His Dark Materials V Ender Series
I ought to start by say that the Ender series is easily my favorite series of any genre, ever. So needless to say the more I started to enjoy His dark Materials, the more I started to slow down my reading pay attention to it. The more I started doing this, the more I started to see bits and pieces of the Ender series.
A little background here. Ender’s game was first published in 1985, Speaker for the Dead in 1986, Xenocide in 1991, and Children of the Mind in 1996, with various sequels that are irrelevant to this post published up until last year’s Ender in Exile.
Pullman published The Golden Compass in 1995, The Subtle Knife in 1997, and The Amber Spyglass in 2000.
Why is this important, you may be asking yourselves... Well based on these dates, the bulk of Card’s work was published before even The Golden Compass came into existence. This is important because it seems that Pullman has taken several key themes and ideas.
The first and most profound one is the concept of instantaneous communication over extremely far distances. Though I’m sure card did not generate this idea on his own, he did make it a point to confront the concept and describe it with the sci-fi concept of “Philotic Twining”. In this process, a very small molecule is split, resulting in two halves of the molecule, called Philotes. One piece is kept in one device, while the other piece of the atom is set in the other device. When you vibrate one half of the particle, the other half also vibrates instantaneously, regardless of the distance between the two, and voila, instantaneous communication across infinite distances. Pullman takes this concept and uses it almost word for word to describe how the Gallivesapians communicate with Lord Asriel.
Because this idea was first described in Ender’s Game in 1985, it stand to reason that Pullman barrowed this from Card.
There are various other examples of similarities between the two. For example, human interaction with an technologically deficient Alien race. In speaker for the dead, Card introduces the sentient race of the Piggies. A group of researchers interacts with this group and slowly introduces human technology to them as well as teaching them to speak English. Sound familiar? It should, Mary was up to the same business when she stumbled into Mulefa.
Another similarity is between dust and the descolada virus which inhabits the home world of the piggies in Speak for the Dead. Unlike the dust, the descolada is a virus, but much like the dust it is a living entity which the organisms on that planet depend upon. The dust serves a suspiciously similar function.
Now I’m not asserting that Pullman flat out ripped off Card, but I am saying that there are a suspicious amount of similarities here. I’ve never looked into it, but maybe Pullman used Card to write his series like Orwell used Zamyatin’s “WE” in order to write “1984”. Or maybe there is a third work that I am unaware of that they both used as inspiration. However, based on the relatively close dates of publication, it would be a true stretch of the imagination to believe that Pullman was in no way influenced by Card.