304: Nighttime Stories

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Nighttime Stories
Cue angry letters from all seven fans of Xenocide.
Title text: Cue angry letters from all seven fans of Xenocide.


Cueball observes Megan walking around at midnight, reading a book that he can't see. Curious, he leaves his apartment to ask her what she is reading. It is revealed as Orson Scott Card's Xenocide, the third book in the Ender's Game series following Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead (and since followed by several other books). Ender's Game has been covered in other xkcd comics like 241: Battle Room and 635: Locke and Demosthenes, which cover events in the first book.

Xenocide is regarded by fans as one of the weakest books in the series, while Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead received extreme positive praise. When he discovers that she likes Xenocide more than the other two books, he instantly withdraws to his apartment, his opinion of her shattered. So far as Cueball is concerned, Xenocide is so clearly inferior that he could not be with anyone who 'wrongly' considers it to be the best of the series. This pokes fun at people like Cueball who have such strong opinions on books like Ender's Game that they could never get along with anyone who disagreed.

The title text pokes further fun at Xenocide by saying that there are only seven people in the world who would defend it, a laughably small number.


[Cueball sitting in an armchair in a darkened room, with a bookshelf and an open window. Megan is seen outside reading a book by a glow.]
For a few weeks now, sometime past midnight, a girl has wandered past my apartment reading by flashlight.
[Outside, Megan walking down the street passing under a street lamp.]
I wonder why she's up so late.
Maybe she's restless
Like me.
I wonder what story she's wrapped up in.
I wonder if she lets anyone into that island of light.
[Cueball sitting in a dark room.]
[Cueball has left the room.]
[Cueball standing on his doorstep at the top of a small flight of stairs, near the bottom of which Megan has stopped, no longer reading.]
Cueball: Hi! What are you reading?
Megan: Orson Scott Card's 'Xenocide.' It's my favorite in the series!
Cueball: Wait, you like it more than Speaker for the Dead or Ender's Game?
Megan: Yeah!
[Cueball has gone back in the house, leaving Megan standing alone.]
[Cueball is sitting in the chair again.]
And to think I loved her.

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Why is it out of six books? How was that number reached? Depending on your point of view, it could be out of four (counting only Ender's Game and the Speaker-Xenocide-Children of the Mind trilogy) or nine (if we include the Shadow books, sans Shadows Alive) or eleven (if we include the Earth as-yet-unfinished trilogy) or fourteen (if we include the lesser books like A War of Gifts) or even sixteen if we include the as-yet-unreleased books - but I can't see how someone got six. To do this you'd have to take away part of a series, like only counting Ender's Shadow and Shadow of the Hegemon, but not the other Shadow books. I guess you could include only the main quartet and the Earth books, but if you're going to include the Earth books why not include some of the others? -- 17:33, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

This is true. At the time of this comic there where only published 4-5 books in the series. The fifth came out in 2007. I have deleted the (out of 6) comment as the 6. came out in 2008 and more have followed since. The important issue is that the three books mentioned are the first three.Kynde (talk) 19:49, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

I think they wrote out of 6 because there are 6 main books with Ender in them. Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, Ender in Exile, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the mind. 13:13, 28 June 2014 (UTC)

Xenocide *is* my favorite. 04:27, 15 August 2015 (UTC)

Part of the joke is that both are fans of the Ender series and should have much in common and to talk about, but Cueball gives up on her before even hearing her explanation. Sebastian -- 14:16, 8 November 2016 (UTC)

I'm more upset that he is implying Speaker for the Dead is any less bad than Xenocide. — Kazvorpal (talk) 23:13, 3 November 2019 (UTC)

That's a hot (and bad) take there, Kazvorpal. I question the judgement of someone who implies Speaker for the Dead is bad than someone who calls Xenocide their favorite in the series. I'm just speechless at how bad that opinion is.

C’mon, Children of the mind was way worse. Xenocide. — User:Waddle Deo