it up. (Of course it was timed to release right before the new Ender’s Game movie which released Nov 1.)  Orson Scott Card got his start writing as a playwright.  And as a stand alone play, it is well done.

Stefan Rudnicki (who is my favorite narrator) performed and produced the audioplay.  So he was a familiar voice (he narrators and produces almost all of Orson Scott Card’s audiobooks.)  And there are very good (and familiar) other voices that are a part of the audioplay.  The production values are very good, this is just like the best of the old fashioned radio plays.

But there were two things apparent to me almost immediately.  First, this is a book that is mostly about children. But all of the voices were adult.  I don’t know what I expected.  It is not something that I thought was odd when I have listened to the regular audiobook or other children’s audiobooks.  But audiobooks are narrated by one or two voices and I don’t have an expectation of hearing children’s voices.

Ender’s Game Alive did not have a narrator.  Any action was only through dialogue.  So the actor’s voices were important and they were too old and it just didn’t feel right.  And there were occasional very forced dialogue to explain action that was not easily narrated. (For instance, during the two pivotal fight scenes, the adults were watching via video and discussing the fights, which is not what happens in the book.)

The second thing that was apparent from very early on, is that this is an abridged version of the story.  The unabridged audiobook is nearly 50 percent longer than audioplay.  So a lot of the development of the characters and the battles were cut.  Maybe others that are less familiar with the book would think the edits work, but it just felt jarring to me to miss character development.

I will say that it has motivated me to go back and re-read the kindle version of the book again before I see the movie.

On the whole, unless you are a real fan of the radio drama as a medium, I would get the full unabridged 20th Anniversary edition of the audiobook (which is excellent) or the kindle version (which is only $3.98 right now)

Bookwi.se Note: I have since done a seperate post about the differences in the storylines between the Ender’s Game book and Ender’s Game Alive.

Ender’s Game Alive Purchase Links: Audible.com Audiobook (the first 80 minutes are available free as a sample)

4 Comments

I listened to the 20th anniversary audiobook earlier this month and it was excellent. First Osron Scott Card book I have read, but certainly won’t be the last. The interview with Card at the end of the audiobook was a nice bonus.

    The rest of the main Ender series is much less you adult and the transition so more serious sci-fi can be jarring for many who are expecting another children’s book. Still good but very different. The parallel Shadow series reads more young adult to me than the main Ender quartet. (And it drags out too long). Just a warning.

Thanks for the review, Adam. We really appreciate your time and opinion, and your obvious love of the story. We have produced all of Card’s audio books, including the one you recommend people listen to with Stefan Rudnicki reading Ender, and me reading Valentine. Ender’s Game Alive is a very different type of production, as you note. Just like the Ender audiobooks were a very different type of production when we did them (no one was doing third person narrative with a change of actor.) So we’re going through the growing pangs of a new form. Or rather an old form, true radio drama, and bringing back center stage. The only point I will arm wrestle you on, however, is the abridgment issue. This is not an abridgment; it actually contains more material than the original. Here’s Card’s take on the content in EGA:

Thanks again for the review and for letting me comment.

    You are right. Technically this is not an abridgement it is a separate audioplay. And your and all the other performers were excellent. But it still didn’t feel as developed as the book, even with some additional material. I think it is a good supplement to the book, but I wouldn’t recommend it as the first introduction to the book.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: